Focus Rooms mark first month of use with 164 visits

Roxie Murphy
Staff Writer

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy told the Gasconade County School Board Feb. 18 that the “Focus Room” received 164 visits in January — its first full month open.

“For the full month, they had 164 visits to the three focus rooms,” Hardy clarified. “102 of those were preventative visits — meaning that student needed to get out of the classroom — or an issue arose. The total number of reactive visits were 63, and those numbers are going up.”

Hardy said the data is pretty consistent between buildings at the elementary schools and middle school.

The district first started discussing the Focus Room last spring.

Focus Room technicians include Jennifer McClurg, an Owensville Elementary School personal aid, Heather Ashner, an Owensville Middle School paraprofessional, and new hire Janna Janssen.

“The Focus Room technician will receive training on how to de-escalate the situation and teach social behavioral skills so students can be successful in the classroom,” Hardy said.

Students are set to the Focus Room to help reacclimate after a traumatic experience, according to Hardy.

She added that students may have trouble regulating in the classroom due to a lack of social skill or they take on the role of caregiver at home and are not comfortable with an adult in charge. A Focus Room technician is the adult who will be in the room and will teach the students how to work through those situations so they may return to the classroom before an office referral is needed.

Hardy said the school district is seeing more and more students enrolling without the skills necessary to process through difficult situations.

“There are other districts around here taking other measures,” Hardy said. “It’s an increase in behaviors throughout the state.”

In other business, the board set the student tuition rate at $8,269.81 for the 2019-20 school year — up from $8,156.95 this year — with a 5-0 vote.

The 2019-20 school calendar was approved with an Aug. 10 start date on a 5-0 vote.

No action was taken on Missouri School Board Association agenda items, which were tabled for the March agenda.

The board approved on a 5-0 vote the resignation of Andrea Lakebrink, effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

Administrative employments for the 2019-20 school year approved with a 5-0 vote included Cindy Buettmann, district psych examiner/process coordinator; Dr. Scott Davidson, Owensville elementary principal; Casey Fisher, director of technology; Jennifer Hall, Gerald elementary principal; Ken Hunott, middle school assistant principal and summer school coordinator; Dale Long, activities director/A+ coordinator; Roberta Pennock, director of special services; Tricia Ridder, Owensville elementary school assistant principal; and Teresa Schulte, middle school principal.

Other employments for the 2019-20 school year approved with 5-0 votes included John Bunch for assistant high school principal; Terry Gutermuth, bus driver; Neriman Schreiber, substitute cook; Bill Davis, substitute custodian; Nick Kramme, substitute custodian; and the transfer of Regina Jost from bus Route 15 to Route 8.