By Anita Tucker

The Clinton School Districtís new superintendent didnít waste any time making changes at the School Board meeting.

Dr. Scott Jones opened the meeting Monday with a prayer, something not previously done at the meetings. Praying before school board meetings has stirred controversy throughout the nation and the state. After the meeting, a School Board member said Jones told the board he would like to open with a prayer as he did when he was superintendent in the Augusta School District.

Another change made by Jones was in the way the districtís financial report was prepared for board members. One board member remarked that Jonesí version was easier to read.

Jones also outlined some plans he had for school grounds, including cutting down trees around the track; paving the parking lot at the new gymnasium if it is not cost-prohibitive; and making some repairs to the two old gyms, also if not cost-prohibitive.

In a construction update, the board was told that the new K-3 addition is on schedule for a May 2014 opening. About 20 percent of the construction is complete.

The School Board discussed policy adoptions and revisions. At Jonesí recommendation, the board approved the procedure for getting on the agenda, including a five-day advance request and a five-minute time limit to speak, which can be extended at the School Board presidentís discretion.

The board also decided groups did not have to carry liability insurance to cover damage to facilities before being allowed to use them. Jones said he thought that put a burden on the groups and said the district had insurance on it facilities anyway.

Also approved was raising the mileage rate to 47 cents per mile, up from 42 cents per mile, and changing the way meals are covered for those traveling on school business. Previously, policy spelled out how much per meal would be covered by the district. That will change to a $35 per diem, which does not raise the amount reimbursed.

Jones said under state regulations home-schooled children wishing to be part of the districtís extracurricular activities would have to take a class at the school. That would allow the district to recoup some of its expense for the home-schooled childís activities, he said.

Board member Jeff Wyborny expressed displeasure with allowing home-school students to participate in school programs, saying, ďIf they donít learn here, they shouldnít play here.Ē

In changes to the student handbooks, the board voted to return to previous policies on absenteeism. In the last school year an absence was an absence whether excused or not. This year absences will be excused or not excused.

Jones and the School Board went into executive session for about 40 minutes, returning to say no action had been taken.

Next, on Jonesí recommendation, the board approved placing one long-time employee on step 12 of the salary schedule, and giving another, who used to work at Scotland schools, $3,000 in back pay.

The Clinton School District meets at 6 p.m. the third Monday of each month. Meetings are held at the Junior High Library and are open to the public.