Matt Frederickson

Bowling Green R-I School Superintendent Matt Frederickson points to his chart to explain the improvements made to the school. Photo by Stan Schwartz

BOWLING GREEN—During the Bowling Green Alumni Banquet last week, Bowling Green R-I Superintendent Matt Frederickson said he was pleased with the way improvements to the school have gone.

“I’m particularly proud of some things we’ve accomplished over the last four to five years,” he said. They had set up an easel to hold a poster showing all the R-I superintendents since the R-I system was formed 60 years ago.

“Back in the early 1960s,” he explained, “the county, the country schools and Frankford were reorganized into the R-I School District.”

Frederickson wanted the alums to know about Bright Futures, a program that helps support the needs of the students.

“We wanted to make sure they have what they need to be successful in school,” he said. “It has been just tremendous to see the way this community has come together to provide for the needs of our students.” Funds were raised for students who could not afford a dual enrollment class or to go to a camp or even meet some basic needs.

He reminded the audience that about three years ago, the community passed its first bond issue in 50 years.

He noted that the school system worked with the community to understand the needs the schools had with the buildings, which had been built in the 1960s.

With some of the funds, he added, they upgraded the lighting throughout the school to help students see better.

“Of the 55 school districts in Northeast Missouri, there are two school districts with the lowest tax rates,” he said. One is Pike County and the other is Ralls County. Because of this, Frederickson said, he’s been conservative with what the school has done with the funds raised from the bond issue.

He summarized a few of them for the alumni. 

They have added locking vestibules for an added layer of security, updated the fire alarm system and added locking classroom doors.

“We’ve done some bathroom work to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance at the elementary school,” he said. The plumbing system at Frankford Elementary has been changed, as well. “There’s no more brown water at Frankford,” he added. Plumbing in the high school has been changed, too. They fixed the tuck pointing on the brickwork, and added dual paned windows to reduce the school’s energy bills. They added a new PA system and new floor in the Middle School gymnasium.

“Beyond this bond issue,” he said, “what we’ve been able to do is to free up our local funds to be able to sustain more work for building processes.”

Frederickson said he hoped the audience noticed the construction that’s still ongoing.

“We’re trying to improve our storage, so we don’t have things in the hallways,” he said. He also noted that they are working to find the maintenance department a new home. A house adjacent to school buildings that used to house maintenance has been converted into a day care center for the children of staff and teachers.

All the asbestos tiles in the buildings have been removed, Frederickson said.

“It was a huge project,” he added.

“It’s fun to see progress, and see things come together for our learning environment,” he said. But that’s just one piece of it.

“We’ve got some exciting programs that we’ve created within the last couple of years,” Frederickson said.

Project Lead the Way was started to teach computer programming to the students.

“Two of the highest demand jobs for people with a college degree are computer programming and cyber security,” Frederickson explained. The three-step program starts in kindergarten, continues through middle school and culminates in high school.

He noted that they also started a K-12 gifted program for the students, which is state approved.

In addition to helping the students, Frederickson said they have also been working to make the Bowling Green campus a great place to work for the teachers.

“We want to make sure they have the resources necessary to be successful in the classroom … so that they feel like they have ownership in what we do,” he said.

Their efforts to help students improve their ACT scores has worked, Frederickson noted. They are now above the state’s average.

“Of all the schools in the EMO conference over the last five years,” he said, “we’ve had the highest reading score. Reading is pretty fundamental. If you can’t read or can’t read well, it’s difficult to do other things.”

“I’m also very passionate about workforce readiness; and helping our students who maybe decide not to go to college, but go to a technical school or go right into the workforce,” Frederickson said.

The last measurement for technical skills assessment showed that 100 percent of the students were proficient, Frederickson said.

The school’s drop out rate has been trending downward and the four-year graduation rate is above the state average, he added.

“We started a pre-school expansion,” Frederickson noted. “We had a pre-school when I came, but it has doubled in size, and now there’s a waiting list.”

Staff experience in terms of years is on the rise, as is the number of teachers with advanced degrees.

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is erase teacher turnover,” he said. Starting the day care center is one of the ways the school district has been doing this. He is also working on increasing pay and benefits for the teachers.

“Last year in Bowling Green Elementary, we had zero turnover,” he said.

He also wanted the alums to know what great things the students have been doing outside of the classroom.

“We’ve had kids make all-state music groups, we’ve had all-state officers of business and FFA, and have represented us well,” he said. “We also have some wonderful sport teams. I’m pretty excited about that.”

He added that the proud traditions of the Bobcats will continue.

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