Board discusses absences, fundraising

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Faculty absences continue to be an area of concern for the Piggott School District. In a meeting Monday night, the Piggott School Board continued discussion regarding the amount the district is paying for the use of substitute teachers. Current reports indicate the school is spending an average of approximately $2,000 per month through their contract with SubTeach.

While the absences have been discussed, administrators and board members were quick to say they understand sickness is difficult to predict. However, not all absences are due to sickness.

"If they're sick, that's one thing," superintendent Ed Winberry said. "I can understand being absent when you're sick."

Board president Jeff Benbrook noted many of the absences were due to "business days" when teachers were in attendance at workshops or meetings.

Winberry said he would speak with principals Barry DeHart and Leean Mann in order to provide the Board with information on which teachers have completed their state-mandated workshops and training sessions. With the school offering teachers several opportunities during the summer to take part in the necessary workshops, the Board has questioned the need for many such activities during the school year.

The board also discussed the possibility of teachers finding it easier to miss school when contacting SubTeach directly as opposed to calling into the school when announcing an absence.

Fundraising

The school is considering creating a new policy in regards to fundraising. Due to the economic trends of the past few years, the number of fundraising projects undertaken by students has been an area of concern for some families in the community, as well as school officials.

Benbrook noted continued fundraisers can become "a bit much" for many school patrons who feel obligated to help, particularly if they have more than one child.

Winberry agreed, saying the district should form a committee to put a policy in place which would oversee and approve school fundraisers. Winberry said he would try to have something in place to report during the January meeting.

In other business, the Board:

* Heard from Winberry the district is examining the steps needed to comply with the Common Core Standards which will go into effect in 2014. Winberry said one of the aspects of the program will be testing fourth and fifth grade students in algebra and geometry. As part of the program's requirements, the affected teachers must undergo any necessary training in order to instruct the updated subjects.

* Heard from Board member Julie McMillon who is working with Barbara Batey on determining the cause of the recent drop in literacy test scores. Also, the district will use Title I funds to do Target Testing in order to determine future areas which may need improvement.

* Approved a recommendation from Winberry to purchase upgraded security cameras at the school. The upgrades will cost an additional $20,000, but will allow operators to zoom in, allowing for easier identification.

* Recognized Karen Coomer for her efforts in becoming the district's first nationally certified teacher.

* Recognized Mann and her elementary staff for collecting supplies for the Johndrow family, who lost their home to fire Sunday.

* Accepted the consent agenda, which included the minutes from the November meeting, the November financial report and superintendent update.

* Approved the purchase of new uniforms by the baseball team.

* Accepted a bid from Doug Norton, the sole bid received, for the construction of the outdoor classroom.

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