Contract Extended for Piggott Superintendent

Thursday, January 17, 2013
Members of the Piggott High School FBLA (standing) presented certificates to the members of the school board during Monday night's meeting. The students are, from left: Alexa DeHart, McKenzie Hopkins and McKain Holman. Board members are, from left: Neil Morgan, Hope Burns, Trent Holcomb, Jeff Benbrook and Julie McMillon.

The contract of Piggott Schools Superintendent Charlie Powell was extended by one year at Monday night's board meeting. Powell, who is nearing the end of her first year under contract, is now secured for the top administrative position through the spring of 2015. Board members approved the contract extension, at her current pay rate of $80,000 per year, at the conclusion of the meeting and following a 30-plus minute executive session.

Board members also held a lengthy discussion on the safety of the two local campuses, and took care of a variety of other agenda items at the regular monthly gathering.

With all members in attendance the meeting was called to order at the administration building. Prior to the start of the business session, three members of the PHS chapter of the FBLA presented certificates of appreciation to the board members. The presentations were made in recognition of School Board Appreciation Month, which is being observed throughout January. On hand for the occasion were FBLA president McKain Holman along with members McKenzie Hopkins and Alexa DeHart.

The board was also informed that PHS eighth grader Kourtney Chadwell had won the Clay County Spelling Bee, and that sixth grader Louis Lin placed second. The members voiced their congratulations to the students, and offered best wishes for the upcoming state bee.

Board members also heard a lengthy update from Natalie Stricklin on plans for the annual junior-senior prom. Stricklin noted that the junior class is suffering from a shortfall of funding, and asked if any additional monies toward the effort might be available. She explained that the organizers would be re-purposing many of the decorations, and attempting to cut as many corners as possible, but felt there may still be a shortage. The board instructed her to look into the budget, and to seek as much local business as possible for the event. The matter was then tabled, but is expected to be re-visited at a future meeting.

The issue of school safety was then addressed.

"The recent events in Connecticut have become a big topic for discussion, and I've spoken with a lot of superintendents and administrators about how they're reacting," Powell told the board. "One thing I would like to do is form a committee to look into the safety of our campuses -- one that would include outside experts like police and even fire officials. We're here every day; we need someone to come in from the outside and look the place over and make suggestions."

Powell also noted the need for local law enforcement officials to have maps of the school campuses, allowing them to find specific locations if the need ever arose. She also discussed the need for changes to the school's crisis plans, and noted that grant money may be available for such efforts in the future.

She added that a number of other issues have been identified, ranging from improved locks to advanced surveillance systems, but the matter of how to pay for the improvements has yet to be determined. "I'm sure there are going to be mandates from the legislature in response to this, but I don't know if they will be funded," she noted.

"I know when you start talking about some of these things it seems like a lot of money," noted board president Trent Holcomb. "But, not when it comes to taking care of these kids."

During Christmas break parents of students at Piggott Elementary were informed that the front door to the building would be locked when classes resumed. Parents, and others visiting the campus, were instructed to push a buzzer at the front door and they would then be allowed entry to the building.

Since the elementary moved to the campus in the fall of 1998 the front door had been the only door that remained unlocked during classes at PES. The other doors remain locked during the school day, and can only be opened with a key.

Powell suggested that a new camera be installed above the door, allowing workers in the PES office to see who is attempting to gain entry. She added that a magnetic-lock door should also be considered, allowing parents and others to be "buzzed-in" from the office. Currently, someone from the office must go to the front door and manually open it to allow entry to the building.

The board instructed Powell to proceed with developing a safety advisory committee, and gather pricing and other information on the improvements discussed at the two campuses.

At the conclusion of the business portion of the meeting the board entered executive session to discuss extending Powell's contract. Afterward, they re-convened and voted to approve the one year extension.

In other business the board:

* Approved professional development credit for Laura French.

* Opened bids for projectors, and approved the low bid from IT Savvy in the amount of $580.24 each. The board approved the purchase of 10 units for use throughout the district.

* Approved the low bid from USI Education and Governmental Sales for a laminator for the parent center at PES in the amount of $1,288.

* Authorized Powell to accept the low bid on installation of a new awning at high school.

* Approved changes to the classified personnel policy committee.

* Approved the transfer of $225,197 to the building fund due to the recent bond re-financing.

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