Piggott and Rector School Boards Meet

Thursday, January 16, 2014
PHS juniors Bradley Stephens and Abby Holcomb were on hand at Monday night's board meeting to present certificates of appreciation to Piggott School District Board of Education members. January is Arkansas School Board Recognition Month, and is set aside to honor members of local boards of education for their commitment to provide quality public education for Arkansas's school children.

Both the Piggott and Rector school boards met for the first time for 2014 in the past week. And, both groups decided to retain the services of their current superintendent for an extended period.

Rector School Board

The Rector School Board and superintendent Johnny Fowler are working to bring a special program to Rector. Board president Jody Simmons and vice-president Tony Lockhart recently attended a special presentation of "Rachel's Challenge" during a workshop session for Arkansas School Board members at Little Rock. The presentation, which centers around continuing the efforts of Rachel Scott, a caring and outgoing young lady who was the first victim in the 1999 Columbine school shooting, promotes compassion and caring between students in order to help create a safer learning environment. The presentation made an obvious impact on Simmons and Lockhart, who then shared a video offered by the program with Fowler.

"It's built on the theme of helping others," Simmons said. "She wrote an essay called 'Rachel's Challenge' prior to her death that challenged others to help. She believed that through having compassion toward others, you could make a difference in their lives, and that if more people did the same thing, the effect would be even greater."

Fowler noted the program shares more insight of Rachel's life and efforts, while supporting her challenge to make compassion, acceptance and friendship more prevalent. The program also features skits designed for specific age groups.

"They do a program for high school, one for elementary and have one for the community," Lockhart said.

Lockhart looked into bringing the program to Rector. He believes the cost for hosting the program would range from $4,000 to $5,000.

The Board discussed ways to bring the program to Rector, considering options such as uniting with another school to share the cost, seeking sponsors or assistance from the Helping Hands Foundation or have the school absorb the entire cost outright.

"I think it's a great idea," Board member Kirk Ford said. "It sounds like it would be excellent for our kids, and even the community, to have something like that come here."

In other business, the Board:

* Approved the renewal of Fowler's contract, adding another year to his current contract.

* Heard from Fowler the district currently has $1,841,166.65 in its total operation fund, with an additional $200,000 in its building fund and approved the financial report.

* Heard from Fowler the Lady Cougars are the number two basketball team in Arkansas' Class 2A.

* Approved the minutes from the December, 2013, meeting.

* Was presented with a special meal in recognition of School Board Month by Fowler and the school district.

Piggott School Board

Members of the Piggott Schools Board of Education handled a variety of issues at their first regular meeting of the new year Monday night, and following a lengthy executive session voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Charnelsa "Charlie" Powell for two additional years. The move, which passed without dissent, secures her services through the 2016-17 school year. Board members also addressed another personnel issue, which arose with the untimely death of high school paraprofessional Penny Poole, and approved bids for several purchases.

Members of the board were also recognized for their service to the community and district, as PHS students presented each with a certificate in conjunction with School Board Appreciation Week.

With all members, and key administrative staff, in attendance the meeting was called to order by board president Julie McMillon. After addressing the consent agenda items, the board reviewed bids on the purchase of projectors, printers and diesel fuel.

Based on Powell's recommendation, the board voted to accept the bid from IT Savvy for eight projectors, and mounts, at a total cost of $5,670.44. The board also accepted the bid from the same vendor for 15 printers, at a total cost of $3,949.83.

Meanwhile, bids for diesel fuel were submitted by Watson Oil and MFA, with the low bid of $3.12 a gallon accepted from Watson Oil Company.

During her update to the board Powell noted the census at the two campuses is holding steady, with 431 enrolled at the high school and 450 students at PHS. She also informed board members of the approval of two grants.

Based on the school's Benchmark exam scores, which placed the campus in the top 20 percent, Piggott Elementary School is being awarded a $21,127.48 grant from the state.

Meanwhile, the joint partnership grant between the school district and the City of Piggott was also approved, in the amount of $30,060. These funds are earmarked for improvements and repair to the baseball and softball fields at Independence Park, which are also utilized by the PHS baseball and softball teams.

She also updated the board of efforts to form a dance team, indicating no current staff members had expressed an interest in taking on the project.

Following Powell's update the board voted to enter into an executive session, re-convening about an hour later.

After entering back into regular session the board voted to accept the resignation of Laura Reeves as a lunch duty aide at PES. The body then voted to transfer Reeves from the elementary campus to PHS, to serve as Poole's replacement for the remainder of the year. Afterward they voted not to fill the vacant aide position at the elementary school left by Reeve's departure, instead choosing to contract the job using substitutes for the remainder of this school year.

The board members then agreed to extend Powell's contract on a vote of 5-0.

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