Piggott School Board Meets

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Conner Boyster models the prototype for the new PHS Marching Mohawk band uniforms as Band Director Jeremy Wortham explains the difference between a "Shako" style hat which Conner is holding in his right hand and the "Aussie" style in his left.

Personnel issues, band uniforms and computer purchases were just a few of the items addressed by the Piggott School Board at their regular meeting Monday evening. Board members also approved the official calendar and contracted services for the coming school year and heard from two firms seeking to take over the district's food services program. And, following a lengthy executive session the board voted on several personnel matters.

Based on an overwhelming vote by staff members, Superintendent Charlie Powell recommended the calendar for the 2014-15 school year which was approved without dissent. The calendar, one of two options presented to the staff, calls for school to open on Aug. 18 with the last day for students as May 22. The schedule reflects the required 178 days for students and 190 for teachers. Christmas break would be from Dec. 20 to Jan. 4 and spring break would be held March 23 to 27.

The one difference between the two calendars was a day off following parent teacher conferences in both October and March.

Board members also heard from Powell concerning the 2013 audit, who indicated the report was a good one. "We had one verbal warning on journal entries, otherwise it was an excellent audit report," she told the board.

The low bid was also accepted on the purchase of computers, and tables, for the high school computer lab and for various teachers. Acting upon Powell's recommendation, the board accepted the bid from ITSavvy for the computers at a total cost of $37,556.20. This included 50 Dell OptiPlex 3020 computers at a cost of $598.87 each and 50 Dell 19-inch monitors at a cost of $83.97 each.

In a related matter, the board also approved the purchase of 20 new tables for the computer lab at PHS, at a price tag of $3,311.44. The low bid was submitted by the Outlet Store of Conway.

Board members also heard from Faith Conley of the personnel policy committee concerning possible stipends for teachers who become nationally board certified. She noted five staff members at PHS are now certified through the NBCT, and asked the board to consider some type of monetary reward for the effort, nothing that about 64 percent of area schools have such a program in place. The matter was taken under advisement, but no action was taken.

The board also heard presentations from two firms seeking to bid on the district's food services, a matter which has been in the discussion stage for the past several months. The board first heard from Mike Welch of Gourmet Solutions, then from Scott Murphy of Chartwell's, but took no action.

Both companies have submitted proposals, and are seeking permission to bid food services for the district's two cafeterias. The issue was first broached late last year by the board, as the body continued to seek avenues for saving money in the day-to-day operations of the school.

The board then turned their attention to the PHS band, and the acquisition of new uniforms and a truck for transporting instruments and other gear.

Band Director Jeremy Wortham was on hand, and with the assistance of Conner Boyster, updated the board on the effort to replace the aged band uniforms. Wortham indicated three bids were received, with the best option proposed by the Band Shoppe of Cynthiana, Ind.

With Boyster serving as the model, Wortham showed the board members the prototype for the uniform chosen. He explained the company offered several options, and the decision had been made to purchase a total of 75 complete uniforms. "We should have about 60 in the program next fall, but this will give us flexibility on sizing," he explained. "Of course, they will also keep the plans on file so we could order others down the road if we need to."

Wortham also explained the band members had voted, by a wide margin, in favor of purchasing the more traditional "shako" style of hat as opposed to the flatter "Aussie" style.

Total cost of the 75 uniforms, which includes jacket, bibber, gauntlet and hat with plume was $23,493.75. But, Wortham also indicated the band would be able to offset a portion of the costs by selling many of their old uniforms, and through various fundraisers the booster club has been conducting.

The board also voted to allow the Band Boosters to purchase a new equipment truck for the band, and then transfer ownership to the district for the purpose of licensing and insuring the vehicle. Wortham indicated a truck had been located in Paragould, and felt the purchase would be made in the coming days. He also indicated volunteer labor had been secured to take care of a few cosmetic issues with the vehicle, and noted it would be a good addition to the program.

During her report to the board, Powell offered congratulations to members of the PHS FBLA who have qualified for national competition. And, she noted the coils are to be changed to the air conditioning units in the new gym in the coming week, which should insure an operational system for graduation next month.

Following a 50 minute executive session the board re-convened and took the following action in personnel matters.

The board voted to accept the resignation of Denise Featherston as in school suspension aide, as she will retire at the end of the current school year. The resignation of Michael Harrell as assistant boy's basketball coach was approved as well. Meanwhile, Shawn Hearn tendered his resignation from the position of head Mohawk baseball coach, contingent on achieving accreditation as a mid-level classroom instructor. And, Janice Beck, director of child nutrition for the district, tendered her resignation effective at the end of the year as she will also be retiring.

Board members then voted to hire David Reynolds as the girl's track coach for the remainder of the current school year. The board also approved the hiring of Jon Wellman for summer school, for the month of June and approved the district's Advanced Placement instructors.

The board then voted to table consideration on the re-hiring of the remainder of district personnel.

In other business the board-

* Extended the contract for physical and occupational therapy for the coming year to the same firm which handled the services this past year.

* Approved the purchase of student insurance from HSR for the 2014-15 school year.

* Agreed to change CD's through Piggott State Bank to one-year terms as they mature in an effort to generate more income in interest.

* Accepted the low bid from Watson Oil Company for 5,000 gallons of gas at $3.20 a gallon.

* Voted to accept the low bid from Hobb's Siding and Windows of Piggott for repair to awnings and gutter from one of the winter ice storms. The cost of the project, which is covered by insurance, was $7,720.

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