School Boards Elect Officers

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Local school board members held their first meeting since the annual school election this week, and in turn elected officers. The Piggott Board also handled a couple of controversial items, including a change in the date of this year's graduation.

Piggott School Board

Members of the Piggott Schools Board of Education held election of officers at their meeting Monday night, as new member Jennifer Rahn participated in her first gathering. Jeff Benbrook will serve his final year on the board as president, Hope Burns is vice president and Bradley Dunlap was elected as secretary/treasurer. Later in the meeting Dunlap was also selected to serve as disbursing officer for the board.

During the meeting the board approved a change of the date for this year's PHS graduation, choosing to move commencement to 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 15. A major shake-up of the peewee basketball program was also discussed, and a plan tentatively approved pending review. The board also approved the hiring of three new staff members.

Benbrook called the meeting to order with Burns and Dunlap in attendance and constituting a quorum, and reviewed the ballots for election of officers. A short time later Rahn arrived and joined the gathering, while member Chris Roberts was absent. As he opened the meeting Benbrook offered condolences to the family of PES paraprofessional Tammy Parks, who passed away last month, and a word of welcome to Rahn.

After dispensing with the consent agenda items the board turned their attention to the matter of changing the date of graduation, which had been discussed at the September meeting.

"I have a letter of recommendation from Mr. (PHS Principal Barry) DeHart, and he indicates the preference is to change the date from Friday, May 13, to Sunday, May 15," Superintendent Charlie Powell told the board members. "He noted he has been approached by parents who are in favor of changing the date."

Powell added the recommendation was to set the time for 3 p.m. to allow those wanting to attend the Rector High School graduation at 1 p.m. the opportunity.

DeHart had first made the recommendation based on past experiences with Mohawk athletes involved in post-season play missing their graduation ceremony. "Holding the ceremony on Sunday afternoon alleviates that because they don't play on Sunday's," he noted at the time.

Powell offered her recommendation to approve the change, adding, "we can always move it back the following year if things don't work out."

The change was approved on a vote of 3-0.

Powell also reviewed the district's long range plans, in light of the recent extension of the current millage rate. She noted the district would be looking for grant monies to help pay for the roofing project at PES, and suggested the plans for the new band/safe room be moved up to allow time to attempt to secure partial funding from FEMA. "There are currently no funds available, and if we wait for a matching grant from FEMA it would save the district a lot of money," she added.

Powell noted the cost to the district if the effort were subsidized by FEMA was estimated at around $500,000, but the local share would be close to $2 million under a partnership grant.

In order to meet state stipulations the board approved a resolution to approve the local support for the 2016 plan which covers 2017-19. In turn, the board then voted no on a related resolution as required by the state to meet the long range planning requirements.

Powell also updated the board on the most recent efforts by EPM, which has installed energy monitoring equipment throughout both campuses. She indicated the number of HVAC units requiring attention had fallen from 22 to seven at PHS and from 30 to 12 at the elementary campus.

She also reported the bid process is underway for replacing the unit in the PHS cafeteria, with the pre-bid process set for Oct. 21, and the bid opening on Oct. 28. The board then voted to allow Powell to accept the lowest bid in order to expedite the replacement.

"Our goal is to have the units in the gym replaced in time for graduation," she added. "It's a lengthy process--it takes six to eight weeks for them just to build the units so we want to get the process underway now."

Powell also presented a proposal from Paul Seegraves to re-vamp the peewee basketball program, moving to a system which puts more emphasis on traveling teams. The proposal outlined the formation of fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls and boys teams to compete in the NEA Elementary League.

The league would include the Piggott teams along with squads from Manila, EPC, Gosnell and Nettleton. During their discussion on the subject, which was conducted prior to Rahn's arrival, the board members noted there had been suggestions in the past concerning an updating of the program. They also discussed how transportation to away games would be handled, which Powell indicated would be up to the individual parents and coaches.

Powell noted the issue of the local league system, which has been utilized for a number of years, was still up in the air but added she felt there would be at least a few games played prior to the start of the traveling season on Nov. 21.

Rahn arrived at the meeting as the discussion was concluding, and voted with the majority for the change. Later, after reviewing the matter further she indicated she would have voted against the change if it meant an end to the local league. Powell noted she was under the assumption Rahn had been briefed on the matter by Seegraves, and the board member indicated she'd like to look further into the matter.

The schedule shared with the board calls for games to start on Nov. 21, and continue on Saturdays through Feb. 20, with a break for Thanksgiving and another for Christmas.

During her update to the board Powell reported PES teacher Sherry Wright had been named to the governor's Common Core Review Commission. She also reported parent teacher conferences will be held next Tuesday and Thursday, Oct. 20 and 22, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Powell also offered congratulations to Seegraves on his 500th win as Mohawk tennis coach.

Late in the meeting the board approved the hiring of three new staff members on a vote of 4-0. Hired as nurse/aide at PHS was Kathy White, meanwhile Andrea Manning will move to a fourth grade aide position and Silver Scely was hired as a third grade aide under Title I funding, pending passage of her background check.

In other business the board-

* Agreed to change the meeting time to 5:30 p.m. beginning with the November gathering, and continuing through the winter months.

* Approved the required Statement of Assurances for the district.

* Appointed Roberts as the delegate to the Arkansas School Board Association.

* Discussed bleacher repair at PHS, and approved an inspection at a cost of $2,800.

Rector School Board

The Rector School Board elected board officers at Monday's monthly meeting.

Officers will remain the same for the 2015-2016 school year. Jody Simmons begins his third year as president and his fifth year on the board. Tony Lockhart will serve as vice president for his second year and his third year on the board.

Kirk Ford begins his second year as secretary and sixth year on the board. Kim Isom is entering her third year as a board member and Mike Trail begins his second year.

Salary increases for teachers who have reached steps in their careers such as having been with the school long enough to warrant a five percent increase in pay and those who have achieved master's degrees, were approved.

Susan Warrington was hired as a fourth grade teacher. The RES fourth grade has grown to a size where another teacher was needed, elementary principal Nate Henderson said.

The board approved buying two lots adjacent to the school for $10,000.

Both principals, Henderson and Wade Williams, reported nine weeks tests are in progress this week in both schools. Henderson also reported changing the sixth grade D.A.R.E. program to this week and of the upcoming family night being hosted from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at RES.

The board also approved changing the November monthly meeting to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10.

The school's operating fund at the end of last month was $1,254,714.29, and the total of all funds was $2,034,693.21.

Marmaduke School Board

The Marmaduke School Board elected officers and approved legal transfers Monday at Monday's monthly meeting.

The board will remain the same for the 2015-2016 school year. Jason Weatherford will act as president, Stacy Speer is vice president and Chuck Taylor is secretary. Kevin Hawley and Chuck Long remain board members.

A total of five legal transfers were approved from Greene County Tech and Paragould school districts bringing the number of students in elementary and high school to 745.

Also discussed was board member training to take place over the next month and a half, and the school is gearing up for Greyhound basketball beginning this week with junior high jamboree Tuesday, Oct. 13, and senior high jamboree Thursday, Oct. 15.

The board also held its annual public meeting. During the meeting the board discussed the new Aspire testing system, which will replace Classworks. Superintendent Tim Gardner presented a letter the district will use to inform the public of how the mileage voted on last year is being used to install Wifi throughout the campus.

In conclusion, the Title One budget was broken down. Costs budgeted are $55,316.07 for elementary reading recovery teachers; $45,733.51 for federal program directors; $38,350.98 for literary and math coaches; $20,584.26 allocated for a computer lab facilitator; $1,907.24 for parental involvement coordinator; $30,090 for the Classworks program for grades K-12; $11,610.60 for the accelerated reader program for grades K-12; $2,769.41 for elementary after school tutoring; $4,015.75 for supplemental materials for grades K-12; $500 for homeless needs; $1,000 for professional development; $800 for parental involvement materials and supplies and $996.18 for federal programs conferences and supplies for a grand total of $213,674.

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