Piggott School Board Okays Purchase, Bonuses

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Members of the Piggott School Board gathered for a group photo at Monday night's regular meeting. This year's board includes, from left: Front-Secretary Bradley Dunlap, President Jeff Benbrook and Vice President Hope Burns. Back-Jennifer Rahn and Chris Roberts.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Board members handled a laundry list of items at the regular meeting of the Piggott Schools Board of Education Monday evening. The board authorized several purchases of equipment, including a 14-passenger bus, adjusted several district policies and discussed the issue of renting school facilities. The body also voted to provide $500 bonuses to all district employees, providing a bit of good news for staff members during this holiday season.

With members Hope Burns, Bradley Dunlap and Chris Roberts in attendance the meeting was called to order by board president Jeff Benbrook. The fifth member, Jennifer Rahn, arrived a short time later.

After dispensing with the consent agenda items, and approving with the financial reports, the board members turned their attention to the list of items for consideration. Among them were bids for replacing the aged bleachers in the Piggott Elementary School gym.

"The bid we have is from the same company that came in and worked on the bleachers at the high school recently," Superintendent Charlie Powell told the board. "If you approve the purchase our plan is to have them installed during spring break."

The current bleachers have been in disrepair for a number of years, and the replacement project has been in the discussion stage for quite some time awaiting the availability of funding.

The bid, from SOPA Inc., of Little Rock, specifies one bank of new Hussey brand "Maxum" bleachers, 75 feet and six inches long and 12 rows high. The new unit would feature plastic module seats, single phase operation, end rails, aisle rails and end curtains. Total cost of the purchase was bid at $53,507.

"This bid doesn't include removal of the old bleachers or prep work on the back wall," Powell added. "Our maintenance department will be doing that part of the project."

She also indicated the new bleachers would be installed flush with the back wall, eliminating the current gap.

Purchase and installation of the new bleachers were approved on a vote of 5-0.

"It was long overdue," Benbrook surmised.

The board also gave the go ahead for a project at PES, as a new HVAC unit will be installed to service the elementary office and break room area. Powell indicated the current system is woefully inadequate, and presented a bid from D&G Plumbing and Heating in the amount of $5,980.

The bid, which specified a Carrier one and one-half ton unit, passed without dissent.

Board members then reviewed bids for the purchase of eight "Smart Boards" and the related software and accessories. The low bid was submitted by Piraino Consulting, of Conway, at a cost of $18,630.70, and included installation and shipping.

Board members voted to accept the low bid 5-0.

The body also reviewed bids on the related projectors for the smart boards, agreeing to the purchase of eight units from iK Network Solutions in the amount of $6,916.80.

This purchase was also approved unanimously.

The board then heard a request from the Piggott Heritage Car Show group concerning rental of the middle gym at PHS in May.

"Tracy Cole contacted us about renting the middle gym in May for the car show people to host a male beauty contest," Powell told the board members. "They have offered to pay $250 to cover clean-up and other costs, and plan to hold the event on May 20."

Following a brief discussion the board voted without dissent to allow the group to rent the gym.

Board members also addressed future transportation needs for the district, agreeing to allow the bid process to begin on the purchase of a new "travel" bus and then accepting the low bid on purchase of a 14-passenger bus.

"We'd like to begin the bid process for purchasing a new travel bus," Powell explained. "Usually it will take until January or February to get everything completed, and get the unit ordered for the following fall."

She noted the priority was to purchase a new bus to be used for travel by students, such as out-of-town sporting and academic events and field trips.

"It will be earmarked for travel, but will also be used as a replacement bus on the local routes when needed," Powell added. "We're estimating a cost of somewhere in excess of $95,000."

The board voted 5-0 to allow the bid process to begin on the purchase.

Afterward, board members opened bids for a used 14-passenger bus, and agreed to the purchase of a 2012 Ford E350 Super Duty, Starcraft model with a 5.4 liter gas engine from National Bus Sales of Tulsa.

"Another good thing about the smaller buses is the fact you don't have to have a CDL to drive them," Powell explained. "That will make it a lot easier on groups if they don't have to line-up a driver."

The bid also specified the bus meet all Arkansas regulations, have a 30-day warranty and the proper lettering. Total cost of the bus was set at $39,900 and the delivery fee was $400, setting the total cost at $40,300.

Board members voted to accept the bid from NBS unanimously.

The board then addressed a request by a local Junior Olympics volleyball team interested in using a gym for practice. Rahn indicated she was one of the coaches of the local squad, which split-off from a team in the Jonesboro area. She noted all of the team members were 15-year-old local girls, and indicated the team would be competing in tournaments across the region.

Following a brief discussion on the matter Rahn recused herself, and left the room as the request was put to a vote. After weighing the matter further it appeared the request would die for lack of a motion, but board member Chris Roberts moved it be put to a vote. All four of the remaining members, including Roberts, then voted no on the matter.

In recent years the board has received a number of such requests, and has made an effort to distance themselves from the practice of renting the gyms for such uses.

Late in the meeting the board considered the issue of bonuses for the district employees.

"We have the funds to do it, but we would be spending our surplus," Powell told the board members.

After weighing the merits of the issue, the consensus among the board members was to approve a $500 bonus for each staff member of the district.

"We owe it to our employees, we need to take care of them--it's something we need to do," Benbrook offered in voting in favor of the bonuses.

"I just want to insure that it is across-the-board, and everyone gets the same amount," Burns added.

The matter passed without dissent, and Powell indicated there was still adequate time to include the bonuses on the staff's upcoming paycheck.

Prior to adjourning the board discussed the resignation of Kathy White, R.N., who had been hired as the school nurse but never signed a contract or worked in the position.

At the insistence of Roberts, the board voted to enter into executive session to discuss the matter.

Approximately 35 minutes later they reconvened, and voted to accept White's resignation.

In other business the board-

* Approved a revision of the district's policy on absences to align the personnel policy manual with the campus handbooks.

* Purchased a new ice machine for the PES campus from Central Restaurant Products at a cost of $1,769, contingent on a warranty comparable to the other bids.

* Approved several changes concerning the district Wellness Policy.

* Okayed a handbook revision concerning the Smart Core program.

* Gave approval for the formation of school improvement leadership teams.

* Tabled consideration of the purchase of new weight equipment pending a determination of what funds are already on hand.

* Heard an update from Powell on the improvements made to the HVAC system for the high school cafeteria, which was recently replaced. She also noted the bid process on the new units for the gym will continue after the Christmas break.

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