Piggott Principals Re-Hired, Projects Reviewed by Board

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Personnel matters, ongoing improvement efforts and a variety of purchases dominated a marathon meeting of the Piggott School Board Monday evening. During the gathering, which lasted just over four-and-a-half hours, the board also conducted an expulsion hearing for a student at PHS, reviewed a variety of projects and re-hired the campus principals for the coming year.

With all members in attendance, along with key staff, the meeting was called to order at the administration building. The board then conducted an expulsion hearing for the PHS student, which at the request of his parents was a closed hearing.

Afterward, they reconvened and voted to place the student on probation for the remainder of the year. The student in question was also prohibited from participating in after school events and PACE, and would be expelled should any further issues arise.

The board members then turned their attention to a lengthy agenda, first discussing several parcels of real estate. Superintendent Charlie Powell reported she had been contacted by a property owner offering to sell the district the home just south of the agri building, at the corner of East Court and South Monroe.

"We were offered the house and lot for $75,000, and we've also been informed we can purchase the house adjacent to the football practice field," she noted. "Earlier you talked about the availability of the lot-and-a-half across from the new gym, and there are a couple of properties along the south edge of the high school campus for sale, too."

In recent years the board has examined the prospect of purchasing additional property around the two campuses, to allow room for growth and additional parking.

"My recommendation is that you come up with some type of long-term plan, so we know how to address this," Powell offered as the matter was tabled for the time being.

Engineer Fred Malicoat was on hand to review a number of efforts, including the roofing project involving the main high school building. He noted there were two bids, one from Jonesboro Roofing and the other from Hobb's Siding and Windows of Piggott.

"No one was at the pre-bid meeting from Hobb's and they didn't follow the correct bidding procedure," Malicoat explained. "Although the bid is lower, I recommend you go with Jonesboro Roofing. They were here at the pre-bid meeting, and followed the correct procedure."

The bid from the Jonesboro firm was $49,335, while board members commented the bid from Hobbs was some $27,000 less.

"You can re-bid it if you're not confident with it," he added.

After a brief discussion on the matter the board decided to go with Powell's recommendation to award the contract to Jonesboro Roofing, with the work expected to be done during the upcoming spring break.

The board also followed Malicoat's recommendation in awarding the bid for HVAC work in the administration building to Buffington Brothers, of Poplar Bluff, in the amount of $16,200.

They also discussed the HVAC units in the middle gym, and a unit which was purchased for the PES cafeteria but never put into service.

In reference to the two units in the middle gym which need replaced, Malicoat noted D&G Plumbing and Heating had submitted a bid for replacing them with new 15-ton units. After a brief discussion on the matter, the board voted to re-bid the job.

The issue of the concession stand project at Parker Field was the next item on the agenda, as the board continues to wrestle with the cost of the effort.

"I can tell you right away that we can't spend $600,000 on a concession stand and restroom facility at the football field," board member Jennifer Rahn told Malicoat. "We need to look into whether we can remodel the current facility, or whether it needs to be done as two projects to meet state standards, but we need to get it done."

At issue was the $600,000 estimate provided by the engineering firm, which apparently was in error. Based on the discussion, the current estimate for the project is closer to $360,000, which would meet state code for the minimum number of restroom facilities.

"We need to sit down and work things out, we can't just keep looking at this every month and asking for changes," Rahn added.

The other board members concurred, and asked the engineers to formulate a plan which incorporates the current building. In turn, they were informed if 50 percent of the building is remodeled, all of it must be brought up to the current code.

Among those on hand was Mohawk Coach Michael Harrell, who noted he felt the cost of the project was too high. "We need to look at all of our options before we go spending that kind of money," he offered. "I know we have to meet state standards, but it seems like there are other ways we can approach this that won't cost the district so much."

The board instructed the engineering firm to evaluate the existing structure, and then work out a plan which will utilize the existing building in future plans.

Malicoat also reported the bids have not been let for a new exhaust system for the agri shop or the fence which will be erected around the new track. He also indicated additional paperwork will be required as the district seeks grant funds for a new safe room.

Board members also approved the purchase of the new equipment for the track. The items were purchased from BSN Equipment with a total cost of $23,488, not including tax and shipping and handling charges. The purchase was approved on a vote of 5-0.

Late in the meeting the board voted to enter into an executive session to consider extending the contracts of PHS Principal Barry DeHart, PES Principal Anthony Dowdy and Assistant Principal Brock Swann and a change in salary for Erica Harris at PES.

After a lengthy session, the board reconvened to consider the personnel matters.

Based on Powell's recommendation, they voted to change the salary for PES teacher Erica Harris from federal funding to the general fund. The bookkeeping measure was passed on a vote of 5-0.

The board then considered the extension of the administrator's contracts, passing all three without dissent.

In other business the board--

--Entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Arkansas State University to provide classes at PHS. Classes will be offered by local teachers, and online, at a cost of just $40 per credit hour.

--Agreed to sell the former driver's education car at the upcoming FFA auction, and to have it removed from the district's insurance policy.

--Discussed the band vehicle, which had been titled to the district several years back, and it future.

--Approved the low bid from Watson Oil Company for the purchase of 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel at a cost of $1.84 a gallon.

--Gave the okay to the purchase of school board legal liability and employment practice insurance coverage. The board also agreed to purchase general liability insurance, including out-of-state coverage.

--Rejected three bids on the sale of an old school bus, and tabled the matter.

--Approved the purchase of mouses and headsets for Chromebooks at a cost of $4,030.86 from Bit Direct.

--Tabled consideration of whether to offer the Summer Feeding Program, pending more information from the USDA.

--Set the date for advanced education for the board members as April 20.

--Revised the bid/change order for the football and track project in relation to the fencing.

--Agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Clay County Detention Center to provide lodging in the event of a catastrophic disaster.

During her report to the board, Powell indicated the current student census stood at 871. She also reported the archery team took third in the regional and offered congratulations to Piggott Spelling Bee winner Madison Arenaz and County Spelling Bee Champ Natalie Blake, both of PES. Powell also applauded the FBLA chapter on their recent district wins.

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