Rector and Piggott School Boards Handle Personnel Issues

Thursday, June 15, 2017
Workers began placing the new playground equipment at Piggott Elementary School last week, and the project is expected to be completed by Friday. A crew from Little Rock is taking care of the effort, with the assistance of two Mohawks who were hired to provide extra help—Braden Ralph (left) and Bret Fuller.
TD photo/Tim Blair

Both the Rector and Piggott school districts were affected by action at Monday night's respective board meetings. Due to the resignation of RHS principal Wade Williams there will be new faces on both campuses, as former PES principal Anthony Dowdy will be taking the same job at RES.

Rector School Board

Major personnel changes, including both principal positions, dominated Monday’s monthly meeting of the Rector School Board.

It was announced that high school principal Wade Williams has resigned to take a position in a Missouri district. The board accepted the recommendation of superintendent Johnny Fowler that current elementary school principal Nate Henderson move to the high school position.

The board also accepted Fowler’s recommendation that Anthony Dowdy be employed as the new elementary school principal.

Williams has accepted the position of assistant high school principal at Mountain Grove, Mo., where he graduated from high school and has family. He has worked in the Rector district for 17 years, initially as a football coach and physical education teacher. He has been high school principal for the past 10 years.

Henderson has been employed in the Rector district since 2002, and has been elementary principal for the past six years.

Dowdy spent the past year as principal at Piggott Elementary School. He has experience at several other districts in the area. He and his family live in Rector.

In other personnel matters, the board:

--accepted the resignation of sixth grade teacher Susie McCarroll, who is moving to the Greene County Tech district, and approved Fowler’s recommendation to shift Bethany Burns from second grade to sixth.

--released Jacob Nolen, who is moving to the Marmaduke district, from his contract and employed Lauren Dorman in the elementary math and science position.

--accepted the resignation of high school girls basketball coach Matt Dean, who is accepting a position in the Greene County Tech district.

--heard Fowler indicate that Christina Boyd will become fully-certified for the high school Spanish position, which will then be classified full-time.

In other board business, the superintendent’s financial report was briefly reviewed and approved, showing an ending balance of $2,709,171.21, including federal funds and the lunch program funds. The board followed procedure and approved the preliminary 2018-2019 budget.

The board heard a report that painting and cleaning in both the high school and elementary buildings is progressing in preparation for next school year.

Fowler advised the board that a fence is being installed around the playground and another at the back of the football field to prevent people from walking around the entrance area attempting to watch the games without paying admission.

Piggott School Board

Members of the Piggott Schools Board of Education continued their efforts to secure a staff for the coming school year at their regular meeting Monday night. Late in the meeting, following a 90 minute executive session, the board voted to fill two of the vacant positions. Board members were also informed that administrator Anthony Dowdy would be leaving his position to take a job at Rector (see additional story this edition).

Earlier this year former assistant principal Brock Swann was named to the top spot at PES, with Dowdy re-assigned as assistant for the time-being. In light of PHS principal Barry DeHart's role as interim superintendent, the local district now has two administration positions to fill.

Board members were also updated on a variety of projects at the gathering, approved the purchase of insurance for property, vehicles and mobile equipment and reviewed changes to the student handbook mandated by recent legislation.

With all members in attendance the meeting was called to order by board president Hope Burns. After approving the consent agenda items, which included minutes of five special meetings, the board turned their attention to the various projects currently underway.

Fred Malicoat, of Malicoat-Winslow Engineers, and Todd Welch, with the Brackett Krennerich Architects, provided an update on the efforts to replace the roof on the elementary school. They also reviewed the concession stand project at Parker Field, which is currently awaiting approval from the state fire marshal.

“We just came from inspecting the roof on the elementary school and it has a lot of problems,” Malicoat informed the board. “We're proposing that you replace it with a new TPO roof, which would be tapered to allow better run-off.”

He also noted some of the vendors seeking to bid the job had asked if a metal roof would be appropriate, adding, “with the roof-top units we have a metal roof is not the way to go.”

Welch reviewed the particulars of the job, noting wire mesh strainers would be added to keep debris from entering the downspouts, and indicated the current skylights would be eliminated.

“Many of them are already covered, and when you switch-over to LEDs there won't be enough cost savings to make much of an impact,” Malicoat added.

He indicated they will be gathering estimates on the project, which would take over three months to complete. Final numbers on the job should be available in the coming week, allowing the bidding process to continue.

Welch also reported the concession stand project at Parker Field is on temporary hold awaiting the approval of the state fire marshal.

“It's just a formality, but we can't proceed without his approval,” Welch noted. “I don't think it will be much longer, we should have word in the next few days.”

Afterward, the plans will be forwarded to the state facilities department for their approval.

DeHart also provided the board with a report on state-mandated changes to the student handbook, which is currently being updated for the coming year.

“Act 478 requires that all graduating seniors pass the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services,” he explained. “The change will be for those graduating in the 2018-2019 school year.”

He noted the district would begin teaching the test to freshmen, allowing students four chances to pass it prior to graduation.

“The state is also requiring us to teach a personal finance course thanks to Act 480,” he added. “It will teach students how to open a checking account, what it takes to get a loan and other details about handling their personel finances. I think it's a great idea.”

Student attendance was also addressed by the legislature during the most recent session, with passage of Act 867.

“This effectively repeals the full-day mandatory attendance requirements for students in grades nine through 12,” he offered. “It allows a student who only needs one or two classes to graduate to attend just those classes and not be required to take a bunch of extra classes just to fill-out their day.”

The measure also repeals the requirement that home school, or private school, students taking a distance learning class through a local district to physically attend class.

“It repeals the requirement that a teacher must visually note the physical presence of the student in class,” he added. “But, it does stipulate that state tests or assessments must be taken onsite.”

DeHart noted this will affect many seniors, who in years past were required to take classes they didn't need to graduate in order to have a full day.

“We will have fewer people in classes, and won't have to deal with students who don't want to be in a class—and don't need that credit,” he concurred.

DeHart also noted there were two proposed changes to the elementary handbook, although he wanted to review those with the committee prior to presenting them to the board for approval.

The board also discussed the ongoing efforts to secure grant funding to build a safe room on the high school campus.

“Our application is in and we must make a decision,” he explained. “They'll provide about $600,000 of the cost and we'll have to cover the other $450,000.”

He indicated the current plan called for demolition of the current band room, with the safe room to be built at that location.

“But, they're talking about a lengthy construction schedule and we need to evaluate how that affects us,” he noted.

During his update to the board, DeHart noted the construction of the new track equipment storage building was complete, and the electric service was being run. He also noted the playground equipment at PES was currently being installed, and would be in place by the end of the week.

Furniture for the PHS library is being delivered in the days to come, and DeHart noted the carpeting and painting is complete. He also reported the base for the track would be tested again on Tuesday, and if it passed the contractor would begin laying pavement on Wednesday.

Work on the welding booths in the vo-ag shop was slated to get underway on Monday, and the roofing repair project at the high school is also scheduled for later this month.

DeHart also reported he had heard from BRTC, and the career coach program has been approved. Under the plan, PHS and Corning High School will share a career coach with each of the districts paying about a fourth of their salary. The additional funds for the salary are to be provided by BRTC as part of the program.

He also noted several teachers will be attending training in Little Rock in July to help adapt to the new testing for lower grades, and added that work on bringing one of the ABC School classrooms up to code were underway.

Following the hour-and-a-half executive session the board re-convened and filled two positions. With board member Jennifer Rahn recusing herself, the board discussed—and ultimately hired, Kayla Rahn for the open fourth grade teacher position. DeHart noted she was extended a contract pending approval by the state department of education, based on the fact the new hire is married to the family member of a board member.

The board then voted to hire Harold Matthew Click for the assistant maintenance position on a vote of 5-0. Click was recommended by DeHart based on the recommendation he received from maintenance supervisor Miles McCluskey.

Meanwhile, the board chose to table the issue of hiring a new cafeteria director.

In other business the board--

--Approved the annual budget of expenditures, with tax levy, for the year beginning July 1, 2018, to and including June 30, 2019 and approve all related election documents.

--Agreed to set the polling site for the September school election as the Piggott Community Center, unless it is uncontested. If that occurs only early and absentee ballots will be tallied.

--Appointed DeHart as ex-officio financial secretary and authorize him and district treasurer Sheila Mayberry to sign checks.

--Approved the transfer of up to $8691.56 to food service to cover student accounts in the red.

--Voted 5-0 to accept the licensed and classified salary schedules for the coming school year.

--Okayed the renewal of the Renaisance Learning program at a cost of $14,040.35 and the E-Trition accounting system for the cafeterias in the amount of $2,201.50.

--Purchased insurance from the ASBA for property, vehicles and mobile equipment at a cost of $54,904.47.

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