PHS Handbook Changes Approved, Seegraves Hired at Board Meeting
Members of the Piggott School Board laid the groundwork for the coming school year at their regular meeting Monday night. Discussion items included several construction and improvement projects and sweeping changes to the handbook at PHS. Late in the meeting, following a nearly 90 minute executive session, personnel matters were handled, including the hiring of a new principal for PHS. Named to the position was long-time staff member Paul Seegraves. He replaces Barry DeHart, who was officially hired as interim superintendent after serving in the capacity as an appointment the past several months.
Among the items reviewed was also a recently-announced effort to build a covered bleacher for the Marching Mohawk Band at Parker Field.
With all members in attendance, along with administrative staff, the meeting was called to order and the consent agenda items approved. The board then turned its attention to the concession stand project at Parker Field, opening three bids.
Low bid on the project was submitted by T&T Construction, which is owned and operated by Trent Grimes and Tony Johnson. They submitted a bid of $42,700, while a bid from Mohawk Construction was submitted at $49,500 and the bid from Garrett McKinnie was $55,600.
Following a brief discussion on the three bids, the board voted to accept DeHart's recommendation and the low bid. Work on the concession stand was expected to begin soon, as preparations are underway for the Mohawk's Sept. 1, home and season opener against Hazen.
DeHart also reported on the roof project at PES, which was expected to be out for bid at this point. He noted the engineer, Fred Malicoatt, had contacted him and reported that he would have the job ready for bid in two weeks.
The board also re-visited an earlier effort, and approved the purchase of electronic access control door locks for the high school. Bids from Bluesky Technology and Advance Cabling were reviewed, with the nod going to Bluesky at a cost of $14,655.80.
The plan calls for the installation of a wireless locking system on 10 doors at the high school campus, with access gained by using a key fob.
The board also voted to transfer funds to cover an increase in participation in the summer feeding program, and heard an update on the effort. DeHart noted the program had been feeding between 60 and 65 people each day, well up from last year. He indicated the original application estimated the number at 35 each day, and noted the district has asked for an adjustment by the USDA.
In response, they voted to allow the transfer of up to $3,636.44—if needed.
DeHart also provided a lengthy report on proposed changes to the handbooks at both campuses, with the adjustments for PHS approved on a vote of 5-0.
Changes were made to the dress code, penalties on improper cell phone usage, the way tardies are tabulated and to the rules pertaining to lunch room debt.
“Probably the most drastic change is dropping the nine-week grading system at the high school,” DeHart explained. “I propose we go with just two semesters, it will be better for the students.”
He indicated many students suffer from early-year bad grades, which are harder to make up when the semesters are split into two nine week periods.
“This gives them a much better chance of improving their grades, and that can have a big impact on the kids,” he added.
The changes also offered increased penalties for the improper use of cell phones at the high school, which are limited to the cafeteria. Under the new guidelines, those caught using their phone outside the cafeteria will receive one day in-school suspension.
“If they get caught a second time it will be a three day out of school suspension, and a third offense will earn them a five day suspension,” he offered. “It's something they can easily avoid, so I don't see a problem with increasing the penalties.”
The new handbook will also place a $50 cap on cafeteria debt for all students and staff, with penalties for those who do not comply. Under the new guidelines those exceeding the $50 limit will no longer be exempt from semester testing, regardless of their grades or perfect attendance. Students will also be deemed ineligible for participation in extracurricular activities.
“A list will be generated each Monday and distributed to the coaches and such,” DeHart explained. “If the student is over the limit they will not be eligible to participate in sports, band and other extracurriculars until they've taken care of it.”
Additional changes were made to the dress code, prohibiting strapless blouses and dresses. A variety of other changes were also made, including the way the top graduates are determined.
“Beginning with this year's freshmen we'll no longer determine the valedictorian and salutatorian each year,” he offered. “Instead, all honor students with a GPA of 4.0 or higher will be offered the chance to speak for two minutes each.”
A system of signing-in students in first period class was also developed, in an effort to insure students who are just tardy are not counted absent for the entire period. “When it's a senior trying to graduate, and they've got 14 or 15 absents which were actually tardies, it can be a problem. This will alleviate that,” he concluded.
Following the review, the changes to the handbook at high school were approved on a vote of 5-0. On the other hand, changes to the handbook at PES were tabled pending clarification of the rule on what constitutes a half-day, and when the cutoff should occur.
The purchase of new science and history text books for the high school was also discussed, and the board approved the purchase of workbooks for the elementary school to be purchased with Title I funding.
During his update to the board, DeHart noted work was to be completed on the PHS library by the end of the week. He also indicated the work on the roof at the high school should begin soon, with Jonesboro Roofing Company contracted to do the job.
He also reported on the upgrades to the welding booths in the PHS agri building, and noted the cleaning of PES was near complete.
DeHart also provided an update on the plan to build a covered bleacher at Parker Field for the band. He indicated he looked into pricing, and found that a 150-person bleacher would cost less than $14,000 and could be paid for with bond refund monies.
“We've been able to do a lot and the board felt it would be great to do something for our band, they're such a great asset to the district,” he explained.
The plans call for the covered bleacher to be constructed toward the southeast corner of the football/track facility, and officials hoped to have it ready for the coming season. It was first brought up at a recent special meeting.
Late in the meeting the board voted to enter into executive session to discuss personnel, emerging one hour and 25 minutes later. Based on DeHart's recommendation they voted to hire Donald Garner, of Piggott, as a custodian; Lynn Poole, of Piggott, as an aide at PES and Bob Featherston, of Piggott, to the maintenance department.
Seegraves, a Rector area native and RHS grad, was hired as DeHart's replacement as PHS principal as the board tabled consideration of hiring an assistant principal. A veteran of more than 25 years at the local district, Seegraves has served as football and basketball coach in the past, is currently the Mohawk tennis coach, and teaches seven classes each day. Afterward, the board agreed to begin the process of finding his replacement.
The board also voted to hire DeHart as the interim superintendent, subject to the current salary schedule. In recent months he had been serving as the appointed superintendent, at principal pay, after taking over for Charlie Powell.
The board also voted to change the ALE position at PHS from classified to certified on a vote of 5-0.
In other business the board--
--Approved the bid for purchase of bread from Bimbo Bakery.
--Accepted the low bid for milk from Prairie Farms.
--Transferred $400,000 from operating funds to the building fund.
--Approved the district Wellness policy.
--Voted to continue their contract with SubTeach for the coming year at the same rate.