Local School Boards Meet
All three of the local school boards met in regular session in the past several days, wrapping up business for calendar 2017.
The Piggott School Board met Monday evening for their regular December meeting.
Among the agenda itesm was a discussion concerning replacing the Chromebooks which are nearing the end of their life cycle. It was noted, once their life-cycle has ended, they will cease to be updated and testing on them becomes much more difficult. In response, the board unanimously approved the purchase of 165 Chromebooks, 75 for Elementary and 90 for High School, as well as three carts from CDWG, who had the lowest bid.
Additionally, Superintendent Barry DeHart suggested the board approve a change in health insurance, increasing it from $155.93 to $157.88. The board briefly discussed the suggestion and all members agreed on the change.
Also, members discussed the request by a Junior Olympics(JO) volleyball team to use the gym. Recently, one of the coaches requested the use of the gym for JO volleyball on some Sundays during the months of January and February. It was noted the team would consist of students from Piggott as well as from surrounding areas. The board discussed the request at length. During the discussion DeHart suggested they set a few guidelines, such as using the middle gym for a specific amount of time—such as 2 to 4 on Sundays, and students would have to clean up after themselves.
After the discussion a motion was offered reflecting this suggestion, but the measure failed on a vote of 3-2.
Similar requests to utilize the district's gyms have been made of the board in years past, but the majority have been turned down for a variety of reasons.
In other business, the board re-visited an earlier issue as they discussed a new sign for PES. Monday evening, the board unanimously voted to approve the purchase.
Board members also discussed the possible purchase of a lift to change the gym lights, as the one the district has will not reach the fixtures in the new high school gym. However,the board decided to table the measure until they decide whether they'll be replacing all of the units with LED lights, in which case there would be no need to buy or rent a new lift.
In his update to the board DeHart reported the school has set their AMI days, which will be used in the event of weather cancellations. He indicated a call will go out to parents explaining what the days are, and reminding them about early dismissal on Friday.
Piggott Elementary School PE teacher Cathy Norred has submitted a request for covers for the bows and arrows used by the archery team, and DeHart noted he will be working to provide them for upcoming competitions.
He also updated the board on a conversation with Todd Welch concerning the PES roof project. He noted the specifications still have not been approved by the state, and hopefully that part of the process would be complete by the January meeting, allowing the bid process to continue.
DeHart also offered a word of thanks to Piggott State Bank for the donation of 10 chairs to be used by the district, and sentiment echoed by the board members.
He also reported Friday will be the last day of school prior to Christmas break, and classes will resume on Wednesday, Jan. 3.
The board then voted to enter into an executive session to discuss hiring lunch duty personnel and a homebound teacher. Later, they re-convened and voted to contract with Jerri Lynn Swann for four hours a week as the homebound teacher. Afterward, they adjourned.
Tasked with a light agenda, the Rector School Board held its regular meeting on Monday. During the gathering the board approved the retired assets report to be filed for the 2017-2018 school year and approved the district’s master plan which is updated each even-numbered school year.
Required by the state, the master plan contains information regarding demographics, enrollment projections and any recommended projects for the district. Superintendent Johnny Fowler stated at this time the district had no major plans underway.
In the superintendent’s update to the board, Fowler reported the operating fund at $1,901,012.69 and the total fund balance of $3,069,447.84, including lunch and federal funds.
He also reported he and Rector Mayor Teresa Roofe, along with city attorney Kimberly Dale, planned to meet in discussion of a lease agreement between the city of Rector and Rector School District on behalf of the FFA program. Fowler cited the city council meeting article, previously reported in this paper, to shed light on the proposed lease of 40 acres located next to the city shop. The city wanted to further discuss the lease agreement details for the benefit and security of both parties, Fowler noted.
RES principal Andrew Dowdy congratulated the district’s Lego Team which qualified for the state competition to be held Jan. 19 and 20. He also noted this Thursday and Friday, Dec 15 and 16, will be “early out” days for the elementary school, dismissing at 1:55 p.m. each day. Semester tests are being taken in the high school building on those dates.
Recently, both the elementary and high school principals sent home letters about alternative method of instruction days (AMI days) which are allowed by the Arkansas Department of Education. The program is related to potential inclement weather days, allowing school districts the chance to arrange for students to do work while out for such weather events. Under the plan, the district may use the process to make-up a maximum of five days. The letter details and process and procedure.
Board member Kirk Ford said he thought “it was a good idea to make available to our students and parents what is being offered to other schools” in lieu of physical make-up days for snow.
Dowdy indicated he had received no feed-back from the letter, so far.
The Marmaduke School Board hosted its regular month meeting last Tuesday, Dec. 5, and handled a light agenda.
During the gathering, board members discussed whether to have the school board elections in May or September. They had discussed these two options in a previous meeting a few months ago, but had to make a decision near the end of the year in order to allow voters to prepare for the election. It was unanimously approved to hold the school board elections in May instead of September.
Additionally, the board discussed a pay increase from $8.50 to $10 an hour for mowing. After a brief discussion on the subject, the board unanimously approved the increase.
The board also unanimously to accept the legal transfers of four students from Paragould School District, and two from Greene County Tech to begin attending the Marmaduke School.
The board also voted without dissent to accept the resignation of a pre-school employee, and approve the minutes from the previous meeting, financial reports and bills.