Local Schools Boards Meet
Both the Piggott and Rector schools boards met in regular session Monday, handling a variety of items.
The Rector School Board met Monday, Oct. 8, in the district administration building and addressed several required business items. In the absence of board president Jody Simmons, vice-president Tony Lockhart chaired the meeting.
Early in board business, the members voted and re-elected all officers to their currently held positions – Simmons as president, Lockhart as vice-president, and Kirk Ford as secretary.
The board also approved Resolution Act 1120 required to acknowledge the reason some teachers’ salary packages rose by15 percent or more, the most common reason being the teachers’ achievement of advanced degrees. Also approved was the Statement of Assurance which confirms the district spends money in an appropriate manner.
Brought to the board by the superintendent Johnny Fowler, was the request for approval of an increase from $1,000 to $2,000 the stipend for pre-school nurse Shannon Hill. The request was made due to increased time on the job over the course of the school year to meet the before/after school needs of a child enrolled in the pre-school program. The board approved the increase.
Questions from board members Kim Isom and Mike Trail addressed the rudiments of the 21st Century grant program being implemented in the elementary school. When the district consulted with its auditor, the board learned that teachers and community members employed to provide instruction during the after -school program would be paid from the district, with the district then being reimbursed through grant allocations.
Under the plan, community members who provide the instruction in both tutoring and enrichment activities will be paid with a district check. Teachers will have an additional line item on their current district check, indicating the additional amount as a stipend for hours worked in the after-school program.
In response, the district auditor advised Fowler of the need for an additional salary schedule, which was approved, with amounts per hour being designated by the stipulations of the grant. Also included in the grant was the cost for transportation in the afternoons, after the sessions, and as a result two teachers are paid as bus drivers. Further, because two community members providing enrichment activities are related to district employees, resolutions for the district to do business with Ken Price and Haven Cagle were presented and passed.
The 21st Century grant program was awarded to the Rector School District through a competitive grant program and is funded at $150,000 for each of five years. The purpose is three-fold – improve academic performance, improve connections and positive school experiences, and improve attendance and behavior. Chelsea Austin Clark is the director for the grant program and Kathy Fowler is the site manager/oversight/compliance director. Fowler assures the grant stipulations are fulfilled through examining the teachers’ lesson plans and making sure students are being matched with the instruction they need. Students in grades two through six are eligible for the program.
During hour one, the teachers work with students on completing homework and making sure the students eat a healthy snack. Hour two involves specific skill intervention for students as determined by their test scores and classroom performance. Hour three allows students to unwind and take part in enrichment activities such as dance, guitar, archery, drama, art, and other area of interest to the students. Students must complete hours one and two before participating in enrichment activities.
The program has been active for the past two weeks and is currently serving 87 students. Teachers recommend students to participate and as space allows, students who want to take part in the program are welcome to do so.
Superintendent Fowler reported the operating fund had a balance of $1,313,158.91. Taking into account building funds, federal funds and cafeteria funds and the district’s assets total $2,872,983.93.
Members of the Piggott Schools Board of Education met in regular session Monday afternoon at the administration office. During the gather, IT supervisor Joseph Crittenden presented information regarding the bid for the switches/UPS backups. He explained that the UPS backups will be placed in the server room while the switches will be dispersed on the high school campus. He also noted the school received a bid from E-Rate in which they would pay 80 percent of the eligible cost. This equated to a cost to the school of $5,526.18 after E-Rate discout. After the installations, some electrical work would need to be done, but Crittenden indicated he would speak to the board more about that after the installations arrived. The board unanimously approved the bid.
Ben Trout, from EPM, spoke to the board concerning their electrical usage over the past year. The district is now in the third year of use of the the company's program, and so far the electric usage at elementary has dropped from using 483,551 kilowatts per hour to 448,585 kilowatts per hour. Meanwhile, their gas usage raised slightly from 21,736 therm to 24, 304 therm. On the other hand, the high school increased from 776,917 kilowatts per hour to 796,148 kilowatts per hour over the course of about a year. However, Trout assured the board that this is normal in the beginning, as they are still trying to regulate each room and figure out what each individual room needs. The natural gas usage at PHS also increased slightly from 15,094 therm to 24,869 therm.
PHS teacher Karen Coomer, and board member Jennifer Rahn, joined others on the board in explaining that some of the classrooms get hot or cold, and the teachers are unable to adjust the thermostat enough to accommodate the swing in temperature. Trout asked interim superintendent Barry DeHart to send him a list of rooms, and also asked the teachers to call whenever they are having a problem and also to write down when they have such problems so that the EPM team can look into where the problem is occurring.
After about an hour in executive session, the board unanimously agreed to hire the following lunch duty personnel:
High school: Alan Rabjohn, Michael Harrell, Jacob Johnson and Don Simmons.
Elementary: Erica Heath and Alyssa Seal (Kindergarten), Jourdan Moore and Tishana Laxton (first grade), Ashley Riddle (second grade), Debbie Scott and Nancy Seal (third grade), Lynn Poole (fourth grade), Diana VanderKooi (fifth grade), Erica Wicker (sixth grade) and Darla Kilbreath (special needs students).
The board unanimously approved a bid from Gym Masters to redo the gym floor at the high school. The bid was $32,550 to be paid over a three-year period, with yearly payments of $10,850.
The board also held a discussion regarding approval of the classified salary schedule with the addition of the security officer, although the matter was tabled. DeHart was instructed to do more research regarding the salary of the security and resource officers and the board will convene at a later time to approve the schedule.
Also, the board further discussed the purchase of a lawn mower. Afterward, they agreed to purchase a 54-inch John Deere tractor for $5,500.
In addition, the board unanimously approved the minutes from previous readings, financial reports, statement of assurances, fixed asset deletions and resolution on the five percent increase in salaries from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018. They also approved moving the regular meetings to the first Monday of the month until further notice.