Local School Boards Meet

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Piggott School Board met for its regular January meeting on Feb. 5, gathering late due to several earlier delays.

During the meeting, superintendent Barry DeHart discussed adding bereavement days for the classified and certified faculty members. The board briefly discussed how many days would be appropriate to offer faculty who have lost someone in their immediate family. DeHart explained the matter would next go to the personnel policy committee, thus they only need to approve the addition of bereavement days, as the committee would bring them back an offer to approve or edit. He also discussed that, while a clear definition of ďimmediate familyĒ would be offered, special circumstances may change that definition. The board unanimously approved adding bereavement days, and sending the policy to the personnel policy committee for further review.

Additionally, board members discussed teachers with national board certification. Superintendent DeHart recommended a one-time payment of $500 to each teacher with this certification. The board unanimously agreed, and this approval will also go to the policy committee to be approved.

In his superintendentís updates, DeHart applauded the work on the safe room for being ahead of schedule. He noted the original proposed time of completion was August 2020, but it will be finished this July. In regards to the safe room, DeHart asked the board what color brick they wanted to be on the safe room. They agreed to match it to the middle gym, and samples will be brought to them at a later time for approval. Also, he mentions that the junior high district tournament was being held at PHS, and the Special Olympics basketball will be held on March 1 of this year. DeHart furthermore explained that, from this point on, the school will be unable to send students home early when there is a parent teacher conference, on the last day of school and other circumstances such as these. He indicated there have been incidences at other schools that have allowed students to leave early in these instances. Students would ride the bus to school, obtain their report card or go in for less than 30 minutes, then ride the bus back home. Because of this, students will only be able to leave early if there is a half-day scheduled. As a result, parent teacher conferences will now be held after school is over, around 3:30 pm.

In addition, DeHart reported that on May 7, a speaker will come to the school to talk to parents about the topics of internet dangers, drugs and vaping, among other important subjects. On May 8, there will be three different times that high school and elementary students will be able to attend. He concluded in informing the board that a reporter from KJNB out of Jonesboro was scheduled to visit the school to speak about disinfecting the campus and the illnesses the area has had.

After an almost two and a half hour executive session, the board reconvened. They unanimously agreed to hire DeHart as superintendent for one year with a salary of $83,000. DeHart excused himself from the room while members discussed this decision.

Furthermore, members approved the resignation of SRO Trea Peacock effective Dec. 30, and cafeteria worker Yuit Bautista, effective Jan. 11. Board members unanimously agreed to hire Johnny Gardner as the school security officer for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year, and to extend to him the bonus of $1,000 he would have gotten back in November.

Also, the board unanimously accepted the reading of the minutes from the regular board meeting, the financial reports and a resolution on the school election.

Board member Jim Threatt was absent from the meeting.

Rector Board

The agenda for the monthly meeting of the Rector School Board was handled smoothly Monday night, as they acted on several items of new business at the Administration Building.

Pay increases were approved for Bethany Burns and Stephanie Golladay, certified teachers who completed coursework and supplied necessary documentation for the district to advance to the Masterís degree salary schedule.

The Arkansas School Board Association (ASBA) Policy manual was also addressed as it must be approved for conducting school business annually. The renewal of the school boardís agreement was unanimous. The board also adopted the proposed school budget projected for fiscal year 2021, as required. This proposed budget includes the breakdown for the tax millage which is an ongoing levy for operation, salaries, transportation and retirement of debt payments. This proposed budget, as projected, was approved unanimously and will be published in this newspaper.

With student success comes travel, sometimes across longer distances and thus, the schoolís transportation liability insurance needed to be examined. Superintendent Johnny Fowler had researched the systemís needs and recommended to the board an increase from specific liability insurance to general liability insurance which covers not only the other vehicle, should the school district be liable, but also gives coverage to the Rector School Districtís vehicle. The school board voted to move forward in this regard, adding a $5,500 annual premium for an additional $5 million in general auto liability insurance.

Along the same line, Superintendent Fowler explained to the board how many districts have hired attorneys on retainer to offer advice in school law and legal matters, which arise from time to time, as specifically related to school business. The board voted to pursue retaining an attorney for such issues.

At the recommendation of the Superintendent, the contracts for Rector Elementary principal Anthony Dowdy and Rector High School principal Nathan Henderson were renewed for the 2019-2020 school year. In other personnel matters, the Superintendent recommended hiring a certified special education teacher due to two teachersí impending maternity leaves this school year.

High school principal Henderson commented on the continued success of students in various competitions including FBLA with teacher Lisa Manchester, Thespian Festival competition for the first time in years under the leadership of Christina Boyd and the Archery Team success with coaches Anthony Dowdy, Buddy Fahr and Shane Frost. He noted all groups brought home trophies, excellent ratings and medals. Also, Henderson stated that the ACT Boot Camp would be held Tuesday with the ACT for members of the junior class being administered on Wednesday, as required.

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