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Gravette School Board meets new staff, hears reports

by Susan Holland | July 29, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
File Photo/WESTSIDE EAGLE OBSERVER Gravette's water tower designates the city as the "Heart of Hometown America."

GRAVETTE -- A dozen new staff members at Gravette Public Schools introduced themselves at the July 18 meeting of the Gravette School Board and gave a brief biographical sketch.

New staff members present were Carly "Grace" Dougan, Holly Dungan, April Jones, Justin Malott, Addison Masters, Kirsten May, Matt Rhodes, Amy Scarpa, Shawn Sparks, Cary Stamps, Natalie Williams and Tonie Yanez.

Board members voted to accept the consent agenda, including the resignations of Alvin Herrera, Morgan Maestri, Kayla Shortt, Mandi Barrett and Kizzy Hill.

Business manager Dennis Kurczek gave the June financial report and the ESSER/ARP financial report. He said that fuel costs were up sharply, with diesel costs up 150% and gas up 123%. The district received a good audit, and Superintendent Maribel Childress said it would be reviewed at the August board meeting.

Childress gave a report on new board member training, saying members have received both state and local training. Board member Chris Flynt said he was pleased to learn that the Gravette district "is different in a good way," and Matt Croxdale shared that he felt it was a blessing to be able to go to Hot Springs and get the training he acquired there. Childress thanked all board members for their service, pointing out that each had to review 500 to 600 pages of data to prepare for each board meeting.

Childress shared the school improvement plans for each school in the district. She said each is based on a format from the state. Matt Croxdale said that an emphasis on safety should be foremost and Childress agreed that was a key factor in each plan.

Childress also shared the family and community engagement annual report and gave a brief review of the book, "The Art and Science of Teaching," a book about various strategies of teaching. Gravette teachers are using various methods from the book, comparing notes and trying to determine which strategies yield the highest achievement.

Technology Director Daniel Rice gave the technology report and said there had been a 17% increase in Chromebook repairs. He reported he was still facing shortages in certain items and presented a plan for replacing Chromebooks. He gave a budget presentation, saying the technology budget was down a little and projecting needs for the next three years.

Childress presented the bus discipline report, pointing out that figures were taken from bus drivers' reports, and the 2022-23 employment report. Childress said there were significantly fewer classified staff changes than last year. Changes dropped to only 10 this year from 22 last year, she said.

Board members went into executive session at 6:55 p.m. for the purpose of discussing employment. They returned to regular session at 7:29 p.m. No other items were discussed, and no votes were taken.

Board members voted to approve the board meeting calendar and the work session calendar for the 2022-23 school year.

A second reading of district policy updates was conducted. Board members voted to make minor changes involving the legal status of board members (changing board elections from September to May). Changes were also made to eliminate duplication of duties listed for the board secretary and disbursing officer and to delete footnotes with language which was not meant to be incorporated into the policies.

Changes were made to the absences policy to add descriptions of 11 specific excused absences. These were part of a policy drafted on the local level but had been revised following a state pattern. The changes bring the policy back to the original local wording. Changes were also made to the policy on selection of library/media center materials to add to the selection criteria and specify who can make challenges to materials selected.

The second reading of the Arkansas School Board Association policy was also approved. Changes were made to the licensed personnel salary schedule to incorporate both suggested updates from ASBA and the wording of the current local policy.

Board members voted to approve Springfield Grocer as the provider of groceries and paper goods for the 2022-23 school year. Also approved were an Act 1120 5% pay increase for the 2021-22 school year; proposed district, school and athletic handbooks for the 2022-2023 school year, making certain to include the most recent School Board policy updates; and proposed district goals for the 2022-23 school year.

Members voted to accept the bid of $742,000 from Jackson Bird of ONECON and approve Jackson Bird/ONECON as the general contractor for the construction project at the old alternative learning center building. The building is to be used for instructional purposes, and there will also be two offices in the building. Previously approved APR/ESSER funds will be used if ONECON is able to secure the appropriate bonding capacity.

Replacement of the student bathroom floors at Gravette Upper Elementary with Cremona TG poured flooring was also approved.

The approved pay rate schedule for all 21st Century Grant employees was tabled.

Board members voted to approve posting an opening for a bus route specialist position. This will be a part-time position for a person to keep the software routing system up to date and will be paid using general operating funds.

Members voted to approve the voluntary transfer of Jennifer Moorman from building secretary at Gravette Middle School to registrar at Gravette High School for one year only, approve the involuntary transfer of Mali Shreiber to GMS secretary and approve the involuntary transfer of Drew Pasley to head junior high basketball coach and assistant senior high basketball coach beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

New hires approved include Sherry Lowery as evening custodian, Camille Adcock as a special education clerk, Kyle McKeown as a high school social studies/assistant baseball and high school football coach, Leah Laramore as a high school math teacher and Megan Mayo as building secretary for Gravette Upper Elementary.

Board members voted to approve the transfer of an eighth-grade student from Gravette to Siloam Springs and the transfer of a third-grade student and a fifth-grade student from the Gentry School District to Gravette.

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