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Prairie Grove board member still allowed to work as substitute in district

by Spencer Bailey | October 2, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- There was a point of contention during the Prairie Grove School Board meeting Sept. 20 over a resolution allowing a board member to work as a substitute teacher.

The resolution sought to allow School Board member Cassie Davis to substitute teach in the district.

District attorneys asked that the meeting be kept open for discussion but that Davis remove herself until a vote had been made.

Superintendent Reba Holmes started the conversation, saying, "Her reasoning includes that she's been doing this before and that, as of last year, 84.47% is the way that we were able to cover our classes. We do have a shortage of subs, maybe even worse this year than last."

She continued, saying, "We do know from the two attorneys that it is legal and that she would have to have a contract disclosure with the board, and it would not be able to go over $10,000."

Board member Whitney Bryant, who has been outspoken about the issue, immediately spoke up, saying, "My position is still the same. I spoke with both attorneys, and they're of the opinion that it is a conflict, it's not a good idea, and we have people in the community who feel the same way. We have employees who don't want her working in the schools."

"I feel the same, and I have not changed my position either," said board member Casie Ruland, who also expressed concerns over substitute teacher access to parent and student information in district systems.

The board ultimately voted 3-2 in favor of the resolution, meaning that Davis will remain on the board and still maintain the capacity to substitute in Prairie Grove. J.C. Dobbs, Bart Orr and Wes Mahaffey voted in favor, while Ruland and Bryant voted against.

Also during the meeting, David Kellogg, assistant superintendent of transportation, maintenance and facilities, gave a report on ongoing projects.

Kellogg noted that softball turf installation was set to happen the following day.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Pete Joenks gave a report on Career and Technical Education in the district.

"We've got about 41 in survey of business and then 27 in years two and three of marketing and management," Joenks said. "The new foundations of teaching class was up to 10 students."

He continued, saying, "Other areas of CTE include six students going to NTI for welding in automotive and HVAC, three kids to the NWACC dental program in Farmington and one in culinary arts in Fayetteville. CNA numbers are at 12, and the health care program is at 138. Criminal justice is at 24."

Joenks said staff is proud of the growing CTE program.

"We're very pleased with the number of kids we have in CTE, and we want to keep getting kids interested in these classes," he said.

After briefly discussing intent to further explore alternative learning options for students that are disenfranchised with school, Joenks moved on to discuss data that he had, which featured the core four ACT Aspire scores compared to those from nearby schools and the state average.

While the data primarily showed good signs, Joenks said they wanted to see more growth.

"For the most part, it shows that we came out of the pandemic ahead of the pack, and I'm very pleased with that," he said.

The board also approved $6,000 annually for the athletic trainer, monthly financials, the proposed budget for 2022-23 and a recommendation to approve employee increases of 5% or more for the 2021-2022 school year, as required by state law. These increases can be the result of different reasons, such as a bonus, step increase or compensation for additional duties.

Print Headline: Board OKs member working as substitute in district


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