Siloam Springs School Board hears about LEARNS Act, school sports

Siloam Springs
Siloam Springs

SILOAM SPRINGS -- Superintendent Jody Wiggins told the School Board on March 9 the district is likely to be short of funding for new requirements under the Arkansas LEARNS Act.

Wiggins briefly discussed the new law, saying that despite the increased funding, the district will be nearly $250,000 short of meeting the new requirements.

"We got some preliminary numbers on the amount of money we may receive to reach the mandated minimums in the law. As far as Terri and I can figure, as of today, we are going to be about a quarter of a million short," Wiggins said.

The superintendent said district officials were still putting together the pieces and waiting for some answers, but the outlook is optimistic.

"We have our work cut out for us, and we are still waiting for some guidance from the state and some rules to be written, but we have hope for this process," Wiggins said.

During the board meeting, Wiggins also discussed the issue of after school athletics, which has been a growing concern with parents in the district.

"The purpose of leaving certain sports outside of the school day was to give our students the opportunities to do more things," said Wiggins, who noted that many athletes are involved in multiple sports, take advanced placement and career and technical education courses or participate in the arts.

"When you bring sports back into the school day, what you end up doing is you pit sport against sport with the same practice time," Wiggins said.

While a fear of forcing students to make hard choices about what they can and can't do during the school day was cited, Wiggins said he was open to new ideas.

Currently, 10 head coaches at the high school are working together to find a way to bring sports into the school day without having an adverse effect. Wiggins said that while they may find a way to make it work, it won't happen immediately.

"I think it's not going to be something that happens quickly. I think it's going to be over a period of years. It's going to take personnel changes too," Wiggins said.

Assistant Superintendent Shane Patrick gave his report, which consisted of a brief update on the new administration building, which has recently been wracked with shipment delays and bad weather. However, it still remains on schedule.

Patrick also gave a report on the district's contract with Coca-Cola, which the board unanimously voted to renew.

After an executive session, the board voted unanimously to renew 33 administrator contracts.

"I value our team; we have a great group of people," Wiggins said. "I enjoy working for the Siloam Springs School District, and part of that is because of the people I get to work with."

There was one new hire made during the meeting, new head volleyball coach Carrie Thammarath, who the board voted to hire unanimously.

The board voted unanimously to adopt a 2023-2024 calendar and to move forward with Mammoth Sports Construction on the new sports complex.

The meeting began with head cheer coach Jackie Clement introducing her high school competitive cheer team, which was recognized by the governor at the capitol in Little Rock recently.

The team, which won nationals in January, brought in the numerous awards won throughout the season.

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