Manila School Board hears committee report

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Town Crier News Staff

Manila School Board members heard a report of the extracurricular activities committee during the regular February meeting from two members, Fred Fleeman and Junior Wise. The committee was appointed by the school board to research and review additional activities for students.

Wise said the committee had taken a survey. Forms were sent home with students and were placed at businesses throughout town. Over 500 were returned to the school and over 500 signatures had been collected in the stores.

Wise said Rachel Benson was on the committee but had to step down due to illness in her family. Benson had talked about creating a foundation to help with the funding of a new program.

"The surveys showed an interest in volley ball, football and a marching band," Wise said. "We didn't have dance team written on the list but there were a lot of write-ins for a dance team. There was a big interest in the community for football."

Wise stressed that he, nor any member of the committee, would be in favor for anything that would take away from academics.

Wise reported that he and member Danny Robbins met with the principal at Cave City and discussed the newly formed football program there.

The school is similar to size of Manila. They started out with a peewee program, then went to a seventh grade team. The first year of the junior high program at Cave City there were 45 students start in the program and finished with 41.

"They also started girls' volley ball and had 44 girls sign up to play the sport with all finishing the season. That number decreased to 28 when the school added a dance team," Wise said. "Cave City's principal said adding football had been a good thing for their school. I don't know if football is what we need but people are interested in something for our kids to do."

Wise presented cost estimates. To suit out a high school football player the cost would be approximately $350 per student; junior high football player $250 per student; volley ball player $120 per student. Volley ball equipment was estimated at $2,000.

Wise said he has had several people show an interest in donating and volunteering work and equipment to help in preparing a football field or helping getting a program started.

"If you decide to add football it is important to hire good coaches," Wise said. "It is important to have all coaches work together. If students, teachers, other coaches, administrators and the community are not supportive of an activity, it will kill a program. I feel like anything we add will be a plus for the kids and the community."

Committee member Fleeman expressed his appreciation for the work Wise did on gathering information.

"First, I want to make it clear that I do appreciate everybody on the committee," Fleeman said. "These are my views on activities. I think Manila does need more activities. We are looking at something that should never been stopped. I went back to the yearbooks. We had 30 to 35 every year in senior high football, junior high football and the elementary program. We had an excellent marching band. If we, as a community, join together and get behind whatever activity you (the board) decide to add, we have a chance to keep our school in Manila. There are a lot of people interested in this town and programs and are willing to volunteer. We have a good school system. Anything can be improved but we have people wanting to come to this school."

Football was stopped in Manila in 1978.

School Board President Scott Misner thanked the committee members for the report.

The board heard a request for a student transfer for Blake Carr, sixth grade student, to Buffalo Island Central. The board voted 4-1 with Jackie Hill voting no.

Board member Tony Crowell asked about the reward systems used in the district.

Superintendent Pam Castor explained several awards at different building levels.

A discussion was held on the perfect attendance awards.

"Our policy is not near defined enough," Crowell said.

Crowell asked why there are individual policies for each building.

"I thought all of our policies are the same," Jackie Hill said.

Castor said for the last 15 years or so the perfect attendance policy has been a student could neither be absent nor tardy any part of the school day.

Castor said she could have the principals put together suggestions to submit to the board for review.

No action was taken on any changes at this time.

In other business:

*The board voted to raise the building use fee from $25 to $35.

*The board looked at bids for school signs but took no action. Board member Johnny McCain said he wanted all school board members present before a vote is taken. (Rob Veach and Steve Metheny were absent.)

*The board voted to give certified personnel raises with 30 percent on the base and 70 percent increments. The board also voted to give classified personnel a 50 cent an hour increase.

*Castor explained that under the partnership plan, the district can apply to the state for money to be used for facilities. Castor recommended the board adopt a resolution for the partnership plan for a building project if funded by the state with no millage increase. The vote passed the resolution unanimously.

*The board discussed the sale of the house owned by the school, reviewed the appraisal, but took no action.

*The board agreed to apply for an Arkansas Leadership Academy School Support Program. Castor explained the University of Arkansas came together with the state department for in-service opportunities. A group will review the school's programs and community involvement. The school will commit to three years in the program. She said only four schools in the state will be chosen to participate.

*Following an executive meeting the board voted 5-0 to renew contracts for Diane Baugher, elementary principal, Diane Wagner, junior high principal, Pam Chipman, high school principal, and Connie Adams, Federal programs coordinator.

*Castor congratulated board member Crowell for receiving honor roll board member status with 15 hours of training.

*Connie Adams reported on the after school programs with close to 200 students signed up.

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