Town Crier News Staff
Manila School Board President Tony Crowell called the Thursday meeting to order and asked board members and guests to observe a moment of silence in honor of Carol Benson. Mrs. Benson, a retired teacher at Manila, died Tuesday morning.
"Mrs. Benson taught fourth grade for many years," Crowell said. "She made a great contribution to this school and community."
Following the approval of minutes and a review of the financial report, board members approved a request for early graduation from Laci Owens, tenth grade student at MHS.
Board members voted unanimously to elect Tony Crowell as financial dispensing officer with all board members as alternates.
The board agreed to send salary proposals to the Personnel Policy Committee for review before board action. Castor explained one proposal for certified personnel is $1,000 on the base and an increment for master's degrees. The other is $1,175 on the base. She also proposed a 50 cent an hour across the board increase for classified personnel.
Superintendent Pam Castor informed the board the Manila District had received confirmation on its successful appeal to the state and currently meets all requirements. The school had been placed on the "School Improvement List" because state data showed Manila did not test 95 percent of special education students. Castor had informed the board during previous meetings of the mistake and the pending appeal. Castor said Manila had documentation all students were tested and the data has been corrected.
"We, as all other schools, must show a 10 percent decrease in basic and below basic in our sub-population groups as required by No Child Left Behind," Castor said. "We are working to improve scores. We are working on the framework so we can continue to meet standards of the state and No child Left Behind under Federal Law. We must improve scores in every subpopulation and combined population two consecutive years to be removed from the School Improvement List."
The board passed three resolutions to conduct business with local companies who are involved or have relatives working in the Manila School District. All contracts with these businesses or vendors exceeding $5,000 must be approved by the state. Businesses approved include Tillman Dill, D&K Hardware and Lifetime Medical.
The board approved the Arkansas Standards, the Arkansas framework/curriculum, and approved the revised model policies.
The board voted against a petition for charter schools, Grace Academy at Dell and University School at Burdette, in Mississippi County.
Castor said sometime in the future, Manila District may consider a charter school within the school.
"We would basically be competing for the same thing," Castor said.
The board approved a bid from D&A Construction in the amount of $18,200 for the demolition and clean-up of the old maintenance building.
Castor informed the board the house owned by the school would be empty at the end of the month. The board gave Castor the approval to rent the house for $400 a month.
"We don't want it to sit empty," board member Justin Veach said.
The board approved a Partnership Finance Resolution. Castor explained that partnership financing for 2008-09 for renovation of the elementary building could be a possibility.
She explained an architect review of the buildings would offer them an opinion on the cost of renovation versus new construction. She said funding for new construction might be available during the 2010 funding cycle.
"Under the application we would have to say how we would pay our portion of the cost," Castor said. "The resolution is in no way binding."
Board members Johnny McCain and Jackie Hill both expressed objections to remodeling. They were in favor of a new building for the elementary.
"Those buildings have served their purpose," McCain said. "Either way (remodeling or new construction) will be a major expense."
Castor again said the resolution is not binding and she recommended the adoption of the resolution. The resolution is to say how the district would fund their part of either remodeling or new construction.
The board added a farm contract addendum allowing a small acreage in the Floodway to be sub-leased.
Board member Veach talked to the board about looking into the small acreage in Floodway being placed in the CRP (Conservation Resource Program).
"There is an application process," Veach said. "Trees would be planted on the land and the district would have to agree to no farming for 15 years. The District might be eligible for $70 an acre for 15 years through this program. If you look back, that is more rent than the district is getting now."
The board approved adding an accidental death and dismemberment insurance benefit for staff traveling on school business with an additional part covering bus drivers. The insurance will cost $275 annually to cover the staff with $100,000 coverage. Under the new policy bus drivers would be covered with an additional $20,000. This coverage will cost $7 a year for fulltime and $3.50 for part-time drivers.
The board approved the ACSIP Plan for school improvement. Members of the board reviewed the improvement plan for the elementary, junior high, senior high and the district. The plan must be approved and submitted for all state and federal programs.
Castor announced the district received a grant for the football program in the amount of $500 through Gipson Oil at Stop and Buy in Manila.
Following an executive session, board members accepted Castor's recommendation to hire Vivie Veach as school secretary for the 2006-07 school year and renew Vicki Hamilton's contract for six months.
Board members elected Crowell as delegate to the Arkansas School Board Association Convention.
Castor reminded the board meeting time will change to 6:30 p.m. beginning with the November meeting.
The school board meets the third Thursday of each month in the board room of the administration building.