Manila board hears principals' reports

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Manila School Superintendent Pam Castor presents Donald Master plaque of appreciation. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Town Crier News Staff

Manila School Board member Donald Master was honored at the conclusion of Manila School Board meeting on Thursday. Master has served five years on the school board and did not seek re-election.

"We appreciate your dedicated service to the Manila School District," Superintendent Pam Castor said.

Master thanked the District for letting him serve.

"I want to thank the past and present board members, administrators, teachers and our community for supporting our school," Master said. "It has been a pleasure to serve on the school board."

Building principals, Pam Chipman, high school; Diane Wagner, middle school (5-8); and Diane Baugher, elementary, gave reports on the start of the new school year.

Chipman said the high school numbers are up from 280 last year to 331 this year.

"We are thrilled with the growth," she said.

She presented a schedule of new classes offered this year including algebra III, AP Calculas, and high school 101.

"We have added 11 new classes in the last five years," she said. "Students are also enrolled in concurrent classes through Arkansas Northeastern College-Burdette in welding, medical, introduction to teaching, introduction to manufacturing and criminal justice. The students are bused to Burdette for two hours a day of classes. The distance learning classes have expanded this year, also."

Chipman spoke briefly on the STEM program she is working on with other principals throughout Mississippi County. Information is being gathered on the possibility of starting a charter school which would be an extension of the local schools.

"Project 2001 is going well," Chipman said. "We have met with the freshmen and their mentors.

"Paul Vitale, author of "A Hero Within," and Chad Foster, writer of "101 Curriculum," will both be guest speakers at Manila. Funding for the events will be provided through the Perkins' Grant funds. They are both great speakers. We have a lot of good things going on and the kids are excited."

Wagner said this is the last year in transition to being a middle school grades 5-8. She presented board members with the Mission Statement, school-wide motto, class schedules, teachers, and test scores.

"In the fifth and sixth grade schedule we have been able to double block literacy and math, continue with the remediation periods, rotating the schedules according to the students' needs," Wagner said. "We are excited about the new building and can't wait to get in."

Baugher informed the board K-fourth grade has 456 in attendance. She presented the board members with test scores form the Iowa K-2 and Benchmark 3-4 grades.

"Our teachers have their planning time at each grade level," she said. "We have pre-K through sixth grades scheduled in music, library, physical education, and computer lab."

Board President Tony Crowell expressed his appreciation to the principals for a good job.

Castor reported enrollment numbers of 1031.

"We opened with more," she said. "We will operate this year on last year's numbers of 1009. Hopefully, we will carry the increased enrollment on all four quarters. The attendance is reviewed at the end of each quarter and our ADM (average daily membership) is decided at the end of the third quarter."

Castor updated the board on the district's School Improvement Status.

"We are in the appeal process on school improvement status on the subpopulation group of students with disabilities. Every other subpopulation in our district made the state status model. This means they made the cutoff scores established by No Child Left Behind legislation which calls for 100 percent of students to be proficient or advanced by 2014. The special education subgroup has been a group which has caused national debate because 99 percent must take a grade level test even though it may not be in line with their achievement levels. At this time, although we have maintained our elementary status and tripled the percentage proficient and advanced at the high school level, because of the number enrolled in the program we have not reduced enough of the numbers below proficient in the one subgroup to come out of school improvement. I will keep you updated on the appeal."

In other business:

*The board reviewed the financial report and approved the 2007-08 budget.

*Student transfers for Michael Baugh, Buffalo Island Central to Manila; Mira Elder and Bethany Sego to BIC, were approved.

*The board took a break from the meeting and went to the football field to see the new lights recently installed.

*Mrs. Castor gave each board member a handbook from Tim Bassing for the Gifted and Talented classes.

*School Board member Johnny McCann said he had spoken with local legislatures about a bill to help with the free and reduced lunch programs.

"Colorado has a model program and I would like to see adopted in Arkansas," McCann said. "The state picks up the tab for the loss local schools experience from reduced lunches. This would help the local schools and guarantee every child in the state gets a good meal every day."

Manila School Board meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month.

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