McCain elected Manila School Board president

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Town Crier News Staff

Manila School Board elected officers for the 2007-08 school year at the Thursday night, Oct. meeting. Officers elected are Johnny McCain, president; Jackie Hill, vice president; and Justin Veach, secretary. McCain was also elected by the board to be the chief dispensing agent with all other board members alternates.

Board members offered a thank you to outgoing president Tony Crowell for his dedicated service over the past year.

Board members reviewed farm bids on two sections, 16-14-8 and 16-14-9.

President McCain said they board would review the bids and make a decision on what is best for the district.

Board members discussed first the 16-14-9 located in the Floodway area.

McCain commented he was not as knowledgeable on the subject as Justin and Steve (Justin Veach and Steve Metheny, both farmers), and asked for their input on the bids.

"We put in the bids we will not sublease land," Veach said. "We've got one bid for 25 percent cotton and 33 percent grain, two bids for 30 percent cotton. With two 30 percent cotton and one of them currently farming the land I think we can eliminate the 25 percent cotton and 33 percent grain. The two 30's are basically the same. One is offering $110 per acre cash rent and the other is $125 per acre cash rent. I think at 30 percent over a five year span will average $130 per acre. Mrs. Castor (superintendent) is a fan of cash rent. At $125 an acre, I don't have a problem with cash rent."

The Board voted unanimously to accept the bid for $125 an acre from Heath Donner.

The board then reviewed two close bids for the 462 acres on 16-14-8. The land has been farmed by Wildy Farms for 27 years. Veach said Wildy has made improvements since he has had it. The board voted unanimously to accept Wildy's cash rent bid.

STEM Charter School

Sherry Bennett, vice president for advancement at Arkansas Northeastern College, spoke to the board about the proposed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Charter School.

Bennett complimented Manila District for the job they do and explained the STEM Charter School will offer opportunities that will ready students for success in college and a global society.

Bennett said 70 percent of high school students coming to college have to have some remediation classes.

"We need that number lowered," she said.

STEM Charter School will be a partnership with Arkansas Northeastern College and all high schools in Mississippi County. Participating students will be bused to the college for two blocks (classes) a day.

"We have visited nine sites," Bennett said. "These schools are being successful all over the country and we need to get on board. We will be the first in the state."

She explained how the school will operate and how students will be selected.

She told the board the local high schools will keep the students in their attendance record.

The board voted to pass a resolution saying they will join other districts in the county to support the STEM Charter School.

In other business:

*The board approved the transfer of Ashley Sheppard to Buffalo Island Central and the transfers of Sarah and Justin Rickman from Buffalo Island Central to Manila.

*The board accepted the resignation of Debbie Copeland, cafeteria worker.

*Following a short executive session, the board voted to hire Angela McDowell as cafeteria worker; Troy Fisher as paraprofessional for the remainder of the year; and authorized superintendent Pam Castor to hire gym cleaning personnel as needed.

*The board passed several resolutions to conduct business with companies where schools staff members and board members have financial interests in or have relatives with financial interest in.

*The board approved the district's ACSIP plan, approved the state standards, approved the frame works, approved the special education program and its assurances and heard the report on annual accreditation progress toward goals and deficiency resolution proposals.

*The board reviewed drawings and plans for the football bleachers.

*Castor said the roof is complete on the new junior high building and the brick will be going up soon.

*Castor announced she is reviewing the pay for ballgame gatekeepers.

*School Board meeting time will change next month to 6:30 p.m. The board meets the third Thursday of each month in the administration board room.

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