Following a walk through of buildings across the Manila School campus at the August meeting, Superintendent Pam Castor and board members paid tribute to the memory of Board member Justin Veach who died July 10.
(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
The board and guests observed a moment of silence as the plaque was passed from board member to board member. Board member Tony Crowell presented the plaque to Kristie Veach, Justin's widow. Also present for the presentation were his parents, Randy and Thelma Veach, and his brother, Brandon Veach.
"He (Justin) loved being on the board and serving with you," Mrs. Veach said. "He was glad to do it. Like all of you, every decision he made was for the good of the District.
"When he was campaigning for the school board he worked hard. He called me one day and told me to get some more signs. Someone wanted one and he had run out. I asked him if he thought it was necessary. He told me he did not want to look back and say he could have done more. That is the way he lived his life.
"He commented to me when he first started you (the Board) gave him respect. He would be proud to see Brandon here serving on the board, not just because he is his brother but knowing he will make decisions in the best interest of the school. It is a tribute to Randy and Thelma not to have one, but two sons who want to do the right thing."
Brandon Veach was appointed by the board to finish his brother's term which ends in August. Brandon has filed for Position 1 and will be on the Sept. 16 ballot.
Following the financial reviews, Castor gave a report on last year's utility expenses reporting fuel at $50,304.76; Entergy $107,188.34; and Arkansas Western Gas $55,745.58.
"All estimates are calling for the cost to be even higher this year," Castor said. "A 20-25 percent increase has been projected on fuel and utilities along with a 10 percent increase in food cost."
Castor said this would be monitored closely and budgeted accordingly.
"Assessment is up on local revenue which decreases our State Foundation funding," she said.
Funding is based on attendance and last year Manila's attendance ended with 1026. Attendance was slightly down at the beginning of this year with 1014 enrolled.
Castor explained because attendance was up last year, the District received growth money. If the growth is not maintained, funding will have to be returned.
"All in all the revenue looks good," Castor said. "We held the capital improvement projects in check. If we have slightly less in attendance we will have to watch it closely. Funding is based on students. We hear a lot of talk about growth in our town and we anticipate good things from the count. Although we do not know the future economics over the next few years, we do know we are on a solid foundation and have been able to accomplish some good things for the students."
Castor said representatives from the state had been on campus to look at the K-1 and 2-4 buildings.
They reviewed the problems with the buildings including electrical, foundation, plumbing and other issues.
"We were encouraged they came and looked," Castor said. "In our appeal we wanted them to come and look at the buildings. We know the buildings are in need and a renovation project would be more expensive than new construction."
Scott Misner was recognized at the end of the meeting and presented a plaque in appreciation for his dedicated service to the Manila School District. Misner has served on the board for five years and chose not to seek re-election.
Board President Johnny McCain made the presentation on behalf of the entire board.
In other business:
*The board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Becky Misner, distance learning clerk.
*The board voted 7-0 to transfer Margaret Moore to fill the position of distance learning clerk, the transfer of Rachel Smithson to paraprofessional, and the transfer of Tracey Milligan to elementary teacher.
*The board reviewed and accepted the bid from Delta Fencing in the amount of $38,232.
*The board approved the transfers of Justin, Jonas and Mahtia Puckett, and Jeremy Sims from Buffalo Island Central to Manila.
*Castor reported the ACT scores for Manila students were up and exceeded the state average.
*Castor said some of the issues being monitored and working on include the cafeteria and the traffic flow.
*Castor said additional funding for transportation may be available. Diesel has gone from $3 to $4.75 a gallon. Legislators recognize it is a problem and are trying to help.
*Castor told the board a community committee had formed to work on the millage issue. Jeremy Jackson has volunteered to chair the committee.