Manila School Board members voted unanimously to extend Superintendent Pam Castor's contract for a year at the January meeting held Thursday evening. The extension of her contract will take it through 2012.
All board members, President Tony Crowell, Vice President Tracey Reinhart, Secretary Danny Robbins, Steve Matheny, Brandon Veach, Johnny McCain and Jackie Hill, were present.
Following the review of the financial report and approval of the minutes, Superintendent Castor updated on the council on a possible cut in projected funding from the ARRA Stabilization Funds, Title I and IDEA. She said there has been talk and remarks from Governor Mike Beebe and Education Director Tom Kimbrell of a 33 percent cut. She said it could cost the district $87,000.
"We have the Title One set aside," she said. "That is an additional $75,000 appropriated for expenses. We will not spend any money until we are sure what the district will receive."
The board approved student transfers for Dylon Singleton and Peyton Gestring to continue attending the Armorel School District. The students moved into the Manila District but wish to continue attending Armorel School.
Board members passed a Master Plan Resolution. The 10-year plan is updated every two years. Among the projects listed on the Master Plan are cafeteria renovation, safe room, elementary school renovation, football stadium expansion, drainage renovation, and high school renovation. The board will review projects as they come up throughout the 10-year plan.
Castor had a preliminary sketch of the cafeteria expansion project to show the board members. This project will have to be done during the summer break.
Castor reported on the grade inflation status recently released.
"I know you have heard about the grade inflation reports," Castor said. "Manila District was below the defined limit of 20 percent."
Board member Matheny asked Castor to explain exactly what is meant by grade inflation.
"Grade inflation is the number of students who made A or B in geometry and algebra and did not score proficient or advanced at the end of the course testing," Castor said. "We are moving a lot of kids from basic to proficient. There are several students who miss proficient on the tests by only a few points. Students can get extra support in the classroom and pull out a B. Some students are assessed through portfolios and have modified grades and make an A-B in the classroom. Then there are a few students who do not test well. These reasons are acknowledged and why there is a 20 percent limit. We were 15.8 percent which is below the limit. We hope to lower that number in the future."
Castor announced dates for upcoming leadership training for board members in April and the national school board association meeting. Board members will need to let Castor know if they are planning on attending.
She reminded board members their statement of financial interest needed to be turned in by the end of January.
Board member McCain asked what it would take to start track for girls and boys.
"I've had some interest in track expressed to me," Castor said.
She said she would look into it and report back to the board on her findings.
She announced Manila received the bid for the Regional Tournament scheduled for Feb. 24-27.