Manila School Board hears good report

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
School board members review model policy.

The Manila School Board heard a good report at the January meeting with Superintendent Pam Castor announcing Manila District was one of 35 districts, out of 239 in the state, named an achieving school. Manila was named achieving district by the State Department of Education in an article featured the Arkansas Gazette.

Board members praised the administration, faculty and staff for a good job.

"It was due to a lot of hard work by a lot of people," Castor said. "We are very pleased."

All board members, Danny Robbins, president; Brandon Veach, vice president; Jeremy Jackson, secretary; Tracey Reinhart, Johnny McCain, Tony Crowell and Tommy Wager, were present at the board meeting.

Mrs. Castor asked the board to review a model policy on home school students' eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities.

She explained Triple A passed a resolution allowing home school students, meeting certain criteria, to participate in extracurricular activities. This can include sports, band, cheerleading, etc. Students must live in the district and attend at least one hour a day in the district where they are participating in the activities.

Castor distributed the guidelines and informed the board they will need to be familiar with the policy and be ready to take action on how they want to implement it into the district in June or July.

President Robbins opened discussion for suggestions on school safety issues.

"This has been on all of our hearts and minds for a month," he said. "We want to do what we can to make our school as safe as possible. It is sad to say too many times after a tragedy plans are discussed but are not carried out. I would like Board member Crowell to provide leadership for us on how we can improve and get better on safety issues."

Robbins said he had visited with Crowell, (a state police officer); Jackie Hill, Manila police chief; and James Skinner, resource officer in the Manila District.

"We have had a resource officer on campus for a while so we are ahead there," Crowell said. "Many schools our size do not have one."

Crowell said he would be glad to help in the efforts.

"We want to do everything to provide a safe place for our children," Crowell said.

He said they will be looking at the district's strengths and weaknesses.

"We can go to the community with this to get suggestions from the patrons."

The board said they are open to suggestions.

Castor said they will be hearing from the Governor's task force at the state level and bring back recommendations from the state.

"It is something we all need to start thinking about," Robbins said. "We need to stay on it and continue to make every effort possible."

Veach said the board needs to look at all the options and make a measured response in what Manila District needs.

Facility committee members, Robbins, Reinhart and Wagner, gave a report on the committee meetings since the last regular meeting. The committee has met with Cliff Chitwood, Mississippi County Economic Developer, to discuss possible growth predictions in the county as far as industry and jobs.

Wagner said he had talked to a representative from the governor's office and pointed out the time frame the district is under to make the decisions as far as getting a millage increase on the ballot, etc.

"They were helpful and were receptive in helping with our push in academics," Wagner said. "We are going to have to make a decision."

He said there are new pilot programs being discussed at the state level.

Wagner pointed out the public needs to know all of the facts including how the partnership money works. In some instances the district can be reimbursed more for new construction rather than renovation. In some cases, the district could build new with the same out of pocket cost as renovation due to additional partnership money.

Also, he suggested putting together a fact sheet for the public on what a 3 mill increase would cost individually and facts on the difference on new versus renovation with actual cost using partnership funding.

Castor said the funding changes annually and it is hard to be exact on the amount, but the method in some cases provides additional funding.

"The meetings and information have made me aware of things I did not think of before," Reinhart said. "I think our next step needs to be community input. I want to do what the majority of the community wants us to do."

They discussed safety issues with new construction versus what is possible with existing facilities.

The board agreed a decision will need to be made on which direction to go to accommodate future growth and the need of more space.

Following a closed session, Board member Veach made a motion to extend the superintendent's contract for one year. The motion passed unanimously. This will take Superintendent Castor's contract through the 2014-2015 school year.

In other action:

*The board approved three calendar proposals to be sent to the PPC (personnel policy committee) to be voted on by the faculty.

*Castor said she is looking at making up the day missed due to ice on President's Day if no additional days have to be missed.

*Castor reported the high school was found to have no grade inflation.

*Castor reminded board members their financial interest reports must be turned in by Jan. 31.

*The board accepted the resignation of Beverly Rountree as part-time cafeteria worker.

*The board had no objections to Castor's proposal to move the pitching cage to Building 100 at the park.

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