Manila School Board elects Jeremy Jackson president

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Pictured is Manila Elementary Principal Jason Evers (standing) giving a report at the September School Board meeting. Pictured from left, are: newly elected board member Dean Tucker, Brandon Veach, and Jeremy Jackson.

Manila School board members elected Jeremy Jackson to serve as board president for the upcoming school year at the Sept. 25 meeting. Other officers elected include Brandon Veach, vice president; and Tracey Reinhart, secretary.

Outgoing President Dan Robbins thanked the board for giving him the opportunity to serve as president.

"We thank you," Board member Johnny McCain said. "We all know you have worked hard for our kids."

Reinhart was elected chief dispersing officer with Veach, Dean Tucker, Tommy Wagner and John McCain as alternates.

Tucker was welcomed as newly elected board member in the September school board election.

Following the approval of minutes and financial review, principal reports were given by Jason Evers, elementary principal; LeeAnn Helms, middle school principal; and Chris Ferrell, high school principal.

Evers reported a great start for the 2014-2015 school year.

"The teachers and students have hit the ground running," he said. "Benchmark scores are good with literacy grades up and the math scores remained high. We have great numbers thanks to the hard work of our teachers. Enrollment is about the same, only four or five down from the same time last year."

He reported a total of 412 in grades K-4 with 80 kindergarten students; 92 in first grade; 85 in second grade; 80 in third grade and 75 in fourth grade.

Evers talked briefly about preparing the students to take the computerized tests this year, the progress and tools in literacy and math, teacher training and reading program.

He said they will be working on a playground for the pre-K.

"The kick off celebration was good," he said. "We appreciate Mr. Ferrell (high school principal) allowing students to come to the pep rally. It is teaching our students school spirit at an early age and they loved being part of it."

Ms. Helms said there is no better place to be than Manila Middle School. She said the theme this year is "Amazing Race."

"Middle school students are always competitive," she said. "We are running from 306-310 in enrollment. The 100 member class went to high school. Our records came back and we are achieving."

She talked about the advisory group which meets twice a month.

She also talked about the robotics teams and their accomplishments and plans for the upcoming year including parent group, Common Core.

"We appreciate everything the board and community do for us," she said. "Our FBLA is the largest giver to the Arkansas Children's Hospital in the State. We want to teach our students to give back. They have raised $425 for St. Jude already this year. Our middle school was featured at a National Conference in June. We really do have a school to be proud of."

High School Principal Ferrell announced enrollment at 343, 178 females and 165 males.

"We have had a great start to the school year," Ferrell said. "It is a pleasure and I take pride in walking the halls that I went to school in. This is my 21st year in the business and ninth in administration."

He praised the middle school for their efforts saying it is a blessing to have kids come to high school ready for high school.

"I could not ask for better behavior and we have a 96 percent graduation rate," he said. "Our teachers and administrators have worked very hard to get the graduation rate where it is."

He said he is working with local businesses to partner with the school. He is encouraging students to take leadership roles.

"We will graduate our seniors with lots of skills," Ferrell said.

Ferrell said he is working with the FTA.

"We want to develop our own homegrown faculty for the future," he said. "We used to be the best kept secret around but now the word is out and we are growing. I enjoy working with the other administrators. We share the common goal of what is best for our kids."

He invited the board members to come by the high school and take a tour.

"We had a flawless audit in our FFA and FCCLA thanks to Mr. Crowell and Mrs. Smith," Ferrell said.

Superintendent Pam Castor talked about the new computer centers being placed in the elementary and high school. The labs should be ready for the computerized testing. Castor and the board discussed future technology goals for the future.

The board discussed a site study and getting the community involved in possible locations of a new high school facility.

Castor said the District will know in May if they will receive funding from the state to help pay for a new high school facility.

"We need to let the taxpayers know we are bearing the cost of the land," Board member McCain said. "The state mandates we must keep adequate facility and we have seen there is not enough room here."

Board member Veach said they will be looking at every option.

Board member Wagner suggested getting an appraisal for the value on the school land and if there is a trade there will be comparison on both sides.

In other business, the board:

* approved the 2014-2015 budget, ACSIP and Special Education budgets.

* approved the purchase of computers for the elementary and the high school for a total of $18,999.50.

* accepted the resignation of Bethany Curtis, middle school teacher, and voted unanimously to hire Amy Pryor as middle school math teacher.

* approved the transfer request of two students who have moved into the district but want to continue attending EPC.

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