BIC administrators give report to the public

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Drew McFall, BIC 10th grader, was one of the several students that demonstrated to school board members and district administrators what projects they are working on in the BIC EAST lab.

Administrators of the Buffalo Island School District held the district's state mandated public meeting during the BIC school board's regular meeting Sept. 23 held in the MAC.

Prior to building administrators beginning the annual report to the public, Superintendent Gaylon Taylor thanked the board, administrators, faculty and individuals that worked hard to pass the proposed millage.

"We are here to make the best decisions we can for our kids not just for today but for future generations," Taylor said. "And do the best we can to be good stewards of the money of this district."

Taylor told meeting attendees that he will go before the state board on Oct. 1 to explain why he feels the millage failed. He did say some of the biggest complaints he heard where people didn't want higher taxes, didn't want the schools to leave the towns, didn't like the Highway 18 location and some didn't like the naming rights for the new auditorium.

What Taylor proposed was the district form an educational committee of about 25-30 people who would meet on a regular basis, not to debate or argue but to work together and find a solution. He said the district's construction manger and architects would attend some of those meetings to help committee members form a budget for any options they come up with. Taylor did say options should not include putting "Band-aids" on old facility. He would rather see long term solutions that would last 20 plus years. Taylor also asked each board member to ask two people that were against the project and one person that was for the project to be on the committee. The board unanimously approved the creation of the educational committee.

Board members then walked over to the EAST classroom where students gave them a demonstration of how the EAST lab works and projects they are working on. Upon returning to the regular meeting, high school principal Randy Rose discussed the high schools concurrent credit offerings through Arkansas Northeastern College saying a lot of parents still don't know that college credits are available to BIC high school students at $25 per credit hour, which is a significant savings. He went on to say that the high school would be talking to parents about the concurrent program as well as the afterschool tutoring program at parent teacher conferences next month. Rose said there are nine students taking classes at the Northeast Arkansas Career Technology Center.

Mark Hurst spoke to the board about BIC Junior High's outstanding test scores this year. The junior high has achieved the highest test scores in seven years in all categories tested. Hurst said junior high faculty and administrators worked together last school year to implement books clubs, book talks, audio books and more to get students into reading and it paid off.

"We have a great group of teachers and a great group of kids and they really knocked it out of the park this spring," Hurst said. "We hope to see greater improvements next year."

BIC East Elementary principal Nicole Stewart recognized the hard work of both new and seasoned staff members. She said the BIC East Elementary population is down but faculty as well as staff are working hard every day to provide the very best education possible for each student. She said BIC East is achieving level in grades 3-6 literacy but missed it in math. Stewart explained that was due to several factors including a new curriculum, but math is a focus again this year and she hopes to see improvement. She also said there are 25 backpacks of food from the Leachville Church of Christ going out and that 81 percent of the students at BIC East are on free and reduced lunch.

BIC West principal Dr. Kima Stewart told board members her elementary is bursting at the seams this year with a growth in student population. Dr. Stewart reviewed the Benchmark results for West saying in fourth grade math 100 percent of the students tested were proficient or advanced, 97 percent were proficient or advanced in third grade math, 90 percent were proficient in third grade literacy, 90 percent were proficient or advanced in fifth grade math, 100 percent were proficient or advanced in fifth grade literacy and 90 percent were proficient or advanced in sixth grade math.

Taylor as well as the board praised the building administrators as well as the district's faculty and staff for their hard work in helping students reach such high academic goals.

In other business the board voted to postpone the district's Advanced Ed visit for one year, approved the 2014-2015 ACSEP plan and approved Act 1120 resolution.

After going into executive session, the board came back into session to approve the hire of Homer Smith as testing coordinator for the district and accepted the resignation of a cafeteria member. The board members unanimously approved the salaries of $2,160 per teacher for the afterschool tutoring program. Taylor then asked and received permission to proclaim Oct. 27-31 as Community Week. Taylor said he would like to see BIC students give back to the community by doing projects such as singing at the nursing home, racking leaves for older community members, junior high kids going to the elementary schools to read and other projects.

"It is my hope to get everybody on each campus involved in giving back to our communities," Taylor said. "I feel like that is something important for our students and I would like to see it become an annual event."

The board members also approved giving a flat rate $2,200 stipend to coaches and sponsors that drive buses to athletic events. The board also accepted a bid of $28,000 to reseal and stripe the asphalt around the gym, high school and possibly west elementary.

Taylor talked to the board about farmland contracts saying the district does not currently have contracts with anyone that farms with them. He was informed by the attorney of Melba Strickland's estate that all those farming that land have been notified there would not be contracts beyond 2014. The board unanimously passed a motion to issue contracts to all tenants of school farmland in the future.

The board left the MAC and reconvened at the superintendent's office where Laura McFarlin, business financial manager for the district, presented a detailed look at the 2014-2015 budget. McFarlin went through each of the district's accounts explaining in detail expenses and income. The board thanked McFarlin as well as Taylor for a job well done saying the budget was the best they had seen. The board approved the budget unanimously.

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