High school entrance options reviewed

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Manila School Board discussed the new high school building project, heard principal reports, and filled a paraprofessional position at the Sept. 21 meeting.

John Mixon, architect with Cromwell, discusses building project with Manila board members.

John Mixon and Ira Wimer, architects with Cromwell, and project manager Adam Seider with Nabholtz Construction, discussed the options available to the board on a design for the entrance to the new high school.

Mixon had samples of stone and colors for the board to view. He said Seider will be working closely with them.

Seider will formulate budgeted costs based on the present plan and will be making adjustments as decisions and changes are made.

"The floor plan is solid," Mixon said. "We will begin work on what needs to be next."

He said the project is still on track and everything should be in before the Christmas break, ready to bid in May and hopefully get the slab in before fall, prior to the rainy season.

Mixon said the project should be completed in 18 months.

The board was in agreement to have Superintendent Pam Castor inquire about the availability of land adjacent to school property.

Board member Dean Tucker said if the school could acquire land the building could be reoriented and there would be more options.

"I am very interested in acquiring property but we have to be cautious with the time line," Board member Brandon Veach said.

Manila Middle School Principal LeeAnn Helms gave a presentation taking the board members on a tour of the middle school through a video prepared by the high school EAST students.

Manila Middle School enrollment is up with 318 students.

Dean of Students Tony Crowell presented a video introducing the board to all of the high school teachers.

"I know when I was on the board, sometimes I did not have a face with the names of the new teachers and staff," Crowell said.

The video, also prepared by the EAST students, had a short interview with the new teachers and staff.

"We have a good staff," Crowell said.

He went on to discuss the testing informing the board the former PARCC tests are gone and the schools are going to the ACT for the 11th grade and ACT ASPIRE for the third through 10th grades.

Ms. Castor said they are waiting on the results from last year's PARCC tests. They should be in within a few weeks.

Mr. Crowell talked about the ACT Boot Camp held this summer at Manila.

"We had 25-30 students attend the week long classes," Crowell said. "Every student that was in the class raised their ACT score. Our graduates last year received $1 million in scholarships. We have 52 of our last year seniors enrolled in a two year or four year college. We have three who joined the military. We have others who are working. I am proud of our students and our staff. I went to a CT workshop and I was surprised and pleased to see two of our own teachers, Mary Smith and Tonia Eubanks, who had been invited to be the leading instructors for the teachers' workshop. We have 30-40 students going to ANC, and we have a new computer programming class along with concurrent credit classes added. Our students can earn 12 hours college credit. Mrs. Paula Poag is qualified to teach."

He said as of Thursday, Manila has 335 students enrolled in high school.

"I appreciate the opportunity to work beside Mr. Ferrell and learn," Crowell said.

"We opened with a strong enrollment," Ms. Castor said. "As of today we had 1074 enrolled. We ended last year with 1058.35."

Board member Tommy Wagner recently spoke with a board member from a high school in Nashville, Tenn.

"He talked about a program initiated in the area where honor students could apply to ivy league colleges and apply to area businesses for scholarships to help them fund the expense of going for an interview," Wagner said. "This could be a program that could be good to offer our honor graduates."

Following a short executive session, the board voted unanimously to hire Kathryn Pannells as a paraprofessional for special education.

In other business:

*Ms. Castor distributed information on the Arkansas School Board Association area workshops.

*Jeremy Jackson was selected to serve as delegate to the convention.

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