Manila board welcomes new high school principal

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Mark Manchester, newly hired high school principal at Manila High School, was welcomed back to MHS by principals and board members at the July meeting. Pictured from left, are: LeeAnn Helms, middle school principal; Manchester, high school principal; Jason Evers, elementary school principal; and Chris Ferrell, assistant superintendent.

Members of the Manila School Board welcomed new high school principal, Mark Manchester, back to the district at the regular meeting held Monday, July 25.

Manchester, former Manila girls basketball coach, served as assistant principal for the last school year at Riverside High School. He was recently hired to fill the Manila High School principal position.

Following an executive session the board voted unanimously to approve the recommendation of Superintendent Pam Castor for a 200 day contract for Trena Shedd, middle school counselor.

All board members were present including Jeremy Jackson, president; Brandon Veach, vice president; Tracey Reinhart, secretary; Danny Robbins, Johnny McCain, Tommy Wagner and Dean Tucker.

The board approved Castor's recommendations to hire Casa Pate, cafeteria worker; Samantha Waters, Lesley Tidwell and Jessica Wilkerson, part-time cafeteria workers; transfer of Brooke Birmingham to special education teacher; Brandon Bryant, Patti Misner and Jason Evers, bus drivers; and Ruth Ann Barnhart, part-time custodian. They also voted to hire Josh Fleming as baseball coach and assistant football coach pending a contract release from the Jonesboro District.

The board accepted the resignation of middle school teacher James Ladd. President Jackson read a letter from Ladd with his plans to retire. Ladd expressed his appreciation to the board for allowing him to be part of the Manila District.

Board member Tommy Wagner had made a proposal to the Manila, Gosnell and Rivercrest School Districts concerning a land swap. The land is jointly owned by all three school districts.

Wagner excused himself from the meeting while board members discussed the land proposal.

Castor described each area that would be traded. The school district would receive approximately 198 acres for 182.94. She went on to say looking at the overall swap, the tillage is comparable to what the district has but the 48 acres in the city limits might be more useful to the school in the future. The 48 acres is located on Lake Street.

Castor went on to say the trade has to be approved by all three school districts and approved by the Arkansas Department of Education.

Board member Veach said he was concerned about getting out of the Section 16 Federal granted land.

"We could be stepping on unchartered territory," he said. "I am not not trying to be negative but I question why the district would want to make the trade."

Castor said in terms of swap the district cannot carve out 48 acres of any of the present land without the approval of all three of the school districts.

Board member Reinhart said not too long ago the board had been looking at trading or purchasing 40 acres to build a new high school. He said down the road there could be a need for the 40 acres in town. The district now has the opportunity to swap acre for acre. He said he liked the idea.

"As far as the farmland, there is not much difference but I think the land in town could be an asset to the district in the future," Reinhart said. "We need to ask ourselves if this a good deal for the school. That alone is what we need to base our decision on."

Board member Robbins requested the district not be out any legal fees.

Board President Jackson said 20 years down the road he did not want a board to be sitting where they are sitting and have to worry about where to go for growth.

"I think it comes down to, is the 48 acres in town a better value to the district," Jackson said.

Board member McCain said he thinks it is a good deal for the district.

The board voted 5-1 to pursue the proposed land swap with Veach casting the no vote.

Attorneys will prepare the contracts for the school attorney to review and present to the board before any final action will be taken.

The board voted unanimously to approve technology bids for the 2016-2017 school year. The total cost is $73,097.60. A grant in the amount of $37,892.32 will pay almost half the cost.

The bids include:

CDW-G -- 56 Chromebooks with license for the middle school, $15,052.97;

Millenium 3 -- 25 desktop computers with monitors for the elementary, $9,873.51;

Apple -- 24 Imac, three Ipad Touch, three Ipad Air 2, three MACBook Pro, one Ipad Pro, one cart, four cases, one adapter, for the new Mobile Application Development class, $48,967.25;

Apple -- three MAC Book Air (administration principals), five Sphero Robots, five Ipad Mini, for programming and software development in high school, $5,282.01.

Apple -- 50 Ipad Mini for the elementary $14,001.75 and two carts for the elementary $4,846.59.

In other business:

*The board accepted a bid from Flowers Bakery for bread and Turner Praire Farms for milk.

*Castor presented a proposed 10 year contract from Pepsi explaining that any contract would be presented to the board before a decision is made. The board voted 7-0 to pursue the contract. The proposal included a new score board for the football field.

*The board voted to continue with student insurance with Dwight Jones.

*The board agreed to make a change in the student handbook dealing with student fight policy. All fights will be subject to the removal of the student by the resource officer to city hall where the students will be picked up. High school and middle school principals agreed it will send a message that the district will not tolerate fighting. Another proposed change is in the wording for excused absences which will allow an extension on the three days to present a note under certain circumstances.

*Castor updated the board on the progress of dirt work for the new high school construction. It should be ready soon for the foundation.

*Caster said work is being done at the old gin lot owned by the city which will be used for buses during the construction on campus. She said the portable building formerly used as a concession for the football field has been moved to the gin lot and will be used for office space.

*Traffic patterns will be different this year Castor said. "We will lose Parker and Clarence Streets. We are working on a drop off place. We will be announcing the change in the newspaper and work to get the word out.

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