Manila School Board hears principal reports

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Manila School Board heard principal reports, food service contract presentation, new construction update and elected officers at the Oct. 20 meeting.

During the principal reports at the Manila School Board meeting, each board member had a Middle School partner for a hands-on project and technology demonstration.

Superintendent Pam Castor introduced Jerry Noble with OPAA Food Management. Noble made a presentation giving a history of the company its success in providing management in school cafeterias.

Noble, a retired superintendent, gave his own personal experience with the company at the school where he was serving as superintendent.

"I am not here to sell you anything," Noble said. "I am here to discuss the pros and cons of how contracting the cafeteria can be beneficial."

Noble spoke about the variety of foods and how the company can save schools money.

"This is not a reflection on your cafeteria or your staff," he said. "OPAA is a family owned business. They service many smaller schools."

He went on to say they can save money through purchasing power. The district will have the say on employees. District and employees will have the option to stay with the district or become employees of the company. He guaranteed no one would lose their job. Again, he said there are pros and cons for cafeteria workers staying as a school employee or going with the company.

Noble said OPAA can offer more varieties of food while keeping within all guidelines.

He said there are other companies offering the same type of services.

He encouraged the board members to talk to other schools they are contracted with.

Noble gave the timeline saying the bid process starts in October. Bids will need to be in by November. ADE makes approvals in January. He said the five year contract is renewable every year.

Board member Terry Carr asked who the cafeteria workers answer to, the company or the school.

"We cannot dismiss anyone without the superintendent's approval," Noble said.

Board member Tracey Reinhart asked Noble if during his tenure as superintendent the contracting of the cafeteria made it better.

"Yes, 100 percent better," Noble said.

Noble said if the board is interested they have until November to decide. They call call the state department.

"You need to do what is best for your situation," Noble said.

Adam Seiter, senior project manager, and Justin Shrable, project manager, both with Nabholz Construction Services, and John Mixon, architect with Cromwell Architect/Engineers, addressed the board giving them the final bids for construction of the new high school with a total of $19,481,393 at $155.52 a square foot.

"This is a good price for a facility with an auditorium, lab equipment, and gymnasium," Seiter said.

Seiter introduced Shrable as the project manager.

"He will be here every day when the work begins," he said.

Board member Johnny McCain asked what percentage of the bids went to local businesses from the Northeast Arkansas area.

"I would say 85 to 90 percent," Seiter said.

Seiter presented board members with a project directory.

Superintendent Castor recommended the board accept the maximum price as presented and move forward.

The board voted unanimously in favor of her recommendation.

Principal reports were given by Jason Evers, elementary principal; Leann Helms, middle school principal; and Mark Manchester, high school principal.

Evers said each year the elementary picks a theme and this year it is sports. Attendance in K-4 is 408. He said three new students were enrolling on Friday. He talked about start up activities, community helpers week, new programs being used including Moby Max, learning.com, additional technology labs, and computers in the classrooms for third and fourth grade students.

The homework club has been replaced with enrichment work.

"It is not as much pressure on the kids," he said. "They will receive points and can use those points at the school store. We will have breakfast buddies to help the students. We are working on a literacy program. We are doing the research to see what will work best in the long term."

Evers presented a short video about teamwork and he showed his teachers.

"We are off to a good start," he said. "The teachers and staff went out in the community in August stopping at the businesses letting them know we appreciate their support."

Manchester was pleased to announce 106 students enrolled in AP classes. The numbers are increasing. Also, he said they have concurrent classes in world history 1 and 2 and English 1 and 2. Also the students attending Arkansas Northeastern College Technical Center are getting concurrent classes. He said two students passed the test to clep out of college algebra.

"We have added computer coding," he said. "I visited Mrs. Gerri McCann's class recently and the screen was up and the kids were in a Skype conference."

The students had designed a mobile app and were getting help from an expert.

"That is what I want to see in our classrooms, a decrease in listening and an increase in hands on learning," Manchester said.

He said the students met with Swift Designer program. It teaches games using coding process.

"The kids were excited," Manchester said.

He said the governor visited the school even taking part in the coding classroom and speaking to the students.

A new lab is up and running in Tonia Eubanks' classroom. Manchester said the high school has a robotics class with 17 enrolled. They received a $1,500 grant form Nucor, and a donation of an additional robot. Kim Hart has an internship class in life skills and got one student a job. EAST received a grant and will be building a moving moving vehicle and attend a rally.

"Pam Chipman, consultant, is serving as an academic coach helping our young teachers, giving them the extra tools they need," Manchester said. "Pam and I have a goal to increase questioning skills and hands on learning."

The average attendance is at 95 percent, one percent higher than last year.

Manchester said the major discipline problems are down.

"I think the change in the fighting policy you approved has played a major role in the change," Manchester said.

Helms said she wanted to do something different this year. She wanted to "share our greatest assets, our students."

Board members each had a middle school student to join them at the table bringing their flexible stools and Chrome Books.

The students and their board member partners competed in a hands-on building project.

Helms explained the ABC of Middle School -- Achieving in academics; Believing in oneself; and Committing to community service. She said middle school is hands on preparing magnificent and marvelous students.

She talked about the STEM project, ESEA Report, Z-Space.

"We are above 10 percent of the state standards," she said. "I am proud of my teachers and proud of our kids."

Math scores have gone higher than literacy. Helms talked about the Makers-space 3D machine.

"Our community is coming together," she said. "We have bricks for $15 and have sold 35 already to purchase chairs."

She encouraged board members to get the news letter from middle school with information on how the Cross Country students did well, football and more.

She thanked the board for allowed the middle school to take the eight buses to see the movie "Middle School."

"Sometimes it is about more than academics," she said. "I had a couple of students who told me they had never been to the movies."

The board voted to elect Tracey Reinhart as president; Jeremy Jackson as vice president; and Dan Robbins as secretary for the coming year.

Board members expressed their apprecition to Jackson for his service as president.

"I've been on the board longer than anyone here," McCann said. "I know what we went through to get to this point in the construction of a high school and I appreciate all of you for doing a great job."

Reinhart expressed his appreciation for the board's vote of confidence for him to serve as president.

"I appreciate the job you are doing and I look forward to working with you," he said. "This is my 10th year to serve on the board. I think we have a good board working together. We have a high school to build. Our teachers and principals are excited and we should get excited, too."

The board voted to elect Johnny McCain as chief dispersing officer and Reinhart as alternate.

In other business:

*The board reviewed and accepted the 5 percent salary resolution as presented by Superintendent Castor. She explained the increase could be due to increase in duties or job change.

*The board passed several resolutions to conduct business with school employees declaring their kinship to business managers and owners.

*Board member Tommy Wagner acknowledged David Wildy and Wildy Family Farms for being selected as the overall winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. Wildy farms some of the district's land.

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