Riverside board hears principal reports

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

This month during the Riverside School Board meeting the school board saw annual reports from all the building principals.

East Elementary Principal Steven Sanders reported East has an enrollment of 173 with nine students in Gifted and Talented and 21 in special education. The largest group is the second grade with 30 students. According to Sanders around 40 students have been participating in basketball instruction lead by Coach Spencer Hoffman.

During the recent spelling bee held by East, three winners were chosen and will represent the school at the county spelling bee. All three winners are in the fourth grade.

“One other thing, we’ve had a community volunteer that restrung our flag poles and we’ve got a lot of good response from the community about having the flags up everyday. We have had good participation with the kids taking responsibility putting the flags up in the morning and pulling them down in the afternoon,” Sanders said.

The high school is now on a one to one device policy, meaning every student from grade seven to 12 has a Chromebook. The high school is also seeing some new landscaping projects.

“We’ve gotten some landscaping rocks donated to us by (Donna Qualls)…I don’t know if you noticed them but heading to Jonesboro there are several rocks lined up on a trailer. They are going to be donating those,” Matt Ziegler, High School Principal said.

The high school has also been preparing for emergencies.

“A few years ago we got CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) certified…and several of us got backpacks with supplies in them. Hopefully this is something we never have to use," Ziegler said.

He went on to say high school teacher Tracy Haas raised her own funds for the ones who did not have a CERT backpack.

West Elementary Principal Lee Ann Harrell shared a motto that is said every day at West.

“'We are smart, we are important, we are loved and we are Riverside.’ Every morning we recite that,” Harrell said.

West Elementary has 255 students with the largest class being the fourth grade with 44 students. A new project, a student book club, has been started at West.

Coach Hoffman is also working at West with students who are interested in basketball. However, instead of this activity occuring in the morning like at East, it takes place during recess. Harrell said she has noticed something different than what she expected because of this change.

“It has been wonderful for the kids left, because here is what you’ve done," Harrell said. "You’ve taken all of the athletic children off the playground and you have taken them with Coach Hoffman. You have kids out there on the playground that would have never played because they were intimidated by the others."

Athletic Director Jason Durham gave his report to the board. He said when he took the position his biggest goal was to get budgets set for each individual sport. In doing that he has set up a purchase order system for the coaches.

This new system makes it easier for reviewing purchase requests and keeping up with them after they have either been approved or disapproved.

Riverside will also begin selling school inspired apparel at sporting events. All proceeds from these products will go toward funding a scholarship for a graduating senior.

Riverside has also recently started a PLC program which stands for Professional Learning Communities. PLC is a group of educators who meet regularly and try to best meet the needs for the students. The main initiative of PLCs is to allow for collaboration between teachers. PLCs are set up by grade levels and meet every two weeks.

The board also accepted the resignation of Adam Blamford. Blamford was the I.T. technician for the district. Blue Sky technicians have been on sight for the time being, however Superintendent Priest would like to hire someone as an I.T. coordinator. The difference in this position and I.T. technician would be the applicants would have to have a four year college degree.

“We were the only school district in the county that didn’t have an I.T. coordinator with a college degree. Everything we are doing is moving toward that,” Priest said.

Priest said he would like to recommend starting an I.T. coordinator on a starting teacher’s salary.

“If we did that, the salary is $32,577 and when you add the additional days it adds an extra $ 8,000. Even with that we're still compared to the majority of the county a little bit lower, but it at least gets us into competing,” Priest said.

The board also has to approve any five percent salary increase. Superintendent Priest clarified anybody whose salary increased five percent from the last year has to be approved by the board and data sent to the state.

“Say for instance like Mr. Sanders who went from a classroom teacher to now being the principal," Priest said.

This normally takes place when an employee gets another degree, takes on additional duties which provide a stipend, or is promoted to an administration job or a job with more work days.

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