Manila School Board elects officers

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Jeremy Jackson was selected to serve as president of the Manila School Board. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Members of the Manila School Board elected officers at the Oct. 19 meeting voting Jeremy Jackson, president; Tracey Reinhart, vice president; and Monte Middleton, secretary.

Outgoing President Reinhart expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to serve as president of the board.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with the good administration we have,” he said. “I am starting my third term on the board and there is nothing I would rather do. I have talked to young people for years about the importance of education.”

The board also voted to appoint Paul Wayne Hicks to fill the Position 1 seat. Terry Carr resigned at the September meeting.

The board accepted the resignation of Charlye Keener, cafeteria worker.

Superintendent Pam Castor presented a salary sheet to the board for review before the board passed a 5 percent increase resolution for the 2015-2016 year to the 2016-2017 year. She explained the Resolution verifies the board is aware of all increases. The increases can come from raises, bonuses, stipends, education, experience (or both), increment raises, etc.

Following a discussion on school election dates, the board voted to go with the May election. School Districts have the choice of a May or November election date.

Superintendent Castor and board members reviewed the present chemical screening policy and a proposed policy with a few changes.

Presently the district tests one-third of students participating in extracurriculur activities by random selection.

The proposed changes include all high school students in extracurriculur activities be screened twice a year and continue with monthly random testing.

The present policy requires a student testing positive to not participate in extracurricular activities for 178 days; the second positive, another 178 days; and a third positive 365 days.

A proposal in the policy included giving parents the opportunity to petition to allow their children to voluntarily be screened every 30 days. If the student tests negative, he/she can resume extracurricular activities.

All board members and Principal Mark Manchester agreed they want a safe environment for all students and the proposed policy might help the students who make a first mistake get back on track.

“I like for the students to have the opportunity to get reconnected and back on the right track,” Board member Jackson said.

Reinhart said he wants to make sure every child gets equal opportunity and make a safe place for all of the students.

“If this policy is adopted maybe it would be a deterrent and if it helps even one child, it will be worth it,” Board member Danny Robbins said.

They all agreed to keep the monthly random testing.

It will take a few weeks to get in place. All parents will be notified and have to sign off on the policy, the chemical screening company will need at least two weeks to set up the first round of testing.

Board member Johnny McCain said it is important to make sure they are meeting all state and federal laws.

Superintendent Castor said she would ask legal council to review the policy.

The board voted unanimously to get the process started with the changes.

Superintendent Castor informed the board she has been notified by the Department of Education the Manila District meets all standards. She went on to explain this includes class size, staff, licensing, books, credits for graduation, number of courses offered, and more.

“There was one exception and it has been corrected,” she said.

She went on to explain the one problem was in the Advanced Placement approval. She said it is a problem in the software system. The AP system and the state system did not coordinate.

In other business:

*The board approved a lengthy list of resolutions to conduct business with companies/individuals who are related to staff.

*The board voted to allow the new special educational supervisor to stand in place for students if no parent is available.

*Board member Dan Robbins was elected to represent the board as Arkansas School Board Association Delegate for the 2017 Conference and serve as the Legislative Advocacy Delegate.

*The board briefly discussed pursuing outsourcing the cafeteria services. Board member Jackson said other schools are going with it and they all agreed to pursue the possibility. Jackson and Reinhart will serve on a committee to start gathering information and prepare a list of questions for representatives who will address the board.

*Superintendent Castor recognized the principals. She said Governor Asa Hutchinson declared October as Principal Month in Arkansas. "They are the heart of our wonderful staff and they are the heart of our student's achievements,” Castor said.

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