Manila School Board tours new high school building

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Manila School Board members toured the new high school building scheduled to be completed for the 2018-2019 school year. The group is pictured looking over the state-of-the-art auditorium. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Manila School Board members toured the new high school building at the regular March 15 meeting. The $20 million building is scheduled to be completed and ready for the 2018-2019 school year. The 130,000 square foot facility features a state-of-the-art auditorium that will seat an estimated 800, physical education gymnasium; library, cafeteria to serve high school students, agriculture classroom/shop with greenhouse attached, safe areas, large classrooms, and up to date computer labs.

Superintendent Pam Castor said she is excited for the students. They will have access to a facility that will be one of the best in Northeast Arkansas.

The meeting resumed in the board room with Superintendent Castor presenting the 2017 audit.

Manila School Superintendent presented Board President Jeremy Jackson with a plaque in recognition of his certification as a Master Board member

“There were no findings in the audit,” Castor said. “This is due to the hard work of our staff. We were all pleased with the audit.”

The board approved the audit unanimously asking Mrs. Castor to express their appreciation to the staff for a good job.

All board members, President Jeremy Jackson, Vice President Tracey Reinhart, Secretary Monte Middleton, Johnny McCain, Tommy Wagner, Danny Robbins and Paul Hicks were present.

Mrs. Castor said the district had received only one sealed bid for a house to be moved. Dr. Michael Oldham recently donated the school district property located across from the elementary building. The house is on the lot and will have to be moved or torn down.

The only bid came from the City of Manila for $100. The buyer will be responsible for moving the house off the property. Mrs. Castor said the house will be moved during the summer months. She recommended the board accept the bid.

The board voted 6-0 to accept the bid. Board member Wagner excused himself from the meeting and discussion.

The board accepted the bids for nine Smart TVs through the TAPS state bidding process. The cost is $50,251.72. The Smart TVs will be replacing the Smart Boards presently used.

The board then approved a change order for the new high school construction to add the stage lighting, sound system, sound boards, for the auditorium and gymnasium at a cost of $150,453.

Castor said when the construction first started she and Jason Baltimore, technology director, thought they could find the equipment for less than the original estimate but bids came in higher than expected.

“If bids come in over $100,000 we have to have an architect and engineer sign off on the project,” Castor said.

Castor then recommended a bonus proposal for certified and classified employees. She said enrollment was slightly lower at the end of the third quarter.

“We have recouped the numbers but the enrollment count for next year's funding ends at the third quarter,” she said. “That is why I am going to recommend bonuses.”

She recommended certified personnel receive $1,000 bonuses; classified employees and full time bus drivers $600; part-time employees $300.

The total cost to the district will be $158,996.

If the board approves the proposal, it will go to the PPC (Personnel Policy Committee) for a vote. Mrs. Castor asked the board to allow her to distribute the bonuses if approved by the PPC.

The board voted unanimously to accept the proposed bonus recommendation.

Following an executive session, the board voted to hire Shey Cothern as assistant girls softball coach.

The Board then voted to approve the certified contracts on the list presented by Castor.

Mrs. Castor then presented Board member Jackson with a plaque in recognition of being named Master Board Member by the Arkansas School Board Association. Jackson completed 50 hours of required training.

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