GUE science truthful winners attend board of training assembly
GRAVETTE — First-place winners in the science fair at Gravette Upper Elementary School attended the Feb. 21 meeting of the Gravette school board and led the pledge of allegiance to the flag to open the meeting.
Three school patrons spoke to the board during the comment period at the beginning of the meeting. Tina Crose, the mother of a special-needs child, expressed her thanks to the school district, members of the basketball team, and coaches for the positive impact they have had on her son. She said she appreciated that they embraced these students and loved them just the same as others. Her son was made to feel he was a part of the team and learned responsibility and important life lessons from them. She felt that her son’s best interest was always “priority number one.”
Jason Maxwell said he was speaking to the board on behalf of concerned parents and grandparents who were disturbed about some of the books they found in the school library. He thanked superintendent Maribel Childress for having the student’s best interests at heart.. He said he hoped the board would create policies and procedures to protect the students and would put parents’ rights at the forefront.
Sandy Williams spoke to the board in support of recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday and making it a day out of school. She pointed out that the district is gaining more students of color all the time.
Elizabeth Ozbun introduced the science fair winners present, Danielle Dillon, Lucas Morales and Caden Wellesley, and each displayed the posters explaining their projects. Others recognized and honored at the meeting included Holden Jeffries, an eighth-grade student, and his middle school teacher, Brad Leach. Jeffries told the board about a fruit fly experiment he and his classmates conducted. Brandi Brown, art teacher at Glenn Duffy Elementary, talked about her Artists in Motion program and thanked the board for the purchase of stools which helped improve her classroom. Finally, Superintendent Childress presented certificates from the Office of Education Policy to Taos Jones, principal at Gravette Middle School, for outstanding educational performance at GMS in 2021. Awards were received for Best Overall Growth and Best Growth in Math Scores on the 2021 ACT Aspire tests , both statewide and in the northwest district.
Board members approved the consent agenda which included accepting the retirement of Teri Finnell, high school library assistant, at the end of the school year and the immediate resignation of Shannon Holcomb.
Business manager Dennis Kurczek gave the monthly financial report.
Assistant superintendent Becky Sears gave the curriculum and instruction report and said she was “excited about the progress and growth” that is going on in Gravette schools.
Kelly Hankins, director of academic success, gave her report and announced that two new programs, dental assistant and construction technology, are being added at the Western Benton County Career Center for the 2022-2023 school year. She said that interest is high in the welding program at WBCCC and classes are filling up almost for next year. Bentonville schools recently brought 40 students to tour the career center and an open house is being planned for the community from 3 to 7 pm on Thursday, March 17.
Becky Sears, high school assistant principal Jared Schoonover, Hankins, special ed director Vickie Johnston, athletic director Norman Mitchell and each of the building principals shared their progress on goals for this school year.
Superintendent Childress gave a report on musical instruments that are needed in the musical programs for kindergarten through senior high.
A drawing was held to determine at-large seats on the school board. Jay Oliphant will hold at-large seat No.1 and Tracy Moorman will hold at-large seat No. 2.
Superintendent Childress gave the January attendance report and pointed out that it was easy to see which week covid hit in the schools. She said enrollment for February is just the same as it was in January. She also gave a covid report and outlined district covid directives and mandates.
Changes in policy are being made in line with recommendations from the state health department. She said the word “child” would be changed to “dependent” in the statement: “10 days of covid leave for staff will continue to be available for positive covid cases of the staff member or for the staff member to care for a dependent who tests positive through the end of the 2021-2022 school year.”
Superintendent Childress gave an update on the property at Stagecoach and Bittersweet Roads that the board is considering for purchase, including the results of a new survey and an environmental study. Board member Tracy Moorman suggested the owner be asked to remove the household waste remaining on the property. In action items that followed, the board voted unanimously to approve the purchase of 51 acres on the corner of Stagecoach Road and Bittersweet Road for the amount of $1.3 million to be paid out of the building fund. A second motion to authorize real estate agent Larry Boling to ask on behalf of the district that hazardous household waste be removed from the property also passed unanimously.
In other action items on the board:
* Voted to purchase the needed musical instruments outlined in the superintendent’s report out of the building fund for the 2022-2023 school year in an amount not to exceed $35,000.
* Decided that a discussion of a common definition of traditional discipline would be held at a later date, possibly at the board’s upcoming work session.
* Approved the first reading of the Winter 2022 ASBA Policy updates.
* Discussed the student dress code, including prom and homecoming guidelines.
* Approved changes to the Sick Leave Donation policy and authorized Superintendent Childress to take these policy changes to the employees for a vote.
* Set dates on March 3 at 5 pm for a work session to discuss salaries and staffing for the 2022-2023 school year, on March 14 at 6 pm for the regular board meeting, and on March 29 at 5 pm for a work session to discuss curriculum, instruction and assessment.
* Voted to give school district staff the opportunity to reconsider the currently approved 2022-2023 school calendar with the option of including Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday.
* Approved the installation of a Burlsworth — Greater display on the west side of the concession stand at Lion Field at an estimated cost of $9,040.32 to the paid out of the building fund. Board member Hope Duke suggested the words “filmed on this field” be added to the display.
* Approved the purchase of equipment for the certified school security officers at an estimated cost of $3,036 to be paid out of the CSSO general fund.
* Approved a resolution to adopt the Benton County Hazard Mitigation Plan.
* Gave approval for a trip for the GHS EAST team to attend a conference in Hot Springs March 15-17 and for 32 HOSA students to attend skills competition in Hot Springs March 6-8.
* Approved the 2022 Election Documents for publication as prepared by First Security Beardsley.
Board members moved into executive session at 8:58 pm to discuss employment and when they returned to open session at 9:34 pm voted to hire Paige Wood as an administrative specialist for communications and technology and to approve a special education interventionist position at the upper elementary school for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year. Approval was also given for Mary Steele’s transfer from the Title I position into a fifth-grade teacher position on a month-to-month basis for the remainder of the school year, serving only as long as is needed to meet the enrollment number compliance requirements .
Finally, board members voted to approve the memorandum of understanding between Mandy Barrett, upper elementary principal, and the school board that defines the relationship and expectations associated with her outside employment with Solution Tree. Tracy Moorman was authorized to sign the agreement on behalf of the board.
The meeting adjourned at 9:37 pm
Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Fifth grader Lucas Morales displays the poster outlining his experiment to determine the brand of colored pencil with the best quality and value. Lucas and other first prize winners in the recent upper elementary science fair were honored at the Feb. 21 meeting of the Gravette school board.
Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Brandi Brown, art teacher at Glenn Duffy Elementary School, thanks members of the Gravette school board for authorizing the purchase of stools which helped make her art classroom more comfortable. She said they created a more welcoming environment for her students.
Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Eighth grader Holden Jeffries tells members of the Gravette school board about the fruit fly experiment he and his classmates conducted as his teacher, Brad Leach, looks on. Holden was one of the students honored at the Feb. 21 meeting of the board.
Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Superintendent Maribel Childress and middle school principal Taos Jones display certificates awarded to the Gravette Middle School from the Office of Education Policy. The outstanding educational performance awards were earned for best overall growth scores and best growth scores in math on the 2021 ACT Aspire tests.
Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Third grader Danielle Dillon displays her poster exploring the question of whether sea salt will melt ice faster than ice melt. Danielle, a first place winner in the recent upper elementary science fair, was one of the students who were honored at the Feb. 21 meeting of the Gravette school board.