The Mena School Board met for their July meeting on Tuesday night, July 20th at the District Administration Building.
Dr. Lee Smith began the meeting with the superintendent’s report and it included the district plans on dealing with the lingering COVID issues. He stated that strategies are in place to control the spread and that the plan is to operate as normal as possible. Families who do not want their students to attend in person due to COVID concerns are encouraged to join the Polk County Virtual Academy (PCVA). Blended learning will not be an option this year; however, traditional students facing quarantine will be able to access online learning. Additional guidance from the Arkansas Department of Education is expected next week.
Dr. Smith also informed the board that the district will contract with Aramark to manage their concessions in the 21-22 school year for all sports except football. This should streamline the purchasing process and increase the efficiency of product management. Student organizations will continue to provide volunteers to operate the concessions as they have in the past.
Assistant Superintendent Bridget Buckley then informed the board of a new partnership with Reach University. Reach is a nonprofit university that offers job-embedded learning to help schools grow their own talent. This teacher education program will allow any district employee who qualifies an opportunity to earn a four year degree and teaching credentials. The program will focus on Para professionals but is available to any employee who works with students 10-15 hours per week.
The board then approved the amended transportation salary schedule for 2021/2022. The only change was to sub route pay to meet new minimum wage standards.
Next on the agenda was a bid for an insurance policy for bus and vehicle coverage. The board approved the bid from Farm Bureau Insurance
In the amount of $19,277.58. The premium is actually several thousand dollars lower than last year and will be active from August 2021 through August 2022.
Approval was given, with no discussion, for the allotment of $200.00 to each campuses petty cash fund to start the year.
Bridget Buckley then updated the board on numerous changes made in the recently concluded legislative session that will affect the district and its policies. Many of which will force changes to the building and athletic handbooks. These updates will be presented to the board at a later date.
In other action a quote for the purchase of a vehicle for the superintendent was received in the amount of $44,700.00 from Mena Ford. To meet legal requirements, additional bids will be sought. The board gave Dr. Smith the authority to consider all bids and make the purchase.
The board then considered a proposal to replace the artificial turf at Bob Carver Bearcat Stadium. The current turf had an expected lifespan of seven years and has now been in use for thirteen years. The board voted to partner with Field Turf and the installation of their Elite Turf product, which will have a life expectancy of ten years. The board also approved making the Bearcat Foundation the official fundraising arm for the project. Advertisements will be sold on the new turf to help pay for the project.
The board was then made aware of Dr. Lee Smith’s intentions to mentor the new superintendent at the Cossatot River School District. This is a part of the School Superintendent Mentoring Program, which is state law, and includes the assignment of a trained mentor for first-year Arkansas school superintendents. The board approved.
District maintenance supervisor Danny Minton updated summer projects across the district. Bids on new heating and air units at Holly Harshman Elementary and Mena Middle School will open on July 27th. The annual stripping and waxing of floors has been completed at LDE, MMS and MHS. Some cabinets and tiles have been replaced at HHE and some new play equipment installed. A new discus pad and surround has been installed in front of MMS. Some loose seating in the Performing Arts Center at MHS have been repaired. Minton said that numerous inspections must be passed before classes begin on August 16th.
A disclosure statement was next on the agenda. The Union Bank of Mena supplies the district with financial services and Board members Kyle Cannon and Phillip Wilson are affiliated with the Union Bank. Annually, board members, administrators, and employees are asked to list conflicts or potential conflicts, and sign a disclosure form.
The board quickly approved the financial reports.
The final item on the agenda was personnel.
The board accepted the resignation of Denise Jewell, Ray Willard, Patricia Jackson, Debbie Ferguson and Melissa Ward.
The board approved the hiring of:
Kaitlyn Hanes – Para Pro
Jess Hughes – Para Pro
Christy Schuller - Kindergarten
Lana Coogan – Choir
The board also approved the reassignment of Jennifer McCauley from MHS secretary to ISS Instructor at MHS and MMS.