The Mena School Board conducted their January meeting on Wednesday, January 18th in the district administration building.

Dr. Lee Smith began the meeting with the Superintendent’s Report. He updated the board on Governor Sander’s education plan Arkansas LEARNS as well as the legislative session.

Smith then stated that the district continues to lag behind their attendance goal. The attendance rate for the 1st semester was 92.3% but Mena Middle School and Mena High School have increased their percentage rate. Attendance continues to be an issue for Louise Durham Elementary and Holly Harshman Elementary. On a positive note the number of discipline incidents in the first semester is down significantly over last year. From 503 incidents last year to 398 this year.

Smith then recognized Assistant Superintendent Bridget Buckley for an update on the district’s reading fluency. Mena Middle School was led by the 8th grade. Of those who were reading below grade level 66% are now reading at grade level. Mena High School was led by the 9th grade with  63% of those below grade level having made progress in the first semester. . Meanwhile Holly Harshman Elementary had a total of 43 students improve to grade level. Louise Durham is currently underway with NWEA Testing and those results will be available soon.

Buckley added that HHE and MMS are doing exceptionally well in the “Great Reading Games” with Learning Ally. HHE is currently third in the nation having read over 100,000 pages and MMS is twelfth in the nation having read over 23,000 pages. According to Learning Ally there are 17,500 schools nationwide who use this resource for struggling readers.

In new business Dr. Smith acknowledged the boards hard work over the past year and each board member was given a gift package from the Sassafras Bakehouse for School Board Appreciation Month.

Next was the school board member training report. Dr. Smith informed the board whether they had met all the yearly training requirements. This information is reported to the state each year.

The board was informed that their statement of financial interest is due January 31st, 2023.

Approval was given for the renewal of the school board legal liability insurance with a premium of $9,977.00.

Mrs. Buckley then provided an update on 2023 model policy updates. 

1. Covid Leave policies for both Certified and Classified staff have been repealed. 

2. School choice applications will only be accepted between January 1 and May 1 through either electronic timestamp submission or postmark. Schools can decline to accept due to having to hire additional staff for a grade, program or building capacity.

3. Schools will provide age appropriate education regarding breastfeeding as well as providing support and space for employees, students or volunteers who are breastfeeding mothers. Break time will be provided according to the employee, student or volunteer needs.

4. Visitors are directed to not use devices to record audio or video or take photographs when a general expectation of privacy exists. Visitors will not post, create, send, share, capture audio, video, or photographs of students unless permission is granted by the guardian or the student who is 18, is authorized by the district or is required to do so as a part of the job duties. 

Next on the agenda was the proposed budget of expenditures for July 1, 2024 - June 30th, 2025. It was approved with a total budget of 12.6 million dollars.

The board approved the latest financial report. With Dr. Smith saying that expenses did outpace revenue this past month which is normal for December.

The board then approved the renewal of Dr. Lee Smith’s contract as superintendent of schools to extend to the 2025-2026 school year with a raise to $125,000. 

Finally in personnel the board accepted the resignation of:

Samantha Breedlove - 7th grade and Jr. High Cheer Coach - effective 12-21-22

Alexa Brewer - Paraprofessional MHS - effective 12-22-22

Kelly Bowen - Bus Driver - effective 1-9-23

Donna Golden - 3rd Grade Teacher HHE - effective 3-3-23

Alyssa Hostetler - MHS Secretary - effective no later than 6-30-23


Kristine Albin - From MHS ELA to Journalism/Yearbook


Shawna Powell - MHS ELA  -  Replacing Kristine Albin - effective 1-9-23

Amber Hendricks - MMS AE Paraprofessional - replacing Tiffany Sims - effective 1/16/23

Misty Mullen - Junior High Cheer Coach - replacing Samantha Breedlove for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year.

Chad Pettigrew - C route bus driver - effective 1-9-23

Alyssa Hostetler - Bookkeeper - replacing Suzanne Bentley - effective no later than 6-30-23