January 2021 School Board Meeting !

The Mena School Board held their January meeting on Tuesday at the Administration building.

The Meeting began with Mr. Benny Weston addressing a number of topics in his Superintendent’s Report. He began with an update on Covid Vaccine availability for staff. The district will be partnering with UAMS to host a clinic on Wednesday, January 27th.

Weston also reported that Mena will be receiving additional Covid relief funding. These ESSER II (Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief) Funds will total $2,410,776.00

Finally the board was updated on education issues that will be a part of the current legislative session in Little Rock.

In new business Weston read a proclamation from Governor Asa Hutchinson on School Board Appreciation Month.

Next the board was notified that the annual Mena FFA Alumni Auction has been postponed indefinitely due to Covid concerns.

Dr. Lee Smith gave an update on the new phone system that was installed over the winter break at MHS, MMS & HHE. Technicians continue to work on ironing out issues & the process is nearing completion.

District Maintenance Supervisor, Mr. Danny Minton, spoke to the board about facilities & stated that S.E. Texas Sports Fields have begun work on the baseball & softball fields at Union Bank Park in preparation for the upcoming season. All outdoor facilities have been winterized & the new surface on the gym floors at Jim Rackley & the Union Bank Center have been completed. Minton also asked the board to renew the annual contracts with Harrison Energy for system maintenance at MHS & LDE. Also with Chem-Aqua for HVAC maintenance at MHS. All were approved.

Dr. Smith then presented a new virtual attendance policy for approval. In short, all blended students and those enrolled in the Polk County Virtual Academy must meet attendance requirements by remaining actively engaged. Students do this by completing at least 95% of daily assignments. Logging in and participating in required online activities up to 6 hours per day. Participation in District & State assessments as well as other requirements necessary for promotion to the next grade level or graduation. That policy was approved.

The annual Mid Year Review was next on the agenda. Weston said that to date approximately 44% of the annual budget has been depleted & that the district remains in good financial condition.

The board then approved the proposed budget for July 1st, 2022 thru June 30th, 2023 with no changes from the previous year.

They also approved the annual legal liability insurance policy at a cost of $8,870.00 & also an out of state liability policy at a cost of $541.00.

Dr. Lee Smith updated the board on the ASBA policy regarding Covid leave. An additional 10 days leave has been added for school employees for a maximum of 20 days for Covid related illness.

The board was happy to hear that a recent audit of the district’s finances showed no findings. The board accepted the clear audit.

It was reported that all school board members have met their training requirements for the year.

The financial report met with prompt approval.

Superintendent Benny Weston then presented his resignation to the board effective June 30, 2021, to take the role of DeQueen-Mena Educational Cooperative Director. That resignation was accepted & the board immediately went into executive session.

When the open meeting resumed they proceeded to address personnel issues. The board accepted the resignation of custodian Dianne Barber. They were also notified and accepted the retirements of MMS Principal Clifton Sherrer & MMS teacher Robin Ponder. The board also hired Dr. Lee Smith as Superintendent effective July 1, 2021.