The March Meeting of the Mena School Board was held on Tuesday evening at the District Administration Building.

As usual the meeting began with the Superintendent’s Report. Dr. Lee Smith introduced the board to Mr. Curtis Black. Black will be the new Principal at Louise Durham Elementary for the 2022/2023 school year. Also as a part of the Superintendent’s Report Mr. Danny Minton updated the board on numerous projects around the district.  These included the installation of drainage boxes at Bearcat Stadium, a new sidewalk is under construction at Mena High School and new wash bays are in production at the remodeled Ag Barn. A new energy audit is in process to verify the savings from switching to LED lighting. Plus the new ION filtering system and new warmers are being installed at Louise Durham.

Dr. Smith then asked the board to consider continuing to use C.R. Crawford Construction as the district’s construction manager. The company has performed above expectations in the past and there are numerous projects on the horizon. The board approved.

Dr. Smith then updated the board on the recent 2020-2021 audit. He was pleased to report that the audit was clean and no problems were reported.

Next on the agenda was the consideration of a resolution on school choice capacity. The state requires that no district may gain or lose over 3% of its population to school choice. That would translate to 51 students for the Mena School District. After a brief discussion the resolution was passed. The school choice deadline is May 1st, 2022.

The board then approved the purchase of a 2018 Blue Bird school bus from Masters Transportation in the amount of $67,732.00.

Mena High School Principal Mr. David Maxwell then petitioned the board to approve a change in the honors policy. The request was to drop foreign language as a requirement for students to be eligible for high honors since it is no longer required by the state for the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship. The change was approved by the board. MHS will continue to offer foreign language through Virtual Arkansas but it will not be required to graduate with honors.

The board was then notified by Dr. Smith that the USDA has denied the extension of the free meals program and the application process will return for the 2022-2023 school year.

Next was a proposal to acquire Arvest Purchasing Cards for use by employees for approved expenses. The goal being to alleviate the need for employees to make purchases and be reimbursed after the fact. That resolution was approved.

Assistant Superintendent Bridget Buckley then presented the recruitment and retention plan for the district. That plan was approved.

The district’s financial report was approved after Smith declared that the district remains in solid financial condition and is on target to finish the year as expected.

Personnel changes are always last on the agenda. The board accepted the resignation of Amy Montgomery and approved the hiring of Celeste Ashcraft to replace her as Assistant Principal at Mena High School. Abigail Tilley was hired for the Mena Middle School and Mena High School choir position. Stacy Salisbury will be a half time dyslexia specialist. Zen Valensia will fill a new position as wrestling coach and also assist with football in addition to teaching duties at MMS. Avanlea Chaney will fill the counselor’s position at Louise Durham and Aarika Cox will move from her current position to one as RTI Parapro.