Construction timeframes presented to school board

Dr. Richard Abernathy presents the Outstanding School Board Member Award to Board Member Scott Hart after making the same presentation to board member Joe Wishard, right. (Photo by Lana Clifton)By LANA CLIFTON

James H. Cone, the general contractor assigned to the new Bryant High School building project, presented a facility update to the Bryant School Board and gave them some suggestions about how and when to move forward with construction at the regular meeting of the board on Monday, Nov. 16. Cone brought a 360 degree video presentation of the final plans to show the board members.[more]

In his first option for beginning construction, Cone suggested that modular classrooms could immediately be installed to relocate students so full construction could begin in early spring.

His second idea called for a delay in construction until the summer of 2010.

Cone’s final option would involve completing the project in phases with demolition of one building immediately so some construction could begin in the spring, then further demolition and construction would take place in the summer. Cone highlighted pros and cons of each suggestion, but clearly leaned to the third option of a phase approach. His recommendation to the board was to select option 3, immediately commission utility work and to request safety and parent and emergency vehicle access plans from the construction manager to be reviewed by the district.

On the subject of safety of the overall project, Cone assured the board this was a top priority no matter which option they chose.

“My commitment is that we create a very secure separation between the construction site and the school site,” said Cone.

This report was for information purposes only and required no board action at the time of the meeting.

Delton Kitchell, Director of Administrative Services came forward to address the board about the district’s 10-year master facilities plan, which must be updated by February. He provided data on the recent growth of student populations and projections of future populations of the district as a whole and for individual schools. According to Kitchell, several schools will be at or near capacity within the next few years. A facilities committee had met before the board meeting to discuss some ideas to address the issue. Kitchell said the committee came up with two main ideas. The board decided to hold a workshop to talk about different options. Superintendent Dr. Richard Abernathy suggested including some of the committee members at the workshop.

Abernathy said after the board meets for the workshop, there will be a public meeting. According to Abernathy, the board will need to have a plan in place to be approved at the January 2010 board meeting, because it will need to be submitted to the state by Feb. 1.

In other business, Dr. Debbie Bruick, Assistant Superintendent, presented the grant requests by teachers that had been accepted. These grants were to be paid for with some of the government stimulus money given to the district. Out of 88 grants submitted for approval, 26 had been chosen based on stimulus requirements. Each school in the district was approved for at least one grant requested. The board voted to approve the grants so they could be submitted for fulfillment.

Buster Beardsley of First Security came before the board to request final approval to adopt a resolution authorizing the issuance and delivery of the $14,500,000 construction bond. The board unanimously voted to approve the resolution, which will release money to begin construction on the new high school building. According to Beardsley, the money will be credited to the school district by 2 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2009.

Bryant High School Principal Randy Rutherford presented a report to the board about an academic improvement plan for the high school that centered on improving Advanced Placement course enrollment and grades. The plan called for more student accountability and increased parent involvement in the AP program. Some recommendations included mandatory review sessions for students enrolled in AP classes, a parents’ night for Pre-AP, AP and concurrent students, consequences for students who don’t make an effort on tests or don’t come to review sessions and meetings, an English 12 summer boot camp to prepare students for AP English and money for teachers to receive out of state training.

Board members were receptive to the ideas presented and congratulated Rutherford and the teachers involved in meeting and coming up with the recommendations.

“I appreciate the work you have put in on this,” said Abernathy.

Jessica Norris, Communications Director for the district, recognized schools and individuals for several honors and awards. Three Bryant Elementary School fifth grade students were recognized for winning awards in an art contest sponsored by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Nathan Mayes received first place overall. Stuti Chatterjee received second place overall, and Spencer Smith received second place in the fifth grade division.

Three Bryant schools were finalists in the “Best of the Best” honor awarded by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The award was voted on by citizens of Saline County and surrounding areas. According to Norris, Bryant School District was the only education system with winners in all three school categories. Bryant Elementary, Bryant Middle School and Bryant High School were each finalists in their respective categories.

Bethel Middle School was the recipient of the 2009 Shannon Wright Award. This award is presented by the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Association of Middle Level Education (AAMLE) to one distinguished middle level program in Arkansas per year. A $2500 cash prize from AAMLE will accompany the award.

Two school board members, Joe Wishard and Scott Hart also received recognition by the Arkansas School Boards Association for earning 25 hours or more hours of board development training. Three board members, Rhonda Sanders, David Moore, and Joe Wishard, have also attained Master Board Member status. This status means the board members earned at least 50 hours of professional development credit through the ASBA Boardmanship Awards Program. Sandra Porter received this status last year.

Abernathy said this spoke of the dedication of the board members as they are only required to obtain sis hours of training per year.

Other action items addressed by the board included purchasing a service contract for a nurse needed to care for a special needs student at the high school, acceptance of board policy revisions, approval of new copier leases for Bryant Elementary and the Family Center and acceptance of cleaning contracts for Hurricane Creek Elementary and Bethel Middle School. All these items passed unanimously.

Board member David Moore was absent from the meeting and Board President Rhonda Sanders attended the meeting by conference call.

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