School board accepts design for new high school building; agrees to artificial turf proposal


The Bryant School Board voted unanimously to accept the design for the new high school building at a regular meeting held Monday, Oct. 19.

The revised plans included adjustments to the amphitheater and media center and some added details to the bathrooms.“We are set and ready to go,” said a Brooks Jackson Engineering representative, “With your go ahead we’ll be full steam ahead.”

“I think it’s the best design for this campus since we started looking at this about four years ago,” said Dr. Richard Abernathy, school superintendent. “The only comments I have heard from staff are, ‘When do we get started?’”[more]

The representatives also presented an email from J.R. Anderson stating that the design of Hurricane Creek Elementary had been identified as one of the top scorers in Center for the Built Environment (CBE) Occupant Indoor Environmental Quality Survey. According to the note, this survey recognizes buildings that exhibit exceptional performance. The school’s design has been selected to be submitted for the CBE Livable Building Award.

Abernathy added that Jackson and his firm will be submitting Hurricane Creek to the National School Board Association for the annual architectural series.

“It’s a nice looking facility and we have others. We want to show them off,” said Abernathy.

Athletic Director Tom Farmer addressed the board about another proposed facilities improvement item. Farmer suggested the board consider switching the grounds of the football stadium from natural turf to synthetic. Farmer said it took about $50,000 to maintain the current field and would also require a new crown at a cost of between $150,000 and $175,000 soon. He said the cost of a new crown would need to be repeated every five years.

Farmer also expressed concern over limited use of the field with natural turf. Using the recent rainfall as an example, he spoke about times when the field could not be used, during certain types of weather, to keep from ruining the turf. He said a new synthetic surface would not have restrictions due to wet weather.

Farmer proposed raising funds for half (an approximate $400,000) the project through ad sales and donations of materials and work. The other half would be paid for by the district. To help raise funds, Farmer suggested partnering with Athletic Surfaces Plus (ASP) out of Memphis, Tenn. Tim Cowan, a representative from ASP, addressed the board giving specifications for the part they would play in the fund raising and bidding process.

After some discussion about cost comparisons and the project in general, the board voted unanimously to allow fund raising to begin on the project.

In other business, the board listened to A.V. Beardsley of Beardsley Public Finance as he presented a proposal to refund a bond issue. According to Beardsley, his suggestion would result in a savings of over $1 million for the district over the life of the bond issue.

This action would free some funds to be used for construction in time to begin work on the new high school building.

The board approved the action and signed all necessary paperwork to move the transaction forward.

In other business, the board rejected proposed adjustments to the salary schedule for high school assistant principals and elementary principals.

Richard Stipe addressed the board about the changes proposed by the Certified Personnel Policy Committee. He explained that, at last regular board meeting, the board voted on recommendations concerning salary adjustments for the current year and sent their choices back to both the Certified PPC and the Classified PPC. Stipe said they agreed with everything except the salary multipliers for high school assistant principals and elementary principals.

The proposed change was from a multiplier of 1.300 to that of 1.325. Susan Wright, a counselor at Salem Elementary, represented the Certified PPC in explaining the reasons behind the proposed changes. Wright said the change was suggested by the CPAs based on duties outside of the instructional day that high school assistant principals are expected to perform. To maintain the proper salary ratio between assistant vice principals at the high school level and principals at the elementary school level, the principal multiplier would have also been changed.

Abernathy suggested a more comprehensive study of the duties required of vice principals and the difference in salary between different positions needed to be conducted before such a change was made.

“PPC and I have always had a good relationship. This is not a reflection of PPC,” stressed Abernathy. “My role is to advise the board on recommendation as far as what’s good for the district.”

Abernathy went on to give information about the rates of pay and the difference between high school principals and high school vice principals, pointing out that the roles of the two were very different, with high school principals having a much larger area of responsibility. He said he felt compensation should reflect this. He agreed that roles and pay scales needed to be looked at, however.

“Administration responsibilities and roles have changed tremendously over the years,” said Abernathy. “We need to review what we need to expect from administrators … We need to take a broader approach than looking at multipliers.”

Abernathy wanted to make it clear he thinks assistant principals are doing a good job, but felt this particular recommendation was short-sighted.

Board members expressed concern over extra duties and a desire to make sure they were compensated or that duties were split differently to lessen the amount of time assistant principals are on duty outside of the instructional day. They also wanted everyone to know they were not against salary increases or adjustments for anybody, but just wanted to make sure they had more information before they acted.

After some discussion, the board agreed with Abernathy and voted to reject the change in multipliers and to accept the original changes as it had been written, submitted and voted upon at September’s board meeting. They also agreed to look at a more comprehensive study of administrative duties and responsibilities to make decisions about salary, days of contract and duties of each position.

Other announcements included an update on stimulus fund usage presented by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debbie Bruick and Stipe. Bruick said many actions that were in the program previously submitted to the board have taken place. Many items have already been ordered, delivered and set up in the classrooms including literacy supplies and computers. Bruick said staff training on these new items was being implemented.

The Oct. 1 enrollment report was presented by Assistant Principal Don McGohan. The report showed this year’s enrollment at 7,666, an increase of 283 students over last year.

In other business, a statement of assurance for ACSIP was authorized, an annually required statement of assurance that the school is in compliance with state standards was approved, modifications to a 403(b) document were approved, a copier lease was renewed, and financial and donation reports were announced.

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