School Board formalizes policy for homeless students, approves Joint Use Agreement

By Jamie Miller

Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Student Act, it is a school district's responsibility to have[more] a policy in place regarding admitting homeless students to the district. Currently, the Bryant School District is practicing the law regarding homeless students but there is no official policy in place.

At their January meeting on Monday evening, the members of the board approved a new policy which would include not stigmatizing or segregating students based on their status as homeless, providing transportation at the request of the parent/guardian to wherever they are living at the time. It also stipulates that the students will be enrolled in accordance with all applicable statues within the district.

Act 1209 of the 2011 Legislative Session has brought about new guidelines regarding evaluating teachers and principals throughout the school districts in Arkansas. The goal of the new system is to provide good feedback and evaluation for the teachers and principals.

Bryant is implementing a new system and it was presented by Pam Kenney, Director of Instruction and Professional Development. After the system is piloted statewide in the 2013-14 school year, it will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year.

For the past two months the Bryant Parks Department has come to the board requesting a Joint Use Agreement to use the Hurricane Creek Elementary and Bryant Elementary gyms to provide more space for the Youth Basketball Program. The agreement was contingent on the City of Bryant receiving grant funds to cover the costs of utilizing the Bryant facilities as stipulated in Bryant's policies. The grant was approved and the board approved the Joint Use Agreement.

An update was given from Clark Construction, the contractor on the Hill Farm Elementary and the high school buildings. Both projects are complete and Clark Contractors fielded questions from the board about the process of the building of each facility and gave tips for future construction projects.

January has been deemed Arkansas School Board Member Recognition Month by Gov. Mike Beebe. In accordance to that, students from Hill Farm Elementary School presented the members of the Bryant School Board with bags containing "emergency kits" to help the board members get through their monthly meetings.

Items included gum, toothpaste and toothbrushes, tissues, a hand clapper, and many other items. A picture of a student was also presented to each board member to remind them why they serve, “to provide the best school environment for the students of Bryant.” The board members expressed their appreciation.

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