School board moves on personnel policy recommendations

By Lana Clifton

Bryant School Board members discussed and responded to several recommendations by the Certified Personnel Policies Committee and the Classified Policies Committee at a meeting held Monday, April 19 in the Hurricane Creek Elementary School cafeteria.

The board approved a proposal by the Certified PPC that addressed a personal leave issue. The change affects teachers with 10 or more years of experience in the district. In the previous policy, after five years with the district, teachers were allowed to use one sick day per year as a personal day. The new policy states that, after 10 years, a teacher may use up to two sick days as personal days.[more]

Board member Sandra Porter stated that this had been an issue for a long time.

The other proposal presented by the Certified PPC requested the district cover a $100 fee for renewal of the standard teaching license for teachers working in the district. The fee must be paid every five years by each teacher to keep their license. The Arkansas Department of Education implemented the fee in 2009. Before that, there was no cost for renewal of the basic license. The board discussed the issue at length before voting to reject it.

Board president Rhonda Sanders said she did not want teachers to have to pay the fee, but she had a concern.

“We do have a lot of other personnel that are paying for their licenses or fees to hold their job or professional status,” she noted. “Where do we stop?”

Superintendent Dr. Richard Abernathy presented another recommendation to the board that had been submitted earlier in April to the Certified PPC for consideration. The proposal would create a stipend for school counselors at the elementary and middle school levels to compensate them for extra time spent in test administration activities. The board would assist high school counselors by creating a testing/career tech coordinator position.

Abernathy said the proposal was necessary to bring the school into compliance with a state law that requires school counselors to spend 75 percent of work each week providing direct counseling services and no more than 25 percent on administrative activities.

The proposal recommended a stipend of $750 for counselors in elementary schools with less than 500 students, $1000 for counselors in elementary schools with more than 500 students and $1500 for middle school counselors.

Abernathy recommended the board approve the counselor stipend. The Certified PPC had voted to reject the proposal as written because some members felt the difference between elementary counselor compensation and middle school compensation was too high. They also pointed out that teachers also have additional time dedicated to test preparation in the form of grading chunk tests. They recommended additional personnel rather than more money was a better fix for the problem.

The board voted to accept the counselor stipend as presented to bring the district into compliance with the state law as soon as possible.

In other business, the board voted to accept the superintendent contract for Randy Rutherford. The contract will be in effect from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013.

Information items included an announcement by Jessica Bollen, director of communications for the district, regarding plans to revise the district’s website and to update district branding. Bollen said Flex360, Inc., had been hired to update the website to a more progressive design that would also be easier to navigate.

“We want this to be a tool that anyone can use,” explained Bollen, who added that she was working with a designer to update the district seal as well as school logos.

She said she recommended the logos be redesigned to be more consistent throughout the district while still retaining their individual mascots and school colors.

Bollen also announced a district community service project scheduled for May 15. The “Hornets Hike for Haiti” will be a 5K run/walk open to teens and adults including students in sixth grade and up with a 1 mile kid’s fun run for children K-5th. According to Bollen, proceeds from the event will benefit the American Red Cross efforts in Haiti. The event is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. at the Hornet Stadium parking lot. Entry fees will be $10 for K-5th, $15 for 6-12th and $20 for adults.

Other information items included an announcement by Athletic Director Tom Farmer stating that they had completed their obligation to raise $325,000 from local business to assist in funding the project to install turf at the Hornet Stadium; and proposed policy and district policy manual revisions presented by Assistant Superintendent Don McGohan.

The board also recognized four teachers for recent honors. Tracie Moon of Bethel Middle School, Nicole Wrobel of Bryant Middle School and Glenn Sago of Salem Elementary were honored for receiving their National Teachers Board certifications. Laura Wooten, Bryant High School Dance coach, was honored for being named the National Federation of High Schools Spirit Coach of the Year.

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