By John R. Schirmer
Members of the Nashville School board gathered twice during the past week – once informally for lunch at the Nashville High School Scrapper Cafe, and again for the annual report to the public and September board meeting.
The informal gathering was last Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the request of Superintendent Doug Graham. “I told our campuses to invite the board to lunch. I want to have open communications, keep the board involved and enjoy a nice lunch.”
The district’s other campuses will host board members in coming months.
The meal was prepared and served by students in Julie Wakely’s Nutrition and Wellness class. The students – Anastasia Hibberd, Jordan Revels and Steyanna Bailey – told about their class and the activities which it includes. “We’re learning about fitness, our health, carbs, protein, sugars,” Hibberd said.
Revels discussed Tasty Thursdays when Wakley gives a demonstration of cooking from a recipe, step by step.
On Fitness Fridays, students go to the track and run, Bailey said, along with other activities.
Wakely said that some of her curriculum has been changed by the Arkansas Department of Career Education. “They’ve combined Foods and Nutrition with Food Safety. The state wants students to be certified in Serve Save because it makes them more employable and more ready for the workforce.”
The certification test costs $15. Graham said the district will assume the cost of testing.
Wakley also discussed the FCCLA chapter at NHS and said members partnered with Arkansas Community Health for a tobacco prevention program.
Members of the FFA Show Team discussed the recent Howard County Fair and the upcoming district and state fairs. They included Barrett Jackson, Sara Sweat, Haydn Whisenhunt, Calley Allmon and Abbie Lamb, along with chapter adviser Matt McLelland.
Nashville “won quite a few ribbons,” McLelland said of the county fair. Students talked about their show animals and the work involved in preparing them for the fair.
After district and state, a group from NHS will attend the national FFA convention in Indianapolis, McLelland said. “It’s a pretty busy fall.”
The NHS Robotics Team demonstrated two of the students’ robots for board members. The team includes Caleb Newton, Gage Kropf, Corbin Tripp and Junior Robbins.
They talked about constructing the robots and showed how the devices operate.
The students also told about their upcoming competition.
Principal Tate Gordon said the robotics program “meets the state’s computer coding requirement.” Teacher David Schwope received the necessary state certification during the summer.
The board’s regular meeting was held Monday, Sept. 18.
Graham said the operating balance as of Aug. 31 was $5.6 million. “We have a healthy balance in our operating fund,” he said.
Board members approved the 2017-18 special education budget of about $1.4 million.
The board approved retired equipment expenditures for 2016-17. “This is computer equipment and other equipment that is out of service,” Graham said. The depreciated value of $128,336 was removed from the books.
Graham said the district learned Monday that it has received a grant to hire a maintenance staff member to wash school buses. The position will be 20 hours per week. “This is the same group that gives grants for summertime help,” Graham said.
“I don’t know when the new position will start.”
Graham said that recent concerns about ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have made their way to the school district.
DACA will end next March, and Congress has until then to come up with a replacement in order for about 800,000 students and young workers to remain in the United States.
Plans to abolish the “Dreamers” program have been met with stiff criticism by major companies, including Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft, among others.
Graham said that some of the district’s Hispanic students “have left recently. Maybe their parents aren’t documented. These are wonderful students who have been with us for years. I don’t want them to up and leave.”
The families “may be jumping the gun a little,” Graham said. “That’s real, the stress they’re going through now” over DACA.
The board accepted the resignation of high school secretary Toney Staggs. The district will advertise the position starting this week.
Graham said Pilar Nunley has moved to Florida and the district will be looking for someone to fill her migrant aide position at primary school.
Report to the public
Before the regular board meeting, administrators presented the annual report to the public as required by state law.
Building principals discussed enrollment, plans for the year and other aspects of their campuses. They included Shirley Wright, primary; Latito Williams, elementary; Deb Tackett, junior high; and Tate Gordon, high school.
Graham reviewed the district’s transportation program.
Gifted and Talented director Kristi Cox provided an overview of the program from kindergarten through high school.
Assistant Superintendent Joe Kell discussed federal programs and state testing.
Graham said the district’s enrollment as of Monday was 1,938 students, compared to 1,912 at report to the public time last year.
“I hope we hang on to those numbers and grow,” he said.
Complete details from the report to the public will be included in next week’s News-Leader.