By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville School Board Monday night selected an assistant principal for Nashville Elementary, approved security measures on three campuses and accepted bids for improvements at Wilson Park. The actions came during the board’s regular meeting which lasted more than two hours.
The board named Tyra Hughes assistant principal at elementary, succeeding Rick Rebsamen who was moved to the principal’s position following the death of Latito Williams. She was selected on a 5-0 vote following a 31-minute executive session.
Hughes has spent 22 years in the district, according to Superintendent Doug Graham. She was a classroom teacher from 1995-99 and became primary school principal in 1999.
Hughes is a graduate of Nashville High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1994 from Southern Arkansas University and her master’s degree in counseling in 1997.
She is certified in K-12, curriculum specialist, K-8 principal and K-8 counselor.
Hughes will move to the elementary position in January, according to Graham.
The relocation of Hughes from primary to elementary likely will be the first of several changes in administrative positions within the district in coming months. “We’ll start this domino and keep rolling,” Graham said in response to a question from board member Randy Elliott about replacing Hughes at primary.
The board accepted a bid of $284,567 from Progressive Technologies of Sherwood to install security systems at Nashville High School and Nashville Junior High. The vote was 5-0.
Progressive’s bid includes access control systems and surveillance cameras for both campuses.
The other bidder for the project was Regional Systems of Nash, Texas, for $314,304.
Graham said he contacted eight different companies, with Progressive and Regional emerging as the leading candidates. He recommended Progressive to the board.
“Progressive made three or four trips here. They’ve put in a lot of systems, especially in schools. I’ve never seen a project with more favorable reviews from the people they serve” than he received on Progressive, Graham said.
“I received recommendations on them from a lot of schools. They said we’ll never have headaches with progressive,” according to Graham.
“The number one priority for me is to get the camera system outside and in so we can know what’s going on at that campus. The cameras’ images are crystal clear. They are stored [online] for 30 days,” Graham said.
The security system will control access to the high school building, Scrapper Arena, Scrapper Dome, field house, junior high building, junior high gym and junior high field house. Camera systems will be installed at those facilities.
“Certain doors will be key coded. Only a few will open. Others will be monitored. If a student comes late, he or she will press the intercom button outside by a camera. The office will let him or her in,” Graham said. Teachers will use key cards similar to those in use at hotels.
“We can set up doors on schedule to lock and unlock for kids coming from agri, the Dome, parking lot, etc. Safety is important,” Graham said.
Security was one of the topics at a meeting last week with school stakeholders including parents and grandparents. “They asked if it’s a priority to secure the campuses. They said other schools are doing it,” Graham said of those at the meeting.
The district began researching security systems early in the fall semester.
Installation will begin around Jan. 8, according to Graham.
Work will not interfere with class, Graham said. “Progressive said they will work from 3:30 p.m. to 9 or 10 at night. They’ve done this at other schools.”
Graham said the security measures will be paid for by funds in a technology account and from the district’s operating and building fund.
Elementary and primary campuses already have video systems, Graham said, with upgrades expected later.
In another security-related measure, the board accepted on a 5-0 vote a bid from French’s Welding and Fencing of Texarkana for fences around the north and south playgrounds at Nashville Primary.
The bid includes $8,544 for the north side and $14,256 for the south side, a total of $22,800. The 4-foot tall fence will be black vinyl chain link. Construction will begin in mid-January.
The board unanimously accepted bids on two more projects as part of improvements at Wilson Park.
Board members accepted a bid of $38,700 from Tri-State Asphalt, Inc., of De Queen to asphalt the parking lot. The work includes cutting off all grass and hauling away debris, hauling in and spreading base rock, and overlaying the entire parking lot and driveway, about 22,730 square feet, with a 2-inch layer of asphalt. Tri-State will stripe all lines and provide handicapped symbols as needed.
“We need the weather to cooperate,” Graham said of the asphalt work.
The board accepted a bid of $19,927 from SOPA School and Office Products for 85 chairback seats at Wilson Park.
“They did seats in the high school cafeteria and the hospitality room at Scrapper Arena,” Graham said. “The seats at Wilson Park will be the same as those at Baum Stadium” at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Seats will be installed in time for the Scrapper baseball season.
New dugouts at the park were constructed during the fall, and netting replaced the chainlink fence in front of the stands.
The parking lot and chairback seats “will be it for this year,” Graham said of work at Wilson Park. The improvements will “make a neat, updated stadium.”
Other work is possible next year.
Graham discussed the district’s November financial report. Through Nov. 30, the operating balance is about $6.1 million. The board approved transferring about $1.6 million from the operating fund to building fund earlier in the fall to pay for a new bus barn and agri building. “We have a healthy balance. I’m proud of that,” Graham said.
The board approved a resolution to update the district’s master plan. Approval is required every two years, Graham said.
The master plan included a new bus barn and new agri building in 2018. Both of those projects have been approved and will begin when the fall semester ends this week.
The plan calls for a new roof in 2018-19 at primary school. Roofers say repairs will give the existing roof more time before eventually being replaced.
The master plan also included a fine arts building in 2018-19. The facility likely won’t be built then but is under consideration.
Graham said the district’s waiver request for the start of the 2018-19 academic year was approved. Nashville is one of many schools across Arkansas which may begin classes on Aug. 13 instead of the Aug. 20 start set by the state. “We’re not locked into Aug. 13, but it’s an option. We could start on the 15th,” Graham said.
NHS Principal Tate Gordon updated the board on a proposed college and career readiness program for 2018-19. The program would give students who are not college bound the opportunity to gain work experience through job-shadowing, internships, actual jobs and other possibilities for part of the school day.
More on Gordon’s presentation will be included in the Dec. 27 News-Leader.
The next board meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.
All members were present Monday night, including board president Monica Clark, Mark Canaday, Randy Elliott, Miles Mitchell and David Hilliard.