The Mena School Board held their regular January meeting on Thursday at the Administration Building Board Room.
Dr. Lee Smith began the evening with his Superintendent’s Report. Smith updated the board on efforts to increase attendance rates and that the student population is steady with 1718 students currently enrolled. He also informed the board that recruitment teams are being formed and will be attending career fairs at colleges and universities in an effort to increase the number of applications for teaching positions.
Mr. Danny Minton , District Maintenance Supervisor, spoke on the status of projects across the district. New LED lighting is currently being installed at Bob Carver Bearcat Stadium. The conversion of a former weight room to a facility that can be used by the Agriculture Department is underway. Material for new dry boxes, that will be installed at Bearcat Stadium, have arrived and will be installed later with new turf. Minton also spoke about several concrete, paving and chip and seal projects that he is working on to improve the driveway at Louise Durham Elementary. Plus quotes received on new ionization machines to be installed as part of the new air filtration systems at HHE and MMS.
As you probably know by now residents of the Mena School District will now choose representation on the board by zones. Those 5 zones were released last month. Two current board members currently reside in both Zone 3 and Zone 5. Who would represent those zones and who would serve as an at-large member was determined by chance. The board approved a coin flip would determine who would fill those positions. Robby Hines and Phillip Wilson will be the at large members. Todd Aynes will represent Zone 3 and Susan Rowell will represent Zone 5. The election will be held on May 24th.
The board quickly approved the next three items on the agenda. Including the budget for the 2023-2024 school year as well as the renewal of School Board Legal Liability Insurance with a premium of $9070.00. Plus minor changes to the Second Chance Policy.
The next topic broached was the question of continuing to partner with the City of Mena on half the expenses of the Highway 71 to Geyer Drive project. The project has been postponed indefinitely; however, the city still has development and planning debts. The district agreed to assist the city with the remainder of that debt. That will come at a cost of $40,290 this year and approximately the same next year.
The board also approved the 2022-2023 school calendar. Option 3 was preferred by employees and was suggested by Dr. Smith. This calendar will be based on hours of instruction and will include 170 days of student interaction. The benefits of this change will include the elimination of the need for AMI Days while still covering the number required with 5.7 days built into the calendar as well as more professional development days for staff. School will begin on August 22nd and the last day of school will be May 23rd. Be watching Mena Public Schools social media and website for the complete calendar.
The board then breezed through an update from Dr. Smith on board member training options that were coming up, he informed them that their statements of financial interest were due by January 31st and the financial report was approved.
The next item on the agenda was the Superintendent’s Contract. President Clint Montgomery and other board members expressed their appreciation to Dr. Smith for a job well done and proposed a two year extension and a $3,000 raise. The board approved a three year contract and a salary of $115,000.
As always, personnel was the final topic of the evening. The board accepted the retirement of Principal Jimma Holder and Counselor Linda Collins effective at the end of the school year. They accepted the resignation of LDE Para Pro Emily Nance and MHS/MMS Choir Director Lana Coogan. Those hired included Mallory McConnell and Kristin Manasco as Para Pros as well as MMS Band Director Tyler Huntington to an on-call bus driver contract.