Pine Bluff teachers who taught summer school classes wished they had been paid sooner rather than having to wait an extra week for the standard pay period, according to the head of the local teachers union.
Sylvia Grady, president of the Pine Bluff Education Association, said she heard from summer school teachers who were not happy as she raised the issue to Superintendent Linda Watson at Tuesday night’s Pine Bluff School Board meeting.
“Teachers expected to be paid earlier,” Grady said. “As a result, some teachers faced hardships and cancelled vacations. They were upset about not getting paid on July 18.”
Watson acknowledged Grady on behalf of the teachers while saying she would look into the possibility of changing the pay periods for teachers of summer school in the future.
“We get paid on the tenth and the 25th of the month,” Watson said. “The teachers wanted an additional pay period on [July] 18th, because that day is the end of summer school.”
To make such an exception would involve extra labor that may or may not be feasible, Watson said.
“I have to look at the number of people we have working at the time,” she said. “It’s a busy time, and people are on vacation. … Time sheets have to be turned in. … I am going to get with my staff, see what we can do, but make no promises.”
In other business, the school board approved raising the price of breakfast by 10 cents and lunch by 25 cents as a result of price increases with the National School Lunch Program. About 86 percent of Pine Bluff School students receive either free or reduced lunches, so the increase does not effect them, according to Watson.
“We have very few parents who purchase lunches in the first place because they are not eligible,” she said. “We have to keep up with the (federal government) increases in accordance with USDA guidelines.
These increases will offset USDA pricing increases caused by the addition of whole grain products and fruits, Watson said. The board faced an alternative choice of paying the difference with non-federal funds to the school food service program, she said.
Board member Andrea Roaf-Little asked parents to complete the food service applications and submit it, even if their children are not eligible for free or reduced lunch.
In other district news, Pine Bluff will be sending 129 students to other districts through the Arkansas Public School Choice, Watson said. This figure is the maximum allowed number because it represents 3 percent of the district’s student enrollment, she said.
Conversely, Pine Bluff will be receiving 14 students from other districts. The board approved both measures. During an executive session, the board heard from two additional parents who are requesting a transfer through the law. At the advice of Watson, the board approved a motion to consult with the district attorney about how to respond to those requests, considering the deadline to apply through School Choice was June 1.
The board approved the hiring of 17 employees, including Rachel Barber, elementary teacher at Oak Park Elementary School; Cynthia Bead-Spearmon, science teacher at Jack Robey Junior High School; Kenyatta Brown, third grade teacher at Southwood Elementary School; Erica Cooper, math coach at Thirty-Fourth Avenue Elementary School; Kimberly Forney, cosmetology instructor at Pine Bluff High School; Betty Johnson, library media specialist at Thirty-Fourth Avenue Elementary School; Frank Hammond, counselor at Jack Robey Junior High School; Macy Madison, business education teacher at Jack Robey Junior High School; Linda Merriweather, elementary teacher at Southwood Elementary School; Haiti Pierce, elementary teacher at W.T. Cheney Elementary School; Andrea Potts, library media specialist at Oak Park Elementary School; Martha Sullivan, elementary teacher at W.T. Cheney Elementary School; Yvette White, literacy coach at Pine Bluff High School; Reginald Wilson, assistant principal at Pine Bluff High School; Charline Wright, math coach at Jack Robey Junior High School; Della Lee, a paraprofessional at Southeast Middle School; and Nikita Seahorn, a secretary at Pine Bluff High School.
The board also accepted the resignations of eight employees, including Angela Braggs, physical science teacher from Jack Robey Junior High School; Caroline Harris, an elementary teacher at Thirty-Fourth Avenue Elementary School; Timothy Scott II, a remediation teacher and band assistant at Pine Bluff High School; Belinda Berry, a secretary; Doris Donley, a paraprofessional at W.T. Cheney Elementary School; Cynthia Givens, a security officer at Pine Bluff High School; Darrell Martin, a supervisor of in-school suspension at W.T. Cheney Elementary School; and Stephanie Walton, a secretary from Pine Bluff High School.
The board also announced the terminations of two employees, Rodney Belin and Eric Lea, both ground crew employees in the Maintenance/Auxiliary Department.
August 2 is tax-free day, Watson urges parents to buy school supplies on this day.