Dollarway School District Superintendent Frank Anthony will end his service to the district at the conclusion of the current academic year, he confirmed Monday.
Anthony also confirmed that the school district will not renew the contracts of eight full-time teachers for the next academic year. Four other teaching positions that would be open at the end of this school year will not be filled.
Anthony submitted his letter of resignation dated April 24 and effective June 30 to Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell last week.
In the letter Anthony cites a desire to spend more time with his grandchildren and the rest of his immediate family as the primary reason for his planned departure.
“After much thought, prayer and deliberation I have decided to step down as superintendent effective June 30, 2013,” Anthony said in his letter to Kimbrell. “I have made a conscious choice to reorganize my life to ensure that I have more quality time with my immediate family, especially with my grandchildren. Additionally I am anxious to refresh and refine my fishing skills.”
“It’s been a tough year because of the challenges we’ve faced,” Anthony said in a Monday afternoon conversation at the district administration building. “We’ve welcomed them and have been presented with a bunch of opportunities. One of the biggest problems I have encountered is the inability to recruit the number of qualified teachers that are needed.”
Anthony points out several areas of progress made during his tenure with the school district.
“We have put into place fundamental foundation steps which will improve the district both financially and academically for the upcoming years,” Anthony said.
“For the first year in a long while the Arkansas Department of Education fully accredited all five schools in the Dollarway School District for the 2012-2013 school year,” Anthony said. “The reason for the state takeover of this district last year was Dollarway High School being found in probationary status for two consecutive years. This year the high school was found to be in compliance and is accredited.”
Anthony provided a copy of the ADE Standards Annual Accreditation Report documenting the findings of the Standards Assurance body.
“This is a foundation for future success,” Anthony said. “It is confirmation that the district is taking the right first steps but there is still much to be done in the district.”
Anthony said Monday that he worked with officials in the ADE to implement the district’s reduction-in-force plan for the purpose of adjusting the teacher-to-student ratio to acknowledge the continuing drop in overall enrollment.
“State law required that we complete the notification process for all certified personnel who are being affected by the reduction in force by May 1 and we have done that,” Anthony said. “At the elementary level we will eliminate six full-time equivalent certified positions through RIF and another two positions are being eliminated through natural attrition. At the middle school level we will eliminate two certified positions through RIF and an additional two positions through attrition. There were no high school level positions eliminated through RIF but one position is being eliminated through attrition. There will be $500,000 give or take less in teacher salaries as a result of the elimination of these positions.”
Anthony said that his recommendation to Kimbrell that Altheimer-Martin Elementary School be closed at the end of the current school year was formally approved last week.
“As of June 30 Altheimer-Martin Elementary will cease to function as a K-5 instructional facility,” Anthony said.
The district preschool program has entered a period of uncertainty, according to Anthony, because of a failure in previous years to keep the proper records for documenting the number of children at free and reduced lunch status.
“The program is funded through Arkansas Better Chance,” Anthony said. “Normally the funding is automatically rolled over into the next school year but because there was inadequate documentation for the program the program was placed in competitive status. That means that our preschool program is competing for funding with about 25 other programs.”
Anthony said that because of the uncertainty over funding for next year the eight teachers and 12 para-professionals employed by the program were placed in non-renew status.
“The earliest that word on funding will come is the June meeting of the state board of education but it could be July,” Anthony said. “We submitted the grant application on time so now we are waiting. As soon as the funding is approved the 20 employees of the program will be brought back.”
Anthony said the grant funding amounts to $631,000.
Anthony said that he will continue to do what he was hired to do right up to the end.
“I have two more months here after tomorrow,” Anthony said. “I believe in going to the finish line. I won’t let up until midnight on June 30.”