PB Lighthouse Academy to go before Planning Commission

The Pine Bluff Lighthouse Charter School Board of Directors learned Thursday night that the school’s plan to enlarge its campus using modular buildings will be presented in February to the Pine Bluff Planning Commission.

The commission’s meets the last Tuesday each month at 4 p.m. at Pine Bluff City Council Chambers at the civic center.

“We are going to seek approval for the installation of the modular units for next year,” Phillis Nichols Anderson, board member and vice president of the Southern Region for Lighthouse Academies Inc., said.

She gave an update at Lighthouse’s monthly board meeting.

“They will have two to three rooms with office space and bathrooms as well. We will appear before the Planning Commission to ask for permission to install the modular units,” Nichols Anderson said.

Principal Brad Burl presented the operations report.

“We had 96 percent attendance last month with an enrollment that included 51 in kindergarten, 33 in first grade, 24 in second grade, 27 in third grade and 27 in fourth grade,” Burl said. “We had a total of 162 scholars enrolled with 43 seats available. We had three withdrawals and seven new enrollees. We have three new kindergartners, two new third graders and two new second graders.”

“We have begun our after school programs this semester and they include chess, debate, dance, basketball and track,” Burl said. “We are going to be able to use the Chester Hynes Community Center for these activities.”

Burl said that testing has shown growth in second and third graders in writing and math.

“Reverend [Hank] Wilkins let us set up an informational booth in his church and we had several interested families stop by,” Burl said.

Burl said that the school’s bus route is up and running with 25 students riding the bus to and from school.

“We are continuing to inform the community that we are a free charter school,” Burl said.

Also Thursday, the board approved the removal of ‘at will’ language from teacher contracts.

“We are revising our offer letters into employee contracts,” Nichols Anderson said. “This is to align with state law and to provide stability and security to our teachers and to the school. We are now offering term contracts to our employees, removing the ‘at will’ language from them.”

The board approved the adoption of an academic integrity policy.

“The state of Arkansas has testing procedures and policies and Lighthouse Academies did not have one in place,” Nichols Anderson said. “We need the board to adopt this to ensure the integrity of all testing that we do.”

Lighthouse Finance Manager Chris Bell presented the financial report.

“As expected the December Foundation funding was reduced to account for pupil numbers,” Bell said. “In addition we did not receive our Title I reimbursement in December but I was told that this was due to them being behind and that we should expect to receive our December and January Title I reimbursements this month.”

Bell said that he was beginning to prepare a draft of the 2012-2013 budget.

“We are working to examine our budgets and to project out to the end of the year,” Bell said. “Monday I plan to start work on next year’s budget. By the February meeting I hope to have a solid draft of the next budget.”

Nichols Anderson said that the recruitment season for the next year would begin soon and that Lighthouse Academies would be hiring a Director of Community Relations/Student Recruiter who would hopefully be in place by March 1.