Pine Bluff School Board approves $850K for tech equipment


The Pine Bluff School District Board of Directors approved the purchase of approximately $850,000 in computers and other forms of technology equipment during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

“Our students need to be technologically savvy because this is a technology-driven world that we live in now,” district superintendent Linda Watson said before the board vote. “We need more technology in our district. The school district was cited during the 2012-2013 scholastic audit for failing to adequately use technology for student instruction. These computers will also be used for the upcoming requirements for on-line student assessments by the state department of education.”

Before the affirmative vote on technology expenditures the board voted to move $850,000 in funds from the building fund to the operating fund.

“It is best that we not spend funds out of the building fund for these purchases,” Watson said. “These items cost less than $1,000 each and do not qualify as a capital outlay.”

Security cameras

In other business, the board tabled discussion on the placement of security cameras inside classrooms at Jack Robey Junior High School and Pine Bluff High School until the next board meeting so that several outstanding issues can be addressed.

“We were asked by the board to conduct a study of what it would cost to install security cameras inside these classrooms and we now have some figures,” Watson said. “The cost for Jack Robey would be $127,000 and the PBHS cost would be $218,500. Members of the board had expressed concerns over incidents at both schools and the fact that security cameras might deter some of these actions.”

Watson said that with the cameras students who are involved in incidents could be identified and held accountable and parents who are not willing to believe that their child committed an act could be shown the security footage of their child caught in the act.

“Would it be possible to conduct a survey to ask the students, teachers and administrators what they think about the installation of security cameras?” board member Andrea Roaf-Little asked.

The board agreed that a survey would be useful and asked Watson to prepare one.

“We will also get quotes on how much the cost will be related to monitoring the security cameras once they are installed,” Watson said.

Salary schedule

The board approved a classified employee salary schedule developed by the district administration in consultation with members of the Classified Personnel Policy Committee.

“This salary schedule has been prepared in order to remedy long-standing inequities in classified employee salaries,” Watson said. “We now know what range and step a new employee falls into and can set a fair salary based upon this schedule. I want it to be clear that this is not an across-the-board raise for classified employees in the school district. There may be raises given to staff members who have worked for the district for many years who are getting paid the same amount of someone who may have just started with the district a year ago.”

Accreditation correction

“The probationary status PBHS was placed on by the state in June was actually due to a teacher teaching Physical Science who did not have certification,” Watson said. “I wrote a letter about this last month but I wanted to also make this correction at the board meeting tonight.”

Financial report

District director of business and finance Pam Winkler presented the financial report for the period ending July 31, with a beginning balance of $11,828,512; monthly revenue of $782,761; monthly expenditures of $2,178,429 and an amount available for operating of $10,432,844 with a total balance for all funds of $15,670,978.

Personnel

The board approved a series of personnel actions including the hiring of certified personnel Tiffany Bone as assistant superintendent of learning services effective Sept. 9; Bud Hamley as a social studies teacher at Belair Middle School effective Aug. 8; Pamela Kennedy as a social studies teacher at Belair Middle School effective Aug. 19; and Catherine Moreno as a math teacher at Jack Robey effective Aug. 19; and Patrick Laxon as a social studies teacher at Jack Robey effective Aug. 21.

The board approved the hiring of classified personnel Rose Ayers as a paraprofessional at Southeast Middle School effective Aug. 19; Belinda Berry as gifted and talented secretary at the GT Center effective Sept. 3; Cary Clayton as a band instructional aide at Jack Robey effective Aug. 19; Candace Frazier as a paraprofessional at PBHS effective Aug. 19; Donald Joseph as CCLC site coordinator at Oak Park Elementary and Belair Middle School effective July 17; Carolyn Marks as a paraprofessional at Southeast effective Aug. 19; Felicia Moore as a paraprofessional at Jack Robey effective Aug. 19; Jocelyn Pritchett as a paraprofessional at Southeast effective Aug. 19; Myranda Scull as a paraprofessional at Belair Middle School effective Aug. 19; Claudia Valencia as a secretary at PBHS effective Aug. 20; and Latasha Williams as a paraprofessional at Southeast effective Aug. 19.

The board approved the resignations of certified personnel Larry Barnes as a social studies teacher at Belair Middle School effective Aug. 14; and Timothy Ramey as an English teacher at Jack Robey effective Aug. 12.

The board approved the resignation of classified personnel Davesha Wright as a paraprofessional at W. T. Cheney Elementary effective Aug. 16.