Pine Bluff School Board approves pair of legal settlements


The Pine Bluff School Board voted Tuesday to approve a pair of legal settlements negotiated by district lawyer Luther Sutter that will net $5,000.

The board acted on a recommendation from district Superintendent Linda Watson during the regular monthly meeting.

“During the 2009-2010 school year the district closed several schools resulting in some administrators’ contracts not being renewed,” Watson said. “Under the Reduction in Force policy of the district an employee is to be offered employment in positions that they hold an Arkansas teaching certificate in before they are offered to anyone else. That was not done in this case and the administrator filed a lawsuit.”

Watson said that Sutter mediated the case down from $95,000 to $50,000 and that the money will be taken from a fund set aside for such action.

“In the other case the district bought a bus during the 2009-2010 school year with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds,” Watson said. “It was a lemon and could not be used. At the beginning of this school year the district’s attorney was asked to contact the vendor regarding the bus.”

Watson said that the vendor first offered a monetary settlement but then asked that they be allowed to repair the bus.

“They repaired it but it only ran a few weeks before stopping again,” Watson said. “They offered the district $40,000 and we made a counter offer of $60,000. They countered with $55,000.”

Watson said that because the bus cost around $60,000 when new, a $55,000 settlement in the district’s favor was a good one.

Lunch price increase

In other business the board approved a recommendation from Watson to increase the charge for breakfast by 25 cents and the charge for lunch by 50 cents.

“Right now, 86 percent of our elementary and middle school students are on the free and reduced lunch program,” Watson said. “At present, our breakfast reimbursement is $1.85 per student. We receive 27 cents, creating a shortage of $1.58 for the program. The lunch reimbursement for free students is $2.88 per student and our reimbursement for paid students is only 29 cents, creating a shortage of $2.59.”

Watson said that the price increases are necessary in order for the district’s food service program to be self-supportive.

Personnel

The board approved a series of personnel recommendations made by Watson.

The board approved the hiring of certified personnel for the 2013-2014 school year including Catherine Bell as an English language arts teacher at Pine Bluff High School, replacing Debbie Stewart, effective Aug. 8; Stephen Bronskill as a science teacher at PBHS effective Aug. 8; Jacob Crouch as an English language arts teacher at PBHS effective Aug. 8; Adrian Dhanaraj as an English language arts teacher at First Ward Alternative effective Aug. 8; Stephanie Johnson as a chemistry teacher at PBHS effective Aug. 8; Antonette Marbley as an elementary counselor at Thirty-Fourth Elementary effective Aug. 8; Taniesa Moore as a literacy coach/test coordinator effective July 1; Donnalie Nelson as an English language arts teacher at PBHS effective May 31; Paul Nucero as math teacher at PBHS effective May 31; Mandy Sheehan as a math teacher at First Ward effective Aug. 8; and Elise Swanson as a language arts teacher at PBHS effective Aug. 8.

The board approved the hiring of certified summer school personnel Suzette Bloodman as an elementary principal at Oak Park Elementary; and Gregory Moore as an elementary principal at Broadmoor Elementary, both effective June 3-July 23.