Pine Bluff School Board member Harold Jackson queried district superintendent Jerry O. Payne on whether additional security officers should be added to the staff at Jack Robey Junior High School during the board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.
“In view of what is going on at Jack Robey we need to look at beefing up security over there,” Jackson said during the time set aside for miscellaneous business.
Jackson asked Payne for his evaluation of the security situation at Jack Robey. Payne said he has discussed the situation with Seth Wynn, the district’s director of auxiliary services, and with board president Herman Horace.
“We have looked at the security cameras there,” Payne said. “Mr. Wynn is looking at them. I and Mr. Horace toured the campus to access the situation and we are talking to the Watson Chapel School District to see how they are doing their security.”
“If there is a motion from the board to hire extra security we can do that,” Payne said.
“Do you think cameras are better than more people?” Jackson asked Payne.
“I think it would go a long way to supporting the administration and staff there to upgrade the camera system to deal with the dead zones,” Payne said in reference to areas of the Jack Robey campus that are not currently covered by security cameras.
Payne said he would instruct James Williams, the head of security for Jack Robey, to come to the next regular board meeting on April 17 to address any questions related to the security issue.
“The camera system is an urgent device that we need based on the way that it is designed,” Payne said.
Horace said the staff at Jack Robey would be given the opportunity to upgrade their security cameras before any decision is made on whether to hire additional security.
Jackson appeared unswayed from his view that adding additional security at Jack Robey should be a top priority.
“I spent 30 years in youth services, so I know that when it gets warm tempers flare with eighth- and ninth grade students,” Jackson said.
District strategic plan
In other business the board heard a report from Kelvin Gragg, director of federal, state programs and testing, summarizing the 2011-2016 strategic plan for the school district.
“This strategic plan was begun during the community forum that the school district held at First United Methodist Church in August,” Gragg said. “The areas of concern were identified then and over the next few months a group of 27 people met to formulate the strategic plan for the district. All of these are recommendations for the board’s consideration.”
Gragg said the mission for the district was determined to be a partnership with teachers, parents and the community in which the Pine Bluff School District will provide quality educational opportunities that enable all students to reach their maximum potential.
Gragg said the vision is for the Pine Bluff School District, the community and the parents to ensure that children achieve social responsibility and become productive adults who are capable of functioning with integrity and relevance in the home, workplace and community.
Gragg identified the areas of interest determined by the group: curriculum and instruction; parent and community involvement; transportation; declining enrollment; recruitment and retention of faculty and staff; school safety; facilities; technology; and fiscal stability.
The board approved the hiring of Alma Jackson as a temporary contract classroom teacher at Belair Middle School effective Feb. 21; and accepted the resignations of Sirita Laudermill as a paraprofessional at Forrest Park Elementary effective March 2; and Cynthia Goldsberry as a paraprofessional at Forrest Park Elementary effective March 13.
The board heard the February financial report from Pam Winkler, director of finance, in which she said that the district has a beginning balance of $13,360,394.17 with current month receipts of $2,480,377.35 and current month expenses of $3,132,722.25 for a total amount available for operating of $16,581,128.42.
Winkler reported bank reconciliation information for Feb. 29 with a balance shown in the ledger of $20,697,376.98 and an adjusted balance shown on the statement of $20,697,377.01.
The board heard a report from Subteach USA director of operations Tammy Winn, in which she explained that her company was interested in handling substitute teachers for the school district.
“We will be the overseer of substitute teachers from the district,” Winn said. “We represent school districts throughout the state of Arkansas. We handle the recruiting, training, scheduling and payrolling of substitute teachers. The worker’s comp and unemployment burden is on Subteach and not on the district.”
Board secretary Freddie M. Johnson had a question for Winn.
“You are just doing a presentation?” Johnson asked. “My first question was going to be ‘when was this decided?’”
Willis assured Johnson that the process was in the initial presentation stage.
Classified personnel policy committee
Jewelette Courtney presented the report of the Classified Personnel Policy Committee to the board.
“We have three items on the agenda,” Courtney said. “First, we would like to thank the administration for allowing us to have input on the school calendar. Since I’ve been here I don’t think we have ever had that opportunity. Second, we are still reviewing the policy handbook. Third, we have been requesting information from the administration and made several attempts to get a list of classified employees in the district but to no avail. We propose that the classified committee be given a list of personnel by name, title, location and salary on a regular basis.”
Certified personnel committee
Claudette White presented the report of the Certified Personnel Committee to the board.
White informed the board that by law it was required to take final action on proposals made by the committee within 30 days or by the next regular board meeting and provided each member with a copy of the relevant law.
“In answer to the board’s question from the last meeting of what the relevant law was I have provided you with a copy of the law,” White said.
White said that her committee met on March 1 and discussed the issue of problem students who are not being expelled.
“Several members felt that students who need to be expelled are not being expelled,” White said. “Discipline is the key to the success of our district.”
Pine Bluff Education Association
Pine Bluff Education Association President Ryan Roberts presented his report to the board.
“Teachers and staff are concerned about things occurring in the city and the school district,” Roberts said. “We must find a way to emphasize the positive. We have some really great students in this district. We had an open meeting in which no action was taken about the superintendent’s contract. The community at large just wants to know what is going on.”
Johnson voiced her concern over the matter of proposals from the Certified Personnel Committee that were not being addressed.
“I am concerned that the requests of the PPC have been ignored,” Johnson said. “Are their proposals going to be acted on or are they going to continue to be ignored?”
Horace said it was his belief that the proposals should continue to go through the superintendent first and Payne indicated that this was agreeable to him.