Pine Bluff School Board rejects meeting date change


The Pine Bluff School Board rejected a recommendation by Superintendent Jerry O. Payne to move the next regular board meeting to accommodate the spring break plans of personnel and their families.

“I would ask that the members of the board consider moving the date of the March board meeting from March 20 to March 13 because the scheduled date falls during spring break and many of our staff and other personnel will be away spending time with their families,” Payne said.

Board secretary Freddie M. Johnson made a motion to keep the board meeting date of March 20 but the proposal died for lack of a second.

Board member Kenneth Dickson made a motion to move the board meeting date to March 13 but that proposal also failed to move forward for lack of a second from another member of the board.

“The board meeting will stay on March 20,” board president Herman Horace said.

Saturday school

In other business, the board approved a motion made by board vice president Donna Barnes and seconded by Dickson to institute a Saturday school program at Pine Bluff High School.

“I recommend that the members of the board approve the Saturday school program at Pine Bluff High School,” Payne said. “We have established guidelines for the Saturday school. Our purpose in having this is to make sure that no student gets left behind.”

Payne said that the classes will be held in the McGeorge Building on the PBHS campus from 8 a.m. until noon every Saturday.

AEA days

The board unanimously approved a recommendation made by Payne to have the first Thursday and Friday of every November designated as annual Arkansas Education Association days.

Prior to the vote, Johnson questioned why a vote was needed on the matter.

“Why do we need to pass a resolution on this?” Johnson asked. “As far back as I can remember the first Thursday and Friday of November have always been AEA days.”

Payne said that the Personnel Policy Committee had asked for the vote.

“The PPC came forward,” Payne said. “There are still those areas that have not been addressed. It is on the calendar but they asked us to have a vote by the board.”

The board voted to table a recommendation made by Payne to pay teachers $50 per half day and $100 per full day of attendance at the AEA annual state conference each November.

“I ask to table this until we get more clarification on this,” Johnson said prior to the vote. “What if we have 200 people go? Are we going to pay 200 people $100? I am a professional and I was never paid anything for my attendance at these meetings. It is something that I wanted to do not something that I had to be paid to do.”

Financial report

District finance director Pam Winkler presented the January financial report to the board.

Winkler reported a beginning balance of $13,360,394.17; a total available of $37,939,211.37; total deductions of $20,705,738.05; amount available for operating of $17,233,473.32; and a total balance for all funds of $21,373,314.67.

After her presentation, Winkler acknowledged the board’s request from the Jan. 17 board meeting for more detailed financial information from her office.

“I know I was asked to present the board with more information,” Winkler said. “I met with Mr. Payne to discuss what the board would want. I have the monthly check register but it is 319 pages long and I didn’t know if that is what the board wanted.”

Board president Herman Horace said that the board wanted names to go along with check numbers and check amounts.

“We have any number of reports and will be happy to share any information with you that you want,” Winkler said to the board.

Johnson asked if the only way to find out where checks are being sent is through the check register and Winkler answered yes.

Payne announced the dismissal of a lawsuit against the district filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Cathy Taylor.

Reorganization discussion

The board voted to table a recommendation by Payne to move ninth graders from Jack Robey Junior High School to Pine Bluff High School until the matter can be explored further.

“The concern is that for a grade 10 through 12 school there is a required 85 percent graduation rate while a grade 9 through 12 school is required to have a 70 percent graduation rate,” Payne said. “Our graduation rate has equalled 68 percent over the past four years. Under the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment and Accountability Program the penalty for failure to meet this goal is drastic.”

“We would house the ninth graders on the high school campus in an academy setting,” Payne said. “They would eat lunch by themselves and function in a separate academic setting.”

Board member Chandra Griffin urged her fellow members to postpone a decision.

“I move that we table this for further discussion so that we can evaluate a plan of action for implementation,” Griffin said.

Barnes seconded the motion.

“I see the rationale for this but it would require a restructuring period for the district,” Barnes said. “We have questions such as what would happen to Jack Robey? Would it just be the eighth grade? We will also need a community meeting to discuss this.”

Personnel action

The board approved a series of personnel actions recommended by Payne, including the hiring of RaShaunda Robinson and Chandra Rasberry as para professionals at Southwood Elementary for three and one half months, effective Feb. 22; Joyce Sanders as a para professional at W. T. Cheney Elementary for three and one half months, effective Feb. 22; Faith Patterson as a para professional at Pine Bluff High School for three and one half months, effective Feb. 22; and Crystal Wright and Kima Crutchfield as para professionals at Jack Robey Junior High School for three and one half months, effective Feb. 22.

Johnson cast the lone dissenting vote on the hiring recommendation.

The board approved the transfer of assignment of Jacquelin Norful from bookkeeper in the Business and Finance Department to finance clerk in the Student Health and Special Services Department, replacing Tamara Jackson at the Administrative Center, effective Feb. 22.

The board approved the transfer of Nacosha Sims from finance account-purchasing in the Business and Finance Department to receptionist-purchasing clerk in the Student Health and Special Services Department, replacing Jackeline Hernandez in the Administrative Center, effective Feb. 22.

The board approved the retirement of Sharon Fletcher as a district-wide K-7 literacy facilitator effective Jan. 18.

The board approved the resignations of Sandra Lowe as a para professional at Southwood Elementary effective Feb. 9; and Cathy Mullen as a secretary in the gifted and talented program effective Jan. 13.

Travel expense

The board approved a motion to require Payne to repay a reimbursement he received for expenses related to a December trip to Georgia for the funeral of Andy Hill, a consultant with D & D Associates who had been working with the Pine Bluff School District at the time of his death from a heart attack.

Payne had used a district vehicle and sought reimbursement for lodging, food and gas expenses.

From the Archives:

PB School Board demands reimbursement from superintendent — Feb. 14, 2012
• Pine Bluff superintendent responds to directives from school board — Feb. 6, 2012
• PB board, superintendent squabble over daughter’s job — Jan. 18, 2012
Pine Bluff School Board votes against contract extension for superintendent — Jan. 17, 2012
Pine Bluff School Board approves personnel actions — Dec. 23, 2011