Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TOP STORY >> Academy to lose charter

Leader staff writer

The Beebe School Board on Monday approved dropping Badger Academy’s state charter.

Badger Academy, an alternative learning education school since 2007, will no longer be a conversion charter school but will continue to be in the school district and serve at-risk youth.

Assistant superintendents Scott Embrey and Rick Duff explained that the change is needed because the state has instituted an accountability requirement for such small schools, which the district cannot meet.

Badger Academy may have four to five at-risk students in a grade level who are tested on the Benchmark exams. Poor test scores have put the school in its second year on the school improvement list. Embrey said Benchmark scores are usually based on at least 40 students in a grade level at a school.

With the change, Badger Academy’s seventh- and eighth-grade students’ test scores will now be included with Beebe Junior High School scores. Badger Academy’s ninth through 12-grade students’ test scores will be part of Beebe High Schools’ results.

In other business, John McMorran with Lewis Architects Engineers presented a preliminary artist’s rendering of the new $3.6 million middle school in McRae to the Beebe School Board on Monday.

The two-story school will be 25,000 square feet built on the middle school property. Construction is set to begin in the summer. The state is providing 63-percent of the funding for the building.

The middle school will have a 4,200 square-foot tornado shelter. The cost of the safe room is $882,000. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is funding $659,950 and the district is paying $222,050.

A new drive connecting Hwy. 13 to the middle school will help improve traffic flow.

Also on Monday night, three adult students received their high school diplomas at the board meeting after completing graduation requirements through the Second Chance program at Badger Academy. Keith Madden, director of alternative learning education programs and principal of Badger Academy, presented the diplomas.

According to Madden, Jessica Presley dropped out in 2010 during the second semester of her senior year. Presley wanted to go to college and learned about Second Chance.

She started the program in January, completing three credits of math, English and world history, which she needed to graduate.

She finished in the fall and will attend Arkansas State University-Beebe in January.

Nick Mason would have graduated in the May. He needed a half credit of 11th-grade English, a half credit of 12th- grade English and a credit of world history. With the Second Chance program, he was able to complete the credits needed to earn his diploma. Mason is enlisted in the Army.

Chase Weatherly only needed a half credit of world history to graduate. Weatherly could not accept his diploma in person because he left Sunday for Texas to work for a pipeline company.

Madden said 11 people have earned diplomas from Beebe since the program began four years ago.

The program is for 18- to 21-year-olds needing to complete credits hours for graduation.

Students interested in earning their diploma through the program can contact 501-882-8413. The program starts again in January.

In other action, the board approved purchasing a new $25,501 electronic sign from Ace Sign Company to replace the 10-year-old electronic sign that broke. Parts for the sign are obsolete.

The sign will have up to 68 colors with animation. It will show time, temperature and messages.

It will be installed inside the old sign enclosure along West Center Street.

Board members approved the purchase of the Pruett’s property on Lemon Street for $55,000. The property is about a half-acre. It is located in the middle of the district’s property.

The board approved selling four vehicles in need of repairs: a 1991 and a 1993 66-passenger buses, a 1987 Ford F-350 truck and a 1995 Chevy Lumina. If interested in the vehicles, contact assistant superintendent Hal Crisco.