Monday, September 22, 2014

TOP STORY >> Thurman honored as state's top chief

Leader staff writer

Cabot School Superintendent Tony Thurman was recognized as the Superintendent of the Year by the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators.

AAEA director Richard Abernathy surprised Thurman with the award during the school board meeting on Tuesday.

Thurman is now a candidate for the National Superintendent of the Year award presented at the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education held in February in San Diego, Calif.

Thurman has been superintendent of Cabot schools since 2007. He has been an administrator in the district since 2000.

“I’m very honored to be chosen to represent Arkansas as Superintendent of the Year. This award validates the hard work that our administrators and teachers are doing in Cabot schools. I wouldn’t have been considered for the honor if our district didn’t have an outstanding reputation across the state. We have such a dedicated faculty and staff, and I’m so fortunate to work in such a positive and progressive school system,” Thurman told The Leader.  

According to the press release from AAEA, Thurman is highly respected by employees, co-workers and peers across the state.

A Cabot School District employee stated in the news release, “Dr. Thurman is an amazing leader. He is not just a boss or a superintendent, he is a leader for teachers, administrators, students, parents and even community members.”

Cabot’s Deputy Superintendent Harold Jeffcoat said, “Dr. Thurman is always willing to serve in a variety of state level positions and provide input and guidance to influence legislation.”

Another friend describes him as “a great visionary and strategist. (His) vision and superior strategy have turned our school system around, and now we feel like we are the best school system in the state.”

Thurman was recognized earlier this month by the Arkansas Communication and Theatre Arts Association as the Administrator of the Year for his support of the theater and debate programs at the schools.

In other business, Cabot’s enrollment is 10,168 students, up 48 students from last year.

“We are not growing at the rapid rate of a few years ago. Our current growth is manageable, and we have been able to focus recently on not only completing the Freshman Academy but continuing our renovations of existing facilities,” Thurman said.

The school board approved a $76.2 million project budget for 2014-15.

“This was a challenging budget to finalize, but we anticipated this several years ago. 

Opening a new building is always expensive. We also opened new programs that required new staff,” Thurman said.

“We did not anticipate the loss of funds that we’ve dealt with in the last year that were pulled from school districts to offset health-care premiums. Unfortunately, we needed to make changes to the district benefit package to keep expenditures in order, not only for this year, but in the future,” Thurman said.

“The strategic refunding of bonds over the last three years by our school board has proven to be beneficial to the overall operating and building budget. Taking advantage of the low interest rates without needing to extend the term of any of the bonds has been good for both the short- and long-term operations of the district,” Thurman said.

The district’s athletic budget, which is figured separately, is $2.4 million for 2014-15.

“The state monitors athletic expenditures closely to make sure that all districts are allocating a fair and equitable amount to all facets of district operations. The outstanding attendance at our athletic events provides the opportunity for our athletic department to operate primarily from gate receipts. We also use corporate sponsorship of events to provide additional revenue that is allocated directly to our athletic budget,” Thurman said.

• Board members approved the hiring of Liz Massey as the communications director for the district.

• The Cabot Country Cruisers presented the district with a check for $5,000 to support the PE for Life program. Money was raised from the group’s Spring Fling and Family Fun Night races.

• Eastside Elementary second grader Will Saddler was recognized with the Dedicated Reader Award. Saddler and his parents have read together for 368 days straight.
Saddler has achieved his goal of reading for a total of 5,000 minutes. He received a certificate and a $100 credit to use at the Eastside book fair.