Tuesday, March 10, 2015

TOP STORY >> Longer school days in Beebe

Leader staff writer

The Beebe School District will make up seven missed snow days by extending the school day one hour for the next two months. School will start 15 minutes earlier, at 7:45 a.m., and end 45 minutes later, at 3:42 p.m.

The longer days will begin Monday and continue until May 1. Morning bus route times will not change.

Superintendent Belinda Shook said most bus riders arrive at school by 7:30 a.m. Students are in the cafeteria or in the gym then, waiting for classes to start.

The extended-hour days will allow five days to be made up before PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing at the end of April and early in May. It takes six extended-hour days to equal one missed day. Schools are required to have six instructional hours.

Students will also go to school on April 24 and on May 29, the last day of school.

School board members chose the option that the state legislature approved recently.

Shook said most of the teachers and advanced placement students supported the option.

But there are many students who have jobs or extracurricular activities. She said school administrators will work with those students and be flexible. Parents will have to come and pick them up or check them out.

School board member Janet Hines was worried about younger students getting hungry. Shook said the district would look at providing snacks and making sure students eat breakfast.

“We want it to work out to be a positive thing and use the time wisely for instruction,” Shook added.

At the high school, minutes will be added to each class period.

“I know there are concerns about students staying later and homework. It will actually give them more time to do their homework,” Shook said.

Another option was kids going to school on Saturdays. “When I was senior in (Beebe) high school, it was very unpopular, but we did it,” Shook said.

Board vice president Brenda McKown said, with Saturdays, there are shared- custody issues.

Going to school during spring break was an option, but Shook said parents complained that they have cruises planned and would lose money.

All the missed days could have been added to the end of the school year, which would have been June 5, the same as last year. Shook said everyone is exhausted by then and wants fun days.

“There is always someone affected by any decision made,” she added.

The school district is also looking at possible changes for next year’s calendar.

Some people suggested scheduling snow days later in the year or consider having a two- or three-day break at Thanksgiving instead of the entire week, when parents usually have to find childcare while they work.

The other suggestion was that, if a day off set as a snow day falls on the week of a holiday, they be scheduled together on the holiday when many parents are off work.

• In other business, the board approved a resolution issuing $1.4 million in second lien bonds to fund construction of the 9-10 cafeteria and to add heating and air conditioning to Badger Arena.

FTN Financial Capital Markets was awarded the bid. Second lien bonds are repaid with excess revenue generated from existing debt service mills not needed to repay outstanding bonds. Voter approval is not required.

• The board approved of paying $10,422 to G and W Diesel Service for bus repairs and $12,187 for tuition to Arkansas State University-Searcy for Beebe High students taking college classes.

• Board members approved the resignations of counselor Dana Simmons, behavior interventionist for the alternative-learning environment; Thomas Ritchie, Beebe Elementary second-grade teacher Claire Grimes; kindergarten teacher Donna Choate Hill.

Also, music teacher Melanie Simpson; administrative assistant and “The Voice” of the Beebe School District Florence Fitch; groundskeeper Christopher Goforth; paraprofessional Mackenzie Herndon; bus driver Leon Bam and custodian Rose Pate.

• The board approved administrative changes at the elementary schools.

Karla Tarkington will be principal of second, third and fourth grades. Sarah Shannon will be the assistant principal of pre-K and second grade. A new assistant principal position will be formed for third and fourth grades.

• The Beebe wrestling team and coach Jerry Price were recognized for excelling at the state tournament. Destiny Nunez was the first female state champion.