Wednesday, March 09, 2016

TOP STORY >> Bonds used to purchase old facilities

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board on Monday hired the second assistant superintendent, filled more administrative positions and authorized its superintendent and public finance agent to apply to sell $15.365 million in construction and facilities bonds.

That application is to the state Board of Education, where bond approvals are usually authorized.

Of the proposed bond sale, two-thirds of the proceeds would be used to purchase area school buildings from the Pulaski County Special School District by July 1, the official JNPSD detachment date, and make needed improvements.

The $10.8 million purchase will include the Jacksonville and North Pulaski high school buildings, the old Jacksonville Middle School building and elementary buildings, including Arnold Drive, Tolleson, Murrell Taylor, Pinewood, Warren Dupree, Bayou Meto and Homer Adkins, as well as the bus barn.

The money to secure those bonds comes from JNP’s share of the annual September renewal of the current 40.7-mill property tax.

It will be used to buy Jacksonville High School and the other buildings, as well as purchase new or used furniture or fixtures. Any remaining funds will be used for constructing, refurbishing, remodeling and equipping school facilities.

The bonds to build the new high school and elementary school, secured by the 7.6- mill tax increase approved by Jacksonville-area voters Feb. 9, aren’t slated to be sold until May 2017.

That’s when the extent of the state’s commitment to partner financially on construction of the new high school, the new elementary school and remodeling, refreshing or adding to all other district school buildings will be known.

It’s anticipated that the state will pay about 55 percent of the cost of approved construction and repairs to academic spaces.

That bond sale is expected to help fund the $80 million building program to the tune of about $46 million.


The board unanimously approved the hiring of several administrators and the extension of Assistant Superintendent Jeremy Owoh’s contract and duties.

Owoh, already assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, is now additionally charged with oversight of the district’s desegregation efforts.

His contract was extended through the 2017-18 school year.

The board approved Superintendent Tony Wood’s recommendation to hire Bryan Duffie as the district’s assistant superintendent for support services.

Duffie, who holds a Ph.D, has been superintendent of Jonesboro’s Westside Consolidated School District since 2010 and was previously a Westside principal.

He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Arkansas and his doctorate in 2010 from Vanderbilt University.

By hiring Christopher Johnson as Jacksonville High School assistant principal for the upcoming school year, the board finished hiring all principals and assistant principals for the district.

Johnson, a 2005 University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate, earned his master’s degree from Arkansas State University in 2012 and an educational leadership degree from there in 2014.

Johnson has been assistant principal at J.A. Fair High School since 2013 and, prior to that, was a teacher, coach and dean of students in the Little Rock School District.

Also hired was Kevin Martin, director of technology. His contract is effective in mid- March and through the end of the 2016-17 school year.

For 11 years, until 2015, Martin was network/systems administrator for the North Little Rock School District. He is currently IT director at RichSmith Development.

He has an associate’s degree from Arkansas State University-Beebe.

Wood said, beginning Saturday, the six elementary school principals would interview and screen teacher applicants. He said the process could involve three screenings being held before the principals make recommendations to Wood, and he does the same to the board.

“There’s been a lot of response,” Wood said, “and I’m pleased with the quality of the applicants.”

As for redrawing attendance zones, Wood said it was “an unfolding story.” He said he had hoped to have that completed by now and ready for a public forum. Now he said he hopes it will be ready in April. “We’ve got to match up population with attendance zones and capacity of the elementary schools,” he said.

Not only do parents and students need to know, he said, but it’s important in order to draw up bus routes.

Beardsley, the financial adviser, said some JNPSD patrons were concerned, having received tax bills that appear to say the money would go to the Pulaski County district. The bill omitted the designation “North,” he said. He also said he had checked to be sure that those funds were in fact headed to the Jacksonville-North Pulaski district.


The district is currently accepting applications for:

Teacher/coach middle school, teacher/coach for various high school sports, teacher/head coach for various high school sports, teachers K-2 and grades 3-5;

A special education director (second posting), lead high school counselor, elementary and secondary school counselors, middle school math, science, social studies and language arts teachers;

Lead high school counselor, art teachers K-12, special education teachers K-12, secondary math and science teachers, school bus drivers and a diesel mechanic.


Rick Kron, one of the instructional facilitators at Warren Dupree Elementary, invited the board to see the school’s fifth graders participate in the annual Shakespeare Scene Festival on Thursday and Friday at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Dupree was the only elementary school invited to perform and has been invited for the past three years.

This year, the students read and discussed Julius Caesar, then developed their own 15-minute version entitled “The Politically Incorrect Julius Caesar.”

“What I love is how the students take ownership and outperform many of the middle school and high school student groups at the festival,” Kron said.

Kron is also a reporter for The Leader.