Wednesday, August 10, 2005

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Couple still fighting for Russian kids

Leader publisher

The Jacksonville couple who couldn’t bring home the two Russian kids they had recently adopted will go back soon to fight for the right to fly their children to Arkansas.
Monica and David Kraus are hoping they’ll return soon to Russia and bring back the children, Emma, who is 3 years old, and Alex, who is 11 months. The couple adopted the children a few weeks ago, but then ran into a bureaucratic wall that they’re still fighting to tear down.

The Russians have stopped all foreign adoptions for the time being after two American women killed the Russian children they had adopted, apparently in fits of rage.

“We should be traveling the beginning of August to bring the children home,” Monica Kraus told us last week. “We are silently praying nothing else happens to delay the process.”

The Russians have passed new legislation to screen out undesirables who want to adopt children, but the Krauses insist they’re qualified people who will raise the kids right.
Because of the killings, the Russians want to do psychological testing of prospective parents and offer them parenting training.

“While there seems to be no thought given to halting all adoptions permanently, there is talk of requiring some sort of psychological evaluation of all prospective adoptive parents. There is also talk of investigating to see if the adoption was done legally according to Russian law. No one knows how long we will be delayed,” she said.

“We are not certain if new legislation regarding adoptions as a re-sult of this last case will affect us. It is definitely needed. If the death of even one child can be avoided, then it is beneficial,” Mrs. Kraus said.

The couple will appear at an administrative hearing, where they’ll hope to convince the authorities to let them bring home Emma and Alex, who both have their own rooms waiting for them in Jacksonville.

“We will not need a Russian attorney, only a translator at our hearing,” Mrs. Kraus says. “Once a judge finalizes our adoption and we receive our birth certificates and passports in Moscow, the adoption is official and recognized throughout the world. We may go through an American attorney when we return home in order to legalize the adoption according to United States law, but it is not necessary.”

In the meantime, the Russian media keep lashing out at foreign adoptions.

“It’s not the first time this has happened,” Mrs. Kraus says, referring to this latest freeze on foreign adoptions, “and it is more of a result of anti-American sentiment in the Russian media than anything else. We are not alone in this as there are hundreds of other expecting parents across the United States who are facing this same crisis.” 

“The Russia media have been all up in arms and have been pushing for the end of international adoptions,” she continued.

She said the children need good, loving homes, where they can eat right and get a good education. She knows there will be an “adjustment period, especially for the toddler. Although they adjust quickly and thrive with a loving family, they are far behind American children in developmental and learning ability.”

“In an orphanage, they do not receive one-on-one attention like they would in a family.
“There are also significant health concerns with malnutrition and different ailments related to poor living conditions. Almost all of the children are anemic and far behind their normal growth rate. However, parents who have adopted from Russia confirm that the children catch up quickly, often surpassing their peers.

“Our next step is to wait. It’s the hardest step of all. We are involved in a support group with similar couples to help us through the waiting process.

“We can only pray that nothing happens to further inflame an already sensitive situation.”

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Russians keep couple from adopting kids

David and Monica Kraus of Jacksonville thought they had adopted a couple of Russian children and would fly them home after spending thousands of dollars and dealing for months with bureaucrats here and in Russia.

But a few weeks ago, the Russian authorities suddenly announced that foreigners could no longer adopt orphans there.

The Russians had their reasons: At least two American women — one in Chicago and another out East — had murdered their adopted Russian children.

Not only did the Russian government stop all foreign adoptions, but the media there accused Americans of killing Russian children for their organs.

“We have an empty crib, untouched toys, new clothes that will soon be too small — all for two precious children we were days away from bringing home from Russia,” says Monica Kraus.

The children, Emma, who is 3 years old, and Alex, who is 11 months, may never make it to America, but the couple keeps fighting to get them here, even if it means selling their house to finance the adoptions, which could cost $50,000 if the Russians allow them to go through.

“They’re our children,” Mrs. Kraus insists.

A year ago, the Krauses paid an adoption agency in Memphis $15,000 to help them find a child in Russia after the couple gave up trying to adopt one in this country.

“We decided to pursue an international adoption in August 2004,” Mrs. Kraus says. “The paperwork process, home study and related background checks take six to nine months. We received a referral for an available 10-month-old baby boy in May. At that time we were also informed of a 3-year-old little girl.”

The couple flew to Moscow and then to the Saratov region a couple of hours from the capital. The orphanage is in Volsk, which meant a two-hour drive.

“When we traveled we were not intending to adopt two children. We desired two children, but the financial cost was out of our reach. While in Russia, we met the little girl and decided to do whatever it took to bring her home.

“We are selling our home in order to significantly downsize and have the funds for the adoption. The cost per child is approximately $25,000. This includes the adoption fee, related document processing, travel, translators, drivers, and gifts.”

She says Russian orphanages already have safeguards to protect the children from getting placed in dangerous families.

“When you adopt in Russia you receive one referral for a child and you travel to see that specific child,” Mrs. Kraus explains. “In order to not exploit the children, they do not let people simply walk through an orphanage and choose a child. If for some reason you do not wish to adopt the child who was referred, they will attempt to find another referral while you are there, or you travel back to the States and wait.”

For a while it appeared the Krauses would come home with Emma and Alex.

“We were days away from getting our invitation to pick up our two children, who we had met six weeks ago in Russia,” Mrs. Kraus says.

“We decided to do a blind adoption, traveling to meet the children without photos or video. We did not want to choose a child by what our eyes perceived. We wanted God to choose our children. Even with a natural birth you are never guaranteed on the health or physical appearance of your child.”

She hopes publicizing the couple’s plight might pressure the Russians to let them adopt the children.

“Parents like ourselves could really use a boost in the media,” Mrs. Kraus says. “Can someone please write about those of us who do not kill our children? Can someone please state the incredible high statistics for healthy children adopted from Russia? Can someone please counter the current slander in Moscow and show how many children die in orphanages or from abuse and neglect in Russia each year — or throughout the world?

“This is a global problem and it’s tragic. Those of us caught in the middle are helpless and could use someone on our side. One woman, one child. Yes, it’s incomprehensible, but what about the hundreds of thousands of other wonderful, loving parents providing healthy homes for these children at costs of thousands of dollars? Please help.”

(Next: Dealing with red tape.)

EDITORIAL >> Insuring uninsured

The elderly and then children were the people who could not afford insurance and were “underserved” by the health-care system. Medicare under Lyndon B. Johnson and Medicaid expansion under Bill Clinton largely but not altogether solved those problems. Now a different group, reasonably young working adults, is the population in distress.

In few places are they in greater distress than Arkansas. The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement gave lawmakers the unnerving figures this week. Thirty percent of Arkansans between 19 and 44 are not insured, and the percentage is up 7 percent from only four years ago. The share of people from 44 to 64 and children who are uninsured is somewhat smaller but still rising.

But surely these are just deadbeats or else vibrant and prosperous young people who just do not need insurance or think they do not need it? No, the Center for Health Improvement calculated, they are working people on the low end of the pay scale, and most of them work for small businesses, those with fewer than 50 workers.

Is this a crisis, and should the rest of us take any personal interest in it except for an earnest mention in our prayers? You decide.

At some point, when their condition gets very serious, most of the uninsured wind up getting some medical attention — usually in the emergency rooms — although they cannot pay for the care and it is written off. Private hospitals and clinics shift the cost to other patients and their health insurance. Every indigent’s care adds to your premiums.
The medical director of the University of Arkansas Medical Center said his hospital spent almost $40 million a year serving the uninsured, and that the figure is rising. Those are dollars you pay directly. The legislature appropriates your tax dollars every year to operate the hospital.

That is not all that you pay for the uninsured. Your share, from the sales, income, cigarette and alcohol taxes you pay, comes to tens of millions poured into Medicaid each year for the state’s part of medical care for children under Gov. Huckabee’s ArKids First program and medical services for qualifying adults. You might as well count the three-fourths share that Washington covers each year. Those are your taxes, too. Health insurance is considered a national problem, one too daunting for poor states to tackle. But in the absence of federal action, more and more states are innovating to get more of their residents insured. State governments have always been laboratories where formulas for national problems are developed.

Gov. Huckabee and his state health director vowed several years ago to find an Arkansas solution, but the governor is yet to deliver. It is no easy task. But his new state health officer came up with a plan with great promise last year: Have businesses with low-wage workers pay premiums into Medicaid to cover the state’s 25 percent share for the companies’ poor workers. The federal government would pay the usual match. Huckabee submitted the plan to the Bush administration, which has not signed a waiver to implement the plan and, we suspect, never will.

But here’s a promising development worth our legislature’s attention. An Idaho Republican introduced legislation last week that would require Idaho businesses that do not currently provide insurance for their low-income workers to either insure them or reimburse the state government for the cost of providing medical care for their employees and families under Medicaid. The Republican was upset when he saw figures about the state’s cost providing medical care for the employees of Wal-Mart and other big discount companies.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services this spring said that the state Medicaid program paid the hospital and doctor costs for about 10,000 employees of the state’s nine largest employers. Altogether, Medicaid annually covers medical expenses for about 350,000 workers and families in Arkansas who are not insured through the workplace and cannot themselves afford to buy more expensive individual coverage.

Perhaps some bold Republican will propose something similar for Arkansas. Maybe not. But members of the Legislative Council Monday seemed to want to study it, again. Gov. Huckabee ought to put his new state health officer, Dr. Joe Thompson, on the task. That would give us greater hope than another legislative study.



Archie Clyde Hamilton Sr., 86, of Gravel Ridge, passed away peacefully at home on Aug. 6. He was born Dec. 3, 1918, in Hunting-ton, Texas, the son of the late Henry and Linnie Hamilton.

He was an active member of the Church of Christ for many years, and was a member of Bailey Street Church of Christ at the time of his passing.

He served in the Army for more than eight years during and after the Second World War in Australia and New Guinea with the 43rd Engineers, and he retired from the Arkansas Army National Guard in Pine Bluff.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one sister, and three brothers. Archie is survived by his wife of 64 exceptionally loving years, Gladys M. Hamilton, who he met in Pine Bluff; his son Archie “A.C.” Hamilton, Jr., and wife Edith of Corpus Christi, Texas; his daughter, Deborah Fitt and husband Cliff of Gravel Ridge; two grandsons; Dirk Hamilton and wife Laura of Bryant and Aric Hamilton of El Dorado; one granddaughter, Jennifer Fitt of Ward; one step-granddaughter, Bobbi Sjoberg of Lutsen, Minn.; one great-granddaughter, Grace Hamilton of El Dorado; two step-great-granddaughters; Kristina Grabher and Brandy Kindrick of Bryant; one step-great-great-granddaughter, Trinity Kindrick of Bryant; one brother, H. Wayne Hamilton and wife Dorothy of Huntington, Texas; many loving cousins, nieces, nephews, and a host of friends. Services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Moore’s Jack-sonville Funeral Home Chapel with Mike Sinapiades officiating. Entombment in Chapel Pines Mausoleum.

Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Eastern European Mission, P.O. Box 90755, Houston, Texas, 77290


Billy O. McGee, 73, died Aug. 8. He was a Army veteran of the Korean War and had owned a farm equipment business for 31 years. Survivors include his wife Rose Pickett McGee; three sons, Billy Kirk McGee and his wife Martie, Bobby Kent McGee and wife Jami and Gregory Keith McGee and wife Amy, all of Lonoke; seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; brothers, Doyne McGee of Lonoke, Carthal McGee of Texas, Carroll McGee of Ward and Dale McGee of North Little Rock.

Graveside services will be 10 a.m. Thursday at Lonoke Cemetery, arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke. A visitation will be held Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.


Mary Jane Watson Daniel, 78, of Beebe died Aug. 8.

She was born on June 3, 1927, in Beebe and graduated from Beebe High School.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Pauline Warren Wood, her brother, Lt. Richard “Dick” Watson and sister-in-law Bernice Daniel Riggs. Mary Jane is survived by her husband of sixty years, Merold Daniel; one son, Terry Daniel and wife Lanis of Maumelle; one daughter, Anita Jane Pfaffenberger and husband Kenny of Beebe; one sister, Lynn Linton and husband Jack of Benton; brother-in-law Royce Daniel and wife Edwana of Beebe; brother-in-law T. Harold Riggs of North Little Rock; two granddaughters, Courtney Whiting of Pine Bluff and Amanda White of Stuttgart; one grandson Ian Daniel of Beebe; two step-grandsons, Brad Simon of Austin, Texas and Morgan Long of Conway; one step-granddaughter, Tamara Roberts of Benton; two precious great-grandchildren, Rowan Berry and Ridge White; and her uncle, William Warren of Beebe. She also leaves behind a host of relatives and friends. Memorial service will be 2 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial to follow at Stoney Point Cemetery.

The family requests memorials be made to First Baptist Church, Beebe.


Mary Ann Burrows, 53, of Cabot, claimed her eternal prize on Aug. 6 in Little Rock. She was born on March 18, 1952 in Little Rock to Malvin and Helen Goode.

She worked in the insurance department at Jacksonville Medical Clinic for 15 years. A special thanks to Dr. Dale Calhoon, Sharron Stephens, the nurses and staff at Jacksonville Medical Clinic, the doctors and nurses at Rebsamen Hospital, and UAMS.

Mary attended Bible Missionary Church in Cabot where she enjoyed working at church camp.
Mary and Larry Joe were married July 9, 1970 and enjoyed 35 loving years together.
She is survived by her parents, Malvin and Helen Goode; her husband, Larry Joe Burrows, Sr.; one son, Larry Joe Burrows, Jr. and wife, Stephanie; one sister, Sandra Rester and husband, Maury; one niece, Kristi Rester; father-in-law, Raymond K. Burrows and mother-in-law, Mary Smith; two grandchildren, Kinley and Clayton Burrows. Funeral services were held Tuesday at Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel with Mark Evans and Ed Manis officiating. Burial will be at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Cabot. Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

SPORTS >> Practice picking up for SH Bears

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills players are getting used to the heat and practicing with more intensity this week. Head coach Ron Sebastian says his players are showing improvement in the mental aspects.

The Sylvan Hills Bears began week number two of summer practice on Monday morning. The Bears are hoping to repeat the success of the 2004 season, in which the Bruins took the AAAAA-East conference title before losing in the first round of the state playoffs.

Sylvan Hills head coach Ron Sebastian says that the three-hour daily practices have gone smoothly so far, but has a wait-and-see attitude on how his young team will fare this season.

“Initially, August practice always starts out slow,” Sebastian said. “It builds up after a couple of weeks. I feel like our kids are getting used to the heat, and getting mentally ready to play football.”

Although the Bears are getting mental aspects of the game in order, coach Sebastian feels like the team has some catching up to do on the physical side of the game before they are ready to play.

“Physically, we are still a long ways away,” Sebastian said. But mentally they are starting to think about their assignments, and what they are supposed to do. We are starting to see progress after one week of practicing.”

Although the squad has started playing drills, the Bears are still paying close attention to the team’s conditioning. At the Monday morning practice, Sebastian and the coaching staff had the team split into three groups. One group concentrated on conditioning, running quick sprints and doing grass drills.
The second group worked mostly on catching the ball, with some running drills added in. The third group worked on the offensive and defensive lines, specifically opening up a hole offensively for the run.

“We’ve been doing individual drills and team drills both,” Sebastian said.

“We’ve also been working on our agilities, running the ball and catching it.

“Defensively, we’ve worked on mainly blocking and tackling drills and conditioning. All the drills you need to do to get ready.”

Sebastian has yet to make final decisions on which players will step into the positions still up for grabs.

“We’re a young team, we have a lot of starting positions open,” Sebastian said.
“After one week of practice, and just one day in pads, we’re a long ways from knowing who is going to play where on September 2nd.”

Despite all of the younger and less experienced players on this years’ team, Sebastian is cautiously optimistic about how things will go heading into the fall.

The head Bear says that the biggest variable this season will be the team itself, and how they approach each game.

“Teams come together some years, and some years they don’t,” Sebastian said.
“It depends on this team. If they come together, pay the price and show up to practice they should do alright.

“Learning their assignments and not making mistakes will give us more of a chance to win than anything.”

The Bears will continue with morning practices until Thurs-day, when they will make the switch to mid-afternoon practice at the Sherwood Sports Complex due to faculty obligations.

SPORTS >> Injury bug biting Cabot hard

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: Eight players, including several key contributors, are injured and sitting out Panther practices.

The Cabot Panthers scrimmaged heavily Monday, but did so with several key players missing from the lineup. Eight Panthers were injured by the time scrimmaging closed practice, five will be counted on to play significantly this season, while one is out for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Clayton Goshien, a two-year starter at guard who has converted to fullback, will miss his senior year of football. Goshien, 5-11, 210, started summer practice as an experiment to give the fullback position some size. He proved to run well and was difficult to tackle, but what was thought to be a minor tweak of the knee during light scrimmaging last Friday, turned out to be serious.

“There goes that,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “He’s out. We’re going to have regroup, start over.”

On the bright side, Richard Williams has run the ball well from the fullback position as well during two-a-days. Malham said Williams looks much better now than he did during spring, but his switch back to fullback leaves a void on defense.

“I still feel alright at fullback, but we’re going to have to find someone else on defense,” Malham said. “Williams gave us some speed on defense that we’re not going to have now. You can’t play a guy both ways at that position, especially at 4:30 in the afternoon in August, on artificial turf at War Memorial Stadium (the start time for the season opener against Conway).

Alex Trammell has a back injury, Matt Voegele hurt his shoulder, Sullivan tweaked his knee, Baker sat out with pain in his back and Reid Martin is having problems with his big toe.

Despite the problems, offensive lineman Colton Roberts and Joe Schotts were optimistic about the team’s prospects.

“We’re getting better and better every day,” Schotts said. “There was a lot more focus our there today (Monday).

“We’re actually getting plays done correctly,” Roberts added. “Some guys have had to step in and learn some things, but we’re improving quite a bit.”

Nick Melar, Jason Bays and Scott Baker shined as a ninth grader, but missed his sophomore year with the injury. Everyone is looking forward to seeing him in the Falcon backfield on the varsity squad.

Rod and Charles are going to do their thing,” Uptergrove said. “They’re solid back there, we’re not worried about that.”

Linebacker Talaferrio Parker practiced in pads for the first time Monday as well. He shores up that position if he stays healthy.

The two seniors agreed that the defense is ahead of the offense right now. That’s to be expected this time of year, especially with the offense learning a new system. The good news is that the offense showed signs of progress Monday.

“The offensive line looked the best it has all summer,” Bolen said. “Zach James and Jacob Phillips are doing a great job on that left side. Everyone is getting better and we’re going to be pretty good on the line. We don’t have much size, but the guys know what they’re doing.”

Bolen has separated himself from a large contingent of potential quarterbacks, and emerged as the starter if the season were to start tomorrow. He’s on track to being just the second quarterback to take snaps for the varsity Falcons since head coach Tony Bohannon’s arrival four seasons ago.

Bolen says the pressure to perform isn’t from being a brand new face under center. It’s more simple than that.

“I don’t feel pressure to step in and replace Regnas,” Bolen said. “I do feel pressure to step up and take the job and lead this team. I want to do a great job for my teammates.”

TOP STORY >> McRae starts new chapter with merger

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: An open house will be held for the new Beebe Middle School, which was McRae High.

Open house will be held at Beebe Middle School between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Aug. 18, and Dr. Belinda Shook, school superintendent, says she believes those who attend will be pleasantly surprised by what they see.

The new school is the old school in McRae and workers have been busy all summer getting it ready for the fifth and sixth graders from all over the district who will be moving in Aug. 19.

Virtually every part of the campus has been improved. The gym has been refurbished inside and out. And the stage has been removed from the cafeteria to make room for more tables.

But perhaps the biggest improvements have been made at the old high school, where the rooms have been repainted and tiled and equipped with new marker boards.

“It looks so good,” Shook said Tuesday.

The library at the old high school is now the Middle School band room. The old home economic cottage is now the library. The choir room is across from the band room.

“There going to have the coolest stuff up there,” said Shook and she wasn’t referring only to the accommodations, which also include a new computer lab.

A teaching concept called team teaching will be used at the school.

The almost 500 students will be divided into four groups, two fifth-grade groups and two sixth-grade groups. Each group will have five or six teachers who will see them every day. The teachers will coordinate their lesson plans to complement each other.

But just as important, according to Scott Embry, assistant superintendent over curriculum, the teachers will meet to discuss the progress of the students in their groups so each student will have a team of teachers looking out for them.

And at the same time, the students will get to change classes much like the will in higher grades.

It’s a middle school concept of teaching that is possible in great part because the students will be housed on a campus by themselves.

And the hope of the administrators who pushed for moving the students to the campus when it became clear that the Beebe campus was filling up is that it will be a good time for the students.

The estimated cost of renovations at the campus was $375,000, but Shook said she thinks the actual cost might be a little higher.

The old Beebe campus maintenance building has been renovated at a cost of $47,000 into what Shook likes to call “the shuttle lounge.”

Assistant Superintendent Hal Crisco, over transportation and facilities has referred to it as the “staging area” for shuttling students from Beebe to McRae.

The building has new metal siding and new wiring and looks like a physical education building, but Shook says it should be a comfortable place for the students to wait for a ride to McRae.

Figuring out how to provide them with breakfast is still being worked out, she said. Some will probably eat at Beebe and some at McRae.

But some will likely be given sack breakfasts on the shuttle buses which will be leaving as soon as they fill up, she said.

Parents who drive their children to school will be able to drop them off at the school bus garage on Center Street so they won’t have to drive onto the Beebe Campus of the morning.
Those parents who want to take their children to the Middle School may do so, she said.

Shook says she is confident all the details will be worked out and the move will go smoothly. But as for the old campus with the new sign Beebe Badger sign in the middle of McRae. “People will be amazed,” she said.

TOP STORY: PCSSD is accused of illegal cutbacks

Leader staff writer

The state Education Department has rejected for now Pulaski County Special School District’s fiscal distress improvement plan, pending a satisfactory explanation of the district’s “actual authority to eliminate paid holidays, reduce the number of days in an employment contract and freeze salary schedules and steps for all employees,” according to a letter received by interim Superintendent Robert Clowers July 25.

Those were among the steps taken by the PCSSD board to turn a budget deficit into an $8.5 million surplus by next July.

The district was given 20 days to respond, but Clowers sought and received an extension until Aug. 29.

In a hearing at the August board meeting Tuesday night, support staff members sought to have the decreases in their pay and benefits overturned, citing the letter from the Education Department as proof that the cuts were “a clear violation of the personnel policies law.”

“You didn’t go through the proper channels,” the support staff’s lawyer told them.
The board voted overwhelmingly not to overturn its cuts. “I propose a board meeting about that letter, but we shouldn’t (overturn our previous action) today,” said board member Pam Roberts.

Meanwhile, talks between the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers (PACT) and district negotiators has stalled over the same issue—the freezing of step increases and loss of paid holidays, according to James Sharpe, assistant superintendent for human resources.
Teachers are due back Aug. 11 and PACT has a history of not returning to work without a signed contract.

Meanwhile, the district, which had about 80 teaching slots to fill three weeks ago, still has 40 unfilled positions. Sharpe said he was confident that most would be filled by the time school starts.

TOP STORY >> Less pop, more pep for students

Staff and wire reports

IN SHORT: Local administrator fears there is not enough time in the school day for new regulations such as more physical education.

The director of secondary education for Pulaski County Special School District said Tuesday she didn’t know how the newly mandated physical activity component could be implemented without increasing the length of the school day.

Deborah Bruick’s comments came on the heels of the Arkansas Board of Education’s order Monday requiring less pop and more pep for the state’s public school students.

The board approved strict new nu-trition and physical activity guidelines, such as restricting vending machine sales, in a step lauded by health officials and endorsed by Gov. Huckabee.

The nutritional component will be easier to implement than the mandate for increased physical activity.
“We will have to find a way to be compliant,” said Deborah Bruick, Pulaski County Special School District’s director of secondary education.

“Our days are going to have to get longer,” Bruick said, to fit in core curriculum, remediation and now 30 minutes a day of physical education. “I do not see how we are going to do that. It will be a challenge.”

There are no current plans to lengthen the school day.
“Plus we have to provide remediation during the school day.”

Bruick, appointed to the position created just a month ago, said the district would have to resort to “very creative scheduling.”

“Idealistically, it is wonderful,” said Bruick. “I’d love for them to have all the physical education, supportive remediation and all the academics, but without extending the school day I don’t know how we’re going to do it. There are only so many minutes in a school day.”

Bruick said it was possible for students on sports teams, but those with electives like band would have more difficulty getting the physical activity.

Already some middle schools meet the old physical activity mandate by having students in the mandatory keyboarding class walk around the track instead sometimes, according to Bruick.

The physical activity requirement will add 90 minutes to the amount of activity students in kindergarten through eighth grade are currently mandated to receive. The only existing activity provision for high schoolers is a single semester of physical education.

Starting in 2007, students in kindergarten through sixth grade must have 90 minutes of activity in addition to 60 minutes of physical education per week. The total 30 minutes of daily physical activity for all students can come in the form of P.E. classes, intramurals, walking programs or activity periods.

The new regulations cut back on soft drinks offered in vending machines, ban junk food in elementary schools and mandate each student in kindergarten through 12th grade have at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

“We’ll have to look at the physical education regulations,” said Beebe School District Superinten-dent Belinda Shook.

“I’m not sure how we’re going to fit it all in during the day.”

Shook added the district would have to discuss its contract with the Coca-Cola Company to see what it can offer in the school’s vending machines.

Cabot Public School District had already begun limiting the choices in the district’s vending machines, according to Cabot School District Superintendent Frank Holman.
“We had voluntarily moved in a healthier direction by offering water and diet sodas,” Holman said.

“Once we get the regulations, I’ll sit down with Erin Hartz, director of food services for the district, and see how the changes impact the lunch program,” he added.

Holman said once Cabot receives the regulations, the Cabot School Board will start discussing the new physical education requirements.

Huckabee in June suggested local districts should have a choice to implement the guidelines. He backpedaled last month, saying advisers encouraged him to take an aggressive stand for children’s health. Officials estimate about 40 percent of students are obese or overweight.

“The state board has taken a giant step toward addressing the obesity problem in the state of Arkansas,” said Assistant Edu-cation Commissioner Bobbie Davis.

Local school districts will find it easier to limit junk food than to find extra time in the day to shoehorn in yet another state mandate.

The new rules prohibit junk food from being sold or given as a reward at any time during the school day at elementary schools. Junk foods cannot be offered and vending machines cannot be operated at secondary schools until 30 minutes after the last lunch period of the day.

Fifty percent of choices in vending machines in secondary schools must contain water, milk, or 100 percent fruit juice. Effective with any new or revised contract, any beverage dispensed from vending machines must be 12 ounces or smaller.

Exceptions for offering foods of little nutritional value can be made for concessions at athletic events or for holiday parties, for instance. Also, the new rules do not restrict what parents can provide for their child’s lunch or snack.

Dennis Farmer, head of the Arkansas Soft Drink Association, said the new guidelines may hit school pocketbooks statewide.

Farmer said many school contracts with soft drink companies include a provision for the hours the machine is available to students. Schools’ commissions are based on availability, he said.

He has heard different interpretations about how the new rules apply to existing contracts.

“A lot of contracts have hours of operation as part of the contract and that part would be null and void,” if the guidelines are to be immediately implemented. “That’s when the dominoes start to fall from there.”

In addition, he said a large number of fruit juices are not sold in 12 ounce or smaller containers, and most milk products are not compatible with in-school vending machines.
“Schools could get significantly less money because of the way the restrictions are written. There could be very significant problems in being able to comply with all those provisions,” Farmer said. “It could mean that some schools would completely lose their vending program.”

The new guidelines stem from Act 1220 of 2003, which established the Child Health Advisory Council and initiated body mass index testing in the state’s schools.

Many of the regulations were recommended by the advisory council. Health advocates and some council members decried an initial draft of the proposed rules when it appeared school districts would not be required to enact the guidelines.

Dr. Joe Thompson, head of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, said the board’s decision is a sign of support to parents who want to raise healthy children.

“There’s not one magic bullet. We have to do lots of things to improve the health of our citizens and our kids,” Thompson said, saying the new regulations “keep the parent from worrying about whether their kid is buying a soft drink and a candy bar for breakfast and a bag of potato chips for lunch.”

Thompson, the state’s incoming chief health officer, said health is an often-overlooked link to economic development. As the health of Arkansans improve, employers like automobile manufacturers are more likely to relocate here. He said auto manufacturers cite health insurance costs as a major reason not to move to an area.

Leader reporters John Hofheimer and Sara Greene and the Arkansas News Bureau contributed to this report.

TOP STORY >> Schools hurry to remedy citations

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: The state places Cabot High School on accredited-probationary status for not offering enough instructional time.
Several area school districts, including Pulaski County, Beebe and Cabot, are working to meet accreditation standards issued by the Arkansas Board of Education. Lonoke is the only local district not cited.

Cabot High School was placed on accredited-probationary status for not meeting the 360 minutes of instruction time per day that the Arkansas Board of Education requires.
Cabot High School was among 96 schools across the state given probation for failing to meet minimum accreditation standards for the 2004-2005 school year.

The 2004-2005 bell schedule at Cabot High School shows a 369-minute school day, from 8:05 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

But the Arkansas Board of Education decided 25 minutes of the school day used by Cabot High School students for advising and career-action planning should not be considered instructional because club meetings are permitted during that time. Advisory and career action planning are key components of the High Schools That Work reform initiative pushed by Gov. Huckabee.

“It’s ironic,” said Frank Holman, Cabot School District superintendent.
“We’re doing everything that meets the High Schools That Work reform initiative the governor supports, and now the state is telling us we’re wrong.”

High Schools That Work is an initiative of the Southern Regional Education Board State Vocational Education Consortium that began in 1987. The program provides a framework for schools to offer students both traditional college-preparatory academics with technical and vocational studies.

Accredited-probationary status means a local school district has either failed to correct a problem for which it acquired accredited-cited status or committed a more serious violation of the standards.

“We provided information to the Arkansas Department of Education last spring and felt that we had sufficiently addressed their concerns,” Holman said.

If a local school district continues accredited-probationary status through the violation review date of Oct. 15, 2006, then the district can lose accreditation.
“We met the standard and surpassed it,” Holman said.

“We don’t feel like it was a reflection of what we were actually doing.”

The school is sending out letters to parents and updating the Cabot High School Web site to address the accredited-probationary status.

“We are disappointed that we were cited for attempting to implement strategies within the school day that we feel are good for our students,” Holman wrote in a letter to parents.
Other reasons a school can be placed on probationary status include not enough library books or lacking a superintendent, principal, assistant principal, nurse or counselor.
Among the rest of the 1,118 schools across the state, 182 were placed on accredited-cited status. That means a local school district has failed to satisfy the minimum Standards for Accreditation.

If the deficiencies aren’t corrected by the next school year, the school can be placed on accredited-probation.

Additionally, 840 schools were accredited meaning the school district satisfied the minimum Standards for Accreditation established by the Arkansas State Board of Education.
Holman and Cabot High School principal Tony Thurman were at Monday’s Arkansas Board of Education meeting. Thurman said the school was going to appeal the probation status but decided not to.

“We pulled our appeal Monday because we’re going to fix it easily this school year,” Thurman said.

Cabot High School will have a revised bell schedule for the 2006-2007 school year that has 371 minutes of instruction four days a week and 364 minutes of instruction on Thursdays.
This meets the instruction requirements as well as allowing time for tutoring, literature circles and CAP.

Another time crunch for Cabot High School students is the time required between classes.
Typically five minutes are allowed. Cabot High School allows seven minutes, an extra 12 per day, for 1,700 students to navigate the 25 buildings on the 44-acre campus. The new schedule will still allow seven minutes for students to get from one class to another.
“We feel it’s important for students to be involved with school sponsored clubs and activities, as well as the advisory and CAP curriculum,” Thurman said.

“We’re doing good things for kids and we’re being punished. Advisory/CAP time should have been approved as part of the required minutes.”

TOP STORY>> Cabot shelter plans low-cost clinic

Leader staff writer

There will be a reduced cost spay, neuter and shot clinic at the Cabot Animal Shelter, 8000 Kerr Station Road by appointment only Aug. 23 through 25.
For the past seven years, Arkansans for Animals has been serving towns across the state with a modified recreational vehicle serving as a mobile animal surgery hospital.

“We try to have these clinics every couple of months,” said Lisa Hughes, animal control officer.

“People need to sign up early because there’s a couple of forms that need to be filled out before the surgeries.”

The income guidelines for the clinic, according to Arkansans for Animals, are $15,000 for individuals, $25,000 for families. Animal guidelines for the clinic include being free of ticks and fleas, not dipped or treated for ticks and fleas within three days of the surgery or shots and the animals must have a clean, sanitary created for after surgery. There is a $10 deposit that can be used towards the total cost of shots or surgery. The rabies cost is $5. Additional shots are available as well.

The surgery cost depends on the sex and size of the pet. Spaying a dog weighing 55 pounds costs about $65. Neutering a male cat costs $15.

Joyce Hillard, executive director of Arkansans for Animals, said the mobile surgery unit can perform about 25 surgeries each day of the clinic. Dr. Joanna McManus will perform the surgeries at the Cabot clinic.

"With the mobile unit, we’ve done 30,000 surgeries," Hillard said. "I think in certain towns, we’ve completely cleaned up their stray animal problems."
Among the benefits of neutering a dog is decreased aggression such as dog bites.

"It costs $1,500 to treat a person for a dog bite," Hillard said.

"Someone has to pay for that."

She added that in a typical litter of puppies or kittens, one in 12 will find a home. Unadopted, the other 11 will not reach 2 years old.

Hillard said Arkansans for Animals was asked in 1998 by relief agencies if there was any sort of disaster aid program for animals.
"Arkansas had nothing like this," Hillard said.

"There’s no public mandate or state funding. We get our funding from out of state with organizations like SpayUSA and Friends of Animals."

The mobile unit can be anywhere in the state within four hours after a natural disaster such as tornadoes or thunderstorms.

For more information on the reduced cost spay, neuter and shot clinic, contact the Cabot Animal Shelter at (501) 843-2021.