'College service center' in Berryville is proposed by Harrison's NorthArk

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

BERRYVILLE ---- The School Board tentatively approved Monday night a "college service center" at Berryville schools, proposed by North Arkansas College, that would make night classes available to local residents.

Superintendent Dr. Don Roberts said he has had discussions with Dr. Jeff Olsen of North Arkansas College, who asked the board for permission to offer several college courses at night at the high school.

They would include intermediate algebra, English composition, U.S. history, basic computer fundamentals, and introduction to information technology.

Dr. Roberts urged the board to approve the plan, saying NAC sees Berryville as a center for expanded college learning for Carroll County, southern Missouri and as far south as Huntsville.

"If it takes off, you want some control over it," Roberts said.

High School Principal Ron Harvell said he would like to see the NAC adult education program also be available to Berryville students.

Several points have to be ironed out, including a proposed $700 fee per semester that the college would pay for maintenance and security of the building after hours. Board member Tom Sharp suggested a discount for Berryville students, and Randy Colvin wondered about damage liability for the district.

Roberts will proceed with negotiations with the college. The classes could begin in the fall of 2003, and be offered for about two hours or more every evening accept Friday. The college has proposed hiring three local teachers so far, Roberts said.

In other business, the board heard an update from Roberts on the district's financial picture.

Enrollment has remained steady and the school is still filled to capacity at about 1,660 students. Problem areas continue to be high enrollment at the kindergarten, first- and fourth-grade levels.

Roberts said the state has announced another round of budget cuts due to declining revenues. He said the cuts right now amount to $35.91 per student, for a total of $59,992. There is a bright side, he said, with a $200,000 payment due from the state for new student growth. He said the district is "way above" state tax projections and is close to the target for local tax collections.

Several changes in rules in the K-5 student handbook were approved, including updating new personnel, such as adding new Superintendent Michael Cox's name to the book, and some other revisions and deletions.

The book now says students who have five tardies on their attendance record would be charged one absent day. Elementary Principal Teresa Wright and assistant Principal Shelley Glass-Osnes said that system is unworkable, because it is very difficult to track and enter tardies for every student into the required computer program.

Board member Keith Butler said an absent day means less money from the state for Average Daily Attendance (ADA) reimbursement, and said he'd like to see some sort of discipline instituted for habitual tardiness rather than abandoning the system altogether.

Wright also raised the issue of getting parents more involved in the school system since the parent teacher organization went into dormancy last year for apparent lack of interest by both the schools and the parents.

She outlined a tentative parent-teacher involvement plan for the board.

After the meeting, parent-activist Julie McCall said she would like to get a parent-teacher organization going again, emphasizing how important she believes the matter to be.

Interested parents and teachers can call her at 423-2099.

In other actions the board:

  • In executive session, approved the resignations of longtime science teacher Carl Hill; Tania Crow, a math teacher; and Shelena Smith, high school science. The board hired Cindy Grigg for seventh-grade English, and Pat Manley was transferred from middle school English to high school English; Matt Bassing was transferred from fourth-grade science to sixth-grade science; Jan Schoel went from high school English to the gifted and talented program.

  • The board thanked Dr. Roberts again for his service to the district, and he replied that it was an honor to help the community's children. New Superintendent Cox was introduced to the board and principals.

  • In an April executive session, minutes show that Daniel Hodge has been hired as the new Bobcat Band director. He is from Central State University in Oklahoma.

  • Board President Kelly Swofford announced after the meeting that in his capacity as an employee of Carroll Electric Cooperative he would be in Berryville and Green Forest schools May 22 and Eureka Springs schools May 23 to teach electricity safety using an "interesting" magic program called "Making Accidents Disappear.

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