Superintendent Reck Wallis announces his retirement

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Next year the Eureka Springs School District will have a new superintendent, as Reck Wallis announced his retirement at the Oct. 18 school board meeting.

"Thirty-three years. It's time I look at my life in a different perspective," he told the board. "I need to see what else I want to do."

Wallis has served as superintendent in Eureka Springs for 11 years. He previously served as superintendent, assistant principal and principal in other districts for 22 years.

He suggested the board begin a search for a new superintendent immediately and offered to help "as little or as much" as they desired.

"I want to formally thank you for your service," said board member Bruce Knapp. "Our budget is well-balanced, and we do not have the problems other school systems have. We also rank as high quality education in the state."

Wallis deferred to his staff and teachers as being "good help."

The board will begin the search immediately, hoping to start interviews around the first of the year. It will hold a workshop Nov. 1 to define the qualities sought in a superintendent.

Former senior cheerleaders once again petitioned the board to change its mind on reinstating the cheerleading program, to no avail for this year.

Wallis said he and high school principal David Childers felt it was too late to start up the squad this year. The normal process is for tryouts in the spring; then intensive training throughout the summer, especially for stunts; training of the coach; and ordering and purchase of uniforms and props.

Sierra Blaise, a former student and cheerleader who offered to be the volunteer coach, said the team would not have to do stunts.

But more than that is at stake, as the Board reiterated its decision to shut the squad down last year based on infighting among the girls and problems with parents and the coach.

Blaise and several girls attending the meeting said it's not the same having games without cheerleading, that it's about school spirit. They said they would "do anything" to be able to cheer for the school.

Board member Kristie Drebenstedt suggested that if it truly is about school spirit, the girls can join the Pep Squad and cheer from the stands. This idea was rejected as "degrading."

"We went to the first meeting of the Pep Squad, and no, I won't join," said one student. "Cheerleading is my life, and not having it, I'm pretty much dead. It's not the same."

"I think the problem is the hierarchy you are starting among the girls," noted board member Deborah Smith.

Knapp suggested a modified, probational cheerleading program.

"But that's the Pep Squad, and we have that," Smith said.

"The way I see a Pep Squad is you're not good enough to be a cheerleader, and that's how the whole school looks at it," Blaise said.

The Board took no action, which means it will be a dead issue for this year.

In other business, the Board:

* Approved keeping its officers in the same positions as last year, with Rusty Windle as president, Robert McCormick as vice-president, and Sarah Setzer as secretary.

* Heard a presentation by Charles and Laura Morrison, of Morrison Architecture, about the elementary school roof. They are looking at a scenario of $398,000 to $630,000 to put up a metal roof and gable design. They said there is no simple, inexpensive solution because of the various add-ons to the original roof. They will return with three or four options. They also discussed other capital projects in the school district's master plan.

* Approved a 3.5 percent cost-of-living raise for classified staff and $1,500 for teachers adjusted to the salary steps formula.

* Approved student transfers from Huntsville to Eureka Springs.

* Approved state-mandated provisions for special education.

* Heard the financial report, which shows a large deficit until millage payments catch up.

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