School board bids farewell to football coach, superintendent

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 ~ Updated 10:37 AM
Green Forest school board President Cheryl Howard holds a cake, and departing Superintendent Jeff Williams holds a new golf bag presented to him by the board as he leaves to begin a new job as director of the William Mills Educational Co-op in Beebe. Mike Ellis / CCN

GREEN FOREST -- The school board met Thursday night, and approved a request from Athletic Director Bill Gotto to step down as head football coach.

Gotto will continue to serve as Athletic Director, and he has asked to continue coaching with the junior high football team. He will teach some health and physical education classes. He has been with the school district for 34 years.

The board did not make an immediate decision on who will take over as head coach for the coming season.

Construction

Voters in the Green Forest school district agreed last Tuesday to refinance bonds to raise money for athletic facilities, and the school board began planning for those improvements.

The refinancing and extension of bonds is expected to generate about $800,000, of which about $600,000 is planned for the football field. Drainage at the field will be addressed, and new bleachers, press box, concession stand, and restrooms are planned. The project will also give the school a regulation track.

Work is expected to begin as soon as the fall football season ends.

Superintendent Jeff Williams recommended keeping the architects and construction management firm presently working on the new middle school. The school board approved a continued arrangement with CDI Inc. as the construction management firm and Modus Studio as the architects.

Josh Siebert of Modus said construction on the middle school is in the "punch list" stage, still on schedule for the school to move in during the summer.

He also explained that the construction budget contained enough money to include the pedestrian plaza originally designed within the scope of the project between the high school and the middle school. However, when Modus solicited bids for the project, they found that a proposed raised area of pavement would carry a prohibitive cost, adding about $70,000 - $90,000 to the total cost of the project.

Siebert explained that the raised portion of pavement would have required an expensive diversion of surface water. He said the plaza will still contain a center landscaped island on Phillips Ave., as well as new curbs and gutters along the sides of the street.

The raised area of pavement had been intended as a large speed bump to slow traffic, but Siebert said painting the crossing and the installation of bollards -- short vertical posts -- will serve to alert drivers to the pedestrian area.

The landscape elements combined with the new trees will also help to tie the high school and the middle school together.

Last meeting

Williams attended his last meeting as superintendent. He leaves to take over as director of the William Mills Educational Co-op in Beebe, after two years as superintendent here.

"Thank you for all you have done," said board President Cheryl Howard. "It's been a pleasure."

Williams said, "I appreciate the two years here. We've enjoyed it." 

John Calaway, currently assistant superintendent in Mountain Home, will take over on July 1. He thanked Williams for his help in the transition. "I have truly enjoyed the time I've had to work with him," he said.

Dress code

Barry Hardin, who moves from assistant to high school principal July 1, asked the board for clarification on one aspect of the student handbook.

The high school handbook forbids any clothing with rips or holes, although the holes may be patched from the inside.

Students in lower grades have a little more leeway. Their handbook forbids "inappropriately ripped or torn clothing." 

The board agreed to adopt the "inappropriately ripped" standard, to give administrators some leeway to ignore pants with rips or holes below the knee.

Miscellaneous

* The board approved an application for a $10,000 grant for homeless students.

Elementary Principal Andrea Martin said the grant would fund a three-week summer program for homeless or at-risk students. She said as many as 43 students in the district might qualify, and the program would help promote a positive outlook for the fall semester through field trips and increased literacy skills.

* Board members were asked to consider giving old bleachers to the city for use at the multi-purpose fields, and to the Lions Club for the rodeo grounds. The football field will have new bleachers after an extensive upgrade.

* The board voted unanimously to offer free lunch to all students eligible for reduced-cost lunches.

* The board may schedule a special meeting to appoint a replacement for former board member Susan Newberry, who has moved away from the area. Her term was scheduled to end this year, so the appointee will only serve until school board elections in September.

* The board approved spending $118,000 for a metal roof on the Intermediate School. Insurance will pay $60,000, approximately the cost of replacing shingles on the roof. Williams said the roof has been a problem area, and Maintenance Supervisor Larry Newberry recommended the metal roof as a solution. The board approved spending the difference, $58,000, contingent upon an architect's approval.

* The board approved an insurance policy for students making out-of-state trips on school buses. The annual cost of $750 means the school will not have to arrange individual riders to its insurance policy, as has been done in the past.

* The following resignations/retirements were accepted: Mary Bennett, high school math; Christine Farr, ALE teacher; Pam Gotto, high school CBI teacher; Stephanie Rogers, special education supervisor; Jenny Cowling, fourth grade teacher; Iris Salinas, Title I aide; Priscilla Sara-Smith, translator; Jerry Williams, custodian.

* The following were employed: Amelia Duarte, Music/Choir; Kevin Campbell, high school math; Erin Brewer, elementary teacher; David Childers, high school science; Todd Brewer, substitute bus driver; Jacob Sword, bus driver; Jeremy March, custodian; Brett Yarbrough, custodian.

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