Those elections changed the composition of the board -- with Todd Howard replacing Incumbent Shannon Hill in Zone Two and Sherri Plumlee assuming the Zone Four seat vacated by Sharon Ary. Former board member Joe Ward also returned to the board as a member at large.
Topping Monday night's agenda was reorganization of the board.
Members are required by state law to serve staggered terms. Monday night, they drew wooden coins from a plastic Folgers can to determine the length of their respective stints in office.
The exercise was not without controversy. The newly elected board members, most notably Howard, engaged their colleagues in a lengthy debate over whether Lydia King should be allowed to draw lots.
All board members were required to run for re-election this year -- regardless of whether their terms had expired -- due to redistricting of board zones resulting from shifting voter demographics.
King did not file to run in September's election. However, because no one else filed either, she automatically reprised her position.
Superintendent Randy Byrd said state law was not clear on what is to be done under such circumstances.
In order to attain some clarity, the superintendent sought the guidance of officials with the Arkansas Association of School Boards and, when he found their advice insufficiently conclusive, called the Arkansas Secretary of State.
In the information packet presented to board members before Monday's meeting, Byrd included a copy of the response he recieved.
In that letter, Deputy Secretary of State A.J. Kelly refers to two related Attorney General opinions. Based upon these, and the facts as presented by Byrd, Kelly concluded that King "is entitled to hold over as a member of the school board for the entire duration of the term of office (apparently even if the length of the term is determined by all members of the board drawing by lot for length of term after the election)."
Howard, however, found the letter unsatisfying. At one point, he even told King, "You have no right to draw."
He maintained the letter was only an opinion.
"I would like to see the law," he said.
Byrd responded that the law did not clearly address the issue, and that -- barring a court case to decide the issue -- an opinion from the secretary of state was the closest thing to the law available to them.
He added that litigation was always an option in the future, if someone cared to pursue it.
Despite Byrd's letter, Plumlee said she had received conflicting guidance from the secretary's office.
Plumlee said she had spoken with a woman in the Elections Division of that office, though she could not recall her name.
"She was aware of the letter," Plumlee said, "and we discussed the situation again, and she said that ... the school board could choose [between] two options: to let her draw for whatever term or to let her be a holdover and only have a one-year term until her successor was elected."
Byrd and King asked Plumlee if she had gotten an opinion in writing. Plumlee said she had not.
Ultimately, King did draw for terms along with the other board members. She will serve for five years, as will Kristi Howerton.
Jeff Miles and Plumlee will serve four years. Howard will serve three. Vonda Bailey will serve two, and Joe Ward will serve one.
After drawing for terms, board members elected officers from their ranks. Bailey was unanimously elected president.
Joe Ward was elected vice president -- though Bailey, Lydia King, and Kristi Howerton voted against the appointment.
Plumlee was elected secretary.
Also Monday, board members approved the creation of a new high school nurse position. The full-time position was created at the behest of school nurse Kristy Hulse, to replace the part-time secretary position vacated by Patsy Fanklin on Sept. 28.
In a letter to the board, Hulse wrote that the extra help would allow her to better care for her students.
She noted that the Arkansas Department of Health recommends one nurse be employed for every 750 students. There is an effort underway, she added, to lower that ratio to one to 450. In contrast, Hulse is responsible for a total of 1,041 middle and high school students, in addition to 135 staff members.
She said she received 35 to 55 walk-ins each day and a total of 6,323 visits to her office last year .
The elementary and intermediate schools each have their own nurse, Hulse said, and the nurse-to-student ratios there are more in line with what is recommended by the state.
She noted that although those nurses have more drop-ins to cope with, the problems among older students are typically more complex. These include psychological issues such as depression.
"Due to the overwhelming number of students I serve," she said, "I feel that I am not able to do the appropriate follow-up on students to make sure they get the help they need."
Besides lightening her work load and allowing her to spend necessary time with students, Hulse said hiring a second nurse would allow her to delegate some functions she could not entrust to an unlicensed secretary.
For instance, Hulse said she was required to submit annual reports of screening and immunizations.
"Due to HIPPA regulations in the school setting," she wrote, "only a nurse can have access to the Immunization Network for Children. This prevented my secretary from being able to access and track immunizations."
In other business, the board:
* Gave initial approval to a change in the sick leave policy for district employees. The amendment, recommended by the personnel committee, would allow employees to take leave for illness in their immediate family, regardless of whether the relative lives. The current policy requires that they live under the same roof as the employee.
* Agreed to post the code of ethics of the Arkansas Association of School Boards on the district website, upon the recommendation of King.
* Received monthly and annual reports from each school building principal and administrator.
approved hiring Tracy Holle as a Tech III for the remainder of the school year. Most recently, Holle was employed most recently at Crowder College -- in Cassville, Mo. -- teaching technology in the classroom. Holle will replace Bill Mills, who resigned his position on Oct. 1.
* Approved hiring Shannon Hill as a substitute teacher for grades three to eight and Mary Lisa Price-Backs as a substitute nurse and K-3 teacher.
* Approved adding the K-5 science facilitator duties and stipend to Shanti O'Dell.
* Accepted the retirement of high school art teacher Sara Russell. Russell will continue teaching through the current school year.
* Approved the maternity leave request of third grade teacher Tilenna Hill.