Investing in band program: GF board accepts $48,000 bid for instruments, equipment

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Green Forest School Board is working to meet the needs of the district’s growing band program.

The board voted at its Monday meeting to accept a bid of $48,132.27 from Saied Music Company of Tulsa, Okla., for new band instruments and equipment.

Superintendent Matt Summers said the new instruments and equipment had become a need because of the growth of the high school and middle school band programs. He said he and district treasurer Anna Asbury looked into what kind of funding the district was capable of providing so that band director Sarah Taylor and assistant band director John Taylor could purchase the new equipment for their students.

“John and Sarah have done an outstanding job not only in their performance but also in their recruitment of young students to be a part of the program,” Summers said. “We came back to them and said the maximum amount we could do would be approximately $50,000, so they went and looked at their greatest needs for marching and concert seasons.”

While this level of funding will not be available every year, Summers said it was necessary to allow the band program to purchase instruments that students cannot buy on their own.

Board member Kenny Bonham asked if warranties would be included on the instrument and equipment purchase.

“Yes, there are warranties. The length of the warranties varies depending on the instrument,” Summers said. “You’re only going to get about a year out of things with cork products, such as clarinets and oboes, because factors like weather wear those out faster.”

Board member Jerry King asked if the district had a plan in place to accommodate for staff bonuses and raises.

“We have a plan in place to accommodate bonuses,” Summers said. “This is a large amount of money. Anna and I had many long conversations, and this is a number we’re comfortable we can support. I think it’s a worthwhile use of those funds because so many kids are in the program.”

Board president Bud Phillips asked how many students are currently in the band program. Middle school principal Tim Booth said there are close to 80 students in the middle school band program and a little more than 40 in the high school band program.

“By the year after next year, it should be about 127 students in the high school band,” Booth said. “Some go in and some go out each year, but the program is keeping consistent numbers.”

Summers said the Taylors have invested a lot of time and energy into building a stellar band program. The band program covers a lot of its expenses through fundraising, he said.

“They do have fundraising potential through the band booster club, which does concessions for football games,” he said. “They do a great job of fundraising. They’ve had so many big fundraisers so they do not have to ask for big-ticket items like this.”

With the program continuing to grow, Phillips asked what kind of expenses Summers expected the program to present to the board next school year.

“Hopefully not a number like this,” Summers said. “We’re going to have to look at seriously increasing their operating budget to help with expenses.”

The board later voted to approve the purchase of Impero Education Pro for $22,517.60, which covers five years of product service and support. The program protects students’ online safety and empowers teachers with classroom control tools to allow them to better educate and manage student projects and activities, Summers said.

“It is designed to promote good digital citizenship and allows teachers to better utilize classroom Chromebook sets and other technology,” he said.

Summers said that National School Lunch (NSL) funds, which are used for eligible research-based programs that improve instruction and increase achievement of academic standers, would pay for the program.

Dr. Lisa Carlon, federal programs coordinator and director of instruction, said teachers can use the program to block inappropriate websites and monitor students’ use of Chromebooks or computers to make sure they are staying on task. It also flags any inappropriate comments made by students, she said, and notifies administrators.

“If students discuss anything inappropriate, such as bullying or mentions of suicide, then it will send a notification to us,” she said. “Mostly, it’s a teacher management program for when students are using online devices. The teachers can block sites they’re not supposed to be on so that the students can only work on what they’re assigned to work on.”

The board voted to approve the purchase of four leveled literacy intervention kits from Fountas & Pinnell for $21,483. One kit will be for the fifth-grade literacy classroom, Summers said, and the other three will be for fourth-grade self-contained classrooms. Title I funds will be used to pay for the program, he said.

“Fourth grade has used this program already,” Carlon said. “They had one kit because there was a literacy classroom. They went to self-contained classrooms this year, so we needed to purchase the additional kits.”

The board then voted to approve the purchase of 90 Chromebooks, three Chromebook charging carts and Google Management licensing for fourth and fifth grade classrooms for $26,944.87 from White River Services. Summers said Title I funds will be used to pay for the technology purchase.

The board voted to approve the purchase of textbooks for middle school keyboarding, coding and introduction to business classes for $16,000. The Learning-By-Doing series teachers students Microsoft Office and Google Suite skills needed to communicate and share information in the professional setting, Summers said, and will be paid for through student growth funds.

Also at the meeting, the board voted to approve the ELL Program 2017-18 Program Revisions, the 2017-18 High School Tutoring program, the Statement of Assurance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and the creation of the Project Prevention Youth Coalition (PPYC) club, which encourages students to live tobacco and nicotine-free lives.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, in the high school library.

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