Connect 4 board hires director

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Connect 4 Board has hired James Knight as the C4 director.

The board voted to hire Knight at its Wednesday meeting at the Tyson Foods plant in Green Forest after interviewing the five strongest applicants for the position in December. Knight currently lives in Harrison, where he has worked as an instructor at North Arkansas College.

Berryville Superintendent Owen Powell said Knight’s tentative start date will be next Monday, Jan. 8.

“Berryville schools will make a contract,” Powell said, “and, as previously voted on and discussed, we’ll take the three high school principal salaries and average those for the salary.”

Since the Carroll County Career Center in Berryville, which will house the Connect 4 program, is not ready, Powell offered to house Knight on the Berryville School District’s campus for the time being.

Board president Rodney Ellis said he believed it would be a good idea to send Knight to the Career Academy of Siloam Springs (CASS) for some training after he gets established in Berryville. Mike Rogers, the instructor of CASS, was hired by Tyson Foods as a consultant to draft a business plan for the Connect 4 program, which has been modeled after CASS’s approach to fitting several skill trades under one umbrella.

“As far as training goes, I talked to Mike, and we thought it would be a good idea to have James spend about two weeks over at CASS in Siloam Springs by the end of January or the first of February,” Ellis said. “That’s about a two-hour haul, so maybe we can have him stay in a hotel. There are some right there by the school, so I think that would be easier to do because of travel.”

He said he had already cleared the training proposal with principal Jason Jones of Siloam Springs High School.

“That will get him back immersed in the NCCER [National Center for Construction Education and Research] side of it,” Ellis said. “There’s a guy over there teaching who’s really good on the electrical side, and James can help them on the machining and welding side. It will be good for both programs.”

He said he had also talked to representatives from Kennametal, Inc. in Rogers, one of the tooling providers for Connect 4, about a free training program the company will hold in Little Rock around February.

“It’s free other than a hotel,” Ellis said. “I’m going to check on the status of that.”

He said it would also be good to have Knight visit Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest high schools to present the program to eligible students.

Green Forest Superintendent Matt Summers recommended the presentations be held soon since the C4 program will take place in the afternoon. As a result, he said, interested students will need to make sure they can still fit their core classes into their schedules.

“I think the sooner the better,” Summers said. “Green Forest’s athletic period is the first of the day. Students will have to take one of their core classes online, so they need to know how they’re going to do that.”

Also at the meeting, Powell asked Summers and Eureka Springs Superintendent Bryan Pruitt how their districts wanted to handle reimbursements to the Berryville School District since the director and secretary positions will be included on Berryville’s salary schedule.

“How do we want to do the reimbursement to Berryville schools?” he asked. “Do we want to do yearly or monthly?”

Summers said the Green Forest School District has two memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the city of Green Forest for its two school resource officers.

“We pay monthly, and we also cover expenses like cell phones and different stuff,” he said.

Powell said they would set it up as a monthly payment.

Board member Bud Phillips asked if the salary reimbursement would be a fixed rate per month and a separate method of reimbursement would be established for travel expenses and other items.

“Salary, benefits, retirement and all that will be in one,” Powell said, “and anything where he’s doing professional development, travel and meal reimbursements will be in another. We’ll do two separate things.”

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for noon Wednesday, Feb. 7, in Berryville.

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