School security force: Training firm hired for Berryville schools

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Berryville School Board voted Monday to hire School Training Services LLC to train school staff members who will serve in the commissioned school security officer (CSSO) program.

The board had approved the CCSO program at its June meeting. Superintendent Owen Powell said the district is considering a maximum of 12 members on the security force for the program’s first year. Both classified and certified staff members can serve as CSSOs, he said, and the program will be paid for by Title I funding.

The first step, Powell had said, would be selecting a vendor to train staff members. At Monday’s meeting, he said he has researched the different companies that do the training and believed School Training Services would be the best fit for the Berryville School District.

“In researching these groups, I found that School Training Services is the best at it,” he said. “They are a little more expensive, but in doing something like this we don’t need to do the cheapest version. We need to go with the best there is out there. Everything I can find says that they are the best.”

He said the next step will be for the district to start accepting applications from interested staff members and schedule the training.

The board also heard from community members who requested that the football field at the new sports complex be named “Ronnie Clark Field” and that the track be named “Jack Edens Track” in honor of the former Berryville coaches.

Kevin K. Smith shared a little of Clark’s history with the board.

“Ronnie Clark spent half his life on the school campus in Berryville as a student, player, teacher, athletic director and coach,” Smith said. “He was the first all-state football player at Berryville and also had the longest tenure as Berryville football coach with eight conference championships. He was named conference Coach of the Year eight times.”

He continued, “Coach Clark is the winningest football coach in the school’s history with 211 wins, and in 1977 he guided the Bobcats to the state finals. That’s the only time that has happened in the school’s history.”

Smith said Clark also taught his players and students about hard work, discipline, organization, being on time and how to overcome adversity.

“It wasn’t all about football,” he said. “He was very clear that your purpose here was to get an education first. Football and athletics were extracurricular. He has had a positive influence throughout his career and is loved by many of his former players throughout the community and by many community members. We feel his name should continue to be honored at the new field to embrace Bobcat history and tradition.”

Jason Tennant requested that the new track be named after former coach Jack Edens.

“We’ve got this new state-of-the-art track being built, and it’s going to be one of the nicest ones around,” Tenant said. “I know how proud Jack Edens is of this new track. It immediately came to me and others here tonight that Jack Edens’ name should be on this track.”

He continued, “In my mind, he’s the father of the Berryville track program. Everything Kevin said Coach Clark instilled in men and women, Jack Edens did the same and still does today. He won 50 district championships, and his name’s on a couple of banners for state championships. He’s an ambassador for this school and community. I look at it as a sign of respect and honor to someone who deserves it.”

Board member Travis Gregory said he would rather have plaques or statues honoring the former coaches than naming parts of the new sports complex after them.

“I feel like for current and future Berryville students, instead of naming the field after him, I think everything should be ‘Bobcat Stadium’ or ‘Bobcat Field,’ ” he said. “I think a plaque or statue honoring Coach Clark and his accomplishments should be there. It would be a terrible disgrace to erase what he’s done, but anything for the Berryville School District should just be named for the Berryville Bobcats.”

Board president Chad Hipps said he had met with Clark that morning to discuss the possibility of naming the new field after him.

“I didn’t want to make a decision and not even know him,” Hipps said. “I realized right away that Coach Clark was a lot nicer man than what I was expecting. He was very personable, and the conversation through no fault of his became pretty aggravating because we literally didn’t have two minutes alone.”

He continued, “It seems like there was a line of people to talk to Coach. The longer I sat there it dawned on me that people out here love this guy. I realized this man still stands for something. I don’t want to name the whole stadium after Clark. I think it should be ‘Bobcat Stadium’ and ‘Ronnie Clark Field’ and ‘Jack Edens Track.’ ”

Board member Chad Wilson made a motion to name the new sports complex “Bobcat Stadium,” the football field “Ronnie Clark Field” and the track “Jack Edens Track.”

The board voted to approve the names. Gregory voted against the motion.

The board later voted to approve the district phone upgrade, student transfer requests, Arkansas School Boards Association (ASBA) policy manual changes, the property insurance renewal and the vehicle insurance renewal.

Hipps said the property insurance premium would be $66,820.81, an increase of $7,852.78 from last year.

“Property insurance and vehicle insurance did go up,” Powell said. “Vehicle insurance went up $3,011 from last year. We did buy a new bus last year and this year. That explains the increase in the vehicle insurance.”

He said the board had also voted to transfer $1.5 million into the building fund on June 30.

“Last year, we finished about $800,000 under budget,” he said. “This year, we’re about $1 million under budget. We’re really proud of that. I’m happy with where we’re at and where we’re going.”

Powell continued, “We needed to do a balance fund transfer at the end of year. You can only carry over 20 percent of your total budget. $3.1 million is what we can have in our account, so we transferred $1.5 million into our building fund, which is unrestricted.”

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, in the Intermediate Cafetorium.

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