Vickers steps down: BV board accepts band director’s resignation

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Berryville School Board voted Monday to accept the resignation of band instructor Donna Vickers, effective at the end of her contract.

Vickers, 24, of Berryville was arrested after a traffic stop Nov. 9 in Fayetteville on charges of driving while intoxicated and careless driving. Those charges remain pending in Fayetteville District Court.

Vickers started the school year serving as the middle school band director but assumed the high school band director duties as well after the resignation of Jim Nelsen. The school board had voted at its Nov. 19 meeting — 10 days after Vickers’ arrest — to award Vickers the head band director stipend and place her on an 11-month contract. The school district’s website lists Vickers’ annual salary at $39,002.

The board voted to increase the substitute pay from $65 per day to $70 per day.

The board also voted to approve the December fuel purchase from Ozark Mountain Energy for $17,462.91 and to approve the contract with Cox Cable for the removal of existing coaxial cable and reinstallation of new underground to the FACS building upon the completion of the new high school.

Also at the meeting, the board heard from the Project Prevention Anti-Tobacco Youth Coalition. Counselor Tiffaney Atkinson and club members Shelby Newby, Jade Harrell, Kristi Nance and Ella Pruente discussed the influx of JUULs, a type of e-cigarette, at the middle and high schools.

The introduction of JUULs has led to a 78 percent increase in vaping at the high school this year, the students said, because JUULs resemble jump drives and can be used discreetly, even during class. One JUUL pod contains 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine, they said. The students said last year the middle school had zero incidents of tobacco infractions and the high school had 20. This year, they said, the middle school has had five infractions and the high school has already had 20.

Board president Chad Hipps asked what the consequences of getting caught with tobacco on campus are. High school principal Donnel Armstrong said students are enrolled in a tobacco cessation program the first time.

Atkinson said the issue is that some students have gone through the cessation program multiple times and continue to commit infractions.

“We have crossed the threshold where something different has to be done to catch their attention,” she said.

She and the students proposed that the school resource officers (SRO) issue a fine to students after their third tobacco infraction.

“I’m all for doing anything and everything we can,” Hipps said.

Superintendent Owen Powell said the board would have to wait until next year to officially update its policy in the school handbook.

The board also voted to accept the resignation of high school math teacher Josh Weaver at the end of his contract, intermediate building secretary Ariel Tittsworth, cafeteria worker Crystal Eaves and cafeteria worker Karen Earls.

The board voted to approve hiring Kaylan Ellis as a substitute bus route driver and to replace Tittsworth with Carla Tuttle-Bailey as intermediate building secretary.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, in the intermediate cafetorium.

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