Green Forest School District to provide school supplies for 2019/20

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

By Samantha Jones

The Green Forest School Board is making it easy for families to get ready for the 2019-20 school year.

On Monday night, the board voted to pay for all school supplies in the district. That means all parents have to do is send their kids to school with a backpack ready to learn, said Superintendent Matt Summers. Summers said the district has considered the concept for a while. He said Lisa Carlon, federal programs coordinator and director of instruction, started the process in the spring talking to teachers and administrators at each building on campus.

“She figured out which items are needed and what we use every year,” Summers said. “We looked at using NSL funds, which are the funds we receive for our poverty level, to make this purchase.”

It will be more cost-effective for the school district to buy the supplies, Summers said, because buying in bulk is cheaper than buying individual supplies. Summers said it’s important to the district to help families as much as possible, saying this is one way to do that.

“We are in a continual process to improve our school district in every way possible,” Summers said. “If a parent has multiple kids in our school district, that tab could run $50 to $70, and we have many who aren’t able to do that at all.”

Summers continued, “We’re trying to relieve the burden for those who need it and also to make sure everybody’s on a level playing field and has the potential to succeed.”

Word has already gotten out about the purchase, Summers said. He remembered buying groceries at Harps and talking with a local parent about it. She hugged him and cried, Summers said, and it tugged at his heartstrings.

“It’s going to help a lot of people,” Summers said. “It seems like the world we’re in today is getting more and more negative, and we’re just trying to make it a better place for our kids.”

He added, “We’re trying to do the best we can by everybody. We want to start the school year on a positive note.”

The board also agreed to give all teachers in the district a stipend for classroom supplies, Summers said. By state law, Summers said, teachers in grades K-6 receive the stipend.

“We do that for any teacher K-12,” Summers said. “All our teachers receive classroom supplies money that allows them to buy the dry erase markers, the tissues and other things they use in their classroom.”

In other business, the board voted to purchase two used work vans for the maintenance department for $12,700. Summers said the vans will help maintenance workers in many ways.

“They’re work vans. They’re not what you want to take on a family vacation,” Summers said, “but they allow us to lock up our tools and supplies. It means less running to the store.”

The board also voted to purchase a new communications system for $38,000. Summers said the cost includes the new system and 70 devices to improve communication. The district’s old communications system was antiquated, Summers said, and needed to be replaced. Summers said he’s excited to implement the new system, which includes a GPS system for all school buses.

“We’ll know where our buses are in real time,” Summers said. “If we’ve got a bus that’s out off on a country road somewhere and it’s running late and hasn’t moved for five minutes, odds are we need to check on that.”

The new system will improve safety across the board, Summers said.

“Twenty years ago, there weren’t any radios on any of the buses and we did just fine,” he said. “Now, it’s needed for safety. It will help us on those long trips. We’ll still have radio contact and won’t have to rely just on personal cell phones.”

Also at the meeting, the board accepted the resignation of food service employee Gwenda Fryar and agreed to reassign Sheila Nance as elementary ELL/ESL teacher for the 2019-20 school year. The board voted to hire Ronnie Schlinker as intermediate resource teacher, Judy Morris as elementary nurse, Laura Martin as high school drama/speech teacher, Autumn Pearce as high school English/yearbook teacher, Gaylon Riggs as full-time bus driver, Emily Yang as 2nd grade teacher and Ryan Morton as cross country coach, head boys track coach and social studies teacher.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, in the high school library.

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