Green Forest board, patrons honor Bailey’s memory

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Attendees and board members at the Dec. 13 meeting of the Green Forest School District board observed a moment of silence to show respect for Mark Bailey, a bus driver for the district who died Dec. 5.

Bailey, 61, had served in law enforcement for 30 years, including a stint as chief of the Alpena Police Department, before coming to work for the district last year.

“We had a moment of silence for him and his family and the service that he had performed for us in our school district to honor him,” said superintendent Matt Summers.

Matt Summers

After the moment of silence, board members voted to approve the district’s facilities master plan.

“We’re not seeking state funds to start a building project in this cycle,” Summers said. “Our report says we would potentially do that in 2024 for funds available in 2025. Anything we do construction-wise before that time would be self-funded.”

Summers said the district is looking at plans to add additional classrooms to both the elementary school and the high school.

“Those are both needed areas,” Summers said. “Our architect was here this week and we’re in the conversation phase right now. Obviously, nothing’s down on paper, no contracts, that kind of stuff, but it takes several, several months to get all of that process started. So I think we’ll hear something hopefully before May or June.”

Summers said only one of the projects would involve new construction.

“It would be converting existing space in the elementary school,” Summers said, “and then a possible add-on at the high school, in the courtyard part of the high school.”

The board also heard a proposal from the school’s EAST instructor, Jon Taylor, regarding the establishment of an esports program at the school.

“It’s sponsored by the [Arkansas Activities Association] and regulated by them,” Summers said. “Our board decided to table that motion and bring it back for further discussion.”

The AAA voted to establish its esports league in 2019, partnering with PlayVS, a California-based esports league that focuses solely on high schools, in 2019. According to the AAA, students must meet certain academic standards in order to participate, much like those who participate in sports such as football, baseball or basketball.

“This would be brand-new, all the way around,” Summers said.

In other business, the board also reviewed the district’s Ready for Learning plan.

“The admin team brought back to the board a proposal that we stay in our existing plan — which we’ve been in all year long — having more of a closed campus except for approved activities like band, athletics, choir, those types of things that are not only local but are also competitive with other schools,” Summers said. “We had asked the board to look at that on a month-to-month process.”

That process, Summers said, is also informed by the district’s COVID-19 numbers, which were presented to the board during the meeting. According to the administration’s report, the district had two students in isolation after a positive test for the novel coronavirus since November’s meeting, five students and one staff member in quarantine as close contacts, and seven students who had been released from quarantine as of Dec. 13.

“We wish to do that every month from here on out,” Summers said of the COVID report. “We expect there may be a spike after Christmas and the holidays coming in, but we will see. We’ll look at the numbers and if our numbers are low and we feel like we’re in a safe place, we may review that. If our numbers stay high, we would ask for it to continue.

“It’s wait-and-see right now, but hopefully we’ll hopefully see some relief.”

In personnel matters, board accepted the resignation of middle school principal Keri Tackett effective Dec. 31.

“She will be leaving the state to be closer to her family,” Summers said. “We’re very pleased with the job that Keri did and we appreciate her effort and contribution to the Green Forest School District. We want to wish her the best of luck as she relocates.”

Summers said the position would be filled on an interim basis by technology instructional facilitator Adam Wade.

“He is fully endorsed, fully certified and has the credentials,” Summers said, “and then of course, we will advertise, interview and recommend for that position later this spring.”

Summers said he was pleased with the choice to name Wade as interim principal.

“He’s a solid guy,” Summers said. “He’s originally from Green Forest but he taught at Berryville for many years as a math teacher. We hired him as our technology facilitator, helping all of our staff K-12 with technology and helping them find ways to better address student needs and he has grown in that role.

“Obviously, we think the world of him or we wouldn’t have named him to the interim role.”

The board also accepted the resignations of certified occupational therapy assistant Stephanie Spiva and custodian Ron Hess, and approved the hiring of Blaine Lawrence as a bus driver, Alejandra Sanchez as a special education paraprofessional and Marianna Hardin as a purchase service certified occupational therapy assistant.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at the Green Forest High School Media Center.

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