GUE Science Fair Winners Attend Education Council Meeting

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GRAVETTE — First place science fair winners at Gravette Upper Elementary School attended the February 21 meeting of the Gravette School Board and led the pledge of allegiance to the flag to open the meeting .

Three customers from the school spoke to the board during the comment period at the start of the meeting. Tina Crose, the mother of a child with special needs, expressed her thanks to the school district, basketball team members and coaches for the positive impact they have had on her son. She said she appreciates that they embrace these students and love them like everyone else. His son felt part of the team and learned responsibility and important life lessons from them. She felt that her son’s best interests were always “the number one priority”.

Jason Maxwell said he was speaking to the council on behalf of concerned parents and grandparents who were disturbed by some of the books they had found in the school library. He thanked Superintendent Maribel Childress for having the student’s best interests at heart. He said he hoped the board would create policies and procedures to protect students and put parents’ rights first.

Sandy Williams addressed the council in support of recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a statutory holiday and making it an out-of-school day. She pointed out that the district is gaining more and more students of color.

Elizabeth Ozbun introduced the science fair winners in attendance, Danielle Dillon, Lucas Morales and Caden Wellesley, and each displayed posters explaining their projects. Others recognized and honored at the reunion included Holden Jeffries, an eighth grader, and his middle school teacher, Brad Leach. Jeffries told the board about a fruit fly experiment he and his classmates conducted. Brandi Brown, art teacher at Glenn Duffy Elementary, spoke about her Artists in Motion program and thanked the council for purchasing stools that helped improve her classroom. Finally, Superintendent Childress presented certificates from the Office of Educational Policy to Taos Jones, principal of Gravette Middle School, for his outstanding educational performance at GMS in 2021. Awards were received for the best overall growth and the best growth of the math scores on the 2021 ACT Aspire Tests, both statewide and in the Northwest District.

Board members approved the consent program which included accepting the retirement of Teri Finnell, a high school library assistant, at the end of the school year and the immediate resignation of Shannon Holcomb.

Commercial Director Dennis Kurczek presented the monthly financial report.

Assistant Superintendent Becky Sears presented the program and instruction report and said she was “excited about the progress and growth” occurring at Gravette Schools.

Kelly Hankins, Director of Academic Success, reported and announced that two new programs, Dental Assistant and Building Technology, are being added to Western Benton County Career Center for the 2022-2023 school year. She said there is a lot of interest in the WBCCC welding program and classes are filling up fast for next year. Bentonville Schools recently brought 40 students to visit the career center and an open house is planned for the community from 3-7 p.m. on Thursday, March 17.

Becky Sears, High School Deputy Principal Jared Schoonover, Hankins, Special Education Director Vickie Johnston, Athletic Director Norman Mitchell and each of the building principals shared their progress on this school year’s goals.

Superintendent Childress reported on the musical instruments that are needed in music programs from kindergarten through high school.

A lottery was held to determine universal seats on the school board. Jay Oliphant will occupy the #1 at-large seat and Tracy Moorman will occupy the #2 at-large seat.

Superintendent Childress gave the attendance report for January and pointed out that it was easy to see which week covid hit in schools. She said registrations for February were exactly the same as in January. She also did a covid report and outlined the district’s covid guidelines and mandates.

Policy changes are underway in line with state health department recommendations. She said the word ‘child’ would be replaced with ‘dependent’ in the statement: ’10 days covid staff leave will continue to be available for the staff member’s covid positive cases or for the staff member staff is caring for a dependent who tests positive until the end of the 2021-2022 school year.”

Superintendent Childress provided an update on the Stagecoach and Bittersweet Road property the council is considering purchasing, including the results of a new survey and environmental study. Board member Tracy Moorman suggested asking the landlord to remove any household trash remaining on the property. In the actions that followed, the council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of 51 acres at the corner of Stagecoach Road and Bittersweet Road for $1.3 million to be paid from the building fund. A second motion allowing realtor Larry Boling to request on behalf of the district that household hazardous waste be removed from the property also passed unanimously.

In other action points, the council:

* Voted to purchase the necessary musical instruments described in the superintendent’s report from the building fund for the 2022-2023 school year for an amount not to exceed $35,000.

* Decides that a discussion on a common definition of traditional discipline will take place at a later date, possibly during the next council work session.

* Approved First Reading of ASBA Winter 2022 Policy Updates.

* Discussed student dress code, including prom and homecoming guidelines.

* Approved changes to the sick leave donation policy and authorized Superintendent Childress to submit these policy changes to employees for a vote.

* Set dates March 3 at 5 p.m. for a working session to discuss salaries and staff for the 2022-2023 school year, March 14 at 6 p.m. for the regular board meeting and March 29 at 5 p.m. for a working session to discuss curriculum, instruction and assessment.

* Voted to give school district staff the option to reconsider the currently approved 2022-2023 school calendar with the option of including Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday.

* Approved the installation of a Burlsworth — Larger display on the west side of the concession stand at Lion Field at an estimated cost of $9,040.32 to be paid from the construction fund. Board member Hope Duke suggested that the words “filmed on this land” be added to the posting.

* Approved the purchase of equipment for certified school security guards at an estimated cost of $3,036 to be paid from the CSSO’s general fund.

* Approved a resolution to adopt the Benton County Risk Mitigation Plan.

* Gave approval for a trip for the GHS EAST team to attend a conference in Hot Springs March 15-17 and for 32 HOSA students to attend a skills competition in Hot Springs March 6-8.

* Approved 2022 election materials for release as prepared by First Security Beardsley.

Board members moved into executive session at 8:58 p.m. to discuss employment and when they returned to open session at 9:34 p.m., they voted to hire Paige Wood as the communications and technology and to approve a special education interventionist position on the upper floor. primary for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year. Approval was also given for the transfer of Mary Steele from the Title I position to a fifth-grade teaching position on a monthly basis for the remainder of the school year, serving only as long as necessary to meet the requirements. conformity of the registration number. .

Finally, board members voted to approve the Memorandum of Understanding between Mandy Barrett, Director of Upper Elementary, and the school board that outlines the relationship and expectations associated with her outside employment with Solution Tree. Tracy Moorman was authorized to sign the agreement on behalf of the board.

The meeting adjourned at 9:37 p.m.


Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Fifth grade student Lucas Morales shows off the poster describing his experience determining which brand of colored pencil offers the best quality and value. Lucas and other first prize winners from the recent Upper Elementary Science Fair were honored at the Feb. 21 meeting of the Gravette School Board.




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Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Brandi Brown, art teacher at Glenn Duffy Elementary School, thanks members of the Gravette School Board for allowing the purchase of stools which made her art class more comfortable. She said they have created a more welcoming environment for her students.




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Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Eighth grade student Holden Jeffries tells members of the Gravette School Board about the fruit fly experiment he and his classmates conducted while his teacher, Brad Leach, watched. Holden was one of the students honored at the Feb. 21 board meeting.




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Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Superintendent Maribel Childress and Middle School Principal Taos Jones present the certificates awarded to Gravette High School by the Office of Education Policy. The Outstanding Educational Performance awards were given for the best overall growth scores and the best math growth scores in the ACT Aspire 2021 tests.




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Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Third grade student Danielle Dillon shows off her poster exploring the question of whether sea salt will melt ice faster than melting ice. Danielle, who won first place at the recent Upper Elementary Science Fair, was one of the students honored at the Feb. 21 meeting of the Gravette School Board.



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