EUREKA SPRINGS -- "The building of the new high school is going as planned," Superintendent Curtis Turner told the Eureka Springs School Board May 17. Construction will be completed in late autumn with school starting there in January 2013. "Staff who have seen it are impressed," he said.
Administration is still prioritizing needs to see how to put finishing touches in place, like solving questions about parking. Eventually the project will include a way to connect the high school with the middle school. Turner said he is proceeding cautiously and keeping an eye on finances.
Turner provided a brief update of the lawsuit between Eureka Springs and the state, saying the State Supreme Court could rule on the matter in June; could recess and take it up in autumn; or, what he said would be the worst choice, remand the case back to Pulaski Circuit Court which means the whole process would start over. "So, right now, we're in a holding pattern," he said.
Loss of students
Board members discussed the fact that all three schools lost students during the school year. Elementary School Principal Clare Lesieur said she keeps track of students who leave, and most of the time the reason is parents leaving the area to look for work.
Board member Tom Winters suggested they figure out a way to promote the area and attract families with students to move here "because it is a great place to live."
Turner agreed and said that there had already been conversations like that. He said the board should form a committee to work on it and do whatever it can to promote schools and community, which go hand in hand.
Board member Karen Gros suggested getting the Chamber of Commerce and Board of Realtors to participate.
High School Principal Kathy Lavender presented her amended version of the Arkansas Comprehensive Improvement Plan (ACSIP) for 2011-2012. She led the board through the details of plan and explained how her staff ensures that federal and state funds are expended as intended.
The ASCIP procedure began 11 years ago to provide oversight of expenditures. All funds coming to the school must be approved by the state, and Turner described ASCIP as "the engine that drives the school." He said the district often must carry expenses for a program for awhile until approval comes through.
Lavender said these monies are over and above operating expenses. These funds cover specialists, interventionists and paraprofessionals, among other expenses, which make a huge difference to the education process.
The board voted to approve the updated ACSIP.
Middle School Principal Cindy Holt said eighth graders completed a career appreciation class in which they discussed careers they would be interested in, then experienced a day of job-shadowing. She said students tagged along with policemen, chefs, hotel managers, athletic coaches, Game & Fish personnel and others.
She said the experience was well-received by students and shadowees alike.
She also announced that sixth grade science and literacy teacher, Fred Hopkins, had been selected as one of only 50 teachers in the country as a Siemens STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Institute Fellow. He will get a week of professional development at the Siemens headquarters outside Washington, DC.
Students from the fifth and sixth grades participated in creating their own small business enterprises, and set up the businesses in the school cafeteria. The entrepreneurs learned to create a sales pitch and tried it on other students who came shopping.
Next year, she said the Middle School will be a member of the National Junior Honor Society.
Lavender announced that some members of the graduating class would be receiving at least $450,000 in scholarship money for college. Included in that figure is the phenomenal amount of $133,000 going to Will Adams who will be attending Brown University.
She said that the school yearbook was ready, and 76 out of 100 have already been sold.
Lesieur told the board they had conducted a Derby Race on Planer Hill in conjunction with the ESPD and ESFD, and the winners will get an airplane ride as a prize.
She said that during Teacher Appreciation Week, local restaurants served lunch for the teachers. She also announced that through the summer, kids ages 2-18 can get breakfast or lunch at the school cafeteria.
Lesieur told the board that she has 34 students registered for kindergarten next year, a new high for their kindergarten.
Next meeting will be Thursday, June 21, at 5:30 at the Administration offices.