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The Pea Ridge School Board of Directors approved 5 percent raises for employees and heard from principals and other school officials on topics ranging from the school-wide learning management system Schoology to the upcoming Active Shooter training drill set for Oct. 25.

All school employees will receive a 5 percent raise as per Act 1120. Assistant superintendent Keith Martin said some salaries will not reflect that full amount due to sick and leave time taken and changes in duties or position, and some salaries increased by more than 5 percent due to changing from part time to full time, step and longevity milestones and additional duties.

Martin also reported the Food Service Fund has a surplus of $216,550, and he has been told by the state he has to draw that number down to below $100,000. Martin said one reason for the surplus is more food is being prepared from scratch, which he said is "a lot less expensive" than prepackaged, pre-prepared foods, and "the kids like it better." Another reason is three of Pea Ridge's schools meet the 40 percent mark of children qualifying for free lunches. He said some of the money will go to purchase and install steamers in the food lines. Superintendent Rick Neal said some of the money may be used to help pay for the new school.

Martin said free flu shots will be administered to students Oct. 16, but many forms must be completed beforehand and must be submitted by Oct. 14. He said parents should contact their child's school to get the forms.

The board voted to follow School Code 4.34--Communicable/Infectious Diseases to allow the schools to "exclude" students who have been diagnosed with communicable and infectious diseases from school for specified periods of time. Board memberJenny Wood asked what the word "exclude" means. Martin said the term is part of an Arkansas State Dept. of Health regulation that has determined the amount of time a student diagnosed with such a disease may be excluded from classes and regular school activities. He said it's a state regulation and is "not meant to be punitive in nature." Illnesses that would involve longer exclusions than one to seven days are pertussis (whooping cough), which could lead to a three-week exclusion if antibiotic therapy is not administered, and tuberculosis, with that exclusion to last until the state declares the student infection free. Some disease exclusion lengths were left open-ended to account for the difficulty of their eradication. One example of this is head lice. For the full list of the diseases, contact any of the schools' administrative offices.

Middle School principal Leslie Moline reported Pea Ridge Student Success Plans are now being used as models for other schools by the Northwest Arkansas Educational Cooperative and, now, by the Arkansas Department of Education for school districts around the state.

She also reported that a survey has just gone out asking parents if they would be interested in participating in classes on school technology not only for their own benefit but so they can better help their children with it. She said all parents have been given a code that allows them to access their children's learning progress in Schoology, the online learning management system now being used in all Pea Ridge schools. If parents do not have the code, she said they may call their child's school to get it.

Board memberJeff Neil said about Schoology, "I'm loving it. To see where my kid didn't turn in a paper or an assignment, that makes me say, 'Hey, what's up with this?' and makes me feel better informed about my kid's progress."

Pea Ridge Intermediate School principal Mindy Bowlin reported that the Aspire test prepping process has just concluded. It included third through 10th grades and is conducted three times in each school year.

Pea Ridge Primary School will hold its Fall Festival Oct. 23.

Board members present -- Sandy Button, Wood and Neil -- voted unanimously to approve all items on the agenda. John Dye and Ryan Heckman were absent.

General News on 10/10/2018

Print Headline: School Board approves salary increases

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