By John R. Schirmer
Enrollment in the Nashville School District was 1,918 students on opening day Monday, according to reports submitted by building principals at the school board meeting Monday night.
“We had a super day for super heroes,” according to Shirley Wright, primary school principal.
Enrollment totaled 629 students in grades K-3. Primary enrollment in the past “has been as high as 660 and as low as 600,” Wright said.
At elementary school, “We had a good day. The kids were all smiles in the long car lines,” Principal Latito Williams said.
Elementary had 439 students opening day, up from 425 a year ago.
Nashville Junior High “had a great day. We were all in class by 9 a.m.,” Principal Deb Tackett said.
NJHS enrollment was 435, up 20 from a year ago.
High school “had a great start. We only made seven schedule changes,” Principal Tate Gordon said. “We had orientation for parents and students” in July, he said. “I want to thank everyone for being there.
NHS enrollment was 415 students, compared to 397 last year.
The construction project on the south end of the high school continues, Gordon said. “It’s day-to-day getting to the cafeteria” because of construction-related detours.
Superintendent Doug Graham said board members will probably have the opportunity to tour the construction site at the Sept. 21 meeting.
Overall, the district had “a pretty good day” to start the 2015-16 academic year, Graham said. The biggest problem seemed to be that the “bus shop phones were down and all the calls went to the administration building,” Graham said.
In other business Monday night, board members approved Graham’s recommendation to provide one-time back-to-school bonuses for faculty and staff. The bonuses included $500 for classified staff, $150 for bus drivers and $700 for certified staff.
“We didn’t have raises for teachers last year. They’re certainly deserving of the bonus,” Graham said.
If the district’s finances are in good shape at the end of the fiscal year, “I’ll ask the board to put the bonus amounts into the salary schedule,” Graham said.
Earlier in the meeting, softball parent Ricky Kesterson addressed the board about a concern he has with the program.
Kesterson said he recently learned that volunteer coaches with the Scrapperette softball team “are to be terminated. This was dealt with before we had the opportunity to speak” at a board meeting.
The Scrapperettes have won three state championships in the last six years and have played in the state semifinals twice during that time, Kesterson said.
“They had three different head coaches and two extensive, lengthy coaching searches. The one constant in that time that our girls could count on was that they knew their volunteer coaches [Phillip Miller and James Reed] would be there for them. Now they’re gone. That’s all I have,” Kesterson said.
Board president Randy Elliott thanked Kesterson for his comments. “We may need to look into the policy on volunteer coaches. We hope the team continues the success of the past.
About 25 softball parents, players and fans attended Monday night’s board meeting.
The district’s policy on volunteer coaches is included in the overall policy about volunteers in general and their relationship to the local schools.
The policy for volunteer coaches says in part: “All volunteers who intend to act as head coaches or assistant coaches must: 1. Be at least twenty-two years of age; 2. Not be a member of the board of directors of the district or the spouse of a member of the board of directors of the district; and 3. Meet the requirements adopted by the Arkansas Activities Association to volunteer for any athletics program for grades 7-12.
“A volunteer may act as a head coach in all varsity junior and senior high sports administered by the AAA except in the following sports: football, basketball, and track and field.”
Volunteers must comply with background check regulations.
Graham presented a preliminary budget for 2015-16. He asked the board to review it and said he plans to call a budget workshop before the Sept. 21 meeting.
The board accepted resignations from bus drivers Tom Morrow and Charles Marshal and from cafeteria worker Betty Middleton.
Coaches Brian “Boomer” Brown and Chad Hutson were each hired as half-route driver. For the fall semester, Brown will drive in the morning and Hutson in the afternoon. They will switch in the spring.
Graham told the board that the district continues to look at ways to show Scrapper football games with the impending closure of TV station KJEP. The station will leave the air Sept. 15.
The district’s new food services director, Julie Smith, attended the meeting. Graham said the district is continuing to look for ways to save money in the program “and work closer to breaking even. We have a lower number of meals per labor hour than recommended by the state. A lot of that is attributed to lower student participation last year. We hope to get a feel for the number of lunches served and a check on waste.”