Building plans near completion for Nashville schools


    By John R. Schirmer
    News-Leader staff

    Plans are almost complete for two construction projects in the Nashville School District.

    Superintendent Doug Graham told the school board Monday night that architect Craig Boone of Architecture Plus in Fort Smith is “fine tuning plans” for a new agri building at Nashville High School.

    Boone met recently with NHS agri teachers Drew Tollett and Matt McLelland and administrators. The teachers suggested some tweaks but “nothing to affect the cost,” Graham said. The building will be constructed on the site of the current agri building.

    Transportation Director James “Bunch” Nichols and bus mechanic Kelsey Willard reviewed plans for the new bus shop. The facility will be located on the site of the current bus shop.

    “I hope we’re getting final plans drawn. I’ll have something to present to the board soon,” Graham said.

    NJHS Principal Deb Tackett introduced new faculty members at her school before presenting science club adviser Brenda Galliher and a group of students who told about their experiences watching Monday’s solar eclipse. (See related story.)

    Graham reported that the district’s enrollment was 1,947 students as of Monday. The total included a few no-shows. Last year on the second Monday of classes, enrollment was 1,908. The third quarter total for last year was 1,926.

    Enrollment by building included the following:

    Primary – 590

    Elementary – 516

    Junior high – 448

    High school – 393

    Enrollment is down slightly at primary and high school but larger at elementary and junior high, Graham said.

    “This is the most we’ve had at elementary in a long time. The sixth grade is full,” Graham said, adding that an additional teacher could be needed for sixth grade if enrollment goes any higher.

    Overall, “It was good as it could be for the first week,” Graham said.

    In other reports, Graham said a lawsuit against the school district stemming from the 2014 crash of a Scrapper Stadium light pole onto a car has been dismissed. The suit was filed by Valerie Barnes and Kevin Barnes.

    The motion to dismiss said the plaintiffs and defendants, by their attorneys, have reached an agreement for the dismissal of the complaint, and they move the court to dismiss the matter without prejudice. Papers to dismiss the suit have been signed by a judge.

    Test scores

    Graham and Assistant Superintendent Joe Kell discussed spring semester 2017 scores on the state required ACT Aspire test administered in grades 3-10.

    “A year ago, writing was the section we were most disappointed about,” Graham said. “We challenged our teachers and students to improve writing scores. We took care of some low-hanging fruit,” and scores in most areas exceeded the state average.

    Kell reviewed writing scores for each grade and said that most had increased from the previous year

    Grades and the percentage their writing scores exceeded the state average or dipped below the state average include the following:

    Grade 3 – Up 7 percent over the state average

    Grade 4 – Up 7

    Grade 5 – Up 17

    Grade 6 – Up 7

    Grade 7 – 1 percent below the state average but 30 percent higher than last year

    Grade 8 – Up 9

    Grade 9 – Up 7

    Grade 10 – Up 10

    “Our teachers and students did a good job,” Kell said.

    Graham said that compared to all schools in the state, Nashville was above the state average in seven of eight grade levels.

    Grades and the percentage by which their math exceeded the state average or dipped below include the following:

    Grade 3 – Up 6

    Grade 4 – Up 2

    Grade 5 – At state average

    Grade 6 – Up 13

    Grade 7 – Up 10

    Grade 8 – Up 16

    Grade 9 – Up 4

    Grade 10 – 1 percent below

    “We had some students increase 20-30 percent from grade to grade,” Kell said. “Teachers met in their subject areas to look at students’ scores from the previous year and find out what they did poorly on. They found ways to help those kids.”

    On the math and writing sections of the Aspire, “Fourteen of 16 categories were above the state average,” Graham said.

    The state average increased from 2016 “and we’re still above it,” Kell said.


    The board accepted resignations from cafeteria worker Darla Lamb and bus driver Bobby Keaster, who has driven for the district for the last 40 years, Graham said.

    The board named Jerrad Jones the cross country coach. Jones is a former Scrapper trackster and teaches seventh grade science.

    Brad Chesshir was hired as a bus driver, leaving the district in need of one other driver who is in the process of being licensed, Nichols said.

    All board members were present Monday night, including president David Hilliard, Monica Clark, Randy Elliott, Mark Canaday and Miles Mitchell

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