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Local educators with 141 years experience to step down in May


By John R. Schirmer

News-Leader staff

The Nashville School Board accepted six resignations Feb. 26 from personnel with 141 years in the education field.

They included the following:

Nashville Primary School Principal Shirley Wright, 41 years total, 31 in Nashville.

Alternative Learning Environment director Deb Marshall, 10.5 years in Nashville.

Coach Laura Kidd, 25 years overall, five years in Nashville.

Elementary teacher Morgan Howard, 11 years in Nashville.

Band director Sarah Jo Morris, seven years in Nashville.

Bus driver Johnny Wilson, 47 years in Nashville as math teacher and bus driver. He’s only retiring from the transportation position.

Board members voted 5-0 to accept the resignations.

Outgoing board president Mark Canaday thanked the educators for their years of service. He announced his own retirement from the school board, effective at the end of his term. Canaday has been on the board 15 years and decided not to seek reelection. The next school election will be May 21.

The board 5-0 voted to re-employ Assistant Superintendent Joe Kell, Director of Athletics, Maintenance and Transportation James “Bunch” Nichols, NHS Principal Tate Gordon, NJHS Principal D.J. Graham, Nashville Elementary Principal Rick Rebsamen, and Curriculum Coordinator Kim Slayton.

After an executive session lasting nearly one hour, Superintendent Doug Graham said the district will begin filling vacant positions within the district. Applications for primary principal will be taken from within the district, he said.

Other vacancies include ALE, junior girls basketball and track, high school band director and resource officer. The district has considered for several months the possibility of adding a resource director and will begin advertising for the position.

The board will wait until later in the semester to fill the elementary teacher position and bus driver vacancy, Graham said.

In other business, the board approved the district’s audit for 2018.

The only finding was the recurring “segregation of duties”  which Graham said has been on audit reports for more than 20 years. “We can’t find a way to get off it,” he said.

The report said that financial accounting duties “were not adequately segregated among employees,” a common issue statewide given the size of the office staff in many districts. The only way for Nashville and other schools to take care of the matter would be adding staff.

Overall, auditors said the Nashville audit was “one of the cleanest” they had seen in a while. “Most get the segregation of duties notation,” Graham said.

Board members approved the district’s budget for 2020-21. The budget includes 25 mills for maintenance and operation, and 67 mills for debt service. “It’s all a guess based on what we think will happen two years from now,” Graham said.

District calendar

The board approved the district’s calendar for 2019-20. Classes will start on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

The calendar “mirrors this year, one day off,” Graham said.

The entire calendar includes the following:

July 30-Aug. 12 – Inservice

Aug. 13 – First day of school

Sept. 2 – Labor Day holiday

Sept. 13 – Progress reports sent home

Oct. 11 – End of first nine weeks

Oct. 15 – Parent-teacher conferences from 3:30-7 p.m.

Nov. 15 – Progress reports

Nov. 25-29 – Thanksgiving holidays

Dec. 20 – End of second nine weeks

Dec. 23-Jan. 3 – Christmas holidays

Jan. 6 – School resumes

Jan. 20 – Martin Luther King Jr. holiday

Feb. 7 – Progress reports

Feb. 13-17 – Winter break

March 13 – End of third nine weeks

March 19 – Parent-teacher conferences 3:30-7 p.m.

March 23-27 – Spring break statewide

April 24 – Progress reports

May 17 – Graduation

May 20-21 – Final tests

May 21 – End of fourth nine weeks

AMI days will be used to make up the five days of inclement weather if approved by the Arkansas Department of Education. If AMI days are not approved, the first two days missed will be made up on Feb. 13 and 14. All other days will be added to the end of the year. The calendar may be adjusted as directed by ADE or by the local school board.

The calendar includes 178 student days and 190 teacher days.

Superintendent report

Graham said an open house will be held for the new agri building and bus shop. Classes are meeting in the agri building, Graham said, and the bus shop is in use.

A recent barbecue lunch involving district personnel and patrons “had good input,” Graham said.

A new fine arts center was among the items considered at the meeting. “We’re not doing our due diligence [on it] until we check on ADE partnership money,” Graham said. “If we get on the list of facilities, the state will pay 62 percent. We will explore where we are on the list and try to get funding. We don’t have the fine arts capacity a school our size should have. If we have an $8 million building and the state pays 62 percent, that’s a whole different story.”

The next board meeting will be held March 25.

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