By John R. Schirmer
A busy week is underway at Scrapper Stadium.
Crews from GeoSport Lighting began installing the new LED lighting system Monday morning, Superintendent Doug Graham told members of the Nashville School Board at their July 17 meeting.
Installation of the new video board is expected to start later in the week.
Graham said a load of lights arrived, and crews hung them on one of the poles Monday.
“They said they should get good portion of work done this week,” Graham said.
The new system will be able to create a number of different lighting effects as part of Graham’s effort to “enhance the game day experience” at the stadium.
The rest of the enhancement program will be the new video board. “The scoreboard company was supposed to set the poles today [Monday],” Graham said, but did not arrive to start the work.
During Graham’s report to the board, Athletic Director James “Bunch” Nichols received a message from the company saying that workers would be at the stadium Thursday.
Nashville students will be heavily involved in operating the video board and lighting system, Graham said earlier in the year. Carolanne Pinegar’s Scrap Media class will learn the video board and LEDs in time for the first home game Sept. 1.
An entire curriculum package is expected from the video board company.
In other reports Monday night, Graham said Coach Brian “Boomer” Brown’s workers have finished cleaning and waxing floors at each campus. A few carpets remain to be cleaned, he said.
“The floors look really good,” according to Graham. “The money we put in during the course of the year has made the floors look better because we put more effort into them.”
The board approved Graham’s recommendation to transfer $1.8 million from the operating balance to the district’s building fund to comply with state law.
The Arkansas Legislature will allow schools to carry over no more than 20 percent of their net revenue from year to year.
The Nashville district’s net revenue for the recently concluded fiscal year was about $15,960,000. By transferring $1.8 million to the building fund, the district will have an operating balance of $3.1 million, which complies with state requirements.
“If we come up short later on, we can transfer money back to operating,” Graham said.
With the extra money in the building fund, “We have a little bit of room to do things at the board’s discretion. We’ve talked about a softball field. We’re looking at tennis courts” with the city park.
If the park’s grant application for two new courts is rejected by the state, the district will look at other options.
Graham gave an update on skyrocketing costs for schools statewide to insure their buildings and contents. “Last year, we paid $89,000” for the coverage, he said. “Our premium for this year will be $213,376. It’s unheard of to go up that much.”
The Legislature and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders “came up with a fund that the state will use to absorb 30 percent of the cost,” Graham said. “They will pay $37,247 for us, leaving $176,129 for us to pay. We appreciate the state coming up with 30 percent.”
Nashville schools “haven’t had a claim in two years. This increase has to do with tornadoes and floods statewide,” Graham said.
The policy has a $5,000 deductible and does not include buses, according to Graham.
The board considered ticket prices for athletic events. District 7-4A voted that all schools charge $7 for football tickets. The current cost is $5.
No change was recommended for junior high football and other sports.
“I want to address football,” Graham said. He suggested that Nashville students and fans continue to pay $5 “for tickets purchased in advance. This gives our own people a break.”
Graham also recommended a $25 pass for the five regular-season home games.
Fans may purchase the pass and present it in order to avoid standing in the ticket line, he said. “I hope people will buy the $25 season pass.”
Graham noted that the District 7-4A price “is a recommendation. We can set ours as we want to.”
The board approved the $5 advance ticket for Nashville fans and students and $7 ticket purchased at the gate. Junior high football tickets will remain $5.
In October or November, the board will consider ticket prices for basketball, he said.
Board members took care of other agenda items as plans continue for the 2023-24 academic year.
They approved board-to-board transfers of seven students from the De Queen district. “The transfers were already approved by De Queen. The students live in the De Queen district but attended Dierks under school choice.”
Board members approved Nashville’s statement of assurances for 2023-24.
They approved the state’s final accreditation report for 2022-23. “All four campuses are fully accredited, and the district is fully accredited,” Graham said.
The report said enrollment for the 2022-23 academic year was 1,931 students, a slight increase from the previous year, according to Graham.
The board approved the resignation of high school secretary Natalie Sherman. She will become the NHS career coach through a program with UA-Cossatot.
The following were employed for the coming year:
Erica Tollett – para-professional at primary
Tesla Gills – first grade teacher
Laken Hockaday – LLC teacher at primary
Josh Kessler – Bus driver
Jan Stewart – Bus driver