By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville School District will dismiss classes on Monday, April 8, 2024, for the Great North American Eclipse which will run through Arkansas.
Superintendent Doug Graham recommended to the school board last week that the district’s calendar be amended to include the day off for the eclipse.
That day will be added to the school calendar at the end of the academic year, making the final day May 24, 2024.
“I struggled with that recommendation,” Graham told the board. “We were the only school left in southwest Arkansas to attend school that day.”
Arkansas is in the path of totality for the eclipse, leading to projections of a large influx of visitors to the state. The numbers could cause a number of logistical problems on April 8, leading to many schools cancelling classes.
On the other hand, a central Arkansas school official told Graham that “We’ll be in school learning” on April 8.
“We may be missing out on a great learning day,” Graham said of the change in the calendar. “We’ll talk about [the eclipse] before and after.”
Board members voted 5-0 to change the calendar to reflect the day off for the eclipse.
In other business at the meeting, the board approved the purchase of two school buses. The district has about $517,300 in federal ESSER money left over from the Covid pandemic. “We have to spend it this year,” according to Graham.
The district also has $63,000 in “enhanced transportation” funds.
One of the buses will be a 2024 model which another district turned back in. The cost for the air-conditioned diesel will be $133,450. Delivery is expected in January.
The other bus is a 2025 model to be delivered by Aug. 1, 2024. Cost will be $139,735.
Total cost for the two buses will be $273,185, Graham said, with $63,000 coming from the enhanced transportation money. The remainder will come from ESSER, leaving about $244,100 in that account.
Graham said he is continuing to look at a revised school calendar with a four-day week for students and staff. “We’re weighing the pros and cons. I’m waiting to see if school report cards and test scores are up or down. We’ll look at other options, too. Nothing is off the table. Anything to improve student achievement, recruiting and retaining teachers, and attendance.”
Curriculum coordinator Kim Slayton reviewed the district’s ESSA scores from the pat six years.
In 2022-23, the state’s school report card showed the following letter grades: Nashville Primary, C; Nashville Elementary, B; Nashville Junior High, C; and Nashville High School, C.