GRAVETTE — As the Gravette School Board considers turf for sports fields, at least one member of the community is concerned about the use of AstroTurf.
Lori Russell, whose son died after contracting an internalized staph infection, spoke to the council on March 14 about her concerns about the use of synthetic turf on school sports fields. She mentioned the potential for injury and cleaning issues. Russell urged council members to consider things “other than just having a nice piece of land”.
Superintendent Maribel Childress provided an update on the proposed turf project. Hellas was the lowest bidder and had the highest quality of AstroTurf, she said.
Sporting director Norman Mitchell presented samples of the project.
Richard Carver, Head of Maintenance, shared some cleaning comments in response to Russell’s presentation.
The project can be financed, but Childress recommended letting local banks have the first opportunity. A special board meeting will be held on Tuesday to vote on the turf project.
The board also honored DECA Advisor Bob Johnson and five of his students who placed in competition at the DECA State Leadership Conference Feb. 21-22 in Springdale. These students were Emma Bates, Blake Ellis, Blake Honcell, Landon Joneson and Katelyn Trimble.
Board members voted to grant permission to DECA representatives to attend their national conference in Atlanta, Georgia, April 23-27. In a separate motion, they voted to pay $2,700 from the operating fund to help cover travel expenses.
Others honored at the reunion included three members of the Gravette High School speech and debate team who qualified for the National Speech and Debate Association district competition and their sponsor, Jackie Rieff. These students were Hunter Griffith, Zeke Surface and Cameron Moore. Zeke presented a speech he had written for the competition.
Finally, Childress introduced Gabrielle Hamilton, music teacher at Superintendent’s Grant Award winner Glenn Duffy Elementary, who addressed the board and described her winning project.
In other cases:
• The board accepted the two resignations and three retirements.
• Chief Commercial Officer Dennis Kurczek presented the February Financial Report and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan/US Relief Plan Financial Report. He noted that electricity and fuel costs have risen sharply and are 1% over budget. He said the two remaining covid funds had been fully budgeted and the closing of the purchase of property on the Stagecoach and Bittersweet roads would take place on March 15. Childress added that, thanks to a suggestion offered by board member Tracy Moorman, the owners had cleared the property of trash.
• Assistant Superintendent Rebecca Sears presented the curriculum and training report and requested agenda items for Tuesday’s board meeting. In response to questions from board member Hope Duke and her suggestion to solicit more parental input, Sears said parents will be surveyed at parent-teacher conferences.
• Glenn Duffy Elementary principal Nikki Brecheen presented the annual pre-K report, saying the pre-K numbers are the same. She said registration opened a month earlier this year and 32 applications have already been submitted, so all tuition places are taken. Kindergarten enrollment is also on the rise. Duke said she would like to consider using local funds rather than the ABC grant to ensure more local control.
• Childress gave the attendance report for February and stated that the district goal is 95% attendance.
• Childress did the monthly covid report and said that, for the second month in a row, Gravette Schools had no positive cases among pupils or adults. She recommended no changes to covid guidelines and mandates.
• The board voted to approve updates to the sick leave donation policy with immediate effect, with Jay Oliphant voting against the measure as he said he preferred to make changes retroactive to January.
• The board voted to approve changes to the 2022-23 school calendar to allow for a teacher professional development day on January 3, with students returning on January 4, and to have a day out on January 16 for the day Martin Luther King Jr.. They also voted to allow the staff policy committee to consider a new scheduling option with an earlier start date.
• Council voted to approve replacing the kitchen floor at Glenn Duffy Elementary with Cremona TG poured floor at an approximate cost of $20,000 to be paid from the building fund.
• The Board granted Childress signing authority on the HIRED! Grant a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the district with all grant expenses to be paid with ESSER funds.
• The Board of Directors voted to grant permission to future GHS America business leaders to attend their state conference in Little Rock April 3-5.
• The board voted to no longer offer a virtual school option, with the exception of giving a junior who successfully completed virtual school this year the option to stay in the program for her senior year.
• The board voted to hire Carissa Lewellen as Upper Elementary Lunch Salary Helper, Dana Spyker as Bus Driver and Amber Adams as Speech Pathologist and to renew contracts for school administrators and certified teachers. Other personnel changes approved were to redefine Kim Brunkhardt’s position to be Director of Federal Programs, Evaluation and Special Projects; to split the current ESL Director position into an ESL Director/Migrant K-5 position and an ESL/Migrant/Advanced Spanish Teacher position 6-12; to pay certified regular education/special education K-6 teachers in a self-contained regular education multi-subject classroom a $1,000 stipend for each special education student they serve as part of this dual role and to pay each departmental teacher a $500 stipend for each special education student they serve through this dual role; to add an additional caretaker to be paid from the operating budget; to approve the extension of Gabrielle Hamilton’s music/performance contract and Brandi Brown’s art/performance contract at Glenn Duffy Elementary through June 2024, both paid for with ESSER funds; allow Glenn Duffy Elementary music teacher and Upper Elementary music teacher to teach middle school music period and Glenn Duffy Elementary art teacher to teach middle school art period middle school every day of the 2022-2023 school year