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School board OKs handbook update for bus violations

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

The Arkadelphia Board of Education made quick work Tuesday of its regular monthly meeting, breezing through a light agenda that included the purchase of a new maintenance vehicle and equalizing punishments for school bus violations to those that occur on campus.

Following Superintendent Nikki Thomas’ annual report to the public, the school board convened before a packed crowd to dole out several Badger Pride awards for students, teachers and community partners.

In its action items, the board authorized a 10-foot property easement at the district’s pre-k facility in Gum Springs. The easement gives way to an underground sewer line at the edge of the property, behind the building. The line is part of a utilities expansion that connects Arkadelphia’s current lines to an economic development super site on U.S. Highway 67.

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The board gave unanimous approval to name Krystal McLane, the district’s new business manager, as the board’s treasurer. McLane replaces Tammy Barger, who announced her retirement last month.

School board members were in agreement to award a $48,000 bid to Southwest Auto Group for a 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, to be used as a maintenance vehicle. The board had previously budgeted $55,000 for the purchase, and the remainder will pay for a ladder rack and utility bed. Southwest Auto was one of three bidders and provided the best option. Board members Blake Bell and Gina White said they were glad the district could support a local business. Bell pointed out that Southwest Auto recently awarded $10,000 to the Badger Foundation.

The next regular school board will be held Dec. 6 at Goza Middle School to provide more space so the board can recognize several large student groups as Badger Pride award recipients. The 6 p.m. regular meeting will be held in lieu of the board’s monthly agenda planning meeting.

Finally, the school board voiced tentative approval of an update to a student handbook policy regarding transportation rules. Jimmy King, director of support services, informed the board of an oversight in punishments for violations on a school bus. As an example, King pointed out that a student fighting on a bus would be suspended for less time than for fighting on campus. The new policy will be distributed to students, and the board will finalize its approval at its December meeting.

In other reports, Thomas noted that Tuesday marked the first day of demolition work at the old Peake Elementary School campus. A groundbreaking ceremony is tentatively set to happen in January. The new campus, which will house K-4 students, is expected to be finished in summer 2024.

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The northwest corner of the old Peake Elementary School building came down Tuesday. That portion of the campus housed the school’s auditorium. Note the newly painted 16th Street water tower in the background. | Joel Phelps/The Arkadelphian

Personnel report

Following a 10-minute executive session to discuss personnel matters, the board reconvened in public to approve the following recommendations:

Employment
Susanna Williams, paraprofessional, Goza

Haley Loy, payroll clerk/administration building

Resignations
Joshua Minchew, computer technician

Intent to retire
Martin Newborn, custodian, AHS

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