Arkadelphia News

Root steps down from Arkadelphia school board

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

Jeff Root said his goodbyes Tuesday to the Arkadelphia Board of Education after a decade and a half on the school board.

Root, who has represented Zone 4 for the past 16 years, resigned from his position during the board’s regular meeting. His term expired in May 2023, but Root didn’t seek re-election and the position didn’t attract any other candidates. There were no names on the ballot for that position.

Dr. Jeff Root

“I didn’t run for re-election because I felt it was time after 16 years to have a different person to represent our zone, yet nobody else ran, either,” Root said. Arkadelphia School District Zone 4 encompasses a swath of North 10th Street between Caddo Street and Buck Lane, less University Heights. CLICK HERE to view a map of the district.

The school board will appoint a candidate to fill the Zone 4 vacancy. School board positions are three-year terms.

“With the change of timing of elections it might have snuck up on a few people,” Root said. “I felt like if I resigned and left the position open, there might be some folks interested in taking the position.”

Root later told The Arkadelphian that he would continue calling football games for the Badgers, something he’s been doing for nearly 40 years.

As for school district decisions, Root said he has “complete faith and confidence” in the school board. “I’m excited about our future,” he said. “I’m excited about our superintendent, our administrators, our faculty our staff our students and the community of Arkadelphia. It has been a very important 16 years to serve my alma mater in this way.”

Arkadelphia school board member Jeff Root admires a plaque commemorating his service, presented to him by Superintendent Nikki Thomas.

Those interested in filling the Zone 4 vacancy should send a letter of interest to Blake Bell, School Board President, at The deadline to submit a letter is Friday, July 7. Call Bell at 870-246-1627 for additional questions. For more information about the Zone boundaries/addresses, contact the County Clerk’s office.

Tuesday’s school board meeting was an otherwise light one. There was no change in the board’s organization, as Blake Bell will maintain his position as president, Gina White as vice-president and Ida Tramble as secretary.

The board heard a report from Shannon Leathers on the Dawson Education Service Cooperative’s After School Program. Leathers said the program oversaw after-school activities for an average of 93 students daily. The students, in grades K-8 and separated by age groups, assemble at the Peake gym from 3-5:30 p.m. for tutoring and enrichment. The After School Program is funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant.

With little discussion the board also approved policy updates in accordance with newly passed state laws.

Additionally, the board gave unanimous approval to a $1,000 academic stipend to Team Leaders within the district. Thomas reported there are about 25 Team Leaders assigned to a Professional Learning Committee.

A $2,145 athletic stipend for a head swim coach was also approved. The previous swim coach, a volunteer, recently resigned. Later in the meeting the board would give approval to name the new swim coach.

The board also approved a $55,956 expense to renew a six-year subscription with McGraw Hill for science instruction materials at Goza Middle School.

An ongoing agreement with OrthoArkansas to employ an athletic trainer was also given unanimous approval. Services under the Memorandum of Understanding come at a cost of $25,000 to the district.

In the superintendent’s report Thomas said district enrollment on the last day of school was 1,780. There is a tentative date of Aug. 1 for a “topping out ceremony” at Peake Elementary’s campus. Toward the end of the school year, students put their signatures on a beam that will be placed at the uppermost part of the new campus building, which is set for completion by the fall semester of the 2024-25 school year.

Personnel report

Following an eight-minute executive session, the board reconvened in public to accept the following personnel recommendations:

Paige Russell, school counselor, Peake
Samantha McCarroll, middle school teacher, Goza
Jennifer Hurst, swim coach, AHS
Tia Jackson, special education paraprofessional, Peake

Joyce Bobo, speech language pathologist, Peake