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Mena School District Forced to Extend School Calendar Due to Weather Days



The Mena School Board met January 30, for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

The topic of what to do with the school days missed due to inclement weather this year was addressed.  Ken Marshall, Assistant Superintendent, explained that after discussing several different options with the administration and teachers on how to handle the five days missed thus far, they presented a recommendation to add the days to the end of the 2013-2014 school year.  Benny Weston, Superintendent, explained that this was actually set by the State Legislature, to have five days added to the end of the year to be used for inclement weather days but they are not generally added until they are needed.  The School Board voted to keep President’s Day and Good Friday as school holidays, unless more inclement weather occurs before those dates, and change the final day of school to Monday, June 2, 2014. However, since their meeting last week, the district was forced to cancel school again on Tuesday, February 4, so the decision has been revised to make President’s Day, February 17, a regular school day.

Marshall presented exciting information to the school board involving the regional softball bid.  The district chosen to host the Regional Softball Tournament is chosen on a bid basis by the state.  Mena was awarded both the 1-4A Regional Tournament, which is for North West Arkansas and the 4-4A Regional Tournament, which is Mena’s Region.  Mena is also set to host the District Tournament, which rotates annually.  According to Weston, “this is such a great thing for our community and we are so excited to have the facilities to host these events.”  The District Tournament will be the first weekend in May with the Regional Tournaments beginning the following weekend.

Finally, the Arkansas School Recognition and Rewards Program, put in to place by the Arkansas State Legislature in 2009, allows for performance based funding for the top 10 percent of schools in the State.  This award is given to individual schools, not the district as a whole, and is based on high student performance, student academic growth, and for secondary schools, high graduation rate.  Mena Public Schools was thrilled to announce that two of their campuses, Louise Durham Elementary and Holly Harshman Elementary, were recognized as being in the top 10 percent for the State of Arkansas.  These two schools were then asked to form a committee including the Principal, a teacher and a parent to discuss how the funds will be distributed.  Paulette Sherrer, Principal of Holly Harshman Elementary, explained that the award has several restrictions: it could be given for nonrecurring expenditures for educational equipment or materials to assist in maintaining and improving student performance; or temporary personnel for the school to assist in maintaining and improving student performance.  After meeting with their committees, it was decided that the schools were already advanced technologically and with equipment, due to diligence on the part of the school district, and chose to use to funds to offer a reward stipend to each and every individual who directly impacts student improvement on both campuses.  The committees have submitted the request to the State and are currently waiting for approval.  According to Weston, “we are very excited to have our schools performing on this level and we know these young students will continue to improve as they go up through each different campus.”  Sherrer added, “We believe it takes a whole team and we are thankful that this reward will go equally to every person, staff and faculty, who directly impacts our kids: if their bellies weren’t full, and the campus wasn’t clean we could not have achieved this level.  It is a total team effort.”




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