(MENA) Members of the Mena School Board heard from Superintendent Benny Weston on various updates that the district has been involved with.
The meeting got underway with “deepest regrets” from the school district on the loss of two longtime educators that served Mena Schools for a longtime. Mary Margaret Fassler and Bill Abernathy.
Fassler was a teacher for 43 years, many of which was spent at Mena. .
Abernathy was a Superintendent for the school district from 1972 to 1987, when he left the district to become the President of then Rich Mountain Community College, later on becoming a State Representative for three terms.
The board approved renewals on various contracts. Their approval with Aramark on the school breakfast and lunch programs, came with a ten cent across the board increase in ticket prices. That increase came as a result of minimum wage increases that have taken effect.
The new prices for lunch will be $2.75 for students and $3.70 for adults; while breakfast will go to $1.70 for students and $2.35 for adults.
In that same area, the board approved a renewal with Verizon Software on the districts food service collection software program.
The board also approved purchasing a 2016 School Bus for $60,500, that comfortably seats 72 passengers.
The district is also being pro – active on the attracting of potential new students and how they will deal with that process.
Weston mentioned that the district will have two ways of accepting new students. The first way is by allowing a two – week transfer window prior to the start of the new school year and also a two week window prior to the start of the 2nd semester.
The other way is through the state’s School Choice window of March 1st through May 1st.
That initiative allows parents and students to transfer to another district within the state, whether they live in that district or not.
The competitive nature of attracting students and providing the best educational opportunities for those students has gotten more creative for districts like Mena and other nearby ones in recent years.
The school board also heard last Tuesday night from maintenance officials on what will be an aggressive approach in keeping the schools facilities in “tip top shape” and have prioritized those projects.
Most of those improvements will be seen at Holly Harshmann Elementary, Mena Middle School and at the high school. The district administrative and maintenance staff, along with the building principals are working together to maintain a coordinated effort in keeping the facilities in the best shape possible.
The board will also be adding L.E.D. lights at some of the districts gymnasiums. This will give the district a true cost – savings over time, that will be beneficial in the more efficient costs and the brighter lights that will light up those areas, at a cost of approximately $25,000.
Weston noted that the $8.1 million project at Louise Durham Elementary School is almost complete. The district came in under budget on the project and was able to save $74, 758.
Weston mentioned that the district staff will be going to a four day work week beginning June 3rd and lasting until August 1st. During that time, new High School Principal David Maxwell will have started. Maxwell is coming into the district from Arkadelphia.
Maxwell was originally slated to start July 1st, but, Maxwell will be getting an earlier start to his new position, after the board voted to give Maxwell an interim contract so that he may be able to participate in the district training sessions and by also attending other district meetings..