The Pine Bluff School Board voted Thursday to approve personnel actions for the 2018-19 school year, including a reduction in force by eight employees.

PBSD Superintendent Michael Robinson recommended that “all classified staff be rehired for the 2018-19 school year, with the exception of those that are a part of the reduction in force.”

A list of non-renew contracts for the 2018-19 classified employees was finalized and released at the meeting.

Employees on the classified reduction in force list include: Avis Alexander-Reynolds, Shanta Calhoun, Catrina Childress, Briana Donald, Letecia King, Karis Whitaker, Nikendra Courtney and Zachery Lewis. In addition, two vacant technology technician positions will not be filled.

The RIF measure is part of an effort to save the district money in light of recent declines in enrollment throughout PBSD schools. The district’s enrollment declined from 4,701 students in 2012 to 3,720 students in 2017, according to an October 2017 report by the board. These are the most recent enrollment statistics available.

Pine Bluff’s population has dropped from around 55,000 residents in 2000 to around 45,000 today.

Robinson said at a school board meeting last year that he expects enrollment to drop to 3,238 by 2020 and 2,968 in 2025-2026. Funds school districts receive from the state are based on enrollment numbers. The fewer students a district has, the less money it receives.

In other news, Pearl Matlock, PBSD director of food services, stood before the board to ask for the approval of the addition of the Forrest Park/Greenville Preschool as a host for the Department of Human Services summer feeding program.

In a previous meeting, Matlock had informed the board that the feeding program would be hosted at Freedom School (First Ward) and 34th Elementary School.

She found out after the meeting that Forrest Park/Greenville Preschool had also been approved.

The board voted to approve the schools to host the feeding program.

A request for an addition to the last PBSD school board article was submitted to the Pine Bluff Commercial.

In the previous article, Aliza Jones from the Arkansas Continuity of Operations Program presented the board with a disaster plan proposal. She said that she has created and implemented plans for the past five years and each of them has been successful.

The PBSD has been audited consistently for not having the state-required disaster plan in effect.

Jones emphasized the importance of employees in the district knowing what to do in case of a technological failure. She said that she will work with district employees and teachers to create a simple and comprehensive plan that ensures the district will no longer be audited by the state.

Jones also offered to provide active shooter training to the district at a cost of $3,500.

Robinson recommended that the board approve the proposal. Board members said they need more clarification and will contact Jones once a decision is made.

Board member Henry Dabner motioned to approve having Jones help the district create a disaster plan, but no one would second the motion; therefore, the board did not vote on the proposal.