Watson Chapel School District Superintendent Connie Hathorn attended his last scheduled board of education meeting as superintendent Monday night, recognizing students who had excelled and expressing, after the meeting, fond thoughts about the district.


Honored during the meeting were Coleman Intermediate School students Shamar Browning, Jermani Davis and Katelyn Donson. The three attended, in June, the National Youth Leadership Forum: Pathways to STEM, at the University of Texas in Dallas.


The students presented statements about their projects, along with statements of gratitude, during the meeting. Their teacher, Vera Rideout, summed up the projects they worked on during their week at the University of Texas.


“While they were there, they performed different activities: crime scene investigation, medicine and engineering,” said Rideout, who teaches fourth grade at Coleman Intermediate School. “They were under the leadership of other teachers from around the nation and with students from around the nation.”


Earlier this year, Hathorn announced his decision to retire, and on Monday he said his term will expire by next Monday. Former Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Jerry Guess is slated to begin duties as interim superintendent next week. Guess attended Monday’s meeting.


During the part of the meeting designated for board communications, Board Member Ronnie Reynolds praised the work and character of Hathorn, who has served as superintendent since 2015. Reynolds thanked Hathorn for his honesty and hard work, and he mentioned other qualities, as well.


“I want to know that I love you from the bottom of my heart, man, and it’s going to be difficult next year without you being here,” Reynolds said.


Among the traits that Reynolds praised was Hathorn’s ability to reach out to others.


“Everybody knows this man,” Reynolds said, and he praised Hathorn’s work at improving education for all students.


“He went above and beyond to make sure those kids were educated and equipped with whatever they needed,” Reynolds said.


After the meeting, Hathorn spoke fondly of his time with the district.


“I enjoyed being here,” Hathorn said. “It’s a full circle. I started in Pine Bluff when I first started working, and I’m ending my career in Pine Bluff. I had a great time here. Community, students, staff – it’s been great.”


Hathorn said he began his career at the former Southeast Junior High School in 1973.


In other business, the board voted to table 17 employment recommendations until Interim Superintendent Jerry Guess begins his term. Reynolds cast the sole dissenting vote.


“We trusted the superintendent (Hathorn) enough for three years to make recommendations, and why tonight … put this on the new superintendent?” Reynolds said after the meeting.


The board approved a June financial statement indicating that the district received $1,628,468.63 during the month and spent $3,693,427.93 in the non-activity funds, leaving an ending balance of $4,726,423.72.


The board also approved a tuition agreement with Jenkins Memorial Center & Industries, Inc. According to a report supplied by district officials, the district “will pay a monthly educational cost of $1,637.21 per student enrolled in Jenkins Memorial Center, totaling a yearly cost of $15,553.50 per student.”


Watson Chapel School District Superintendent Connie Hathorn attended his last scheduled board of education meeting as superintendent Monday night, recognizing students who had excelled and expressing, after the meeting, fond thoughts about the district.


Honored during the meeting were Coleman Intermediate School students Shamar Browning, Jermani Davis and Katelyn Donson. The three attended, in June, the National Youth Leadership Forum: Pathways to STEM, at the University of Texas in Dallas.


The students presented statements about their projects, along with statements of gratitude, during the meeting. Their teacher, Vera Ridout, summed up the projects they worked on during their week at the University of Texas.


“While they were there, they performed different activities: crime scene investigation, medicine and engineering,” said Rideout, who teaches fourth grade at Coleman Intermediate School. “They were under the leadership of other teachers from around the nation and with students from around the nation.”


Earlier this year, Hathorn announced his decision to retire, and on Monday he said his term will expire by next Monday. Former Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Jerry Guess is slated to begin duties as interim superintendent next week. Guess attended Monday’s meeting.


During the part of the meeting designated for board communications, Board Member Ronnie Reynolds praised the work and character of Hathorn, who has served as superintendent since 2015. Reynolds thanked Hathorn for his honesty and hard work, and he mentioned other qualities, as well.


“I want to know that I love you from the bottom of my heart, man, and it’s going to be difficult next year without you being here,” Reynolds said.


Among the traits that Reynolds praised was Hathorn’s ability to reach out to others.


“Everybody knows this man,” Reynolds said, and he praised Hathorn’s work at improving education for all students.


“He went above and beyond to make sure those kids were educated and equipped with whatever they needed,” Reynolds said.


After the meeting, Hathorn spoke fondly of his time with the district.


“I enjoyed being here,” Hathorn said. “It’s a full circle. I started in Pine Bluff when I first started working, and I’m ending my career in Pine Bluff. I had a great time here. Community, students, staff – it’s been great.”


Hathorn said he began his career at the former Southeast Junior High School in 1973.


In other business, the board voted to table 17 employment recommendations until Interim Superintendent Jerry Guess begins his term. Reynolds cast the sole dissenting vote.


“We trusted the superintendent (Hathorn) enough for three years to make recommendations, and why tonight … put this on the new superintendent?” Reynolds said after the meeting.


The board approved a June financial statement indicating that the district received $1,628,468.63 during the month and spent $3,693,427.93 in the non-activity funds, leaving an ending balance of $4,726,423.72.


The board also approved a tuition agreement with Jenkins Memorial Center & Industries, Inc. According to a report supplied by district officials, the district “will pay a monthly educational cost of $1,637.21 per student enrolled in Jenkins Memorial Center, totaling a yearly cost of $15,553.50 per student.”