Superintendent Linda Watson on Tuesday night pledged to seek avenues to obtain pay raises for Pine Bluff School District teachers but asked for their patience in the process.

Superintendent Linda Watson on Tuesday night pledged to seek avenues to obtain pay raises for Pine Bluff School District teachers but asked for their patience in the process.


Speaking at the school board’s monthly meeting, Watson — in her first full academic year as permanent superintendent — bemoaned the lack of pay hikes for up to 10 years among some teachers, but noted that it’s "not easy" to attain salary increases in light of the district’s steadily declining enrollment in recent years.


"I’m praying that we find the money to help teachers with raises," Watson said in response to views offered by the Pine Bluff Education Association teacher group. "We’ve got to stop the leak of students."


PBEA Chairwoman Sylvia Grady said she’s aware of Watson’s efforts, but feels that while the district needs to enhance salaries to attract new, quality teachers to Pine Bluff, "Current teachers need to know they’re appreciated."


On another matter, Director Leon Jones Sr. stated a measure of discontent with the mandated Common Core state standards initiative as adopted in 2012. The standards are designed to "define the knowledge and skills students should have" from kindergarten through the 12th grade so they’ll be able to succeed in college and the workforce.


According to the Arkansas Board of Education, "the new learning standards stress conceptual understanding and application."


Jones said he doesn’t favor a "partially right and partially wrong" element of the initiatives. Jones said children need to learn that they’re either right or wrong and — in competition — winners or losers.


"We want to make sure that our children are getting what they need" to help improve the academic performance of the district, Watson said. She rated such achievement as necessary if the district is to reverse its fortunes and begin to attract new students.


"We’ve got to work with our teachers to make sure they’re getting the support they need, if they need it," Watson added.


She also challenged teachers, observing that not enough hands-on activities are being conducted in the district’s classrooms.


"Some teachers don’t want to move from where they are," she said.


Watson said that if test scores aren’t rising, "We need to do something different."


Several improvements have been scored throughout the district, she said, "But we’ve got to work on math."


The board unanimously approved:


• A three-year, renewed financial advisory agreement with Beardsley-First Security, with the current pact ending Nov. 30;


• Amending a resolution on a bond rating with Moody’s Investors Service; and


• Supporting a six-year master plan and partnership program.


Watson announced that the district’s 2012-13 annual report to the public will be presented at the board’s Dec. 17 meeting.