The Pine Bluff School Board voted against a recommendation by Superintendent Jerry Payne for one time Christmas bonuses of $800 for certified personnel and $400 for classified personnel, citing a shortage of money in the general fund.

The Pine Bluff School Board voted against a recommendation by Superintendent Jerry Payne for one time Christmas bonuses of $800 for certified personnel and $400 for classified personnel, citing a shortage of money in the general fund.

Board secretary Freddie M. Johnson made the motion to not approve the bonus recommendation, saying that information provided by Payne did not demonstrate that adequate funding was available to pay the bonuses.

Director Ellen Nichol seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved.

Payne said that while there was no more federal stimulus money available for bonuses, the district could apply for NSLA funds to reimburse the general fund at a later date.

Board vice president and acting chair Donna Barnes expressed concerns that if this funding was not secured then the expense would not be reimbursed, leaving an unfilled hole in the budget.

District master plan

In other business, the board heard the district 2012 master plan narrative from Seth Wynne, district director of auxiliary services.

Wynne said that he needed board approval to begin soliciting bids for a project at Belair Middle School that will involve installing a Dura-Last roof on the cafeteria and the dressing room section of the gymnasium.

Wynne said that the project would begin in early June and be finished in July and would cost $22,533.

“Right now every building in the school district has a Dura-Last roof with the exception of these two buildings at Belair and and Jack Robey Junior High School,” Wynne said. “Dura-Last is a membrane roof with a 15 year warranty. If you ever have a problem with them you just give them a call and they will take care of it.”

The board approved Wynne’s recommendation for the roof project.

Wynne also asked for board approval to enter into a 2013 Master Plan Partnership project with the state to replace the heating and cooling systems at Oak Park Elementary School and Southeast Middle School.

Wynne said that the state will pay for 50 percent of the $325,000 cost of the project but that the request must be submitted to the state by Feb. 1.

“The systems that are in there now were installed in 1989 and have reached the end of their life cycle,” Wynne said. “There are three things that must be done before Feb. 1 for the state to pay for half of this project. First, I need a board vote and the signatures of the superintendent, the board president and the board secretary. Second, this must be presented in a public meeting and that has been done here tonight. Third, we must submit a master plan narrative summary.”

The board approved Wynne’s recommendation for the partnership project with the state.

Pine Bluff High School

The board heard and voted on a series of recommendations from Pine Bluff High School Principal Robert Handley.

The board approved Handley’s recommendation to expel a male student at the high school for participating in gang activity earlier in the school year.

The board approved Handley’s recommendation to change the high school handbook section on the dress code to forbid the wearing of tight fitting leggings by students.

“Some of them are wearing this real tight stuff that doesn’t leave anything to the imagination,” Handley said.

Barnes asked for the opinion of Southwood Elementary Principal Alfred Carroll, who also heads the district’s dress code committee, on whether Handley’s recommendation could be authorized by the board without being submitted to the committee first.

“It is the principal’s decision to decide upon what is appropriate,” Carroll said. “The building principal should have the ability to determine that.”

Several board members asked Handley how he planned to get the word out to students about a new dress code rule.

“On Jan. 3 each student will be given an amended policy to take home to their parents,” Handley said.

Director Kenneth Dickson asked what disciplinary action is taken for dress code infractions.

“The first offense is 7:30 detention and if they don’t go to detention it can escalate to being sent home,” Handley said.

The board approved Handley’s recommendation to amend the section of the student handbook pertaining to disciplinary action taken against students for fighting by removing the provision for three days of in-school suspension that followed being sent home for three days.

“It is hard to get test scores up if our students are missing this much school,” Handley said.

The board approved Handley’s recommendation to add night school classes in the spring semester for seniors who are in danger of not graduating because they have failed one or more required courses.

“We have 185 kids who are seniors that have failed at least one required course and for them to have any chance of graduating we have got to set up night school classes for English, science and math courses,” Handley said. “We are having our orientation session for parents and students at 6 p.m. on Jan. 9 and until then we won’t know how many will sign up and how many teachers we will need.”