The Pine Bluff School Board elected new officers Tuesday night after initially being unsure of policies governing the practice.
The board members rejected a motion to keep Pine Bluff School Board president Henry Dabner as president. Herman Horace was instead elected president, Lakishia Hill was elected vice president and Marinda Williams was elected secretary.
Board members Harold Jackson, Dabner, Horace, Andrea Roaf-Little, Aaron Branscomb, Williams and Hill took part in discussions regarding whether policy requires officers to rotate. Dabner was elected president in 2015, and Horace said that Dabner could not serve as head of the board for a third year. Dabner responded that policy states that the president’s seat does not have to rotate. After a prolonged discussion, Jackson called for clarity on the question.
“I want to make sure our students have a good education and advance in life,” Dabner said. “We can’t afford to make noise.”
In other news, the Pine Bluff School District owns a parking lot that is close to the future Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library site, and library trustees have requested that the school board give the parking lot to them.
The board voted 6-1 to donate the parking lot, which measures 20 feet by 78 feet. Roaf-Little opposed the motion.
“We finally got the votes to approve it,” Dabner said. “We do not have a long-term plan for the parking lot and it would have cost us more money to get an appraisal than the property is worth. We talk about the Go Forward Pine Bluff plan. We spend too much time fighting. That library is for our kids. I am excited we passed it. We gave them the entire parking lot.”
Former Pine Bluff School District teacher Charline Wright objected to this measure, equating it to not generating money that could be used for teachers’ raises.
“Why would we give away land when you have stated you are committed to giving teachers’ raises when this land could have brought in revenue?” Wright said. “It is apparent that teachers’ raises are not a priority.”
In other news, Superintendent Michael Robinson acknowledged the family of the late Dr. Clifton Roaf, who died in September. Roaf was a Pine Bluff dentist who served on community boards including the Pine Bluff School Board.
In news regarding holding school board elections, Robinson recommended holding them in May 2018 rather than in November 2018. Hill, Dabner and Williams voted for this motion, while Branscomb, Horace and Jackson voted against it. Roaf-Little abstained. Horace said the matter is being tabled.
In general comment news, Roaf-Little addressed people in the audience. She said she wants to unite behind Horace as the school board president and move forward.
Dabner shared lessons he learned from a recent meeting of the Arkansas School Board Association. He said board members were told to foster positive relationships with the business community and with the news media.
“You report what you see,” Dabner said. “You do print what we do and the way we act. They talked about following policy. We get away from policy and we get in trouble. We have attorneys Jay Bequette and Cody Kees. I feel like they are the best school law attorneys in the state. I hope that we board members focus on student achievement. I think we listen to the outside too much. The atmosphere of the school board reflects the district.”
In master gardening news, retired Pine Bluff School District educator Billie Dorn said she taught students to make a quilt and they showed it in the Southeast Arkansas District Fair and won first place. She displayed the quilt, estimating its monetary value is around $600.
In equipment news, Robinson said the district has projectors that need to be replaced. The district will spend about $60,655 in federal money to replace this equipment.
In personnel news, the board approved the following hires after meeting in executive session:Gavin Brown as a para-educator at Southwood Elementary School;Evelyn Breedlove as a para-educator at Southwood Elementary School;Marvin Mosby as a para-educator at Broadmoor Elementary School;Carmen Wilson as a para-educator at Pine Bluff High School.
The board approved these transfers:Donald Booth as a principal from Pine Bluff High School to an assistant principal at 34th Avenue Elementary School;Felicia Dotson from assistant principal at 34th Avenue Elementary School to principal at Pine Bluff High School;Kenneth Moore from assistant principal at Pine Bluff High School to principal at Pine Bluff High School;Goldie Whitaker from secretary at Pine Bluff High School to secretary at Jack Robey Junior High School;Brianna Donald from an 11-month secretary at Pine Bluff High School to a 12-month secretary at Pine Bluff High School;Tiffany Copeland as a secretary/bookkeeper at Pine Bluff High School;Pamela Wood as a secretary at Jack Robey Junior High School to a secretary at Pine Bluff High School.
The board accepted the resignations of bus driver Kylan Erby and bus attendant Aricka Smith. The board accepted the termination of bus attendant Charmaine Shelton-Jones.