Harper honors members of school board
Monticello Superintendent Bobby Harper recognized the members of the school board during the regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.
Harper explained that January has been proclaimed school board appreciation month by Gov. Mike Beebe.
"They (board members) don't a lot of credit and they don't want it," Harper told the audience. "I couldn't find a better group of people that I enjoy working with more than I do with these gentlemen."
Harper introduced the Madrigals to entertain the board.
"We are so blessed to have students that are passionate about what why do," Harper said. "They go out into other communities and represent our school to the best of their abilities."
The Madrigals sang two selections under the instruction of Bennie Vincent.
"The first selection is "Lord, I know I've Been Changed"," Vincent told the board. "This is one of the pieces from all-region choir."
The Madrigals also sang "Why We Sing" for the board.
The Monticello School Board members are Hani Hashem, president; Keith Wells, vice president; Curt Preston, member; Michael Fakouri, member; and Lee Busby, member.
In other business, the board held an expulsion hearing for a high school student. The hearing was closed, and therefore, private. After a short deliberation period, the board announced their decision to uphold the expulsion. The vote was unanimous that the student should be expelled for the remainder of the school year.
Hashem told the parents the decision was not an easy one. However, the board had to consider what was best for the entire student body, not just one student. He also encouraged the parents to seek out alternative education such as a boot camp setting and offered to assist the parents with that process.
Harper announced the district received a $100,000 EAST Core Grant. The grant will enable project-based learning in other parts of the curriculum, and will tie into the commitment to bring more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education to the high school. The board voted to allow preparations to begin now for the implementation of EAST Core. Harper said there will be some minor superficial work that will need to be completed by the start of the new school year to make room for the technology that will be used in the classes.
The board discussed the safety plan. Harper said he wanted the board to consider buying
• 100 push-button locks at $148 each for the elementary and intermediate schools.
• 100 new door locks at $160 each for the high school.
• 40 new doorstops at $25 each for the middle school since the school has new door locks already in place.
• new outer doors for the City Park building because they have not been replaced since the 1960s and do not properly close.
"It leaves us with an unsafe situation," Harper said.
Preston questioned the amount for each lock.
"I know there's a difference between a commercial grade lock and a residential lock, but it shouldn't be $100 difference," Preston said.
Harper said the price of the locks are from Steve Piggot and include installation. The board asked to get other quotes for the locks uninstalled in an attempt to save money.
Wells asked about the back doors of the high school. He said the back doors should be locked so everyone would have to enter in the front doors closest to the office.
Several board members echoed that sentiment.
"I don't think it would be smart to spend $16,000 on door locks when you can just walk in the back door," Fakouri said.
Harper said it would be tough to lock all the doors because of students coming and going to different classes outside the main building.
Fakouri acknowledged that fact, but said the board needs to explore all avenues of safety so they should look at some way of locking those back doors in an effort to keep the students as safe as possible.
"If we are going to do this, we need to do it," Preston said.
"Let's look into all of it," Fakouri said following Preston's comment.