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NHS, NES no longer under ADE labels

By Staff, 01/26/18 10:06 AM

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ROSSTON – Positive things are happening in the Nevada School District.

Nevada Principal Michael Odom, at the January meeting or the Nevada School Board Thursday night, said the elementary and high schools are no longer under any Arkansas Department of Education labels as being a school needing improvement because of improved test scores and growth. “We’re awaiting further guidance from the ADE,” he said, “but we’re glad to have the labels gone. We’re not in any school improvement status.”

The board was informed 25 students in grades 1-5 and 11 in middle school went to a reading fair at the Southwest Arkansas Educational Cooperative recently and did well. Most of the students placed well in the competition and several won their divisions. Odom told the board Nevada had the highest participation for an elementary school and was complimented on having the best behaved students there.

From there, the news got darker. Odom said there have been 11 school shootings nationwide in 22 school days this year. Nevada, he continued, has taken steps to make sure the staff is trained what to do in the event of an active shooter situation, having met with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO). A “live” active shooter situation will be held at the school soon with the NCSO involved along with the Office of Emergency Mangement. A test will be done involving the teachers first, then one with students included. “It’s sad we have to think about it.”

There was more good news for the board as Odom said there have been changes in the desegregation order involving Camden and Lafayette. Now, the NSD can accept students from these districts. When the Stephens School District folded, students went to Camden, Lafayette and Nevada, and those going to Camden and Lafayette weren’t allowed to attend Nevada. Odom told the board this new ruling could see the student population increase at Nevada, as there are five to 10 families from the Stephens district going to Camden who want to go to Nevada.

Superintendent Rick McAfee followed, adding to the information on the active shooter training. He said the NCSO and OEM will have new “guns” that will be used in the test. The guns are orange and extremely loud. “They sound realistic, and it’s terrifying.” A video of the “guns” will be showed to teachers next week. “We expect mistakes to be made. This will show us where we need to improve,” he said.

“We’ll also do the test for students, we don’t want to, but they need to understand the danger.” McAfee said school shootings are a way for people to become famous. I hope it never happens here, but we want to be prepared and ready (if it does).”

The test scores are in, he said, and Nevada did well on literacy. In fact, he told the panel, Nevada did better in literacy than several larger surrounding schools, including Texarkana and El Dorado. “This says a lot about our teachers and what they do to prepare students. We still have a long way to go and are challenging the students to get better. We want them to be competitive at the state level. I’m looking forward to this testing season and am proud of the work our teachers have done.”

Those who visit the Nevada campus after dark will notice the exterior of the facility is better lighted, as LED lights have been put up outside the building to provide better lighting for the parking lot. McAfee said there are several lights to be installed yet. The new lights, he continued, look better and are saving the district money on its electric bill. “The expense of the upgrade has led to lower bills and a better lightest school,” he said. The new lighting cost $18,000, but the district got a 50 percent rebate, and the lower electric bills are helping the new lighting pay for itself.

He reminded the board tax money has slowed as it tends to do in the spring. The money coming in from January through June, he said, isn’t to be used now, but to help the district get through the summer months.

The board approved a measure to pick up an extra $1.80 on the district’s portion of employee insurance. The state, McAfee said, pays the bulk of the premium and this will allow the district to provide minimum insurance for the staff.

Because the board voted to move school elections to May, the district is required to publish its budget for the next two years two months prior to the election. McAfee reminded the board this is an outdated law and means nothing as the district won’t be required to adhere to the published budget. He said Nevada won’t be asking for a millage increase and never has in the school’s 30-year history. Nevada has 25 mill for maintenance and operation and 9.8 mill for debt service. McAfee said the debt service mill will roll off in 2022 when the building is paid off, but he hopes the district’s patrons allow it to remain so Nevada can use it for educational purposes and improved technology for the students. He told the board when the debt is paid off the district will hold a mortgage burning ceremony.

After a brief executive session, the board accepted the resignation of the biology and upper science teacher, along with approving advertising for the position.

McAfee said the February meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22, but may need to be changed as this falls during the regional basketball tournament. He told the board the district tourney will be in Ouachita with the regional in Hampton and state in Morrilton.

 

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