The Benton County Board of Education meet May 11, 2020 via Zoom meeting at the office of the superintendent with the following members confirmed present:    Betty Page, President; Gary Elliott, Vice-President; Katrina McGregor, Secretary; Erma Poplar, Member; Brian Gresham, Member.     

The following persons were confirmed present:Pamela Gray, Michelle Carter, Lori Shaw, Esq., Jay Rowland, Amanda Ford, Sandy Childs-Jones, Merri Gadd, Elynda Finley, Malcanee Mason,

Jane Hubbard, Sarah Richard, Glossie Terry.

The following business was transacted: Candace Sanders recorded the minutes of this meeting. President Page called the meeting to order at 5:37 p.m. President Page extended an invitation to prayer.  Those present who wished to participate were lead by Member Gresham.

President Page entertained a motion to approve the minutes of the April 16 meeting. Member Gresham made a motion to approve the minutes.  Vice-President Elliott seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

President Page asked if there were any changes or additions to the proposed agenda.  Superintendent Hobson requested the addition of recognition of administrative assistant board clerk following approval of agenda.  President Page requested the addition of graduation requirements and ceremony prior to discussion of 2020-2021 non-certified personnel recommendations.  There being no other additions or changes, President Page entertained a motion to approve the amended agenda.  Secretary McGregor made a motion adopt the amended agenda.  Member Poplar seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

The Mississippi School Boards Association (MSBA) has declared May 18-22, 2020, to be School District Administrative Assistant /Board Clerks Appreciation Week.  In honor of this occasion, Superintendent Hobson read and presented a certificate of appreciation to Ms. Candace Sanders for her service to the Benton County School Board and Superintendent.

There were no public concerns at this time.

Claims Dockets 063203, 063204-063237 and 063238-063272 were presented for review.  President Page entertained a motion to approve the claims.  A motion was made by Member Gresham and seconded by Vice-President Elliott. The motion passed unanimously.

The board reviewed a letter requesting the release of a student from Benton County.  President Page entertained a motion on the request.  Secretary McGregor made a motion to approve the request.  President Page made three calls for a second to the motion.  No member seconded the motion.  The motion failed.

A draft of the proposed 2020-2021 district budget was presented.  President Page declined to discuss the budget at this time.  Members will discuss dates and times for a possible work session at the end of this meeting.

Superintendent Hobson presented the monthly superintendent’s update.  The budget is in progress, and Dr. Hobson recognized Assistant Superintendent Pamela Gray and Business Manager Michelle Carter for their diligence in reallocating Federal funds to provide better financial stability for the district.

The Benton County Schools Student Handbook is due for review/update.  The handbook is approximately 40 pages in length, and Superintendent Hobson requests that the Board schedule two meetings in June to review the handbook in 20 page increments.  President Page would like the record to reflect that District staff should ensure that the handbook aligns with Board and State policies prior to presenting any information to the Board.

The Central Office will now be open for phone calls and no-contact drop off/pick up, Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Staff members will stagger their days to comply with social distancing requirements.  Building administrators will be asked to provide similar staffing for the school locations, to begin after Wednesday, May 13.

The proposed 2020-2021 Extracurricular Supplement Schedule was presented for review.  After a period of discussion, President Page entertained a motion to vote or table the item until executive session.  Secretary McGregor made a motion to table the item for later discussion in executive session.  Member Poplar seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

A recommendation was presented to transfer Nolan Stevens from Hickory Flat Attendance Center to Ashland High School for the 2020-2021 school year.  Mr. Stevens will serve as a Special Education Teacher.  There was some discussion of the matter.  President Page entertained a motion on the recommendation.  Member Gresham made a motion to approve the transfer.  Member Poplar seconded the motion.  Members voted as follows: Page -    Aye, Elliott- Abstain, McGregor – Abstain, Poplar – Aye,  Gresham – Aye. The motion passed.  Mrs. Jane Hubbard (HFAC Principal) had entered a chat comment during the vote.  President Page acknowledged the comment and will offer the opportunity to discuss it during executive session; however, the record will reflect that the vote stands in favor of hire.

At this time, the Board discussed graduation requirements and ceremonies.  The valedictorian and salutatorian for both senior classes were determined and the parties were notified.  The determinations were made based on the directions given to the administrators by Dr. Hobson at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.  Secretary McGregor expressed concerns regarding course weights and requested that parents be provided accurate information on this subject in writing.  There are currently no plans in place for graduation ceremonies.  This will be addressed during the administrators meeting on Wednesday.

The following recommendations were presented for 2020-2021 Non-Certified Personnel:

Ashland Elementary: School Tonya Peterson, Christine Wommack, Deborah Kimmons, Tammy Hardin, Vera Mason, Rosalynn Johnson, Jane Fly, Olivia Prachett, Marvin Strickland, Christinea Crum, and Shermain Glover.

Ashland High School: Helen Howell, Joyce Abrams,     Cassandra Jones, Kim Tallie, Teresa McKay, Tikesha Franklin, Trinity Franklin, and Cajuana Isom.

Career Technical Center: Amy Avent, and Michael Terry.

Hickory Flat Attendance Center: Britt Lindley, Heather Tipler, Theresa Mills, Tammy Dillard, Aundrea Foley, Candice Nutt, Michele Anderson, Sandy Garner, Melissa Luna    , April Nicholson, Leisa Carnell, Nick Brown, Brenda Brown, and Andrea Joyner.

President Page entertained a motion to hire all non-certified personnel for all sites.  Member Poplar made the motion.  Member Gresham seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

The Board reviewed a recommendation from Mr. Malcanee Mason (AHS Principal) to hire Mrs. Jessica Montana Wren as a math teacher at Ashland High School for the 2020-2021 school year.  Also reviewed was a recommendation from Mr. Mason to hire Mr. Steve Brad Wren as an ELA teacher at Ashland High School for the 2020-2021 school year.  President Page entertained a motion regarding both recommendations.  Vice-President Elliott made a motion to hire Mr. and Mrs. Wren.  Member Gresham seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

The following recommendations were submitted by Mrs. Jane Hubbard (HFAC Principal):  Ms. Cindy Elliott to be hired as 2nd grade teacher and Mr. Lee Allen Holt to be hired as Assistant Principal.  Superintendent Hobson requested consideration of an executive session to discuss the recommendation of Mr. Holt.  President Page entertained motions regarding the recommendations.  Secretary McGregor made a motion to temporarily table Mr. Holt’s recommendation.  Member Poplar seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Secretary McGregor made a motion to approve the recommendation for Ms. Elliott.  Member Poplar seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

President Page entertained a motion to enter executive session to discuss the Extracurricular Supplement Schedule and personnel matters which had been temporarily tabled.  Member Poplar made a motion to enter executive session.  Member Gresham seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

The motion passed and the following parties joined a separate Zoom meeting for executive session:  All 5 board members, Attorney Shaw, Superintendent Hobson, Assistant Superintendent Gray and Ms. Sanders.  Mrs. Hubbard will be contacted to join when appropriate.

Subsequently, Member Poplar made a motion to exit executive session.  Vice-President Elliott seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

The motion passed and the Board exited executive session at 8:59 p/m.  All parties rejoined the open Zoom meeting.  No action was taken during executive session.

Vice-President Elliott made a motion to table the Extracurricular Supplement Schedule until the next meeting.  Member Poplar seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Vice-President Elliott made a motion to hire Mr. Lee Allen Holt as Assistant Principal at Hickory Flat Attendance Center for the 2020-2021 school year with an annual salary of $55,000.  Member Gresham seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 1, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.  There will also be a special called meeting on June 15, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Member Poplar made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Vice-President Elliott seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

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