Incoming superintendent attends meeting; masks still mandatory
Incoming Watson Chapel schools Superintendent Andrew Curry attended the district’s board meeting for the first time since he was hired last month to replace Jerry Guess.
Curry, currently the Ozark Mountain School District assistant superintendent, spoke briefly during Monday’s regular meeting, saying he looks forward to working with the board and staff members. He will begin his stint at Watson Chapel on July 1, a day after Guess’ contract expires.
“I did get to sit down and have a discussion with Dr. Guess,” Curry said. “And then I got to kind of drive around the district and see where all the things are at, and I’m looking forward to finding me a place to live and get integrated into the school district.”
Curry said Guess brought him up to speed on the campaign for building improvement Guess suggested when he announced his resignation in January.
“They’ve got the master plan that’s in right now and that sort of thing,” Curry said. “We talked a little about personnel for next year and staffing. We kind of talked about the financial situation for the district and how to keep it solvent.”
Guess told board members the district’s spending exceeded revenue for the first time in months during March. The district spent $1,330,574 and received $1,170,717 for an ending balance of $9,576,494.
The balance does not include the $3.6 million in a second wave of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds, or ESSER II, that Watson Chapel schools have been allocated to improve air quality in campuses and to purchase supplies aimed at expanding educational opportunities for students. ESSER II funds are part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
In other district news:
■ Board members unanimously approved Guess’ recommendation to continue district policies on mask wearing for the rest of the school year. That means students and visitors will be required to continue wearing masks at events such as the April 30 prom at the activity building and the May 11 graduation at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
■ The ACT college entrance exam for juniors will be administered today at no cost to the students. Watson Chapel K-12 curriculum
director Kristy Sanders said the Arkansas Department of Education requires 95% of students in each grade level to take the test for each school to receive a “report card” score from the state. Sanders said 89% of freshmen and 86% of sophomores took the ACT Aspire, with a makeup date to come for those who have not yet taken it.
■ The board approved a retirement letter from elementary teacher Sharron Scales, as well as resignation letters from Assistant Superintendent Bill Tietz; elementary teachers Shaneka Allen, Brandy Knight and Jamie Stewart; elementary secretary Janet Stuckey; secondary choir teacher Emily Burris, secondary social studies teacher Jeffrey Howard and secondary math teacher Traiven Love. The White Hall School District last month hired Tietz as principal of Gandy Elementary School.
■ Four elementary teachers have been hired: Ashley Baker, Jadaci Henderson, Emmalee McDaniel and Britney Sahlmann.