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After Mammoth Spring approves consolidation

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Williford votes to join Oak Ridge Central

Reporter's note: Following are events involving the Mammoth Spring School District over the past two weeks from a regular school board meeting Feb. 9 to a vote that nearly led to administrative consolidation with the Williford School district.

MAMMOTH SPRING -- By unanimous vote, members of the Williford School Board voted Feb. 19 to an administrative consolidation with the Oak Ridge Central School District instead of Mammoth Spring.

Feb. 9:

Williford School Superin-tendent Bruce Evans attended the Feb. 9 Mammoth Spring School Board meeting at the invitation of the school board and superintendent. Taylor explained to school board members that the Williford School District is one of the 57 schools districts in the state that have a student population under 350 and has been named an affected district. "This means by April 1 the district will have to have some type of plan to administratively consolidate with a larger district or the state will make plans for them. The number 500 was once mentioned as a possible student/ratio number as far as consolidation goes. In the Mammoth Spring School District we currently have a student population of 416 students. There are many superintendents across the state that are afraid either the governor or Legislature would propose the 500 student number again. If this should happen, our district would be one of the schools forced to consolidate in the next round," he said.

He told school board members the consolidation with the Williford District would ensure the district a student enrollment of over 700 students. He also said that schools that voluntarily consolidated would receive state incentive funding the first year of consolidation.

School board members voted to hold a public meeting Feb. 16 at the school.

Feb. 16:An interested crowd of over 100 people attended a public meeting Feb. 16 at Mammoth Spring School. Following a lengthy discussion in which Mammoth Spring Superintendent Ron Taylor explained how the consolidation would benefit the district, school board members voted 5-0 to allow administrative consolidation with the Williford School District if the district chose to do so.

Taylor provided school board members and guests with some useful information regarding the consolidation. "If the Williford District should select to join the Mammoth Spring School District, it would be an administrative move only," he said.

The superintendent said Williford students would remain physically at Williford. "An interim school board would be in place by May 31. This is where the affected district (Williford) would join the receiving district (Mammoth Spring) and the two combined districts would form a resulting district."

Taylor said there are 2,700 residents in the Mammoth Spring School District and 1,728 in the Williford School District. He said if the districts consolidated this would result in a school district comprised of 4,441 people.

Feb. 19

Williford School Board met Feb. 19 and voted to consolidate with the Oak Ridge Central School District.

Several attempts were made to contact Williford Superin-tendent Bruce Evans but he was out of town.

Taylor said he was relieved and disappointed at the same time about the Williford decision. He said he at least gave the school patrons of the Mammoth Spring School District the information he knew regarding the consolidation issue.

In other Mammoth Spring School Board business occurring at the Feb. 9 meeting, school board members voted to extend the principal contracts of elementary school principal Ruth Stevens and high school principal Brian Davis at the Feb. 9 regular meeting of the Mammoth Spring School Board. The contracts were extended for one year.

School board members reviewed the revised guidelines for use of the school by the public.

School board members' attention was then turned to Act 59, the school state funding law.

The formula was passed by the Legislature Jan. 27 and will go into effect July 1. Also under the new formula teachers in Arkansas school districts will see a pay increase of approximately 14 percent.

"Base pay for teachers with a BSE at the school with no experience currently is $23,000. Starting July 1 they will earn $27,000.

Teachers on the top end of the pay scale with a master's degree and 15 years experience now receive $34,400, and when the new funding formula goes into effect they will earn $38,125," Taylor told school board members.

The superintendent informed school board members the school had been selected as one of seven in the state to participate in the federal Indian Education Act Program. "This is where the district could receive $166 per student who can prove Native American heritage," he said.

School board members approved a project by the high school Beta Club to use funds they raised to build a sun porch off the lobby at the high school.

Members of the school board accepted the resignation of long-time agriculture instructor Charles French.

Taylor said French had taught at the school since 1977 and had done an outstanding job.

The superintendent said he and the school board wished the retiring teacher the best and appreciated his efforts and hard work in the district.

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