The Mammoth Spring School District will receive a total of $609,434 from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009. The school board met May 11 and discussed various ways the money could be spent.
Superintendent Ronald Taylor had several suggestions including summer library reading programs, teacher salaries -- to avoid having to lay off faculty, class size reduction funds, a new metal roof for the elementary and high school and elementary summer school programs.
Taylor said he is open to suggestions on how the money is to be used.
According to Taylor, the money will be split up into four categories to be used in those specific programs. The pre-school Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will receive $10,691; kindergarten through 12th grade IDEA will receive $105,811; Title I, Part A will receive $116,235; and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund will receive $376,697.
Within the first year (2009-2010), both IDEA programs and Title I, Part A will be funded 50 percent. The other 50 percent will be paid the following year. The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund will be funded 67 percent the first year and 33 percent the second year.
"Five percent of each allocation will be sent to the district for 'seed' money (start up money)," Taylor said. "Reimbursement will be made every two weeks. All funds must be obligated by Sept. 30, 2011, and must be spent by Dec. 29, 2011."
The board approved a tentative list of suggestions for the ARRA money.
Taylor also informed the board about a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for updating kitchen appliances and other items needed in the cafeteria that he will apply for. The USDA sponsors school cafeteria programs.
Taylor said about 91 percent of the school's students eat lunch in the school cafeteria every school day. This large number presents a need for the kitchen to be up-to-date.
One particular item Taylor said staff in the cafeteria would like to get from the grant is an eight-by-eight walk-in cooler. Other items include a gas tilt skillet, ovens, a heated cabinet and a floor mixer.
The cost for all of the upgrades and repairs on the list would be about $75,017. Taylor said it is most likely the school will not receive a grant for that much money considering that there is only $1.2 million available to Arkansas schools. However, if a grant is awarded for any amount of money the school could at least buy what it immediately needs for the cafeteria.
Both high school and elementary principals told the board their ideas about high school and elementary summer school programs they want to offer during five weeks of summer vacation. Elementary Principal Wade Powell said he would like to offer summer remedial classes to about 20 to 25 students who might be held back because of poor grades. He said four teachers would be teaching the classes.
High School Principal Brian Davis said he'd like to have a similar summer program for high school students. He said this program would be limited to next school year's seniors who have fallen behind and are still taking freshmen or sophomore classes. Davis said as high schoolers get closer and closer to graduating they begin to realize how important grades are when applying for scholarships and entering college. He said summer remedial courses could help these students catch up with their classmates.
The board voted for both principals to go forward with their summer school programs as proposed.
Summer basketball camp was also on the agenda. Basketball players were planning on traveling to a camp in South Haven, Miss., approximately 178 miles away. A couple of board members voiced their concerns over the cost to the school of the trip and other trips made by other school clubs because of the school's status as being in fiscal distress. However, there were others who said they believed the trips were beneficial to both students and the school.
It was decided in a 3 to 2 vote that next school year the school will limit school trips to three trips per year per club. Sponsors will decide which trips to take during the year. The board also did not approve the trip to South Haven.
In other business, the board approved the financial distress plan the superintendent sent to the Arkansas Board of Education. Taylor said the school needs to generate about $155,000. With the new five mill increase, Taylor said he believes the school could see about $120,000.
"Most of what it's going to take to get us off the fiscal distress list will be fairly painless," Taylor said.
The board agreed to auction off surplus property in the school auction. Up for auction are two 14 feet by 64 feet mobile homes that have been used for storage. One is a 2005 model, and the other is a 2006 model. The auction will be June 13 and will start at 10 a.m.
The Mammoth Spring School Board will meet again June 8 at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.