Armorel makes next step in new elementary building

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Armorel School Board authorized issuance of bonds for the new elementary building during its regular monthly meeting Monday night.

The board also made several changes to the student handbook.

Vice President of Crews and Associates Ray Beardsley spoke to the board regarding the bidding process of the bonds.

“This is always my favorite time to come when a school is getting money to spend on new construction. This is exciting and so I am happy for y'all,” Beardsley told the board. “We offered Armorel School District’s $5,975,000 refund and reconstruction bond for sale on June 27 at 11 a.m. We were really pleased. We had six bids; the more bids, the more competitive it gets. Rates have been going up on bonds. So we were really pleased… The rate that came in was 3.31 so we were pleased with that.”

Beardsley also mentioned that Stephens, Inc. had the winning bid. Because Stephens had the winning bid, it chose as the trustee Citizens Bank in Batesville. He also explained that the payments on the bond are less than what the district has been paying.

The bond is set for closing on July 26.

Two important things take place on that date, according to Beardsley. They will wire the money on that date and when the money is transferred the IRS time clock will start. The IRS time clock gives the school district 36 months to spend all of the money; the deadline will be July 26, 2021.

The district will receive $12,680.56 and that will go to their first bond payment.

Beardsley also explained that the bond has to go to building a new elementary building, which was on the ballot. With the new elementary building projected to cost over $2 million, the district will have to spend the remaining money. Any money left over after building the new elementary can be spent on any building or renovation of a current building.

President Scott Jowers made the motion to adopt the final resolution authorizing the bond issue and board member Jeff Hopper seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

New student handbook changes were also approved for the upcoming school year.

In the handbook, unexcused absentees changed from 10 days to eight days.

Superintendent Jennifer Barbaree said, “If it is going to be in our handbook, then we are going to enforce it.”

Another big issue was the new dress code. Dress code will be enforced at all school activities. Shorts and skirts will be no shorter than three inches from top of the kneecap when standing; it previously said when kneeling.

Also taken out of the handbook were blankets in class. Barbaree said that dates to prom would now be 10th grade and up. Another big difference in the current handbook from year’s prior is now all students will have to take semester test.

There will no longer be exemptions from the semester test. Hopper said he likes that because it helps prepare students for college because everyone has to take them at the next level. The only thing that changed in technology use is seniors will be able to buy their MacBooks after they graduate and that children may have their own emails through Google. Barbaree and Elementary Principal Joey Carr explained that only people the students will be able to send and receive emails from are school-related, which will be monitored by IT Director Ross Harmes.

Board Member Jeff Hollingsead made a motion to adopt and implement the handbook and Jowers seconded.

Hollingsead also made a motion to adopt and implement the Armorel School Acceptable Use Policy for Technology and Jowers seconded.

Food and Nutrition Director Tina Byrd brought the bids for grocery and milk. Byrd explained that Armorel is part of a 28 school district group that gives them a buying power on foods and makes it cheaper. She said she’d like to take the grocery and bread bids from Sysco and the milk from Turner. Hopper made the motion and board member Eldon Carter second.

Barbaree said the first and second grade would get iPads for schoolwork. Also, ninth graders will get new computers and when they graduate, the school will sell them their MacBooks to take to college.

Student legal transfers for two students was turned down because the district has hit its capacity. To accept more students the district would have to hire more staff. Hopper made the motion and Carter seconded.

Open House is set for Thursday, Aug. 9 from 6-7:30 p.m., and school begins the following Monday.

Elementary registration begins from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on July 24 for the first and second grade; July 25 for third and fourth grade; and July 26 for the fifth and sixth grade. Returning students must pay $30 for school supplies and have two proofs of residency. New students have to also bring a birth certificate, current shot records, and social security card. High school registration begins from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 25 for the seventh and eighth grade; July 26 for ninth and 10th; and July 27 for 11th and 12th graders.

Returning students must pay $30 for school supplies and have two proofs of residency. New students have to also bring a birth certificate, current shot records, and social security card.

The board also set its report to the public meeting for Aug. 27. The next regular school board meeting is set for the same day as the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 13.