VILONIA — The brakes will be put on some old practices in the Vilonia School District’s transportation department and some new ones will move forward.
Standing before the Vilonia Board of Education, Monday night, Theresa Alcon, transportation director, said she was out of her comfort zone. She minced few words proposing the purchase of software, GPS systems for buses and the implementation of additional bus monitoring procedures.
“If some parent says a bus didn’t go down a road or that one was speeding, we can pull the data and see everything,” Alcon explained, regarding the software. Bus drivers, she said, also would use the software to document student behavior issues. A new set of checks and balances, she said, has already been set up regarding bus drivers checking out and returning buses.
Alcon called for placing specialized GPS systems on buses that will allow bus activity to be tracked, and data to be collected. There are also ways that student tracking can be implemented, she said. However, she stressed, that would have to be done on a voluntary basis, approved by parents, and require some sort of “tag swipes” for participating students.
The board approved the purchase of the software to help with routing and tracing the conduct of students on buses. However, they held off on purchasing the GPS system for all buses estimated to cost about $18,000 pending more information. It was said they will review the request at the September meeting.
Other business, the board:
• Approved the transfer of three students to the Mayflower School District.
• Approved the acceptance of an entrepreneurship grant amounting to $19,720 for the business department and school store.
• Approved three resolutions regarding the annual school election, polling places and early and absentee voting.
• Discussed district policy updates including one dealing with volunteers who work with students unsupervised. Such volunteers, Mitchell said, need to register with the principal on the campus they intend to volunteer at and undergo a background check. The volunteer will be required to pay the related fee, Mitchell said. However, after volunteering a year, it could be reimbursed, he said.
• Discussed the district’s loss of assessment. Mitchell estimated the district loss to be about $7million due to CUDD moving some of their operations elsewhere and those being removed from the tax rolls. There is nothing, Mitchell said, that can be done about it.
“We need to just take what we have got and make the most of it,” he said. “We will have to make some adjustments and stay with what we have.”
He also talked briefly about the potential loss of funding with the loss of student which, he said, results in the loss of $5,000 to $6,000.
• Mitchell addressed the opinion of Attorney General Dustin McDaniel regarding the legality of Clarksville’s School District’s plan, to act as a private security firm, arming its teachers as security guards as well as a plan initiated by Faulkner County Sheriff Andy Shock.
“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” Mitchell said, prior to “determining a good way for us to go.” He also said the intent of the Vilonia district, regarding all aspects of the issue, is “being able to respond until the police get there.”
Mitchell said he has talked with the prosecuting attorney, concerning Shock’s plan, and has had some issued clarified. A school administrator, he said, would not be required to wear a uniform or badge and would not be required to take on the role of a deputy with the sheriff’s office for 12 hours per week. Mitchell told the board he plans to meet with the sheriff and further discuss the matter.
• Curriculum and instruction report: Cathy Riggins, assistant superintendent, talked about an administrative retreat that was held July 29-31. It was a time, she said, for administrators to bond as a team and realize the individual schools in the district are “a part of a great system.” Administrators, she said, were able to develop a cohesive vision for the district. The district wide focus, she said, will be concentrated on student engagement for the 2013-14 year, “working to engage students in focused learning and to provide students, at all levels, effective communication skills. However, she said, the plan is also to stress core value characters including character, work ethic, drive and pride.
Efforts are underway, she also said, to implement a literacy design and math collaborative. As well, she said, test data is being analyzed.