Monday night’s meeting of the Eureka Springs School Board began with a presentation by two high school students when Carson Mowrey and Camden Boardman described a new 3-D printer the high school has acquired. They gave customized nametags to school board members, and said they have already had many requests from students for nametags. They can sell the nametags for $5, and the money will more than pay for the cost of materials. They plan to use the money received as a fundraiser for student council.
Mowrey and Boardman explained that the process is slow, but inexpensive. A free online program helps with project designs, and the students will continue to experiment with other products. The printer will create objects up to 12 inches on a side, and they have already made phone cases. High School Principal David Gilmore said the printer has generated a lot of enthusiasm among students.
Gilmore went on to report that the junior class had a practice ACT test scheduled for Feb. 12, and will take the regular test on Feb. 20. The drama department, which includes 33 students, staged Fiddler on the Roof over the weekend.
Gilmore said the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams both won conference titles for the first time. The school will provide a pep bus for students wanting to attend games on Friday night. Board member Tina Johnson asked if all the players and cheerleaders had passing grades. Without getting specific, Gilmore acknowledged that a student had received a failing grade. A student’s eligibility for extracurricular activities depends upon receiving at least a 2.0 grade point average the previous semester, and current academic struggles do not affect eligibility.
With the basketball season coming to a close, Gilmore mentioned that the soccer season starts Feb. 25, and track begins soon afterwards. The soccer team will have a better environment, as they drop back into a conference that does not include teams higher than 3A.
Flu down, field trips up
Middle School Principal Cindy Holt knocked on wood cautiously as she said flu-related absences have begun to decline. “That has had a big impact on teachers and students,” she said.
Students in eighth grade will have a field trip on Feb. 22 to the Walmart Forensic Lab, where they will have a chance to investigate careers in science and technology. Students in eighth grade are also working with counselors to assess their high school path toward college and career readiness.
Flu down, patrols up
Elementary Principal Clare Lesieur also expressed some guarded optimism that illnesses have begun to decline.
In other news, students have begun serving as a safety patrol. “This is new this year,” she said. “They’ll patrol outside the school, monitor hallways, or open doors.”
Elementary students have completed The Lemonade War, which all students and teachers read. Teachers are considering titles for another school-wide book to read. Students will take the ACT Aspire test on Feb. 25, and a week long celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday is upcoming.
The board has to renew an arrangement every three years with its financial advisor. At the recommendation of Supt. Bryan Pruitt, the board extended its agreement with First Security Beardsley. “They work with more than 90 percent of the schools in northwest Arkansas,” Pruitt said. “They do anything we need them to do financially.”
Beardsley had helped prepare a budget for next year, which the board reviewed prior to the meeting. The board approved the budget, and also approved election documents. Two positions are up for election.
A proposed calendar for 2019-20 has been sent to the staff for comment. After teachers review the calendar, the administration will present it to the board for approval. The proposal calls for 178 days for students and 190 days for teachers. The calendar will be similar to last year, Pruitt said, with one significant difference, spring break will fall in the fourth week of March, not the third.
Start of school could change
A bill proposed in the Arkansas House would move the start of school back to a week before Labor Day. Pruitt said he could see both sides of that argument, especially since Eureka Springs depends on tourism. He did not think the bill could pass, however, because of state-mandated standards and testing. The legislature is also considering a bill to offer insurance to school bus drivers, because many districts have had difficulty finding enough qualified drivers.