Barry Milner, band and choir teacher at Eureka Springs High School, told the Eureka Springs School Board at its Sept. 18 meeting he wants to take 30 band students to Orlando, Fla., for spring break. He said it would be a huge recruitment tool for the school because kids get excited about the opportunity to perform at Disney World.
Milner said he has conducted band trips to several locations in the past and admitted it costs a lot, but the trade-off is students get to perform and make memories, and it would help build the band program.
His plan is to leave with 30 students and five chaperones at noon on a Friday. Two drivers would alternate through the night while students slept. Saturday morning, they would check in at a hotel and then hit the parks. He said someone in the Disney Company will determine where and when they perform, and it could be in any one or all three parks. He also mentioned there will be a security guard on duty at the hotel just for their contingent.
He said the total per student would be $960 for meals, hotel, park fees, transportation, etc. The total for each adult would be $1036. He is counting on fundraising to pay for this adventure, and hopes the community will see the importance of the experience for the kids and support his plan. He said it might take until the following school year to raise the money, but it could become a tradition once every four years.
Supt. Bryan Pruitt said he appreciated his faculty taking initiatives like this band trip because students who have a variety of experiences while in school are better prepared for the challenges they face as adults.
High School Principal David Gilmore said he and basketball coach Brian Rambo want to host the regional basketball tournament at the end of this season and possibly the state tournament at the end of the 2018-2019 season. Gilmore said these events would be great for the students, good exposure for the school and a boon to the town.
Rambo said Eureka Springs has hosted regionals in the past, and the boosters and community partners got behind it to make it a successful, well-attended tournament.
Gilmore also announced he and some staff are planning to build an outdoor classroom, and are checking logistics for a particular location. The plan would go before the board in October or November.
Maria Ellis, math coach and interventionist, representing the middle school, announced that 91 percent of students who received intervention for lagging math scores last year improved, and to celebrate the school held a cookout. She also said they participate in the Reading Initiative for Student Excellence program, a statewide initiative that encourages parents and community partners to support the writing and reading efforts of students.
Three pre-K teachers addressed the board, with Kim Edmondson saying that children who attend pre-school classes are more apt to develop good language skills. To that end, Edmondson said she and her fellow teachers strive to give the kids a positive environment as they develop emotionally and physically. They encourage scribbling, for example, as a precursor to early writing skills.
Nicole Winters gave a brief historical overview of the pre-school program, and director Meleia Saab said their goal now is to provide a safe environment so parents get involved and see the pre-school as a valuable experience for their children. Saab said some of the parents did not have good experiences in school, so teachers must earn their trust. There are 38 students enrolled in the pre-K program.
Pruitt announced there are a total of 612 students in the three schools: 231 in elementary, 186 in middle school and 195 in high school. There are also the 38 attending pre-school.
Board members approved the following items:
- Assurances for Programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act
- Annual Financial Report for 2016-17 and the budget for 2017-2018
- Minority Teacher and Administrator Recruitment Plan
- Transfer of one student who moved to Springdale
- Transfer of five students who moved into Eureka Springs School District but want to remain in school in Berryville
- Clarification that people performing ballgame duties such as keeping books, minding the gate, running the clock, will get $20 per game.
Next meeting will be Friday, Oct. 20, at 12 p.m.