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New preK class OKd

by Annette Beard | April 18, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

Pre-kindergarten classes have been well attended at Pea Ridge schools since the inception of the school preparatory classes seven years ago.

That program will be expanded as School Board members approved applying for the Arkansas Better Chance grant to add another pre-kindergarten class.

"Right now, we do not serve 3-year-olds," superintendent Keith Martin said. "We're just trying to increase our service to the community."

Martin told board members he wanted to add a "split classroom of 3- and 4-year-old students" in the new class which will be housed across the hall from the Intermediate School cafeteria.

He said the tuition will either be paid for by Arkansas Better Chance or by tuition.

"The ABC slots are free for families," Martin said.

Currently, there are 40 students attending pre-kindergarten classes with half being funded by the ABC grant and half funding by tuition paid. According to documentation provided to board members, there were 51 children on the waiting list for the 2021-2022 school year, 42 on the list for the 2022-2023 school year and 22 on the list for 2023-2024 as of April.

There are two full-time licensed teachers and two certified preK instructional assistants currently in the program. The current funding is $97,200 from the Endeavor grant and $85,440 from tuition for a total of $182,640.

The expansion would require an additional licensed teacher at a cost of about $62,175 including benefits and an assistant at a cost of $30,336. The proposed funding includes $50,700 from ABC and $42,720 from tuition.

"For the last three years, the Pea Ridge Pre-K program applications have outnumbered the available student spots at a rate that signifies the need for a program addition. For the 2023-2024 school year spots, families lined up as early as 4:30 a.m. to secure a sport for their student," according to school officials.

Four of five School Board members were present. Jessica Branham was not present.

Board members approved the Special Education Funding renewal, as requested. The funds pay for special education teachers and some of the para-professionals, therapy sessions, supplies and resources as well as Title B and some preK students, according to Nathalie Brunell, district treasurer.

After a 20-minute executive session, board members returned to open session and took action on several personnel items including:

Accepted resignations from Sara O'Neal, teacher, Primary School; C. Kennard, teacher/coach, PRHS; Kathryn Rodgers, kindergarten; Linsey Futrell, third-grade literacy; Amy Manley, English teacher, PRHS; Wendy Martin, library media specialist; Jr. High; Katelin Holland, teacher, Middle School; and Angela Edwards, culinary teacher, PRHS;

Accepted resignations from Brittany Seabolt, evening custodian, Primary School; and Keln Taylor, director of technology;

Approved hiring Jonna Biggs, head volleyball coach/Jr. High teacher, PRHS, Jr. High; Kelsey Gourd, English language arts, Jr. High; Amy Fourt, art teacher, Intermediate, Jr. High; Sophia Irwin, social studies/ELA, Jr. High; Alecia Gutche, art teacher, Middle School/Jr. High; Brandi Newsom, assistant principal, Middle School/Intermediate School; and Alexis Bullard, assistant basketball/teacher, PRHS; and

Approved hiring Bobby Hutcheson, director of transportation; Samantha Link and Sarah Link, evening custodians, Primary School;

Approved transfers for Sarah Msall, counselor, Jr. High, and Cody Alexander, physical education teacher, Primary School;

Approved Jason Dunn, SPED para, Jr. High; and

Approved contract renewals for certified and classified personnel as presented.

Print Headline: New preK class OKd


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