The creation of a Cadet Corps, the implementation of a Community Service course credit, and the final signing of documents for the deposit of the proceeds from the sale of bonds for the construction of new high school facilities at Central High School highlighted the business transacted at Monday’s meeting of the Helena-West Helena School District Board of Directors.
The Cadet Corps program will provide the district with a military-style course program very similar to a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program. The program is not directly affiliated with any branch of the military and will only cost the district $9,000 per year. It will include a sequence of four courses and will be instructed by a member of the Central High School staff who is either a veteran or active in the National Guard or Reserve forces.
Superintendent John Hoy said, “This is a cost effective way to make a very positive program available to our students. We have a current staff member who will to teach the courses. Our parents and patrons have universally expressed a desire to see this kind of program back at Central High School.”
Helena West Helena School Board President Andrew Bagley also expressed excitement at the opportunity to bring this program to the district saying, “Our mission is to produce graduates who are productive, responsible, and caring citizens. Developing programs that teach the values inculcated through our nation’s armed forces are an excellent way to do that. I can’t count the number of times I have been approached about restarting this kind of program in our district and I am proud that a way has been found to accomplish this within our existing budget.”
In that same vein, Hoy asked the board to approve awarding course credit for students who perform 75 hours of approved community service during the year. Hoy’s proposal showed that there is already an approved course number and frameworks provided by the Arkansas Department of Education, along with an approved list of organizations to supervise the volunteer service in this area.
Hoy said, “This directly ties into our stated mission as a district. It is important for our students to know that they have a responsibility to serve our fellow man.”
Bagley echoed the sentiments, saying, “I really appreciate Mr. Hoy developing this proposal. Inculcating a service-minded spirit is so important. I am grateful that our district is taking this part of our mission seriously as we work to build great schools and a great community. I am also grateful for Central High School Principal Earnest Simpson’s willingness to make this work within our curriculum.”
The board members also signed the final documents on the bond issue for Stephens, Inc. representatives, which completed the bond sale process. The proceeds from that sale will be received by the school district by the end of the month. Board members were very excited about this next step in the process. Revised drawings were hanging on the board room wall for board members to evaluate.
In other business, the board approved multiple professional development contracts with the Great Rivers Education Cooperative and Elbow to Elbow Consulting. These will not only cover the standard teacher training done in past years but add an intensive component at the beginning of the school year for new teachers as well.
Hoy said, “I want our new teachers to get the kind of intensive training that new teachers are getting with Teach for America. We are working with Elbow to Elbow to provide our new staff with the best training available early in the school year because we need them as prepared as possible the day that students walk in the door.”
The board also approved its annual concurrent credit agreement with Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, adult meal rate increases in district cafeterias, revisions to the district’s facility use policy, the purchase of the district’s insurance from the Arkansas Public School Insurance Trust, and the hiring of three new English teachers for the upcoming school year.