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School board hears of progress

Cabot school board members during their May 22 meeting discussed and acted on a full agenda of issues ranging from curriculum changes to the physical fitness of staff.

Superintendent Tony Thurman and board members Dean Martin, Wendel Msall, Corey Williams, Mark Russell, Donna Nash, Brian Evans and Dr. Brenda Thielemier attended the meeting.

Teachers Karen Goodman, Stephanie Bibey and Wendi Pickard spoke at the meeting about the training teachers are getting to prepare for the changeover to the Common Core curriculum.

Common Core is a nationally recognized curriculum that planned to replace the former state standards.

Pickard said there is much attention being given to them ensure there are no “gaps” in subject material for the students. The gaps could be created by the differing course requirements, she said.

The changeover is doubly challenging because it affects students and teachers alike. Not only what is taught is changing, but also how it is taught is changing, she said.

“This is going to be somewhat challenging to the students, but it will be very beneficial,” she said. “It will be something they are not used to, but not something they cannot handle.”

In the building and grounds report, assistant superintendent Jim Dalton said there have been many changes in the progress of a number of projects.

Conversion of the former cafeteria into the science building has accelerated, he said.

Classroom walls are installed and painted, and the grid for hanging the ceiling is under way, Dalton said. The building should be ready for the new school year, he said.

The goal of having the new Fine Arts Auditorium ready for the end-of-year staff meeting was met.

“Everybody was impressed with the changes and improvements. It is really nice,” he said.

In reviewing progress on the Freshman Academy, Dalton said, “We could not have had a better spring … There have been only three rain days since they started this project.”

The district will work on some asphalt projects, including a car stacking area for Middle School North and paving the gravel road between Middle School South and Junior High South.

The footing work will slow a little, but this is a time when a little rain would be beneficial, Dalton said.

“There are some 2,000 drilled piers on this school,” he said. “They can do about 100 per week.”

Progress will be similar to that of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building, Dalton said. Once it is to the point the cross members can be set across the piers, the rest of the work will go quickly.

Kelly Spencer reviewed the response of staff members to the wellness programs used during the year. While physical fitness is the goal, the spinoff has been better attitudes, she said.

“Our employees have a very stressful job, and these have provided an outlet for that stress, and the programs have brought the entire staff together,” Spencer said. “I don’t know of any other schools using these programs — two health fairs, Lions Club, Cabot Cruzers and the fun run, diabetic education classes as well as tobacco cessation class. All the health and fitness services in the area have offered reduced (insurance) rates for school employees,” she said.

Thurman said the graduation was successful, “Though there were a couple of glitches, I think it went well.”

There were 624 graduates — 42 with high honors and 119 with honors. Thirteen students are working to complete their requirements during the summer.

Thurman announced that the Cabot Advertising and Promotion Commission has given $4,800 toward maintenance and advertising of the Museum of American History.

The funds will put a part-time worker in the museum to help director Mike Polston, Thurman said.

That will enable the museum to be open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

In other matters, Martin and Nash reported on their attendance at the Arkansas School Board Association Leadership Conference.

Evans reported that the Cabot Panther Foundation Golf Tournament raised more than $13,000, $2,000 of which will support the Cabot High School band trip this summer to Washington, D.C.

Board members also voted to sell the modular home that is at the Freshman Academy site and to accept an offer of $134,000 to purchase the house, which was built by construction class students.

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