His new name tag was in place, Monday night, and Dr. David Stephens was sitting at the helm of the Vilonia Board of Education as the new superintendent for the district. Addressing the board, he said, during his first 14 days on the job, he has been getting to know the staff.
One of his first acts at the board meeting was to set a work session for 6:30 p.m., Aug. 11, prior to the regular monthly meeting where, he said, the "expectations of the superintendent will be discussed. There will be no board action," he added.
Also, he said, it will be an open meeting with everyone invited to attend. He also said he will be presenting a monthly report at every meeting "getting everyone up to speed on what is going on."
Stephens replaced Dr. Frank Mitchell who retired at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Stephens has served as superintendent of the Nevada R-5 School District in Nevada, Missouri, for about eight years, a district about the same size as the Vilonia District. He served as assistant superintendent of the Carl Junction Schools in Carl Junction, Missouri from 2005 to 2008. He began his educational career as a special education teacher and guidance counselor in 1985 at Joplin Junior High School.
Action by the board included:
• Approved the purchase of football supplies and equipment for grades 7-12 at a cost of $22,946.90 from Sportscene.
• Approved the purchase of 200 desktop Dell OptiPlex 7010 computers from Nextstep Innovations. The computers will be located at the junior high school, central office, director’s building and transportation building. The purchase will be made from operating funds under the TIPS/TAPS purchasing cooperative contract at $892 per unit for a total of $195,280.
• As a member of the Faulkner County Purchasing Group, the district approved food bids for the cafeteria being awarded to U.S. Foods. The group is made up of Conway, Greenbrier, Mayflower and Vilonia School Districts combining the district’s volumes to negotiate the lowest bids.
Hiland Dairy was approved as the supplier of milk for the district and Harris Baking Company will supply the bread.
• Approved the purchase of curriculum including a reading series for K-3 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt at $136,026.18; Renaissance Learning at $24,229 and a renewal with The Learning Institute at a cost of $30,866.
• Board member Scott Newell suggested the board consider changing a board policy allowing the district to accept transfers from other districts in some situations and when the Vilonia School District is not at capacity. As a point of reference, he talked about students who have been displaced as a result of the April 27, tornado as well as some situations they dealt with last year.
Board president Jerry Roberts said the policy has been in place several years. On a monthly basis and throughout the year, he said, the board was receiving multiple requests causing the need for it.
Cathy Riggins, assistant superintendent, said she would research some options and provide the board with information.
--Business manager Kevin Luck talked briefly about the end of the year balance. While he said it is not finalized, he said the current balance is $6,805.763.56. The budget balance, he said, is $6,808,067.10 with a variance of $2,303.54. The district, he said, may have to return $46,000 in student growth. However, it has not been confirmed.
"Right now, we are in really good financial shape heading into next year," Luck said.
--A mandatory in service bus meeting for all Vilonia School District CDL holders will be held 9 a.m. until noon, July 23, at the Junior High School library.