A Vilonia School District Board of Education member who has served as a "steady influence" for the past 23 years has resigned.
Board president Danny Lawrence announced Monday night, following an executive session, that he is stepping down. Offering few words of explanation, he said only that it is due to personal reasons.
During a telephone call Tuesday morning regarding the matter, Lawrence said he has been contemplating retiring from the board for several months. He said he has enjoyed his time of service and appreciates the support he has had during his tenure, but he believes the board needs some "younger people with new ideas and enthusiasm to carry the school district into the future."
"My hope is the board will find someone who truly wants to serve — who wants to do a good job," he said. "The responsibility of a board member is for all the children in the district. A school board member is not there to serve the teachers, the parents or the administration. It’s all about the children. And, it’s not about your children, it’s about all children."
Regarding the resignation, Dr. Frank Mitchell, superintendent, said he was aware that Lawrence had been contemplating retirement for quite awhile.
"He has been a good one and will be missed," Mitchell said. "He has provided excellent leadership, and he has been a steady influence for a lot of years. It’s going to be really hard to replace him."
Filling the position, Mitchell said, will be up to the board. The board may appoint someone to serve the remaining year of Lawrence’s term. Lawrence has served as the board president for about 22 years, Mitchell said. In addition to his service on the local board, Lawrence served eight years on the state School Board Association and as president in 2000.
Prior to the executive session, the board reviewed and acted on several issues including:
• Approved a kindergarten student transfer request to the Mayflower School District.
• Assistant superintendent Gary Lambert reported on end-of-course Benchmark scores. "Our scores compared very well to other schools in the county," he said, adding that school officials are continually looking for ways to improve teaching and student learning.
• Approved the purchase of 38 Dell Optiplex 780 PC’s at a cost of $40,783.88 and 90 terminal units at a cost of $31,822.67 totaling $72,606.55.
• Approved contracting with H&H Asphalt for the purchase of asphalt in the amount of $14,700 to pave a portion of the parking lot at the preschool.
• Approved the renewal of vehicle insurance with the Arkansas Insurance Dept. in the amount of $26,569. Mitchell said the amount is about what was paid last year.
• Gave the nod to Ed Sellers, assistant superintendent/athletic director, to explore the purchase of a new piece of equipment to be used to pull a sweeper and a broom providing maintenance on the football field. The board discussed a proposal to purchase a piece of used Kabota tractor. Some members, however, expressed fears regarding whether the used equipment would hold up to the workload.
• Approved a resolution regarding the annual school election. It was said there are no races or issues other than the current millage, that is not subject to change, so there will be no polling sites open. There will be early voting and absentee voting.
• Approved contracting with the Learning Institute for a program costing $39,438. It was said the program is a remediation tool used by teachers.
• Approved contracting with Hostess Bakery for bread and Swan Distribution for milk to be used in the cafeterias.