GREENBRIER — The Greenbrier Board of Education announced at its last meeting that construction on the new fine arts center/auditorium is moving along well enough that the completion date has been moved up by two more days.  

Early spring rains put Nabholz Construction Services further behind their original completion date, but now the anticipated planned date for occupancy is Nov. 21.

The school board said the parking lot on the back side has been completed and striped. The front entrance curtain wall is scheduled to be set next week and that will allow the building to then be weathered in. The air conditioning will be set in mid-September, then millwork installation and painting can proceed. Auditorium seating is ordered and should arrive on schedule.

The new physical education building, scheduled to replace the old building on the district campus, has a preliminary cost of about $2.9 million, which averages out to about $138 per square foot. Drawings were completed last week, and Nabholz hopes to start construction in October with a project completion date of about 10 months by July 2012.

Dr. Lisa Todd, deputy superintendent, presented an early preliminary report to the board on a self improvement plan for the district, as required by the state. She said, "Literacy will be getting intensive focus this next year with the hiring of a new person, Merlina McCullough, whose focus will be just that."  

She pointed out there have been pockets of great success and pockets of concern across the District that will all be studied further.  

The reading courses implemented in sixth grade last year brought them well ahead of the national average in reading, so an additional seventh-grade reading course is implemented for this year. Two teachers with reading specialty have been hired.  

The high school implemented a reading remediation program last year, and there was also a program for high school students to tutor junior high students.

"Professional development with teachers helping teachers is important and will continue, especially with the new technology of our smart boards," Todd said. "Vocabulary is the key to all subjects, and every child should be able to write in full sentences.

"We are now using technology in all our schools and we must move in the direction of wireless and iPod technology even more. A new program for the junior high and high school grades has already been purchased that will allow kids to type in essays and be scored by computer. 

"By using this in the social studies and science classes, it will free a teacher from grading 200 essays in a night and prove beneficial for all. How schools meet their standards and our plan is due Oct. 1."

Jack Truemper, financial consultant with Stephens Inc, presented a proposal to save the district approximately $245,000 by refunding a bond issue dated March 1, 2006. The board voted to submit an application for approval by the Arkansas Department of Education for this move.