Beebe School Board Approves New “Drone” Program for New School Year

Jul 23rd, 2014 | By admin | Category: Top Story

BY LEE “CAT” McLANE

Editor/Publisher

The Beebe School Board met Monday night, July 7th for their regular monthly meeting.

Mike Tarkington, principal of Beebe High School 9-10 presented a program which Chad Mercado, a computer teacher in the high school, will start a new program entitled UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) which will allow high school students to build and fly a roto copter. “It can build into a 2 and maybe 3 year program,” Tarkington said.  The program has gotten a $2,000 NASA matching grant for the program.  “There were 40 students interested in the program at the end of the school year but the program will have 20 in the class,” Tarkington said.  He said the FAA has no restrictions on these drones up to a 400 ft. ceiling. Mr. Mercado was not at the meeting because he was out of town.

In other action, Dr. Shook told the board that the district had received $349,000 in growth money last year for 56 new students but during the year the district lost 40 students. The district has to repay $220,000 to the state for those students who left. The district had a net of 16 new students last year.

Dr. Rick Duff, asst. superintendent for business, gave a report on recent legislative changes that affect the district. One of those  changes is the possibility of private sponsorships of athletic events, such as halftime, for a fee.

Other action included:

•  Approval of a $15 price increase for Camp Beebe PreK tuition;

•  Approval of a school choice resolution which states that the district cannot accept more than 3% of the school population as school choice (about 100 students);

•  Approval of 6 legal transfers - 3 in and 3 out;

•  Approval of reimbursment by grant the culinary arts program $48,405;

•  Approval of soccer materials at about $10,000;

•  Approval of an Alternative Learning Environment for K-6 grade at Beebe Middle School. Riverview,   White County Central and Pangburn Schools will also join in this program and all four will share expenses;

Beebe School District Open House will be held Thursday, Aug. 14 from 6 - 8 p.m.

Superintendent Dr. Belinda Shook distributed a copy of a letter which she presented to the Ark. State Board of Education regarding an appeal to the Academic Distress designation placed on Badger Academy. In the letter, Dr. Shook stated that problems with the extremely small number of students in Badger Academy Alernative Learning Environment caused a problem with accountability. Because Badger Academy is a charter school, all scores are counted together in this extremely small number of students rather than being absorbed into the buildings from which the students were transferred.  Dr. Shook continued to state that the Academic Distress rating was a negative reflection on the school district and did not take into account the hard work and success which has taken place for the staff and students at Badger Academy.

She said the goals for Badger Academy students were: 1) Dropout Prevention, 2) Increased Graduation Rate and 3) College and Career Readiness.

For the three years of 2011-2013, the total number of students testing was 120. Those that continued or completed education were 111 of 120 = 92.5% and those graduating or GED was 41. Those students proficient on end of course CTE exams was 55 of 79 = 69.6%.

“The State Board agreed that ALEs should not be measured the same way as other schools,” explained Dr. Shook.   “They are going to look at other ways but haven’t exactly decided yet.”