Leader Blues

Monday, August 27, 2007

TOP STORY >>Schools doing well in Beebe for first week

Leader staff writer

Five days into the new school year, Beebe Supt. Belinda Shook said everything is running smoothly.
“It’s almost like we never quit,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean the first week didn’t have its rough spots. For the first couple of days the traffic was so backed up on Center Street that the shuttle buses from the middle school in McRae couldn’t get on to campus, Shook said. But soon parents were putting children on the buses in the morning instead of driving them and now the traffic is manageable.
“It gets better every day,” she said.

Though the numbers are not official, the district has 3,095 students this year. Enrollment of new students is down from last year, which saw a significant increase of about 140. So far the increase this year is 60 or 70, which is closer to normal, Shook said.

The district added 17 new teachers this year, some of them part-time and five of them for the pre-K program which now has 110 students. The district got a state grant this year to add spaces for 80 additional four-year-olds. Those students are currently housed in portable buildings, but the district has purchased property on Holly Street to build a pre-K facility. That project is currently in the design phase.

To keep down traffic congestion, the drop off and pick up for pre-K students is 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than for other students. Students are now using the six-room addition to the junior high building, which cost the district $1.5 million.

Shook said the triple-digit temperatures are a concern, but there have been no reported injuries. The heat is really an issue with the athletes, she said, but the coaches monitor them closely to make sure they don’t become dehydrated.

Badger Academy, the district’s alternative learning environment (ALE), is somewhat changed for the 2007-2008 school year. In addition to the 45 7th – 12th graders, the program now has room for 15 adults from 18-21 who want to take night classes to complete credits for graduation.

So far only two have enrolled in the new program, so Shook encourages anyone interested in completing credits to call 882-8413 and speak to Brandy Dillin, director or Badger Academy.