Leader Blues

Monday, March 23, 2009

TOP STORY >> Another Cabot elementary school

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School Board unanimously on Tuesday approved construction of a 32-classroom facility for the Mountain Springs Elementary School.

The school will be the district’s ninth elementary school. The board considered building a 24-classroom school and adding more classrooms later.

With the additional classrooms, the building will be 78,641 square feet. The cost of will be about $7.3 million.

The per-square-foot cost to construct the building is estimated at $81.86. This does not include costs for land, engineering and architectural design, site work, utilities, or paving and parking or architect. Assistant superintendent Jim Dalton told the board that it would be more cost effective to go ahead and build all the classrooms, “rather than wait to add more later, at least $100 per square foot.”

The school is needed because of the student population, kindergarten through fourth grade, has grown by an average of 176 students each of the past five school years including 2008-09, according to Dalton. The school will serve the Hwy. 5 and Magness Creek neighborhoods, where the fastest growth has occurred in recent years.

The elementary schools in the west part of the district are filled to capacity. The new school is slated to open in fall 2010.

Site work for the project has already begun. Construction of the building is expected to start in May.

At the meeting, it was announced that 123 Cabot sophomores received the Arkansas Student Achievement Award for their high scores on an exam that all 10th-graders are required to take to assess college readiness.

These high achievers comprise 21 percent of all Cabot students who took the exam, compared to the state average of 12 percent. That means that they are on track to meet or exceed American College Testing (ACT) benchmarks by graduation.

The empirically based benchmarks identify levels of proficiency in English, reading, math, and the sciences for a successful first year in college.

The following Cabot school teachers were recognized as recipients of $1,000 technology grants from the Panther Education Foundation: Mandee Carmical, Cabot High; Nadey Jo Dunn, Southside Elementary; Diana Graf, Southside Elementary; Jennifer Luchsinger-Garner, Cabot High School; Debbie Johnson, Middle South; Lindsay MacMillan, Northside Elementary; Peggy Magdaleno, Junior High North; Kelly Monroe, Middle South; Jayme Nyborg, Cabot High, and Kelly Spencer, Middle North. The grants will be used to enhance student learning in the classroom.

Also recognized at the meeting were four Cabot High School students – Emily Milam, James Ryan Miller, Matt Peckat, and Taylor Spence – for earning the career-readiness certification from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Readiness.

The credential is recognized by employers in over half the states in the country as demonstration that an individual possesses the basic skills necessary for success in the workplace. These Cabot students are the first in the state to earn the certification. All are students in Martha Marshall’s Workplace Readiness class at the high school.

A new payroll deduction program allowing Cabot Public School staff to contribute to the Cabot Scholarship Foundation has already brought a return of $398, reported John Thompson, the foundation’s chairman.

The program was started less than two months ago. The foundation will give scholarships averaging $1,000 apiece to 36 Cabot seniors. Since 1996, the foundation has given scholarships totaling more than $236,000, Thompson told the board.

One of the Cabot Scholarship Foundation’s major fundraisers, the annual roast and toast, will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28 in the Cabot High School cafeteria. It will honor Cabot business and civic leader Bill O’Brien. Tickets are $25 per person.

Superintendent Tony Thurman was named honorary commander of the 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard at the board meeting.

The wing’s commander, Col. James Sanders, made the presentation.

Following the meeting, Thurman said that the honorary position will be a great opportunity to strengthen the bond with Little Rock Air Force Base.

“The base is very important to our school and community,” Thurman said. “We have so many students in our district that have parents affiliated with the base in some way.

“This honorary position is a great opportunity for our school system to better communicate and work together on how we can support our students whose parents are a part of the military,” the superintendent said.