Assistant Superintendent, Kevin Hesslen, addressed the school board during their January meeting. Hesslen stated that since the minimum wage increase to $8.50 an hour the school needed address the amount that substitute teach are paid by the district. Current daily rates are: $65 regular pay, $70 bachelor’s degree pay and $75 for certified pay. Long term rates ar $75 regular, $140 bachelor’s degree and $150 for certified pay.

A long term sub is one that teaches for 10 consecutive days at the same position.

Hesslen proposed $5 across the board pay raise for all levels. The new rate will take effect in the spring of 2017. This will be the first pay increase for subs in Greenwood since 2013.

Superintendent John Ciesla reported that he had received word from the Arkansas Department of Education that several Greenwood Schools have been recognized as reward schools In the Arkansas School Recognition Program. This program financially rewards schools that are performing at a high level.

“I am proud to announce officially that these schools have received a monetary reward,” said Ciesla.

East Hills received $55,300 for being a top five percent performer.

East Pointe received $77,800 for being a top five percent performer.

Greenwood Junior High received $29,500 for being a top 6-10 percent performing school.

Westwood received $42,150 for being a top 6-10 percent performing school.

The junior high received an additional $59,000 for being in the top five percent of growth in the state.

East Pointe also received an additional $38,000 for being in the top six percent of growth in the state.

All tolled that is $302,650.

“I would just like to commend our teachers, our students and also our staff for doing an excellent job,” said Ciesla. “And for continuing to perform at a high level.”

In other news Aaron Gamble, principal of Greenwood Jr. High School and Assistant Principal, Cody Chatman, gave a presentation updating the board on Project Lead the Way.

In March of last year Greenwood sought to waive the requirement of teaching physical education, career education, and fine arts to seventh and eighth grade students so that some would have the flexibility to take courses in STEM education through PLW. STEM stands for; science, technology, engineering and math. Through this opportunity, students have been taking courses in engineering and biomedical sciences without forfeiting other activities.

In the process, these students learn a broad variety of skills with technology and be exposed to a diverse set of career fields.

The Greenwood School Board voted unanimously to move forward with STEM classes last year.

Gamble the presentation to the board concerning the new courses.

The curriculum for the STEM classes will comes through Project Lead the Way, which is a nonprofit organization that provides programs K-12.

This program offers experience in three career paths; engineering, biomedical science and computer science. “These are really good, rich, hands on opportunities for kids to maybe decide they want to pursue robotics or engineering or the medical field where they may not have considered them before,” said Gamble.

The goal of this program is to prepare students for STEM education at the high school level and beyond and to improve performance in the areas of math and science.

Gamble stated that Greenwood has become something of an ambassador to other schools in the area that are interested in exploring STEM courses.

Chatman explained to the board what the students have been doing on the computer science side of the STEM courses such as building an app for the high school soccer team and a “Study Buddy” app that helps students prepare for tests.

Assistant Superintendent, Suzy Wilson, gave the board an update on the GSPIRE program. At the July meeting of the Greenwood School Board, Wilson received approval for an after school tutoring program that will started this fall. The mission of the new program, Greenwood Students Preparing Improving Reflecting on Excellence (GSPIRE), is to provide students with extra time, assistance and support so they can achieve academic success. Kindergarten through sixth grades have GSPIRE after school four days a week from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. for 12 weeks per semester. Seventh through 12 offer the program before and after school for four days a week for two hours a day for 12 weeks per semester. Wilson explained the reason for the difference was to give older students more opportunities to seek help. The program is offered in the morning as well as the afternoon to give students who have after school activities a chance to receive tutoring.

Wilson stated that 64 students K-6 enrolled in the program as did 40 7-12th grades. There are 12 K-6th grade teachers and six 7-12th grade teachers.

According to interim progress reports 60 of the 64 students showed progress in math, literacy or both. And out of the 40, 31 showed progress on the report cards.

GSPIRE started back on Jan. 23rd and will end on Apr. 13th.