Unanimous approval a contract to partner with Thrive to enhance instruction in the arts and through the East Lab program highlighted the most recent meeting of the Helena-West Helena School Board on April 10.

Unanimous approval a contract to partner with Thrive to enhance instruction in the arts and through the East Lab program highlighted the most recent meeting of the Helena-West Helena School Board on April 10.

The proposal was developed between Terrance Clark, the co-director of Thrive, with the volunteer assistance of Lynn and Dana Chadwick, both retired school administrators with a combined six decades of experience, and CHS Principal Earnest Simpson and Superintendent John Hoy.

Hoy presented the proposal to the board saying, “This provides us with an opportunity to do something that is good for our kids, partner with an important community organization, and make improvements to our programs in a cost effective manner. The principal at CHS wants this and so do I.”

The program builds on the artists in residence program started by Thrive last year with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This agreement calls for four artists/designers to be in the schools working with students and teachers in Art and in the East Lab program three days per week. It will only cost the district $54,000, which can be paid for by the district’s restricted funds.

School Board President Andrew Bagley was elated at the development of the agreement.

He said, “Research shows that students involved in high quality programming in fine arts do better in school. Having an organization like Thrive to work with us enables us to leverage our limited resources in a way that maximizes benefits to our students and improves our ability to improve these programs in an affordable way. Terrance Clark and Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick are to be commended for their commitment to assist our district in this way, and we are looking forward to working with them.”

The school board also gave unanimous approval to a $500 pay increase for certified staff and a $250 increase to the classified staff for the 2017-18 school year. This is just the second pay raise in a 6-year period for the staff. Hoy told the board that raising salaries to a competitive level would be essential in order to recruit and retain quality staff.

He said, “It is my goal to gradually make our salaries more competitive. However, we must be as efficient as possible in terms of staffing in order to afford the increases. We worked very hard to make the cuts necessary to make this increase happen.”

In other business, the school board approved the purchase of equipment for the current and new cafeterias at J. F. Wahl Elementary School and gave Hoy the authority to auction off surplus equipment after school is out, including some of the old furnishings and equipment in buildings at Central that will be demolished to make way for construction of the new high school facility. Also, the board gave unanimous approval to the staffing recommendations for the summer school programs at the schools this summer and approved the district’s monthly financial reports.