SILOAM SPRINGS — The School District’s Transportation Department travels an average of 1,300 miles in a 152-square-mile area every day to deliver students safely to and from school, according to transportation director Steve Avery.

Avery gave a report about the department at Thursday’s School Board meeting. The district has 30 regular morning and afternoon routes, three special needs routes and three afternoon only routes, he said.

In the morning, bus drivers are responsible for picking up between 1,100 and 1,300 students, and in the afternoon they deliver 1,500 to 1,700 students, he said. Numbers are higher in the afternoon because some parents bring their children to school and depend on the buses to bring them home, while other students head to the Boys & Girls Club or sports practices in the afternoon, he said.

The School District bought a minibus in the fall, which is being used heavily, Avery said. Because it’s smaller, any teacher with a good driving record can use it to transport students, he said.

The department also has added a step to their bus conduct policy allowing them to ban students for the rest of the year, Avery said. The extra discipline step has been helpful, he said.

Shane Patrick, director of operations for the district, commended the department for their actions during severe storms Jan. 10 when a tornado warning was issued right after school released. There were 30 school buses with children on them at the Intermediate School and Southside Elementary School when the warning was issued, Patrick said. Bus drivers made sure students unloaded safely in the driving rain and got in the buildings to take shelter.

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Even without a tornado warning, unloading 30 buses on short notice could have been a disaster, he said.

“Everybody went above and beyond that day. … I want to brag on our Transportation Department and I am very, very appreciative,” Patrick said.

In other business, Patrick said installing the new track surface at Siloam Springs Middle School is complete and John Brown University students are using the facility for daily practice. Work continues on a few elements of the project, such as a new gate, fencing and bathrooms, he said.

The School District partnered with the university to renovate the track around Glenn W. Black Stadium in October 2018. The university announced plans to launch an NAIA Intercollegiate men’s and women’s track and field program at the time.

The renovation includes rebuilding the track sub-surface and installing a higher quality running surface. The interior ends of the track were made more functional for field events and a steeple chase pit is being added. In addition, the west visitor stands were removed earlier this year to make room for field events and the public restrooms in the east stands are being renovated.

Patrick also updated the board on the Northside Elementary School renovation. The project will convert the former 2,000-square-foot library into an administrative office including an airlock front entrance, reception area and offices for the school resource officer, assistant principal, registrar and principal, as well as a conference room, work room, staff restrooms and a break room.

Patrick said the project is on schedule to be complete and ready the Friday before spring break.

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School Board members approved the 2020/2021 school calendar during the meeting. The calendar requires teachers to return to school Aug. 6 and students to return Aug. 13. It allows for a week of Thanksgiving break, from Nov. 23 through Nov. 27, and for the first semester to end before the Christmas holiday on Dec. 18.

Students will return to school Jan. 5, 2021, and spring break is scheduled for March 22 through 26. The last day of school will be May 27. Inclement weather makeup days are Jan. 18, Feb. 12, Feb. 15, March 19 and May 28, with several options for additional inclement weather days if needed.

The board also:

Approved a $3,000 contract with Aliza Jones for the six-year facilities plan.

Approved a memorandum with Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative for providing early childhood education for special needs children.

Approved renewing Assistant Superintendent Amy Smith’s contract.

• Accepted the retirements of Rebecca DeFreece, instructional coach, and Leslie Moore, English as a second language director.

• Approved transferring four children out of the district to the Springdale School District; one to the Fayetteville School District; and one to the Gentry School District.

NW News on 02/19/2020



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