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Hope Star - Hope, AR
  • Fiscal distress drains MSSD staff

  • The Mineral Springs-Saratoga School District Board accepted 11 teaching and administrative resignations Monday night in the wake of an on-going “fiscal distress” dilemma that prevents the district from hiring anyone, including a new superintendent.
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  • The Mineral Springs-Saratoga School District Board accepted 11 teaching and administrative resignations Monday night in the wake of an on-going “fiscal distress” dilemma that prevents the district from hiring anyone, including a new superintendent. MSSD board member Dale Gathright, of Saratoga, confirmed Tuesday that Title I Parent Coordinator Pam Wendell; music teacher Bill Hathcote; science teacher/coach Andrew Schroeder; Saratoga campus secretary Denise Juniel; science teacher Emma Loop; math teacher Beverly Tallman; Mineral Springs High School Principal Davy Jones; school improvement specialist Crystal Evans; elementary teacher Tabitha Jones; high school English teacher Angela Barfield; and, middle school English teacher Kim Dunham all resigned Monday. The MSSD board accepted all of the resignations Monday night. “It was not unexpected because some of them had to consider other opportunities because of the fiscal distress situation,” Gathright said. He said the district is at a standstill in preparing for next year because it cannot hire any new staff without specific guidance from the Arkansas Department of Education while the district is under “fiscal distress.” Consequently, according to Gathright, the board has yet to narrow the field of superintendency candidates it has interviewed to replace former superintendent Max Adcock, whose contract was not renewed by the board, and will expire June 31. “We cannot hire anyone, yet; of course, not before July 1,” Gathright said. “The state has been good to work with us on that. We can't hold anyone up that we've talked to; we're hoping the state will tell us something by the end of the month so we can do something.” In two rounds of interviews, the board has met with retired Oklahoma school superintendent Lendell Martin, Teresa Ragsdale, superintendent at Hardford, and former administrator and teacher in the Prescott, Nevada, Stamps and Hope schools, who has also held positions at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and for the Arkansas Department of Education; Holly Cothren, Dierks High School principal, and former educator in Murfreesboro and Little Rock; and, Charles Hanson, of Hope, Saratoga-Mineral Springs Elementary principal, and former educator in the Cossatot River, Weiner, Armorel, Western Yell County, Gosnell, and Crawfordsville schools. In the first round of interviews in late March, the board met with Eureka Springs Schools Superintendent Curtis, Turner, Jr., a native of Murfreesboro, and former superintendent at Delight, Murfreesboro, and Glenwood/Centerpoint; and, with Tim Erwin, assistant principal and athletic director at Ashdown High School, and a graduate of Mineral Springs. MSSD Interim Superintendent Bill Blackwood has presented a five-point fiscal distress plan to the state which cuts a total of $455,497 in district expenditures by reducing personnel positions; changing funding sources; reducing teaching contract days; aligning salaries with salary schedules; and completing the payout of the former superintendent's contract. Gathright said Tuesday that Blackwood is scheduled to meet with ADE Director Dr. Tom Kimbrell next week. “We're kind of waiting to see what they do,” Gathright said.

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