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STRONG — The Strong-Huttig School Board approved a district anniversary celebration and all related activities during its meeting Monday night.

District Superintendent Jeff Alphin said that the celebration would commemorate the district’s 115th year anniversary on Apr. 21.

“We’re going have a school choice program to go along with the anniversary. We’re going to include Huttig. We’re going to include Gardner,” he said. “I’ve got my leadership team … going to look at a t-shirt, activities for elementary students just promoting the school. We’re just going to tie to the anniversary and maybe even get a college band to come in.”

The leadership team will solidify times, make an agenda and speak with the district’s “community folks and make sure (it) has everybody covered,” he said.

Board members approved a proposed budget for the 2019-2020 school year, which is required prior to an election, Alphin said.

“Since they moved the election up, we had to put the projected budget out earlier and Mr. Ray (Beardsley) has been working with Ms. Vera (Herrin) and Ms. Nancy, went ahead and got that ready to go. So, we’re ready to get everybody in the election,” the superintendent said.

High school improvement specialist Shirley Kyle said that the Arkansas Department of Education’s accountability tool, in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act, includes new reporting that gives schools “value added growth scores.”

Strong High School’s score of 80.37 shows that teachers are “moving in the right direction.” During seventh period, teachers are tutoring small groups of students in reading, math and science, Kyle said.

The elementary school’s value added growth score is 72.7. An initiative encouraging students to learn basic math facts and multiplication tables is working, school improvement specialist Becky Bolding said.

“An AdvancED team was here last week spoke with the leadership and that’s one way to keep our school open, as long as we’re moving up. We showed growth in every area except students with disabilities,” Bolding said.

In preparation for the ACT Aspire, Gardner Strong Elementary students continue to show up for after school tutoring, principal Wendell Colen said.

The board also approved an application to change the district’s local education agency number for reclassification purposes. After doing some research, the superintendent said that doing so will work in the district’s favor.

Board members approved purchase service contracts for both school improvement specialists, pending ADE approval; four student transfer requests out of the district and the resignations of high school math teacher Heather Barton and cafeteria worker Linda Kay King, which will be effective at the end of their current contracts.

The Strong-Huttig School Board’s next meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. March 12 in the Strong High School library.

Brittany Williams may be reached at 870-862-6611 or Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook @BWilliamsEDNT for updates on Union County school news.

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