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PEA RIDGE -- Following an executive session that lasted longer than the open meeting, School Board members renewed district superintendent Keith Martin's contract for two years.

"I recommend we renew Mr. Martin's contract for an additional two years," Jeff Neil, School Board president, said. "The board feels very strongly that he has done a wonderful job and that he's the right man for this job. We would like to show that, not only to you, but to the faculty and staff and all the stakeholders of this district."

Meeting in person were four of the five board members and school administrations limiting the number of persons in the room to 10 or fewer in response to an order from the state, according to Martin, who announced Sunday the meeting slated for Monday would not be open to the public.

The open meeting, shared on a social media platform live, opened at 6 p.m., closed at 6:27 p.m., reconvened at 7:19 p.m. and adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

Board members approved extending the covid leave proposal which expired Dec. 31, allowing up to 10 days leave for teachers and staff if their job can not be performed remotely. There are strict guidelines as to circumstances qualifying persons for the specific leave.

"In my opinion, we truly recognize the efforts ... we feel our faculty and staff have been there every step of the way and we feel like we need to be there for them," Martin said, explaining to board members that the funds came from federal money and will not come out of general operating funds. "I think this is the right thing to do to protect their sick says and financial security."

As of Monday, there were 15 students or staff in quarantine and 106 students out of school, according to Kevin Ramey, assistant superintendent.

"We do expect this is going to be the biggest time," he said, referring to the post-Christmas break days.

Board members recognized Dr. Angie Bassett, SPED coordinator, as the 2020 award recipient of the Reagan Excellence in Education Award.

"I feel like we're the front line for parents," Bassett said. "With all of us in our office, we get to wrap around that whole child... don't have to go to any other place ... we're all right here for you."

In response to a question from Neil, Martin said no one in the district had ever received the Reagan Excellence Education Award before.

Board members adjusted pay for substitutes and others affected by the increase of the minimum wage.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the transfer of students Riley D. Tapper and Kira Tapper into Pea Ridge from Gravette.

• Approved the resignation of business teacher Cathy Segur.

• Approved hiring Mattie Boortz as a long-term sub to replace Cathy Segur.

• Approved hiring Kasey Snow as a SPED aide.

• Approved transfer of Shannon Nobles from central office administrative assistant to Junior High School administrative assistant.

Annette Beard may be reached by email at [email protected]

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