WHSD votes to buy 3 new schoolbuses

White Hall School District Superintendent Gary Williams, right, makes comments as board President Dr. Raymond Jones, center, and board member Scott Pittillo listen Tuesday. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

The White Hall School District will purchase three more Thomas Built buses using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.

The district board approved the purchase of the buses for $125,920 each during Tuesday's regular meeting inside the district administration building. Superintendent Gary Williams said the purchase will help improve air quality on buses.

That was one of a number of business items the board addressed:

The board approved a contract for an Educational Audiology/Speech Pathology Resources for Schools program. Arkansas Children's Hospital will provide educational audiology services and/or consultative services of a speech language pathologist for students who are either deaf or hard of hearing.

Contracts with occupational therapist Kara Shaw and physical therapist Amy Kutka were also approved.


During the 2022-23 school year, 101 acts of bullying were reported and confirmed throughout all grade levels in the WHSD. Of those acts, 83 resulted in out-of-school suspension.

"With the middle school-age group, as they are maturing and growing into young adults, how they interact with their peers, there are a lot of times when they are sorting through how to talk to one another," Williams said. "And a lot of times, their comments come across -- they become bullying comments or actions. ... We see a low number in elementary school, a spike in middle school and then it goes back to a lower number in high school. That's just happening because of the age of the kids turning into young adults."

Teachers in the district will undergo training for suicide prevention and bullying prevention as well as ethics, assistant superintendent Debbie Jones told the board. The training is part of a professional development plan the Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires, she said.

Teachers undergo professional development in topics such as teen suicide awareness, Arkansas history, parent involvement and child maltreatment mandated reporting every four years, according to DESE.


The WHSD ended May with a legal balance of $7,582,765.84, which is up $962,783.89 from May 31, 2022.


Certified resignations were approved for Moody Elementary first-grade teacher Brittany Hilliard and Taylor Elementary fifth-grade teacher Madeline Lawhon. A classified resignation was accepted from district bus mechanic Tony Law, effective June 30.

Certified new hires include: high school oral communications teacher Heather Harper, middle school English teacher Julianna Bobo, high school math teacher Bradley Reece, Taylor fifth-grade teacher Tracy Pennington, Moody first-grade teacher Crystal Morris and high school social studies teacher Ethan Fercho.

Zach Taylor is transferring from Taylor Elementary teacher to middle school assistant principal.

And Christopher Hale has been hired as a high school special education paraprofessional.