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Alma schools to submit petition

Alma school officials have decided to petition the Pulaski County court system to allow them to be heard on a case regarding a school district which is suing the state over how school monies are disbursed.

Deer-Mount Judea School District, located in a remote area of northern Arkansas, has sued the state, contending that the funding formula is inadequate and unequal, particularly for remote districts where students must travel long distances.

Though the case originally was dismissed in Pulaski County courts, the State Supreme Court reversed that decision and ruled that the case should be heard.

While Alma Superintendent David Woolly said his school district currently has no part in the case, the outcome could affect how the district is funded.

Attorney Mitch Llewellyn, who represents not only Alma, but Van Buren, Fort Smith and Greenwood, suggested during a meeting of the four school districts that they petition the court to intervene.

Woolly noted that ASD is not joining the lawsuit, but merely asking to be heard on the issue. The court could deny the request, he said.

“If the court is going to direct the state in changing how schools are funded, we wanted to have some say in what those changes are going to be,” Woolly said.

Board members voted at their monthly meeting Thursday night to go ahead with having Llewellyn petition the court on their behalf. Boards for the other three districts have not yet met to decide on the issue, Woolly said.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, four newly board certified teachers were presented plaques to commemorate their accomplishment.

Math and science specialist Nancy Rhodes, and three classroom teachers - Kara Grill, Dawn Stewart and Pat Ward - were all recognized with a plaque.

Woolly announced at the meeting that Ross White, a middle school career orientation and marketing teacher, has been recognized by the Association for Career and Technical Education as a National Leadership Fellow.

White is one of seven nationally recognized for the position, each representing a region set forth by the ACTE. Woolly said he believes White is one of only three from Alma to ever receive the fellowship.

Board members approved the expulsion of three students attending the alternative learning school, Woolly said. It is the first time in several years that school officials have had to expel any student, he said.

Problem students usually are sent to the alternative school and often “straighten out,” Woolly said. Staff at the school are able to reach kids and help them get back on the right track, he said.

“Unfortunately, this time it didn’t work,” Woolly said.

Because the kids already were attending the school, and committed some severe misconduct including breaking into the school, school board members felt there was no other choice other than expulsion, Woolly said.

Board members also approved the hiring of Cheryl Pickens as the business education teacher at the middle school, and extended Woolly’s contract to June 30, 2017.

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