Alma School District officials discussed the importance of social media and possible statewide cuts to education during their regular meeting Thursday night.
Robin Finley with the Alma School District gave a presentation to administrators and the Alma School Board on the importance of using social media to communicate and interact with students and the community.
"If something big happened at the school district - let’s say all the lights go out - we have the ability to send that information out to all forms of social media at once," Finley said. "That’s a pretty solid method of communication."
Finley focused on three points of using social media - being positive when interacting with the community, promoting the district’s events and resources, and maintaining professionalism.
Also during the presentation, Finley discussed which media application appeals to which demographic, listed district accounts and explained how social media is layered.
"I have this goal," Finley said. "I would love for every single kid in the school district to get their picture taken, to get tweeted about, to some way get on our social media, because they love it. They get so excited."
While Superintendent David Woolly noted that mastering the use of social was more difficult for some than others, he said it was an important tool for the school district.
"It’s not a matter if we want to do it or not - it’s the world we live in. It’s important for us to communicate to the community," Woolly said.
Woolly also discussed the state of the current Arkansas legislative session and the possibility of statewide budget cuts that could affect the school district.
If state legislators fail to pass Gov. Asa Hutchinson’ replacement to the Private Option, the state’s answer to expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, called Arkansas Works, the state could have a budget shortfall of about $130 million.
Cuts would have to be made to other state programs to make up that shortfall, and about $30 million of that would likely come from education, Woolly said.
One possible cut could be the stipend for board certified teachers, Woolly said.
"Of the list I saw this morning, that would be the thing that would impact us the most," Woolly said.
One vote to pass the state’s budget including funding for Arkansas Works failed in the Arkansas House of Representatives on Thursday.
Though Woolly said he thought the budget was unlikely to pass at any point, he added that there are still several days left in the financial legislative session.
Also during the meeting, board members approved the expulsion of two high school students who were caught dealing drugs on campus.
While students caught with drugs on campus are usually recommended to attend alternative school, Woolly said the district has a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to dealing drugs.
Board member Chapen Rucker asked if alternative school might be a better option for the students since both students were juniors and, as they must wait 365 days before enrolling again in an Arkansas school, likely to drop out.
"Well, that depends on if they want to make changes in their lives," Woolly said. "We have seen students who have done that…but yes, you’re right. It is unlikely that they will return to school."
Brian Kirkendoll, Alma High School assistant principal, pointed out that both students’ parents agreed with the decision to expel the students from the high school.
"The parents have had issues with the two, themselves," Kirkendoll said.
Kirkendoll added that when questioning the students, he saw "no remorse" for their actions and one previously had been expelled from another school for selling marijuana.
Both students were arrested by Alma police and face charges, Kirkendoll said.
Board members also approved a request by Woolly to refinance two bonds, which will save the school district a total of about $500,000, according to estimates by Stephens financial services firm.
All returning classified employees were approved for rehire, and board members accepted resignations from seven classified employees.