Bay city council and school board has joint meeting

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A joint meeting was recently held between the Bay School Board and Bay elected officials. The meeting was called by school Supt. Chip Layne so the school and city could establish long term goals concerning the cities grown by networking and brainstorming targeted areas for improvement.

The Sept. 24 meeting was attended by Supt. Chip Layne, who presided over the meeting; school board members, Jimmie Ladd, Randy Mink, Nathan McMasters and David Carter and elected Bay officials, Mayor Darrell Kirby, recorder Sandi Griffin, aldermen Donnie Davis, Larry Hall, Derek McIntire, Donnie Stewart, David Milam and Kenny Walker.

Supt. Layne addressed the city council about the predicted growth pattern of the school's population, emphasizing that the school was not in trouble but that by working together the city would experience a higher population and the school would keep their high educational standards.

Layne said Bay was one of only two schools in the county not on any type of school improvement based on performance. Last year's third graders ranked fifth in the state and twelfth in the state for literacy and scored higher than Valley View in third grade math. He also said much of the distinctions of the academics at Bay were attributed to the high quality and sincere caring of faculty and teachers.

As Supt. Layne explained the school's academics and revenue situation, he asked the council to help the school board understand the city's revenues, the problem with providing city sewer to certain areas, and how they could obtain grants for future housing developments. He expressed the school's willingness to aid the city using any resource they had to work as a team seeking the same goals.

Mayor Kirby and council members explained the concerns of running sewer to areas of the city yet to be improved, but said there were other area's available for builders to pursue for housing with the capabilities of extending city water and sewer without running new lines.

Several city officials related the financial stress of the city to extend sewer to all areas and the problems of not being able to secure grants to help in the effort. School board member Ladd offered assistance applying for grants by him, or any other qualified person from the school. Supt. Layne agreed they were all willing to help in any way they could. Mayor Kirby said grants were denied in the past, but he was anxious to keep trying.

While the school board voiced concerns the city was not growing, alderman Hall and several council members disagreed stating the city had grown in previous years. Hall said at least 20 new water meters per year were added. The last few years showing that the city had experienced growth to the point that he thought it would be beneficial for the city to request a new census. Both boards agreed families moving to Bay had several desirable amenities. Bay is less than 10 miles to Jonesboro, and also to Trumann (making shopping close), there are few traffic problems, home prices are more reasonable, the cities crime rate is low and the school ranks in the top 10% in the state according to the state department of education, even without the new school addition currently in process. Supt. Layne called the school "a diamond in the rough."

Discussion between the two boards continued with several suggestions on how to attract more growth to the city, while keeping it close knit and community friendly. Many ideas were discussed, and a more formal meeting bringing financials to the table was agreed upon before any decision could be made.

The two boards would like to meet every two months to work on the project and predicted this would be a long and successful partnership for both boards with the city and school being the winners.

Supt. Layne and Mayor Kirby will meet again this week to discuss future agenda's and how to proceed with meetings. While the meeting was informative from both boards, and probably the first in the cities history to work together as a team, it would bring the city together and prove to the public that Bay is the best choice for family housing, security, community involvement, while offering the children a top ranked city school. Supt. Layne said the citizens have spoken for school support by voting for the new school addition. He said it is clear Bay school is the hub of the community and fosters memories for many generations, and many more generations will continue the tradition. It is now time to plan for the future of our children, and for the generations of children to come.

The date for the follow up meeting will be announced at a later time.

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