Year brings many changes in Poinsett Co. schools
2013 was a big year year for many schools in Poinsett County with stories ranging from closure of a high school to the talk of construction of a new elementary school building.
The beginning of the year marked a big turning point for EPC School District. In Dec. 2012, the school board responded to a Freedom From Religion complaint and stated they will no longer conduct prayers over loudspeaker before football games. The decision caused an uproar within the Lepanto community with several residents and parents.
Shortly after receiving the letter, EPC Superintendent Michael Pierce addressed the Tyronza City Council showing the letter to residents. The reason given in the letter for this was that "religious messages delivered and displayed at football games constitute an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion." Pierce also told the council he contacted the school board attorney who told him the law was clear on the matter and strongly recommended discontinuing the practice.
At the time, Daniel Nooner, pastor of Revival Center Church in Lepanto, really voiced his opinion on the subject by reaching out to representatives in Washington on the matter. Nooner also said the decision had upset several of the students at the school.
With the complaint from FFRF, EPC school district had no choice but to stop the prayer. EPC school board members did decide to replace the prayer over loudspeaker with a moment of silence.
In March, Weiner High School had problems of its own after the Arkansas State Board of Education voted in favor of closing the high school effective July 1. The Weiner School District was annexed into the Harrisburg District in 2010 after enrollment dropped below 350 students. Several community members and parents of students opposed the move and attempted to make Weiner High School a type of agricultural school. However, their attempts were unsuccessful and an event drawing many alumni was held in honor of the school's past.
Trumann School District had its own share of change in 2013 with the district entering into its first year with the New Tech program. So far, the implementation of the program has proved successful with several 9th and 10th grade classrooms working on in-depth projects.
The district is has also grown in numbers within the last year.
The Trumann school board has recently discussed the future of Cedar Park Elementary and the need to build a new elementary school. The growth of enrollment has been rapid in the last few years, and it has become imperative for the district to update the facility.
Superintendent Myra Graham said the district will know more in 2014; however, they are also looking to build a new softball/baseball complex and possibly a new stadium in the future.
Like much of the Poinsett County, the schools had an overall eventful year. With many goals set for the 2014 year, residents can expect to see even more changes to come.