Magnolia High School's baseball field, along with the football and softball facilities, may receive artificial turf.

The Magnolia School Board recently decided to study possible installation of artificial turf at the district’s football, baseball and softball fields.

Much discussion around the community has gotten back to the board and it was addressed during the meeting.

Board president Mike Waters said it’s estimated that turf for Panther Stadium would cost between $800,000 and $1 million.

“I don’t feel comfortable asking for a millage from this community to pay for turf with us having building needs and teachers’ salaries that need to be addressed.

“I understand there’s a pretty strong community group looking to raise private funds to do maybe all three,” Waters said. “I think we need to be on record saying we would support a feasibility study being done with the stipulation it will all be privately funded.”

Board member Jason Ray said, “I believe the funds are available in the community, without a millage increase. I think there are enough people that want the opportunity for our kids, to get the funding.”

He added that he didn’t believe raising the funds would be possible without offering signage at the locations to show sponsorship. He suggested using the wall of the indoor practice facility as the location to mount signage as signs could be taken down and replaced as sponsors may change through the years.

Waters said he’s talked with other schools who got stuck with the bill when sponsors backed out after the project was started and recommended that all the money needs to be raised up front before a project should begin.

Superintendent John Ward said he thinks all three fields could be done for less than $2 million. However, he added that it wouldn’t be a good idea to turf the infield of the baseball field unless the drainage in the outfield is addressed.

He said the district also has to consider field maintenance.

Some of the other considerations discussed were how time of year makes a difference when playing on turf and whether Magnolia has the advantage by having the only natural grass football field in the conference.

In other board news:

Board members heard start of the year reports from each of the principals.

Walker Pre-kindergarten principal Natasha Coleman said the total enrollment is 120.

Jill Rader, Kindergarten Center/East Side principal said total enrollment for the three grades is 624 – kindergarten, 207; first grade, 213, and second grade, 203.

She said this is the first time in a while that there have been more than 200 students in each grade.

Central Elementary principal Angie Waters said enrollment for the campus is 537 – 173 third graders, 182 fourth graders, and 182 fifth graders.

Middle School principal Gwen Carter said there are a total of 593 students –174 sixth graders, 190 seventh graders, and 229 eighth graders. She told the board there are 221 students enrolled in pre-AP or accelerated classes.

Middle School assistant principal Crissy Klober spoke about the STAR Academy. The program is maxed at 80 students.

High School Principal Jessica Aryee said there are 786 students enrolled in the high school -- 224 freshmen, 208 sophomores, 177 juniors, and 183 seniors.

Aryee bragged on AP students from the previous year. For 156 students, 266 exams were given, and there were 94 qualifying scores.

“Every one of these ladies are 100 percent dedicated to student achievement and increasing our academic performance for all of our kids,” Ward said about the principals. “They are tremendous instructional leaders.”

-- Board approved a 2022-23 operating budget with $30,244,508 in revenue and $30,377,617 in expenditures. Ward said there is no new construction budgeted.

-- “We are being recognized as a GOLD R.I.S.E. Award-winning community,” Ward said.

“It’s not something that’s just a school-wide initiative. You have a list of 10 different initiatives that we have implemented throughout the community. It’s not anything we have done by ourselves. We have some amazing partners.”

This is a project that has been over a year in the making by involving the community in reading initiatives in the school. The school will be recognized at the State Board Meeting on October 13. Community partners for the award are Magnolia Junior Charity League, Partners In Education, Farmers Bank & Trust, Peoples Bank, Economics Arkansas, Magnolia Boys and Girls Club, and Magnolia Arts.

School-community reading initiatives submitted include:

Dolly Parton Imagination Library (Magnolia Junior Charity League-birth to age 5)

Reading Is Fundamental (MJCL/East Side and Central)

Free Little Libraries (MMS and MJCL)

Boys and Girls Club Book Donation Drive (Magnolia School District/Boys and Girls Club/community of Magnolia)

Library Card Day (Central Elementary 3rd Grade and Columbia County Library)

Walker Pre-Kindergarten Center Receives Coach Shanae Williams’ Children’s Book (Peoples Bank and Walker Pre-K)

Get Real! Here’s the Deal! (Numerous community and business members and Magnolia High School)

Magnolia Middle School Poetry Week (Magnolia Arts and Magnolia Middle School)

Book Fair Donations for Students (Jason Ray, anonymous donations, and East Side)

Magnolia READS (Farmers Bank & Trust, Economics Arkansas, the community of Magnolia, various students and faculty at MMS and MHS, East Side and Central)

-- Ward said the district has hired Jared Wiker for PanthersTV/Audio, Visual and Technology.

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