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Mountain Home Public Schools hosts special meeting on dyslexia, health insurance premiums

Mountain Home Public Schools held a special meeting early Thursday morning at Nelson-Wilks-Herron Elementary School to move forward with three action items covering the hiring of part-time dyslexia instructors for the district, budget amendments, and an increase in the district’s contributions to its employees’ health insurance premiums.

The meeting was attended by Superintendent Jake Long, various administrators, and the Mountain Home Public School Board.

Following the departure of a dyslexia instructor earlier in the semester, the school district has been looking at ways to continue intervention support for grades K-12 to increase student comprehension and reading skills.

These interventions provide one-on-one instruction for students struggling with dyslexia and have seen great success since the district began investing in dyslexia training following the Arkansas State Board of Education’s approval of education rules governing how the state will meet the needs of students with dyslexia.

To continue its dyslexia program, the Mountain Home School Board is now moving to hire retired Mountain Home teachers Martha Wedgeworth and Rita Williams part-time to assist students and their needs.

Through their careers as teachers, both Wedgeworth and Williams have already received the training necessary to accomplish the job, saving the district some of the financial burdens of training a new teacher in Apple Connections, Susan Barton, and other research-based dyslexia intervention programs.
Wedgeworth will take on two students at Hackler Middle School, while Williams will take on nine students at Mountain Home High School.

Following the school board’s motion to hire Wedgeworth and Williams, the board passed a motion to increase the district’s contributions to its employee’s health insurance premiums.
The district currently pays $230.00 per month for every qualifying employee’s health insurance premium, above the state-mandated amount of $168.52 for 2022.

The new state-mandated contribution amount for 2023 is $300.00.

Mountain Home Public Schools has consistently paid more than the state minimum over the past few decades. The school board agreed to continue that practice by adding an additional $50 per month to the state-mandated rate, bringing its total contribution to $350 per month.

The new adjustment will kick in on Jan. 1 of next year.

The last item for the morning covered approving basic adjustments to the district’s budget following scheduled expenditures.

During the discussion on the budget, Dr. Long notified the school board that the district’s budget, while tight, was fully balanced.

The school board ended its session with a quick discussion over dropping its current custodial contract for its schools to hire janitors as district employees. No decision was made following the discussion, and the board agreed to take up the discussion again during a later meeting.

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