Robert Chapman

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chapman will retire from South Panola

By Rupert Howell

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Robert Chapman told South Panola school trustees Tuesday night that he will retire from the school district at the end of the current school session ending a 41-year education career.

Chapman currently serves as director of transportation, school residency officer and district hearing officer for disciplinary appeals.

“You want to tell your employees that no one is irreplaceable, but Mr. Chapman comes about as close as you can get,” said South Panola School Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer.

Chapman’s education career spans four decades and two states as he left Mississippi for Arkansas before returning to accept the Batesville Junior High principal’s position. His wife, Willie, is also an educator and is currently principal at Batesville Middle School.

Chapman’s current responsibilities include seeing that 3,500 students arrive at school then home safely while overseeing a 66-bus fleet and drivers that travel over 4,000 miles per day. Also as school residency officer he is responsible for seeing that students are eligible to attend  South Panola Schools by having a legal residence within the district.

His position as district hearing officer makes him responsible that due process is being followed when a student receives discipline. His recommendations then go to the superintendent and the trustee board who decides whether to except the punishment, such as expulsion, or not.

Later during Tuesday’s meeting, trustees approved four bus turn-arounds recommended by Chapman. They are located at 3443 Curtis Road, 4087 Central Academy Road, 104 Cedar Crest Circle and 107 B Cole Drive.

Trustees also approved a request to advertise for bids for a 1991 International bus that is no longer needed by the district. One permanent and three substitute bus drivers were added, also at the request of Chapman.

One teacher and eight other employees were hired. Three resignations were also accepted and mention was made of two employees who had deceased.

Twenty-first Century Learning director Martha Lynn Johnson’s recommendations to add teachers, mentors and tutors to the after school programs funded through grants was also approved by trustees.

A request for one student expulsion was approved which involved a student in possession of a weapon (knife) at the high school.

Trustees asked school administrators if using substitute teachers hired through Kelly’s Services was working out and were told, “The jury is still out,” by Superintendent Shaffer.

Shaffer and financial director Suzanne Covington agreed that cost efficiency and other concerns were still under review with the temporary placement service.

Covington reported expenditures of $1,171,309.77 for the previous month. Trustees were also asked to approve the final version of the previous school year’s budget. Those figures indicated total expenditures of $28,147,080, which was $1,423,093 less than total revenue.

Batesville Intermediate School’s auditorium may soon get a makeover as PTOs from both the Intermediate and Batesville Elementary have pledged $5,000 each toward a face-lift with the school district adding another $15,000.

Plans are to paint and refurbish, and replace curtains and drapes in the auditorium used by both schools and also leased by the City of Batesville for events.

Some classrooms in Batesville Elementary will receive new heating/cooling units as older equipment is replaced that allows temperature control from the different classrooms according to Shaffer.

School board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at the Parenting Center on College Street beginning at 7 p.m.