The Lonoke School Board voted unanimously on Monday night during its board meeting to have the "fighting jackrabbit" mascot logo used throughout the new Gina Cox Center.

According to Superintendent Suzanne Bailey, million-dollar donor Gina Cox-Wiertelak and husband Jim have requested that the school mascot be phased back into the fighting jackrabbit rather than the current running jackrabbit. After a long discussion, Rick Pennington suggested that the decision be put to the school staff for vote. Matt Boyles disagreed and said most of the current staff are not Lonoke Alumni, so they would more than likely go with the current mascot logo because they are not familiar with the old fighting jackrabbit.

After narrowing down the logo use, the board determined that the fighting jackrabbit was phased out in 1983-1984. Since the old logo was phased out, the school has had four or five different mascot logo, according to Boyles. During the early 2000’s, due to a number of different mascot logos being used throughout the school for the band, football team and other sports, the district chose to stick with one mascot logo, the current running jackrabbit.

"Maybe we should put it [the fighting jackrabbit] on the floor [of the gymnasium] and see what kind of feedback we get from there," Tony Kelleybrew said.

The board all agreed that a fighting jackrabbit be used throughout the new Gina Cox Center. The mascot will be displayed throughout the building, including the tables and the gymnasium floor.

New safety enhancements will soon be installed in the buildings. According to Bailey, with the approval from the board a buzzer and security system will be installed in the entryways of the main buildings. This will include digital video recording capabilities. The board voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the new security system from Advanced Cabling Systems of North Little Rock for $11,528.

Amanda Rather provided an overview of the new Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) training and implementation schedule for the district. According to Rather, the district is trying to train and pilot the program for the 2013-2014 school year in each school. She said the program will become mandated by the state as an evaluating system for the 2014-2015 school year. Rather said all the building principles will be required to take the test to evaluate teachers.

"We are really digging deep," Bailey said.

Although Bailey is not required to complete the training and testing, she said she has taken it upon herself to take part in the training.

Rather said the program is designed to recognize teachers who strive for excellence. She said some of the key points of the program include its ability to identify specific areas, the expectancy for teachers to grow, identifying continued growth in student learning and more than one means to evaluate teachers. Rather said the middle school is currently piloting the program for the state and is required to relay their feedback on the program.

"It’s going to be a lot for the teachers, as well as the principles," Bailey said. "Its going to force them to present the artifacts."

Although completion and testing is required to be completed by Dec. 31, the district plans to take its tests in April.

A district-wide tornado drill is scheduled for Friday. According to Bailey, the drill will begin at 1 p.m. with the primary school practicing loading the buses. At 1:30 p.m. each school will make there way during the drill to the district safe rooms.

Bailey said loading the buses and transporting primary school students to the safe rooms will be the districts top priority in the event a tornado was to threaten the area. She said anytime there is bad weather, everyone is alert and watching the news. Bailey said there is an area surrounding the district that is used a pre-notification area in the event of severe weather. This area is used so that primary school students can be transported to the safe rooms prior tornado outbreak. According to Bailey, in the unlikely event there was not time to transport the students, they would remain in the building for their safety.

The Friday drill will be video recorded so it can can evaluated and items noted in need of improvement. In the event of bad weather, the drill will be postponed until a later date.

The district safe rooms are designed to hold 1,800 students. One can hold 800 students and the other 1,000 students.

The Middle School has received a $4,400 grant for the new "Grab and Go" breakfast program. Bailey said this is a program that offers students a second chance at breakfast around 9:30 a.m., when they might otherwise not get to eat breakfast. She said items including such as donuts, juice, milk and hotpockets are offered to the students.

During the meeting, the primary schools student and employees of the month were recognized. Primary school principal Ross Moore presented awards to students of the month, preschool student Jordan Gatter and second grade special education student Angel Williams. Employees of the month presented with gifts were second grade interventionist Susan Lilly and first grade aide Pat Frizzell.

In other board business, the board unanimously approved To pay the Arkansas School Board Association’s workers’ compensation premium of $26,476.

Extend the contract of Superintendent Suzanne Bailey for one year.

Eddie Pennington was absent from the meeting. Due to spring break vacation, the next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on March 26 in the administration building.