Internet access to be studied by Fort Smith Public Schools; Southside hires football coach

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 950 views 

The Fort Smith Public Schools Board of Education approved a resolution at a called board meeting Monday (June 1) that authorizes up to $30,000 for a feasibility study for an LTE network – internet access system – for the district.

The COVID-19 Pandemic highlighted the importance of home Internet access for students, said Dr. Brubaker, FSPS superintendent. The district conducted a survey over the past two weeks and found that 22% of the district’s elementary students and 4% of the district’s junior and senior high students do not have home internet service, Brubaker said.

At the May 18 board meeting, the school board approved the purchase of 2,500 LTE modems, more commonly known as hotspots, for the start of the school year in August in the event some or all students have to continue virtual learning in the fall. The cost of that equipment is estimated to be $2,716.31. Servicing cost is expected to be about $1.097 million for 10-month service or $1.317 million for 12-month service. Brubaker said the district is expecting about $4 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Those funds would be used for the hotspots, he said.

Along with securing those hot spots, the district is exploring other service models, Brubaker said, noting that some school districts have established networks in order to provide services. The study will determine whether it is feasible for FSPS to do that.

School Board President Bill Hanesworth said it was unbelievable that just a few years ago, the district was working to get Chromebook technology for our students, and now we are looking at putting in an internet network.

“It is incredible,” he said.

The survey also found that 15% of the secondary staff and 18% of the elementary staff do not have home wi-fi access.

The school district also announced Monday the hiring of an assistant director of district innovation, a head soccer coach and a Southside High School head football coach.

• Dr. Samantha Hall was hired as assistant director of district innovation and will report to the director of the Career Education Center and District Innovation. Hall previously served in the Fort Smith Public Schools district as the supervisor of Professional Development at the Rogers Center (2013-2020), a Southside High School assistant principal (2007-2013), Darby Junior High assistant principal (2003-2007), and Chaffin Junior High classroom teacher (1991-2003). Hall earned a bachelor’s degree in math and French and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Arkansas.

• Mahmoud Ihmeidan was hired May 18 as head soccer coach and a physical education/health teacher at Southside High School. Ihmeidan will lead the boys and girls soccer teams at Southside High School, teach knowledge and skills in physical fitness and health education, and plan and create balanced physical education programs. Ihmeidan previously served as a Youth Academy Soccer Trainer at the New York Red Bulls Soccer Club in Harrison, N.J. (2017-2020), and a head soccer coach and health teacher at Al-Ghazaly Junior/Senior High School in Wayne, N.J. (2017-2020). Prior to his positions in New Jersey, Ihmeidan was the Southside High School Head Soccer Coach on a voluntary basis (2015-2017), Fort Smith Express Soccer Club Head Soccer Coach (2015-2017), vice principal at Annor Academy in Fort Smith (2013-2017) while briefly interning as a soccer coach at Northside High School (2013). Ihmeidan earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Midwestern State University and a master’s of science degree in Teacher Leadership from Walden University.

• Kim Dameron was named head football coach at Southside High School and athletic coordinator, reporting to the FSPS Athletic Director and SHS School Principal. Dameron previously served as a senior defensive analyst at Kansas University in Lawrence, Kan., (2019-2020) and head football coach at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. (2014-2018). Prior to his head coaching positions, Dameron served as a defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston Louisiana (2013) and defensive coordinator at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. (2011-2012). He has also worked as a graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas under Coach Lou Holtz. Damron earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Arkansas, where he played from 1979-82 as a wide receiver and defensive back. As a Razorback, he played in four bowl games including the 1979 Sugar Bowl.

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