Smart Talk, Nov. 19 

Private schools hit by recession

An article in the recent issue of Arkansas Catholic indicates that Catholic schools have been hit even harder than other private schools by the recession.

Enrollment in Catholic schools in Arkansas dropped 4 percent from 7,534 in 2008-09 to 7,232 students this school year. The article said enrollment dropped at 23 of 31 schools, with 14 recording drops of more than 8 percent. The article said higher costs in a tough economy, a “decreasing commitment” to Catholic schools and demographic shifts were thought to explain the drops. By contrast, enrollment was flat year to year among the 97 schools, including the Catholic schools, in the Arkansas Nonpublic School Accrediting Association —  20,542 in 2008-09 and 20,651 this year.

The article quoted Vernell Bowen, superintendent for Catholic schools, as saying the schools needed to work on both marketing and retention of current students, particularly  lower-income and minority students who would benefit from a Catholic education. Kathy House, principal of Little Rock's Christ the King School, said a church subsidy had helped cover scholarship costs there, the state's largest Catholic school with 727 students.


Pressly memories


KATV was prepared when the guilty verdict arrived last week in the capital murder trial of Curtis Lavelle Vance, who fatally beat and raped KATV anchor Anne Pressly in October 2008. The station had a special on Pressly's life ready for airing and it also was prepared to announce along with Pressly's family the publication of a book dedicated to her, “Making Memories: A Celebration of the Life of Anne Pressly.”

The book, published by the Arkansas Times for KATV, was written by news director Randy Dixon and Christina Munoz, Channel 7's anchor. It contains memories of her from friends and co-workers and numerous photographs. Proceeds from the sale of the $25 book will benefit the Anne Pressly Scholarship Foundation, which will provide aid to aspiring broadcast journalists. It can be ordered at annepresslybook.org. Nearly 400 orders poured into the website in the evening after the book was announced Nov. 18, Dixon said.


You've heard of an

Eye in the Sky?


The KFSM Channel 5 news team in Fayetteville will have to do without a satellite truck for awhile.  On Wednesday last week, a photographer and a reporter parked the van — fully equipped for satellite broadcast from any location — near the bank of the White River to cover a dramatic water rescue. 

“We're still trying to figure out exactly what happened,” said Rick Bagley, news director for KFSM.  “I don't think the truck was parked too close to the bank to where it just fell in, it was originally parked several feet back, but in the course of setting up the shot, something happened and it began to roll and it rolled into the river.”

Bagley says the total cost of the accident is $250,000.  In addition to the truck itself, Channel 5 also lost a video camera, multiple camera batteries, a light kit and some other equipment.

“We pulled it out,” Bagley said.  “It was mostly under water.  I think they're taking a look to see if there's anything that could be salvaged but at this point I don't think so.”

When asked if anyone had been fired over the incident, Bagley said he could not comment on personnel matters. 

“We're just fortunate no one was hurt,” he said.  “But the loss of equipment was significant.”


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