A Fort Smith School Board member on Monday urged her fellow board members and the district's administration to look into how the district can do more to encourage writing as an art form and incorporate mental health into academics.

School board member Talicia Richardson told the board about a guest at Howard Elementary who introduced the students to spoken word poetry.

"Some of these students at this particular assembly presented their art, and it was the most beautiful writing that you could hear from a fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grader," Richardson said.

The system doesn't do as good of a job of promoting writing as an art form, as it does other fine arts, such as music, she said.

"I feel that, as a district, we should be tapping into our students that choose writing as a form of art for them," she said. "Another piece that I wanted to share with you is that mental health-wise, a lot of journaling is important, and some of these students already have writings. And it may be something that you may think is morbid, but it's healing for them. And I think it's important for us to look at avenues and strategies of how we can tackle addressing mental health while also incorporating art in that and looking at different ways to do that, and tapping into all the schools, districts and beyond Fort Smith because suicide, bullying, abuse — all of those things do not discriminate. And I think it is our role because we have the demographic, and we need to do what we can to tap into that."

During Monday's committee of the whole meeting, the board also voted unanimously to accept a 5-year bid of $31,250 ($6,250 yearly) from Marmic Fire and Safety for spring 2018 through spring 2022 for annual inspections of all district fire alarm systems.

Decisions made during committee of the whole meetings are not final and are up for final approval at the board's regular meetings. The board decided Monday to begin calling committee of the whole meetings "work sessions" as they include all seven board members rather than a small group.

"We want our written procedures to reflect what we really do," Superintendent Doug Brubaker said.

The board has regular voting meetings the fourth Monday of each month, but usually has committee of the whole meetings two weeks beforehand. During committee of the whole meetings, all seven board members meet to discuss agenda items and take an unofficial vote that board members can choose to discuss further, stick with and/or change their votes at the regular meetings.

The board may later decide to designate certain board members to smaller committees, such as finance, properties, personnel, curriculum, public/student affairs and athletics/activities.