Board advances pay recommendation
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Drawing upon a recommendation formulated during a special board budget session in April, the Hope Public Schools Board voted unanimously to propose a $1,000 base salary schedule increase for certified district personnel and a three percent base salary increase for campus principals.

The action by the board Monday night sends the proposal to the district’s personnel policies committee for adoption or modification prior to final adoption by the board.

Hope Superintendent Bobby Hart brought the idea to the board in a special budget session in April, noting at the time that the district has about $400,000 more in operating reserves this year than in 2015. Hart said Monday night that figure is closer to $700,000 at this point.

The proposed $1,000 base salary increase for teachers will move the basic annual salary from $32,025 to $33,025 before experience multipliers are applied.

Hart said in April the move will put the HPSD closer to comparable-sized districts within Hope’s athletic conference, where the base salary is $36,000 at Nashville, $37,700 at Magnolia, $38,700 at Hot Springs/Lakeside and $37,500 at Watson Chapel. A key distinction for Hope is that the district offers a 22-step increment schedule.

The increase will be funded, in part, from making permanent a $500 bonus given to teachers last year and adding $500 to that amount.

The recommendation of a flat three percent increase for building principals and assistant principals will also go before the PPC, which will either accept, reject or modify the plan and send it back to the full board for adoption.

The board also voted unanimously Monday to refinance outstanding bonds intended to fund the construction of new classroom and multipurpose space at Beryl Henry Elementary School.

Jason Holsclaw, vice president of public finance for Stephens, Inc., in Little Rock, told the board that interest rate conditions are favorable to the district refinancing the $7.6 million remaining in the bond issue for that project.

The district received an interest rate of 3.47 percent from refinanced series 2009/2012 bonds, with $2.12 million of the original $6.6 million bond issue to be retired immediately, leaving some $4 million for the BHE construction project.

Holsclaw recommended Monday that the district refinance its entire $7.6 million debt because interest rates have declined. He said the district could save as much as $325,000 in interest payments in a refinanced issue.

“We can’t predict the market, but we don’t anticipate it moving away from us,” Holsclaw said.

He said refinanced bonds could be sold as early as August, since the first “call date” on the original bond issue is December, 2016.

In other business Monday, the board:

--Accepted on first reading a number of Arkansas School Boards Association model policies, and adopted a number of other ASBA model policies for district implementation.

--Accepted recommendations for classified rehires in transportation, administration, custodial, child nutrition, and at Clinton Primary School, Hope High School, and Yerger Middle School, along with after school program personnel at Beryl Henry Elementary School.

--Hired summer school staff for Beryl Henry Elementary School and Clinton Primary School.

--Accepted certified resignations.

--Purchased a Ford F-150 pickup truck for the maintenance department from Northpoint Ford in Little Rock at a cost of $23,615.

--Accepted the bid of Hotsteler Roofing for replacement of a nutrition department building roof at a cost of $14,025.

--Approved a facilities use request for the Beryl Henry Elementary Cafeteria for a family reunion.

--Adopted federal assurances for the district under the No Child Left Behind Act.