Board retains election calendar, adopts policies
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Voters in the Hope Public School District will not need to concern themselves with a complicated election process fostered by changes in state law. The HPSD Board voted Monday night to retain its current September elections calendar.

The potential change to conducting school elections on the same day in November as general elections was explained to the board in a letter from Hempstead County Elections Commission Chair Cynthia Newsom which recommended that the district maintain its separate September election schedule.

“Ignoring the complications inherent in running two elections on the same day, the cost of a November School Election will be exponentially higher than a September election,” Newsom wrote.

She said that costs associated with a change to November could reach as high as $10,000, depending upon the election turnout in any given school district.

“Hope will need workers for all seven precincts plus Columbus, Cross Roads, Fulton, Guernsey, Patmos, Perrytown, Rocky Mound, Shover Springs, Spring Hill and Washington,” Newsom explained. “Even if the Districts share workers at overlapping precincts, the costs for Election Day workers will be at least triple what it has been in September for each School District, possibly five to six times as much as it has been.”

School Board President Joe Short said that Newsom’s point was well-taken in that it allowed the district to consolidate all of its election day voting in separate polling stations at one central site.

The board voted to keep the September schedule.

Also Monday, the board undertook the review and action on a multiplicity of policy proposals from both the Certified Personnel Policy Committee and the Classified Personnel Policy Committee.

Among policy proposals actions by the board were:

--Removal of residency requirement for district employees.

--Amend licensed personnel sick leave, and personal/professional leave days.

--Retain base rate for classified after school tutoring, but reject retroactive implementation.

--Retain licensed personnel workplace injury/worker compensation as currently written.

--Reject amendment to assignment of extra duties for licensed personnel.

--Reject amendment to licensed personnel travel reimbursement.

--Amend calendar year for licensed personnel employee training.

--Amend licensed personnel sick leave accrual to reflect practice.

--Amend licensed personnel employment/recruitment-professional personnel to reflect half-stipend payment.

--Amend language of licensed personnel sick leave bank policy.

--Rejected amendment of classified personnel death benefit payment.

--Rejected amendment of classified personnel sick leave accumulation policy.

--Accepted updated non-indexed classified salary schedules.

--Accepted amendments to conform other policies to state requirements.

The board tabled consideration of an updated facilities use policy in order to obtain legal clarification regarding insurance liability coverage, and trustees approved a revision in the eligibility criteria for the district to operate its free and reduced lunch program.

The board also recognized the Arkansas Boys State and Girls State students from Hope High School, represented by Matthew Tullos, who said the week-long program was summer camp in government. Other students in the program included Phillip Knighton, Deandre Scott, Gerardo Cardona, Devron Collins, Treasure Nelson, Quiana Gulley, Elizabeth Smelley, Llana Martinez, Gianni Trotter, Tazharia Woodberry, Bernice Santamaria, Mackenzie Lafferty, and Sydney Watson.

Trustees also recognized HHS Air JROTC Cadet Colonel Chantiney M. Turner, who is the 2015-2016 Arkansas Air Force Association JROTC Cadet of the Year. Turner intends to study social work at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia and work with veterans after college.