Board splits duties, waits on policy
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – The Hope Public Schools Board voted Monday night to split the duties of district activities director into male/female counterparts, naming Hope High School Head Bobcat Football Coach Jay Turley and HHS Girls Bobcat Basketball Coach Susan Powers as co-directors.

The unanimous vote of the board came after a thirty-minute executive session and an enabling unanimous vote to change the applicable salary schedule to reflect the split duties.

Trustees also agreed to table action on a revision to the district’s facilities rental policy in order for HPS Superintendent Bobby Hart to develop additional information regarding uses of district facilities.

The Arkansas School Boards Association recommended the policy revision which reflects language requiring fees charged for facilities use to reflect actual costs to the district, as well as rendering the district harmless for liability. The district has previously assessed minimum charges for facilities uses, and has generally required users to provide liability insurance.

Hart presented figures which show all five district buildings have been used within the past three years for community and other eligible functions a total of 69 times at a cost of $25,875. However, the board wanted more information relative to the fees charged as they related to costs.

The board also heard an update on construction of a $4 million expansion project at Beryl Henry Elementary School.

Assistant Superintendent for Transportation and Facilities Steve Bradshaw said the Phase I renovation of office space is nearing completion, along with the construction of a new entrance façade. He said the work started June 1 and is advancing rapidly.

Phase II construction on some 25,000-square feet of multi-purpose and academic space has also begun with foundation fill work completed.

“It looks like they’re doing a good job and on time,” Bradshaw said.

The expansion is funded by re-authorized bond authority for the district approved by the voters.

The board also unanimously adopted an annual tax levy budget reflecting no change in the district’s 34.7 mill tax rate. The budget includes some $9.7 million in salary fund expenditures, $3.9 million in instructional expense, $2.8 million in maintenance and operations, $1.5 million in student transportation costs, and $515,000 in other operating costs.

Debt service is set at some $1.2 million.

In other actions Monday, the board:

--Approved bids from Oak Farms Dairy for milk and juice supply, and Flowers Baking Co. for bread products.

--Approved the purchase of school supplies for the five district campuses at a cost of about $52,000 for the year.

--Approved a policy change to increase substitute teacher pay from $65 to $68 per day.

--Corrected a typographical error affecting policy to change language setting bus paraprofessional pay to $15 per hour.

--Hired Abigal Hobbs as vocal music teacher at Yerger Middle School; and, made one secretary transfer from HHS to Yerger.