Builder says BHE expansion half complete

HOPE – The general contractor for the multi-million dollar expansion of Beryl Henry Elementary School told the Hope Public School Board in its December session that the project is about half complete and on schedule.

“The weather is going to kick us in the shin a little right now,” TMG Construction Project Manager Robert Maxwell said.

But, Maxwell and TMG President Mike Hickman said the project’s first two phases have gone relatively smoothly. Hickman said the remodel of the offices in the existing BHE main building is substantially complete, bringing the first phase of the project to a near conclusion once work is completed on the front entrance portico.

He said the portico work lacks only cleanup work.

The second phase of the project began with the construction of a multi-purpose structure which will be used as a hazardous weather and emergency safe room. The structure on the east end of the campus will double as a physical education and multi-purpose facility.

Hickman said all utilities for the expansion have been extended onto the campus, and all structural foundations laid, with superstructure work proceeding on the main classroom annex. He said primary construction work on the annex is 99 percent complete, and interior work should begin after the holidays.

Hickman said a milestone for the campus will be reached in the third phase as portable buildings which were installed on the campus some 30 years ago will be demolished. He said the resulting open space will be converted to additional front entrance parking on the west side of the campus, and provide for an improved fire lane at the rear of the complex.

“As soon as y’all dismiss school this year, we’re going in and tear those old buildings down,” Maxwell said.

Two student-based initiatives were addressed Monday night, including an announcement by Hope Superintendent Bobby Hart that the Yerger Middle School and Clinton Primary School campuses will receive more than $7,000 in scholarship funds from the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program.

The focus of the program is to develop healthy relationships between members of a school’s educational community and promote effective teaching skills. The program focuses upon reinforcement of classroom teaching to improve campus cultures and student engagement.

Hope Academy of Public Service Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke also announced submission of a grant application for an EAST initiative at the HAPS campus.

Dr. Duke said the program will require about a $25,000 initial investment by the HPSD that will translate into about $300,000 in grant funding for furnishings and equipment. She said the EAST program fits well with the HAPS focus.

“Everything they do in EAST is rooted in public and community service,” Duke said.

The board approved a quote by White River Services and Solutions, of Batesville, for a PBX system for the administrative complex at a cost of $11,196.77. The system replaces conventional equipment with Internet-based technology and has been adopted by the Arkansas Department of Education for local schools.

HPSD Technology Coordinator Jeff Madlock said the system will require no licensing and operates through “open source” software. Madlock said his office has been working on the change for some two years.

“They came highly recommended; a lot of schools use them,” he said.

In other actions, the board:

  • -Agreed to have Hart take bids on the construction of greenhouses at both Yerger Middle School and Hope High School.
  • -Approved hiring and resignation recommendations from Hart.

Set its January, 2017, meeting for Jan. 17, beginning with a special session at 4:30 p.m. to conduct a superintendent’s evaluation. The regular session will begin at 5:30 p.m.