Hope School Board

The Hope School Board met Monday for their regular monthly meeting. The meeting opened with the Superintendent’s Report. Dr Bobby Hart reported enrollment is at 2,258 which is a little ahead of last year. He congratulated the Yerger Robotics team for winning 2nd place in recent competition and noted they will be heading to State. He also congratulated the Hope High Cheerleaders on receiving a top rating at a competition in El Dorado.

The board heard a report from Gretchen Carlton and Kristen Price on the Hope School Based Clinic. Carlton noted they had 395 visits with about 73 being by staff. She noted they saved students 20 “seat hours” in November and 11 hours for staff. These hours reflected the time saved that students and staff would otherwise have been traveling to, waiting on, or seeing an off-site medical professional. Carlton explained how a number of students have received required immunizations and the board asked several questions about that. Dr. Hart says he hopes they can get more Clinton Primary students using the clinic. He thanked Carlton and Price for their work.

Dr. Hart gave an update on a possible solar facility being considered for the district. He noted the five companies have been whittled down to five. He noted they will meet with a company called “Integrity” this week and have also have called upon a company called “Clear Energy” for further discussions. Dr. Hart said the district is allowed to produce 300 megwatts. He also noted Hope Water and Light is aware of the project. Dr. Hart notes the project could result in energy cost savings of up to $80,000 per year although that will not be immediate. He notes he hopes what ever company they choose might also do an “energy audit” to hopefully find more savings for the district through lighting and HVAC improvements. Discussion ensued. No action was taken and more is expected at future meetings.

Dr. Hart discussed the district’s “declining balance”. He noted the State is aware and is aware the district is taking steps to work on this. He said this is because the district went from a balance of $4.8 million in 2015 to $2.7 in 2019. He said the biggest culprit is a decline in enrollment from 2,470 in 2015 to 2,219 in 2019. Also, Dr. Hart said they purposely spent down some of those funds. He has invited a State person to come address the board after the first of the year. Dr. Hart said he recommends they continue reducing staff through attrition. He noted they reduced 20 positions this most recent year and he recommends that continue. Dr. Hart said the district is overstaffed on nurses and on certified staff. He recommends continuing reducing staff from attrition until the district has to lay off staff. Dr. Hart also said the district may want to reduce their campuses down from five.

The board moved on to discussing the roof on the Garland campus. Dr. Hart said the state has not given foundation funds in the past and he thinks they will fail to fund the most recent request. He said they have to at least patch the roof. Dr. Hart also said the flooring needs to be replaced in the cafeteria and it will have to be abated. Dr. Hart estimated that cost at $18,000 plus. To replace the roof on the three leaking classrooms would cost $20,000. To patch it would be $7,800. A plumbing issue was discussed. Dr. Hart says the district needs to think long-term about the building. He said he doesn’t think it should be completely abandoned or else it turns into another facility like the currently unused Edith Brown facility. Dr. Hart said he thinks the $7,800 short-term fix is necessary. Board member Alvis Hamilton asked about options if HAPS moved. Dr. Hart went over several of those which could include putting HAPS in the Yerger campus or on the Beryl Henry campus. Dr. Hart discussed that a task force will be seated to come up with options. Several board members volunteered.

Personnel.matters closed out the meeting.