The Hope School Board met Monday night via Zoom. Following the approval of the minutes and expenditures the board moved into the meeting.
Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart noted current enrollment is 2,225. Dr. Hart then introduced the principals from several campuses including Ms. Stewart from Clinton, Dr. Duke from HAPS, Mr. Radebaugh, Ms. Coulter, and Bill Hoglund from Hope High. Mr. Hoglund talked about graduation plans. He noted it’s not a “drive through” graduation but driving through to get their regalia. May 29th there will be a ceremony broadcast via youtube and featuring speaker Steven Walden. Mr. Hoglund said students will be able to upload themselves in their regalia. He noted the students will be able to share their portion of the ceremony via social media and platforms. Mr. Hoglund also noted the booster club is helping with some expenses including yard signs designating 2020 graduates. He said if there is a time in the summer where people can gather, they will put together a ceremony then. Dr. Hart noted Jonesboro and one of the Hot Springs schools are doing similar efforts. Board President Linda Haynes asked was it discussed to wait until August. Mr. Hoglund said they will lose quite a few students by then and would even lose some to the military by June or July. Mr. Hoglund said this offers some closure. Board member Bubba Powers said he thought the district is doing the best they can and are to be commended plus this is also historic.
Under new business, the board looked at Aarkansas School Board Association Policy Updates. They were approved.
School Improvement Specialist Carla Narlsesky discussed a quote from a company called Waterford which offered online learning for pre-k through grade 2 students. The school had been doing a trial for five classes. After COVID, the district was given a free trial. 68% of students are currently using this with their AMI packets. The program would be used next year for pre-k through 4th grade for small-group learning. The expenditure was for $41.600. This involves reading, math, and science. This is a one-time purchase of the program for the calender year. This allows for at-home instruction via video. This is coming from Title I funds. The expenditure was approved.
The board looked at bids for graphing calculators for math classrooms for high school students. Hope High Principal Bill Hoglund answered questions about if students can check these out. He also talked about an issue on keeping up with the AA batteries the calculators use. The board voted to spend $31,700 for the calculators.
The board looked at the “COVID repsonse to closure” resolution. Dr. Hart noted the document explains what the district is doing during the shut-down and the document will also be used to show for auditors how the district paid their employees during the shutdown. The resolution was approved.
The board looked at the audit report. The board members had the audit via mail. Dr. Hart said they only thing they were cited for was lack of segregation of duties which is typical. He noted they were asked to share a few things. He lauded the efforts of Mrs. Flowers, Miss Talley, and Mrs. Lockard. The board acknowledged they had received and reviewed the audit report by a show of hands. It was noted Mrs. Moss hadn’t received it and Dr. Hart noted she would get it.
Before going into executive session for personnel matters, Board President Linda Haynes lauded the teachers’ efforts and staff for their efforts during the COVID situation.
Board member Bubba Powers asked for an update on the meals being provided to students and Dr. Hart explained the situation. Dr. Hart noted the only concern is if it becomes unsafe to distribute the meals and he noted that hasn’t been a problem. Powers also noted that on social media it’s evident the Hope teachers are doing a great job. Haynes noted some area districts have had some issues with this situation and that work has been well-received. Asst. Superintendent Josclyn Wiley also spoke and noted they are proud of how the district is functioning in this situation.
The board concluded with an executive session for personnel matters and this was conducted in a “break-out” room.