Board Updates COVID-19 Leave Policies

Hope Mayor Don Still signs a City of Hope proclamation declaring January, 2021, to be School Board Recognition Month in Hope and saluting Hope Public Schools Board members Viney Johnson, Margaret Moss, Jimmy Courtney, Linda Haynes, Kathryn Dickinson, Alvis Hamilton, and David “Bubba” Powers for their role in the community and as advocates for public education. – City of Hope for Hope Public Schools

HOPE – The Hope Public Schools Board continued its aggressive response Monday night to the COVID-19 health crisis by adopting related personal leave policy updates to ensure HPS employees the continued ability to adhere to quarantine and illness protocols during the crisis.

HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said the policy update is in response to a change in state funding for COVID-19 leave.

“This is an Arkansas School Board Association modified policy,” Dr. Hart said.

The policy updates include both Classified and Certified personnel and are intended to set the maximum number of days which the district will recognize under the extension of authority granted by the ADE.

Prior to the Dec. 18 expiration of state funding authority, HPS employees were afforded a total of 10 days of state funded COVID-19 related leave beyond current district-funded policy.

“This allows us to use that and hold employees harmless,” Hart said.

He said in response to an inquiry by Zone 8 Representative David “Bubba” Powers the policy includes a “caregiver” element which enhances state-funded support.

The board also named three HPS Assistant Point of Contact personnel to supplement the services of HPS Point of Contact Gretchen Carlton, the director of the Hope Bobcat Clinic at Hope High School.

Kenyetta Vaughn, Hope High School secretary; Amber Keener, HPS Transportation secretary; and Jessica Garcia, HPS Curriculum/Instruction secretary will take on the additional duties to assimilate contact information from parents and students regarding COVID-19 close contact, testing and quarantines.

The board was also recognized Monday night during School Board Recognition Month by the Arkansas School Boards Association with the presentation of certificates honoring each board member’s service.

“I want to tell you thank you for the service you provide, not only for us as educators but also for all the children and parents of the district,” Hart said.

And, Board members were also presented copies of a proclamation by Hope Mayor Don Still designating January, 2021, as School Board Recognition Month in Hope.

The proclamation acknowledges the importance of the leadership which school board members demonstrate in establishing policy, management of public schools, representing local interests in state and federal education affairs, advocating for public education and serving as elected volunteers who devote knowledge, time and talents to the needs of the district and the public’s expectations for public education.

In other actions Monday, the board:

–Renewed Board legal liability insurance endorsed by the ASBA through BXS Insurance at an annual premium of $11,900.

–Renewed a lawn and grounds maintenance contract with ProCut Lawn Equipment and Services for two years at a cost of $59,612.63 per year.

–Learned a panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the modification of the federal court consent decree entered in Davis v. Franks as it applies to the HPS and changes in Arkansas school choice law.

–Learned that details on a new series of CARES Act funding will be made available to the HPS this week.

–Adopted personnel recommendations.

–Conducted the annual evaluation review of the superintendent.

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