Hope Public SchoolsSchool News

Hope School Board adopts COVID-19 incentive, resolution

Hope Public Schools

Ken McLemore

Communications Director

HOPE – Preparations for the opening of classes Aug. 16 in the Hope Public Schools included two actions by the HPS Board of Education to foster greater safety across the district to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Meeting in special session Aug. 4, the board agreed unanimously to a one-time incentive of $200 per employee who qualifies after becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19. HPS Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Crossley said the benefit will be funded through federal ESSER monies.

“This works alongside our plan for vaccination clinics,” Dr. Crossley said.

He said the incentive is not intended to be a mandate.

“A lot of other districts are doing something similar,” Crossley said. 

He said the $200 one-time incentive appears to be the most widely used among other districts. Crossley said anyone employed by the HPS under a 2021-2022 contract is eligible to receive the incentive upon proper demonstration of being fully vaccinated.

The district and the Bobcat Clinic have partnered with Express Rx Pharmacy, Cabun Rural Health, and Farmers Bank and Trust to promote or sponsor multiple COVID-19 vaccination clinics on Aug. 10 at the Hope High School MAC Building from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the HHS cafeteria from 4-6 p.m., and at The Hub in downtown Hope from 5-7 p.m.; and Aug. 12 at the Yerger Middle School Cafeteria from 3-4:30 p.m. and at the Hope Academy of Public Service nurse’s office from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The board also voted unanimously to support a resolution to be sent to the Arkansas General Assembly asking for the repeal or modification to Act 1002 to allow local school districts to pursue their own face mask usage policy. Act 1002 currently prohibits local districts from acting independently on the issue.

“This is going to be something we will deal with throughout the entire year,” Crossley said. “This is a resolution of support; not a mandate.”

He said he has discussed the resolution with numerous district stakeholders and it has widespread support locally.

“We care for our kids,” Crossley said. “I have a lot of charges as superintendent and my first and foremost is keeping folks safe.”

After a lengthy discussion of the current issues surrounding face mask usage, he said the question is thorny.

“I will work with our legal counsel to see what to do if the Legislature does not repeal Act 1002,” Crossley said. “We are going to strongly encourage the idea of vaccine availability.

Also during the session, the board:

–Adopted the 2021-2022 personnel package.

–Accepted the bid of White River Services and Solutions for Chromebook replacements on three campuses at a cost of $242,334, using ESSER funding.

–Adopted a one-year extension of the district’s WiFi contract for internet connectivity.

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