Hope Public SchoolsSchool News

HPS board welcomes FBT endowment

Farmers Bank and Trust Market President Jacob Jones, right, announced Monday night a scholarship endowment partnership with the Hope Public Schools through the Farmers Bank and Trust Foundation. – Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools

Ken McLemore

HOPE – The Hope Public Schools Board of Education learned Monday night that the HPS will benefit from a $125,000 endowment by Farmers Bank and Trust in a partnership to create college scholarship opportunities for HPS students.

Farmers Bank and Trust Hope Market President Jacob Jones announced the establishment of the 10-year endowment through the Farmers Bank Foundation.

“I think that this is just the start of what we can do,” Jones said.

He said FBT has a commitment to the communities it serves to be a willing partner in the community.

“We wanted to do something substantial,” Jones said. “It’s been a long time coming; hopefully, there are a lot more things that we can accomplish together.”

HPS Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Crossley expressed his hope for the partnership.

“This will be a part of creating a foundation toward funding two-year and four-year college degrees,” Dr. Crossley said.

Crossley also asked the board to redirect its banking business to Farmers Bank and Trust, noting that FBT has been a good community partner for the HPS while the district held its banking business elsewhere.

“This will make it official,” Crossley said of the partnership.

The board voted unanimously to make the business change.

The board discussed briefly a proposed “public comment policy” for school board meetings, adopting Crossley’s recommendation to provide for a public comment period during school board meetings limited to three minutes per comment.

He said similar policies have been adopted by other districts in southwest Arkansas and have facilitated public discourse by allowing comments to which the members of the board will not immediately respond.

The policy requires notification by the proposed speaker in advance of their appearance and a summary of the intended topic of comment.

The board also dealt with a long list of year-end business at its April meeting, including policy changes, curriculum recommendations, grant applications and salary index/stipend schedule changes.

Four compensation policy and schedule changes were approved by the board after lengthy discussion in executive session, including removing the position of superintendent from the district salary schedule, recommendations for classified and certified salary index and stipend changes and a recommendation for COVID-19 pandemic-related compensation.

The superintendent’s position will no longer be an indexed salaried position but will be negotiated with each 241-day contract. The position retains its vehicle allowance and $3,000 expense allowance.

The board discussed with Crossley both certified and classified index and salary schedules recommended by Crossley at length during an executive session, after which it voted unanimously to adopt some “classified” schedule changes but Zone 1 Representative Viney Johnson dissented on the bulk of the “classified” changes and on the entire “certified” schedule.

The board also voted unanimously to adopt a COVID-19 pandemic compensation plan to provide $15 per day for each student-teacher contact day employees worked from August, 2021 through May, 2022, up to 178 days. The plan also delineates non-compensation days for that period.

In other matters, Monday, the board:

–Adopted a resolution on the final form of a proposed $15 million Magnet (STEM) school grant over five years to create a configuration of two elementary, two middle, and one high school for the district under the college/career-technical preparatory model.

–Approved the purchase of three new school buses at a cost of $317,250.

–Adopted new curriculum models for the 2022-2023 school year.

–Approved a three-year McKinney-Vento federal grant application.

–Approved the purchase of English-Language Arts curriculum materials at a cost of $397,000 and Social Studies curriculum materials at a cost of $130,000.

–Approved the renewal of Renaissance reading curriculum materials at a cost of $63,126.40.

–Approved a grant application for $19,000 to purchase an emergency power generator for the Bobcat Clinic.

–Heard a report concerning school improvement programs.

–Heard a report concerning the HPS bands program.

–Tabled a proposal for an aspiring leaders fellowship program.

–Conducted a student discipline hearing and adopted the administrative recommendation from it.

–Approved the administrative personnel packet recommendations.

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