Hope Public Schools

HPS Escapes Storm Damage

Ken McLemore

HOPE – Preparations for the impact of a major winter storm across southwest Arkansas appear to have mitigated damage to Hope Public Schools facilities and rolling stock the Hope Public Schools Board learned Monday night.

HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart commended the preparations by district facilities, transportation and campus personnel.

“We have been fortunate that any damage was minor,” Dr. Hart said. “That is an absolute credit to our entire maintenance staff and the leadership of Maurice Henry and Steve Bateman to know what was coming.”

Temperatures plunged below zero in some parts of southwest Arkansas last week. Wind chill factors were consistently near or below zero as some 18-22 inches of snow fell on Hope and Hempstead County. The HPS pivoted to all virtual instruction through the week which was extended to Tuesday this week.

HPS Facilities/Transportation Director Maurice Henry said earlier Monday initial assessments have been good. Henry said damage was mostly limited to leaks around skylights at Clinton Primary School which caused some interior damage.

“We haven’t had any problems to speak of,” Henry said. “The snow concentrated on the ground and froze and that created travel problems.”

Henry said icing from snow accumulations on roadways and bridges created the principal concern for student safety.

“Snow penetrates into the ground and the ground freezes; it’s not like rain that runs off,” Henry said.

Also Monday, the board learned work on a planned solar array to be built as part of a three-phase energy program is to begin after the signing of final agreement documents by the district and Entegrity.

“When school starts next year, we should be up and running,” Hart said.

The project will be financed through second lien bonds issued by the district that will incorporate savings from the energy savings program for the $1.5 million project.

In other matters Monday, the board:

–Learned the filing period for school board elections opened Feb. 22 and will close March 1. Board President Linda Haynes, Zone 5, along with Margaret Moss, Zone 3, and David “Bubba” Powers, Zone 2, are subject to re-election. Mrs. Moss is subject to election to a complete term after her appointment to fill the unexpired term of former Board President Willie Buck.

–Learned the Arkansas Department of Education has approved the HPS 2020-2021 budget fund balances relative to revenues and expenses as required by law.

–Adopted a federally-required addendum to the policy regarding sexual harassment.

–Approved changes in the applications form and process for the Hope Academy of Public Service.

–Approved an update of the Hope High School credit recovery program to give students an opportunity to stay on graduation track and to designate CARES Act funding.

–Approved a millage budget for the 2021 school election.

–Approved a proposed memorandum of understanding with the City of Hope for operation of Legion Field at Hope Fair Park.

–Denied a semi-professional football team request for use of Hammons Stadium.

–Accepted the personnel recommendations of administration.

–Approved a one-year extension of Hart’s contract after discussion in executive session.

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