Arkadelphia school board to talk budget, masks

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

A lengthy agenda awaits the Arkadelphia Board of Education for its September meeting.

Once school nurses and three other individuals are recognized for Badger Pride, the school board will take care of routine business before considering six action items; among them are adoption of the 2021-2022 budget and reconfirming a resolution the board adopted in early August.

The 27-page budget document itemizes the district’s general operating fund, comparing the actual local and state revenues from the previous fiscal year with what is expected for the upcoming fiscal year. A grand total of $17.5 million in total revenue was collected last fiscal year, and the projected revenues for the upcoming revenue total $16.9 million.

The district started its 2020-2021 fiscal year with $3.7 million to operate and ended with $3.5 million. Figures within the budget indicate that the upcoming fiscal year’s expenditures will match the revenue, leaving the district with the same $3.5 million it would start the year with.

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It’s noted in the document that the proposal for the upcoming fiscal year is a balanced budget that accounts for a slight increase over last year’s local budgeted revenue. It also accounts for state revenue according to a state printout, and the proposal reflects the district’s bond payments.

The budget proposal includes a transfer to the building fund for future projects and includes increases to Arkansas Teacher Retirement contributions and a health insurance match.

ESEA Assurance
The board will consider approval of a state Department of Education assurance statement, filled out by Superintendent Karla Neathery for programs funded under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The superintendent must attest to the school district’s ESEA compliance for each program.

Contract Disclosures
The board will then consider approving contract disclosures of two employees’ spouses who have been vendors to the district. The spouse of Vince Herron, technology technician, operates Baba’s Ever Afters, which personalizes awards and student apparel for student groups. The district has done business with Baba’s Ever After prior to hiring Herron. Goza Middle School teacher Kelly Rogers’s husband Chad, who operates Rogers Auto and Equipment Repair, works on some of the district’s older-model maintenance vehicles.

Board members and the administration are slated to again discuss the mandatory wearing of face masks.

Prior to the start of the school year and in response to a spike in COVID-19 numbers, the board held a special-called meeting in which it unanimously agreed to make face coverings mandatory for anyone inside a district-owned facility or vehicle. 

The board gave Neathery the authority to make a last-minute decision to lift the mandate in compliance with Act 1002, and decided it would revisit the topic during its September meeting.

Cooling tower repair
Finally, the board will consider approval of contracting Carrier for the emergency repair of a cooling tower that serves the Arkadelphia High School. Carrier has provided an estimate of $49,700 for the job.

Prior to adjournment, the board will hear departmental reports as well as Neathery’s report.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 6 p.m. in the conference room of Dawson Building #3, 700 Clinton St.

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