By Ken McLemore/Communications Director-Hope Public Schools

The Hope Public Schools Board adopted a recommendation Monday night that will convert the Hope Academy of Public Service from a grades 5-8 campus to a grades 5-9 campus.

Superintendent Bobby Hart told the board that the recommendation had the backing of the Arkansas Department of Education. The ADE approval for the change was sent to Hart’s office in a March 2 letter.
With that understanding, the board decided to facilitate the ninth grade addition at HAPS through a blend of core curriculum certified teaching staff transferred from other campuses and virtual instruction for other course work.

HAPS Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke said some of the faculty at HAPS may be able to fill part of the requirement. Duke said the prospect for a ninth grade class at HAPS has become attractive to parents as a means for students to make the transition to high school. She said the change should not be construed as a lack of confidence in the instructional quality at the Hope High School campus.

The board also approved the 2017-2018 application package for HAPS, which Duke said will be assessed for each student based upon an objective rubric. She said the campus office has received some 30-40 inquiries concerning new applications.

Students currently enrolled at HAPS will not be required to reapply, Duke said; and, she estimated that 98 percent of the student body has committed to remain at HAPS.

Duke said the goal is to provide an open enrollment opportunity, but to maintain a manageable student/teacher ratio no higher than 25 to one. That will translate to a fifth grade class of about 50 students, she said.

Also Monday, the board:
–Adopted a number of Personnel Policy Committee recommendations to create a “testing coordinator” stipend for non-classroom teachers; create an “alternative learning environment” principalship; re-index the salary schedule for certain extended contracts; create instructor recruitment incentives for the ROTC program; and, improve professional development for English as Second Language certifications.

–Adopted a board agenda policy revision to provide for a “consent agenda.”

–Approved a contract revision for new bus drive construction at Beryl Henry Elementary to include a “fire lane” at a total cost of some $277,000 for the two.

–Adopted a 2017-2018 school year calendar that begins classes on Aug, 14 and concludes the year on May 25, with holidays on Labor Day, Thanksgiving (Nov. 20-24), Christmas (Dec. 25-Jan. 5), Martin Luther King Day, Winter Break (Feb. 16), President’s Day, Spring Break (March 19-23), and Good Friday.

–Approved facilities rental requests for an AAU basketball practice at the Yerger Middle School gymnasium and for a Pafford Emergency Medical Services’ Relay for Life team fundraising event at Hope High School.

–Approved one classified resignation, the retirement of Clinton Primary School music teacher Sharon Vaughn, and a classified termination of contract. Hart noted that all administrative contracts have been renewed.

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