The Heber Springs School Board conducted their regular monthly meeting last Monday evening. Board members present were Gary Redd, acting Chair, Judy Crowder and Richard Whybrew.
    Most of the business conducted had to do with several student transfers into and out of the school district, staff resignations and new hires. Staff resignations that were approved included Tina Barnes, Aide; Megan Parrish, Special Education teacher; Sherry Logan, Business teacher; Jessie King, Maintenance; and, Robert Tillman, Pre-Employment Transition Services.
    Staff new hires approved pending background checks included Tracy Mahurin, Food Service; Pam Jones, Food Service; Sonya Cole, Special Education, replacing Megan Parrish; and, Kenny Nations, High School In-School Suspension.
    There were several resolutions passed allowing current employees to perform additional contract services for the school district. The resolutions passed included: Natalie Norton, who will do embroidery work for less than $1,000; Terry Harrison, engraving work for less than $500; Randy Thomas, electrical and maintenance work for less than $5,000; and Anthony Lester, scaffolding work for less than $3,000.
    At the close of the meeting Superintendent, Dr. Alan Stauffacher, introduced a memorandum for board approval regarding the 3.6 millage increase referendum.
    “I prepared a memorandum to be released publicly,” stated Stauffacher. “Basically, what this memorandum says is that the Board of Directors of Heber Springs School District will earmark all funds received by the 3.6 mills to be used only for staff salaries and benefits. I think that’s something we need to do publicly just to curb people who are trying to spread rumors or whatever. I think this reinforces to the people out there what our intentions are.”
    “Yeah, I’ve heard different people read the ballot and say that it’s just for M&O or DM&O (development, maintenance and operations) and that it really doesn’t say it’s for salaries, but that’s the way that has to read,” responded Gary Redd. “But we are acknowledging right now that 100% of all the funds raised, if we pass the millage, will go to staff raises.”
    “How will those monies be divided among our teachers?” asked board member, Richard Whybrew.
    “Basically, what we’ve already discussed will cover all the money,” explained Stauffacher. “As a matter of fact, when Robin and I did the calculations of what is required with insurance, we will have to contribute some additional funds to cover all the benefits with that. So, with 3.6 mills we’re giving teachers $4,000 on the base and 10% on the other staff salaries that will encompass all 3.6 mills as calculated by our assessed valuation right now.”
    “Did we not talk about front end loading a little bit?” Whybrew asked.
    “We did, but whenever we started talking about the amount, the 3.6 mills, it just kind of got all absorbed,” stated Stauffacher. “That’s kind of where it’s all gone. I didn’t release that Arkansas had a rule that when you gave a raise, they incrementally increased insurance and that was $96,000 right there.”
    “You do have to kind of explain what you’re asking for,” stated board member, Judy Crowder.
    “Okay, as an explanation, debt service is that only one thing can be paid out of debt service,” said Stauffacher. “There was a millage asked to pay for the auditorium, you could specifically say it was for an auditorium and the language was there. How state law reads, maintenance and operations encompasses everything including salaries, facilities, supplies. By law, it already has its definitions and you can’t specify what’s going to be on a maintenance and operations millage. That’s why wherever they’re seeing that (maintenance and operations), even though we tried to get it changed, the law can’t be changed. It’s an all-encompassing, catch-all and so, you can’t specify what it’s going for because it does cover a myriad of different things that’s paid for out of these funds. It would be nice to specify, but by law, we can’t.”
    Whybrew read the 08/21/2017 memorandum, “The Board of Directors of Heber Springs School District will earmark all funds received by the 3.6 mills to be used only toward staff salaries and benefits.” The memorandum was unanimously approved and signed by all members of the school board.