Green Forest school board OKs salary increases

Friday, April 24, 2015

All employees in the Green Forest School District will be going home with a little more money in their pockets this year.

On Monday night, the Green Forest School Board approved a $200 salary increase for everyone on staff. Superintendent Matt Summers said the board was glad to do it, especially since employees didn't receive a raise last year.

"We try to give raises annually if the funds are available. We want to reward our teachers and staff the best we can, because they certainly do a great job," Summers said.

The board accepted a bid from Raymond James financial services to refund bonds, effectively saving $636,202.12 over the life of the bond by decreasing interest.

"It's basically the reduction of the interest rate. It's a short-term solution for financial security," he said, adding that the bonds were purchased in 2001.

The board approved North Arkansas College's adult ELL program, which will help adults in the city improve their English. The classes, Summers said, will begin the same time the new school year begins next fall, taking place 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. two days a week.

He added that an ESL-certified teacher in the district will teach the classes, with the school providing the classroom and computer equipment as well. NAC, he noted, will pay for everything else, including the teacher's salary.

"It's free to the adults. I'm pretty excited about it," Summers said.

He added that the board approved several summer programs, including: the ESL summer school program, the high school summer program, summer technology camp and the summer Youth Bridge program.

These programs, he noted, will be funded through categorical money.

"These aren't paid for out of operating funds because they are above and beyond what the state requires," he explained.

The school district, he said, doesn't pay for transportation or food for students in the summer programs, with most of the programs running from 8 a.m. to noon. Summers pointed to Youth Bridge, a school counseling service, saying that program provides transportation and food but does not run on the district's money.

"We just house them," he said.

The ABC preschool program was approved, with 20 spots available for children in Green Forest.

The board also approved the purchase of a 66-passenger 2012 school bus after the purchase of another bus, which the board had approved at its last meeting, fell through.

"The bus approved last meeting was unavailable due to no fault of the Green Forest School District or American Bus Sales," Summers said.

The bus approved Monday night, he added, will cost $74,900.

The board approved a $23,156.70 bid from Fruhauf to provide band uniforms with a 10-year warranty, as well as a $25,406.49 bid for playground equipment at the elementary building.

"The new equipment has multiple slides and multiple climbing areas. It's very, very nice, and it will be a pleasant addition to the playground," Summers said.

The board's next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, May 18.

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