ES board wants more time to study lease contract for community center

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Eureka Springs Highlander Community Center Foundation will have to wait a bit longer for its lease contract to be approved.

On Thursday night, the Eureka Springs School Board agreed to wait another month before approving the contract. Superintendent Bryan Pruitt explained that there are a couple parts of the contract that need to be changed or stricken.

Pruitt suggested the board change the period of time the district is required to respond to a request for alterations on the property from 10 days to 30 days. He also asked that the board strike a clause stating that the district will spend the rest of an insurance settlement by April 16.

"I don't think we can do that," board president Chris McClung said.

McClung asked that board members take time to read through the lease before approving it. Diane Murphy, chairperson for the community center foundation, agreed to that.

"It would actually give us a chance to look through it also, which isn't something we've gotten to do," Murphy said.

The board also agreed to hold off on the demolition of Building 100 and a roof repair at the old high school campus. Pruitt presented bids for the demolition, saying Holloway Construction Inc. bid $99,668 for the project. Another company, he said, bid $19,000 for the roof repair.

"We'd need another bid on that," Pruitt said.

He added that the repairs would be paid for using the district's insurance settlement money.

Board member Candace Spaulding said she wanted to use the money for improvements at the old high school. Still, Spaulding said, there wasn't enough information to make a decision yet.

"I like the idea. I think we need to look into it further," Spaulding said.

Pruitt presented information regarding a school resource officer. Eureka Springs Police Chief Thomas Achord, Pruitt said, has asked the board if the district would like a school resource officer. Pruitt said it would cost the district $50,000; the ESPD, he noted, would pay for a police car, a uniform and training.

Board member Debbie Davis recalled discussing the matter at a meeting last year.

"We had a situation come up last year where we talked about it, and obviously you see where that went," Davis said.

McClung, too, remembered talking about it in the past.

"We decided not to do anything about it. We just didn't think it was necessary," McClung said.

Pruitt said the district is safe.

"We don't always know the perfect answer, but I think we have everything secure here. We have lockdown procedures. We have drills. I feel like our kids are pretty safe," Pruitt said.

The board agreed to discuss the matter further at its next meeting.

Also on Thursday, the board discussed joining a lawsuit to reclaim attorney fees lost in a previous lawsuit. Pruitt said he had spoken with people close to the previous lawsuit. In that lawsuit, he said, the district spent $105,000 in attorney fees.

"We did win [the lawsuit]. My recommendation is that we do not pursue this claim for attorney fees," Pruitt said.

The board agreed.

Treasurer Pam McGarrah presented the financial report, saying the bank balance was $8,295,000 at the end of January. The total fund balance, she added, was $8,331,000.

The board's next regular meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17.

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