Green Forest board extends Summers’ contract

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Green Forest School District board last week extended the contract of its superintendent and approved a resolution extending its staff leave policy regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meeting in a closed session on Jan. 18, the board voted to extend the contract of Dr. Matt Summers, Ph.D., through June 2024.

Dr. Matt Summers

Summers, a Berryville native, is in his ninth year at Green Forest.

“It’s been a good run,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time here and it’s been the best job I’ve ever had. I want to say thank you to the board for renewing my contract and I’m looking forward to the next three years.”

In open session, the board approved a resolution to extend pandemic leave for district employees through March 31. The move is intended to provide relief to staff members who have either contracted the virus, or who must be quarantined as a close contact. Last year, the district had received funds from the state to cover potential leave for staff in those instances, but that funding expired at the end of the year.

“So, starting Jan. 4 when we returned, that was a little bit of a sticky situation because were we going to charge them sick time out of their pocket, even if they weren’t positive, but they were close contact and we’re sending them home due to quarantine.”

Making things a bit easier for districts across the state, that aid was extended through 2021 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Summers explained that the board decided to enact a resolution rather than a policy to make it easier to adjust on the fly in case circumstances change.

“The reason is, these funds that just came out run through March 31,” Summers said. “And so we feel like a policy would not be correct because we knew we were going to turn right around and update it in March.”

Summers said the resolution makes allowances for staff who have tested positive, who have been determined to be a close contact or to care for a dependent.

“And that could be either a child or it could be an adult, if they’re an adult caregiver for their parent or for their grandparent even,” Summers said.

The leave includes provisions for up to 20 days from Jan. 4-March 31.

In other business, the board heard a report from facilities coordinator Aliza Jones regarding the district’s suitability analysis.

“We’re looking at growth, what buildings we’re going to have issues with if we follow the projection that the state has for us, possible building projects adding to our master plan,” Summers said. “So that was a rather lengthy conversation with several documents. But again, we’re preparing for the future.”

A big part of those future plans, Summers said, will likely be a new high school, but he said that would be several years down the road and the cost would likely be offset by state funding. The application process for those funds, Summers said, wouldn’t begin until next year and final decisions wouldn’t be made until 2023.

The board approved a number of funding requests, including $39,416 for weight room equipment and racks; $26,744 for new football uniforms, which include 65 red and white jerseys, along with corresponding pants and a third pants option in graphite; and approximately $11,000 for the purchase of 245 cases of foam hand sanitizer.

“That will get us through the end of the school year for all of our sanitizer needs,” Summers said.

The board also recognized business teacher Marilyn Bonham, who recently received a $26,010 Career and Technical Education startup grant for hospitality and tourism.

“We’ll be adding that course to our schedule next year at the high school,” Summers said. “We’re very pleased about that.”

The district board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, at the Green Forest High School library.

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