Eureka Springs board OKs bid to donate community center site

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
The Eureka Springs School Board voted last week to donate the old high school — which has been the home fo the Eureka Springs Community Center since 2016 — to the Community Center Foundation.
File photo

The Eureka Springs School Board voted Monday, Sept. 13, to finalize the donation of the old high school building to the Eureka Springs Community Center.

The board voted Aug. 9 to donate the facility to the community center. Superintendent Bryan Pruitt said the board still needed to approve the proposal to finalize the donation. The school district’s attorney drew up an amended proposal, Pruitt said, and the board agreed to approve it. All that’s left, Pruitt said, is signing the final paperwork.

“We’ll sign the new proposal and they can start with the closing,” Pruitt said, adding that it will take up to six weeks to complete the process.

Also at the meeting, the board agreed to continue its mask policy to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Pruitt said the board will revisit that item at each meeting, but for now, it makes sense for everyone to mask up.

“We’re not invincible but it has protected us and kept us from having a severe outbreak,” Pruitt said. “All our cases haven’t been here, because we’re masked. They’ve been when we’ve gone to the county fair or done Labor Day activities. That’s where it originates — not here, but somewhere else we were.”

Over the last week, Pruitt said, the district has seen one positive case among the staff and three positive cases among the students. There are 20 people quarantined in the district, Pruitt said. Pruitt said there are only six students in the school’s virtual program, which was approved by the Arkansas State Board of Education last week.

In other business, the board voted to increase the base salary for teachers by $900. Pruitt said Gov. Asa Hutchinson appropriated $60 million to set the base teacher salary at $36,000 a few years ago, but the Eureka Springs School District already offered a base salary above that amount.

“So guess what? We got none of that $60 million,” Pruitt said.

Then Hutchinson appropriated another $30 million, Pruitt said, based on average teacher salaries overall. The district did receive those funds, Pruitt said, raising the base teacher salary from $37,600 to $38,500.

“So we’re $2,500 above the state rate,” Pruitt said. “We do that to retain our teachers and recruit.”

Another benefit for the staff, Pruitt said, is that the district pays 100 percent of employee insurance. That insurance has increased by $30 a month per person, Pruitt said, and the district will cover that increase for staff members.

“That cost us $40,000 to do that, but we’re fortunate in our district we have the funds for it,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt said the district is up 20 students from last year. Of the 113 school employees, Pruitt said, 80 have been vaccinated. He said the district is planning another vaccination clinic Sept. 23, as well as a flu clinic Oct. 29.

The district has seen several new faces on staff this year, Pruitt said. On Monday night, the board voted to hire Mitzi Clark as the new middle school secretary and Sherry Patrick as a paraprofessional. Pruitt said the district also has a new school resource officer, Hector Ramos, who started working at the beginning of the school year.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, at the middle school cafeteria.

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