The Hope School Board met Monday September 18th. Before convening the meeting, Board President Willie Buck gave an update on absent board member Denny Dickinson who has been under the weather.
Under the Superintendent's report, Mr. Bobby Hart noted that enrollment fluctuates but it had caught his attention that last month enrollment was 2,326 but as of Friday enrollment was 2,266. He noted some of that difference had to do with kids who were enrolled at the end of school but who it was determined had moved out of the district. Mr. Hart said he will continue to monitor enrollment numbers.
The board heard from Jerry Vaughn and Dr. Blaine Alexander of the Arkansas Leadership Academy. Vaughn is the district's performance coach. Vaughn says his rôle is to take his 36 years of experience along with the core beliefs to reach the goals of the district. The company works with the schools' administrative team on strategic planning and organizational development. There are three focus areas including "climate and culture", "accountability systems for adults", and "accountability systems for students".
Three students from the Hope Academy of Public Service spoke about a project they did concerning a video they participated in. The students are Mika Brown, Richard Ware, and Amber Cisneros. Mr. Hart said they are looking forward to seeing the video.
The board reviewed the district's strategic plan. They discussed three of seven focus areas. The board discussed retention rates and increasing graduation rates. Retention is at 90% for students in grades k-11 and graduation rates are at 87%. Mr. Hart says graduation rates are rising and they hope to get them to 95%.
Mr. Hart says the district has partnered with UAHT to create the "Hope Collegiate and Professions Academy". Students in this proposed academy in grades 10 thru 12 will concurrently attend Hope High and UAHT. The students will be housed on the college campus here in Hope and will be transported to Hope High to participate in such activities as band and sports. The district will petition the State Department of Education for a conversion charter and Mr. Hart says it will take about a year to get the program lined out. He said the letter of intent will go out in March. It will be open to students who live in the Hope School District. Mr. Hart says this will be the first such collaboration between a public school and a public college. He said it is a logical expansion of the HAPS program. Mr. Hart also says he thinks it will draw some families to Hope. The students that successfully complete the program will graduate high school with 60 hours of college, an associates degree, or a professional technical certificate. Mr. Hart says Hempstead County is 65th out of 75 counties in Arkansas in terms of population with college degrees. Currently 12.1% of Hempstead County residents have a college degree.
The board looked at proposal for a third party to handle custodial duties. He said they hope to have some possible submissions to look at in January.