Caddo Hills Board approves new handbook

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    DERWOOD BRETT
    Routine housekeeping chores took up most of Monday night’s meeting of Caddo Hills School Board as the school prepares for the beginning of the new academic year.
    A lengthy discussion was held prior to the board’s vote to accept a new high school handbook. In the July meeting, Superintendent Deric Owens explained recommended changes that would bring the Caddo Hills School Handbook into compliance with state recommendations and requirements.
    Under provisions in the handbook, specific disciplinary action has been established for problems arising from use of cell phones during the school day. Student violations will be addressed on a rising scale depending on the infraction, according to Josh Bright, elementary school principal. Five policy violations will lead to the student losing the privilege of bringing a cell phone to school.
    Monday’s vote by the board followed staff’s recommendation to approve the handbook as presented last month.
    A new library handbook was also adopted following a recommendation by the library staff and explanation by Todd Baxley, high school principal. According to staff comments, the first 21 pages of the newly adopted handbook follow guidelines set by the Arkansas Department of Education. The remaining pages address local issues, as well as set out a challenge policy for students or parents to protest the library’s inclusion of textbooks or other materials.
    On recommendation of Superintendent Owens, the board voted to set the rate for mileage reimbursement at 43-cents, down from the current rate of 55-cents. Owens explained that other schools in the immediate area reimburse school personnel in the 40-42-cent range. The Internal Revenue Service presently allows up to 55-cents per mile reimbursement for use of a personal vehicle for business use.
    The board approved a student transfer to Lake Hamilton, effective with the beginning of the school term. Owens explained that the family will still reside in the Caddo Hills School District when school begins, but will be relocating to the Lake Hamilton area shortly after the school year begins. By allowing the student transfer now, the family can avoid changing schools after a month or less.
    Resignations from Shannon Hamilton and Geta Sims were accepted. Hamilton and Mary Garmon were then hired as part of the custodial staff, while Melody Cude was hired as the cheer sponsor and Cynthia Northcutt as Elementary Para Professional.
    Owens reported that the custodial staff will begin working a daytime schedule rather than the night schedule previously used. He anticipated that there would be some confusion until faculty and custodial staff get used to the schedule change. New custodial staff workday will be from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
    A new long-term substitute salary scale was established at 90 per cent of a beginning certified teacher’s salary, after Owens explained that a long-term substitute is responsible for the same things a traditional teacher is required to do.
    He recommended, and the board agreed, that the pay rate should be higher than a traditional substitute teacher.
    If the long-term substitute becomes fully certified the salary would be raised to that of an entry level teacher, according to the board’s action.
    Owens advised the board that he was working with Excel Energy Group on a proposal to retrofit all lights in school facilities with LED lighting. He explained that the company will replace all lighting and install motion-sensor switches to reduce the use of unoccupied rooms or buildings.
    Owens explained that the lighting upgrade would be paid for through savings on the district’s electric bill.
    More information will be available after Excel Energy Group finishes the proposal. He also said a second company would make a similar proposal.
    The board extended the district’s agreement with Diamond Bank to continue as the district’s financial institution for the next three years.