The Helena-West Helena School Board approved changing its policy to allow administrators to get extra pay of $40 per hour for “pre-approved professional development.”

By a vote of 4-2 with Member Janice Williams absent, the Helena-West Helena School Board narrowly approved changing its policy to allow administrators to get extra pay of $40 per hour for “pre-approved professional development.”
Superintendent Linda English told the Board that the pay would only be issued for professional development pre-approved by the Arkansas Department of Education and only on Saturdays even though the recommended policy does not have the restrictions for Saturdays or ADE approval.
The policy prohibiting extra pay for administrators beyond the extended contract and multiplier to their salary for the duties running their schools dates back to the most recent state administration of the district, which began in 2011 and ended in 2016.
Board Member Lynn Boone specifically asked English if it was Saturdays only.  English replied, “Yes,” and added, “ADE approved it.”  An email from Jayne Green at the Arkansas Department of Education to HWHSD School Improvement Specialist Adrian Watkins distributed to Board members at the meeting said, “You may pay for the 3 additional teachers out of Title I.  If the board changes its practice in regard to administrators, you may also pay for the Building Principal from Title I.  Any and all Saturday PD from this point forward paid for with Title I must be preapproved by email to me.”  The email does not say whether or not the department had a position on the change in policy.
Board Member Loistyne Burrell expressed skepticism concerning the change.  She said, “They are year-round administrators. Their contracts include a provision for other duties as assigned.”
Board President Sanetta Davis said, “When I was a principal, if I worked on a Saturday, I got paid.”
Simpson, whose son, Earnest Simpson, III, is the current principal of Central High School, said “A 240 day contract is what we contract them for.”
Boone, Simpson, Davis, and Board Member Daniel Strickland voted to approve the measure, while Burrell and Board Member Troy Bobo voted no.
The Board also heard presentations from Watkins, CHS Principal Earnest Simpson, III, and Wahl Elementary Principal Jewel Hamilton on the school’s improvement plans.
Hamilton, whose school a grade of F on the school report card, said that the school is going to rework its curriculum saying, “The curriculum that have been created does not work for us.”  She added that teachers can’t start teaching at grade level when the students are behind.  Hamilton also said they were going to ask parents to volunteer 5 hours per semester and get additional professional development training for staff in PLCs, RTI, and RISE.
Simpson’s presentation outlined six goals to improve achievement at D-rated CHS.  Simpson noted the implementation of a much more in-depth ACT prep program for students through Mastery Prep, which will utilize a certified teacher as a centerpiece of his plan.
In other business, the board approved the food service contracts, a new copier contract with Southern Duplicating, a policy for non-licensed personnel use of the sick bank, the assurance for federal program, student handbooks for Wahl and Central, a new VoIP phone system, therapy contracts for Special Ed and the purchase of furniture for the new Central High School.
The Board also tabled moving forward on an energy efficiency plan with Entegrity Solutions, which is developing plans for the City of Helena-West Helena and Phillips County.