The Benton School Board voted to approve a measure during Monday's meeting that will increase the number of school resource officers from five to seven for the 2019-20 school year.

“This will put one school resource officer at every camps in the district,” said Benton School District Chief Financial Officer Laura Baber.

The board members unanimously voted to support a memorandum of understanding between the district and the Benton Police Department.

The MOU stated that the officers are “a tremendous benefit to both parties.”

BNPD Chief of Police Scotty Hodges will provide recommendations for the SROs to Superintendent Dr. Mike Skelton for the hiring process. Both the district and the BNPD will work together to select the final candidates for recommendation to the school board. Upon the final candidate selection, the district’s Human Resources director will make recommendations to Skelton and the board for hiring approval.

According to Baber, the total cost for the seven SROs will be $311,000 with the district and BNPD sharing the costs in a 60/40 split. The district will cover the 60 percent.

The board also approved a request by Technology Director Sherri Fite to upgrade the district’s Metropolitan Area Network from 1 Gbps connection to 10 Gbps.

All district campuses are connected via Benton Utilities fiber. The cost for the upgrade is $73,428.

“In 2010, we connected all our campuses,” Fite said. “We’ve almost maxed out that connection.”

Additionally, the board also approved a request to purchase three new buses. The cost for the buses will come from the 2019-20 budget, but due to the lengthy process of ordering the vehicles, the school board moved forward with the purchase approval.

A request by Plant Manager Kevin Chastain to approve a change order for additional parking near the middle school was tabled by the board. The vote was 7-1 to table the issue with President Jackie Chenault Sasfai voting against the measure.

Chastain also put forth a request for a change order related to the classroom additions at Benton Junior High. The order will reduce the price by $34,912 and was unanimously approved.

Other items approved by the board include contract disclosures for Angie Richard and Dawn Leslie, as well as approval to move forward with Solution Tree Training.

Classified salary schedule changes were also approved in order to the keep the district in line with state guidelines. Policy changes for the district were approved for a 30 day read.

All meetings are open to the public and attendance is encouraged.

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