The Benton School Board approved two policy updates related to COVID-19 emergency leave for both licensed and classified personnel during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening. 

“I can assure you we’ve already had several staff members who have been quarantined at different times because they have been exposed or whatever,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Larry Smith. “So, we’ve already had some that will take advantage of this.”

BENTON SCHOOLS

The new policies allow the district to provide up to an additional 10 days of paid leave for both licensed and classified personnel who meet the following requirements:

• The employee has been ordered by the district, a medical professional or the Arkansas Department of Health to quarantine or isolate due to testing positive, experiencing symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis or has been in probable close contact.

• The employee’s job duties are not able to be performed remotely. 

An employee will not be eligible for the additional 10 days of leave in order to care for another individual due to a positive COVID-19 test, quarantine or isolation order. Closure of the school or place of care of the employee’s child is also not considered a qualifying reason for additional paid leave.

Smith added that the policies did not have to be considered under the 30-day read requirement due to the fact that the policies are covered under Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s emergency order. 

The extra paid leave eligibility will expire if Hutchinson or the Arkansas General Assembly declares an end to the COVID-19 state of emergency or the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expires, whichever comes first. 

Smith also stated that the Personnel Policy Committees for both licensed and classified employees were made aware of the policy changes and neither had concerns.

The monies for the extra days will be paid from the governor’s funding.

The board also approved a change order for the HVAC system that is part of the auditorium renovations.

“The initial contract amount was $166,390,” said Plant Manager Kevin Chastain. “I am happy to report that that will be reduced by $11,788 for a contracted price of $154,602.”

New surveillance cameras at the Benton High School Cook Fieldhouse were also approved. 

“This will add 21 cameras to the interior and the exterior which should help for the high school administration as far as any security issues or issues dealing with the kids,” Chastain said.

The total contracted price for the cameras will be $24,536.45.

Security cameras at the new ninth grade campus were also approved at a contracted price of $61,067.74.

The system will include 38 cameras that will cover both the interior and exterior areas of the campus. 

Chastain also presented a proposal for the purchase of a new card access system for the new ninth grade facility which was approved by the board.

The contracted price for the system is $45,636.79.

Other items approved include:

• Contract disclosures for Darla Brimhall, Staci Morrow, Lauren Roseberry, Morgan Roseberry and Jennifer Lunsford.

• Approval of the 2020-2021 operating budget.

• Approval of the stipend schedule addition for the Assistant Junior High/High School Band Director. 

• Personnel recommandations. 

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