LINCOLN -- Lincoln Public Schools have two major projects on the table, another solar array and a new baseball/softball complex.
Mary Ann Spears, superintendent of schools, gave school board members an update on the projects at their July 19 meeting.
Lincoln Consolidated School District, in September 2020, approved agreements with Today's Power and Ozarks Electric and SWEPCO for solar services.
The first array is finished and is part of a new 2.7 megawatt, multi-industry solar park located on 25 acres near Lincoln off Wedington Blacktop Road. Ozarks Electric Cooperative and Today's Power held a "flip the switch" ceremony for the solar park earlier this summer.
The second array most likely will be installed near the high school football field.
Spears said the school district would purchase nine acres for the solar array. Today's Power has approved the site, and she's now waiting for SWEPCO to review the property and give its OK. The school will not buy the land until SWEPCO approves the site.
For the second project, the school is proposing to redesign the old football field and turn it into a baseball/softball complex on the high school campus, Spears said.
The district is requesting architectural firms to submit their qualifications for the project.
Spears said her goal is to have it ready in time for the 2022 baseball and softball seasons. The school board, athletic director and coaches will have planning sessions to discuss the proposed complex.
In other news, Spears said the district plans to provide care for younger students before and after school to help parents. This came up, Spears said, when some parents told a school official they would not transfer their children to another school district if they had a place for their kids to go before and after school.
"We already have a handful of kids back," Spears said.
She said the school is still working on details for this.
Spears spent some time at the meeting discussing covid-19 and the start of the new year.
With covid-19 cases increasing in the state and the prevalence of a new variant of the virus, school districts are awaiting guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and Arkansas Department of Education for safety protocols.
Spears said she hopes the state will give new protocols that are specific with bullet points.
Health officials have said the new variant, called the Delta variant, appears to be impacting children more than the original virus.
"That gives me a lot of stress going into school in 30 days," Spears said.
In the spring, Lincoln decided it would not offer virtual instruction for elementary students, so the school does not have a virtual plan for the younger grades.
"In May, things were looking really good," Spears said. "We thought we were done talking about this."
She said as soon as the school receives an updated guidance, she will share that information with teachers and staff and then parents.
"It's tough. There will be parents on both sides," Spears said.
Board member Kenneth Albright, who is Lincoln chief of police, asked Spears if she had any ideas why some people in Lincoln are not receiving a covid-19 vaccine.
Spears said she's heard different reasons but believes it is someone's choice. She shared that she received the vaccine because of her parents and her in-laws.
"It was my choice. I don't want to dictate a choice," she said.
The current policy from the state, Spears said, is that students or employees do not have to quarantine if they have received the vaccine and are exposed to the virus.
Those employees who did not receive the vaccine and have to quarantine because of an exposure or because they test positive for the virus will have to use sick leave for their days off, Spears said.
This year, the school will not have additional money to pay for these employees to miss work because of covid-19, she said.
Spears said she believes the school will use social distancing as much as possible this year and will continue to clean and sanitize school buildings. The current policy says that masks are optional.
The board approved hiring two staff members, Jacob Copps for elementary music and Emilee Roy as a middle school aide.
Lincoln School Board ‘21-22 Officers
Oleta Danforth, president
Kenneth Albright, vice president
Kendra Moore, secretary