In a nearly two-hour session — proceeded itself Monday by another hour of executive sessions — the Hope School Board's most consequential decision came near the end as the Board vote 4-2 to appoint Kathryn Dickinson, the wife of the late board member Denny Dickinson, to fill her husband's vacant seat.

In a nearly two-hour session — proceeded itself Monday by another hour of executive sessions — the Hope School Board’s most consequential decision came near the end as the Board vote 4-2 to appoint Kathryn Dickinson, the wife of the late board member Denny Dickinson, to fill her husband’s vacant seat.
Although the vote confirming Kathryn Dickinson was in open session, a private executive session held prior to Monday night’s regular meeting vetted her against a field of three other applicants, John Trauger, Ira Love, and Dickinson’s opponent in his last school board race, Sylvia Brown.
In Sept. 2016, Brown had lost by a single vote to incumbent Denny Dickinson, 58-57, in the Zone 6 race.
Board President Willie Buck made a brief statement prior to announcing Kathryn Dickinson to the vacant seat, saying “We had four qualified applicants that expressed their interest in the seat; we thank all of them for their interest.”
Buck, however, did not announce all the names of the applicants, instead opting to announce Kathryn Dickinson to fill the vacancy and ask for a vote. Board member Bubba Powers made the motion to approve the appointment, which was approved by a 4-2 vote with no other discussion.
Kathryn Dickinson was not at Monday night’s meeting, and presumedly, she will be sworn in at the board’s next session, scheduled for November 14.
Brown, however, did attend Monday night and was disappointed by the process.
“Certainly, I am disappointed in the outcome of the school board appointment process. More importantly, though, I feel the disappointment of my neighbors in District 6. When I ran for the post in 2016, losing by only one vote, and when this seat opened, people stepped up for me,” Brown said.
“They were not just supporters but were my champions. I am honored that I had champions not only in District 6 but the entire School District. My goal for any effort I pursue is to make a meaningful difference. The District’s students and their families need a champion who will be visible, available, and knowledgeable,” she said.
In other School Board business Monday:
The board heard from Superintendent Bobby Hart regarding accepting RFPs for private contracting of the district’s custodial work. Hart surprised the group, saying the district spent over $840,000 in custodial services last year, and that personnel costs reflected $620,000 of that total. In response to a question on employees, Hart said the department included a supervisor and 24 employees.
According to available public records of the district’s 2016 fiscal year, Maurice Henry, was identified as the district’s “Custodial Supervisor” with an annual salary of $59,886. Also, an employee identified as Gregory Cooper, listed as a “12-Month Custodian,” had an annual salary of $38,514 in fiscal 2016. No other public information on custodian salaries was available.
Board member Viney Johnson expressed concerns about jobs, and Buck also said he heard similar concerns about outsourcing the service.
Hart claimed the district studied the matter two years ago, and he said the district may have saved $70,000.
“I think outsourcing might save us more today,” he said.
Hart also told Johnson that options existed for the RFP, including a conditional one that would require a private contractor to hire the existing personnel.
The board itself also selected its officers for 2018, but there was no change in the current leadership. Buck will return as President; Jesus Coronado will return as Vice-president, and Linda Haynes as Secretary. Johnson again named as Financial Ex-officio of the board.
Hart also announced that district enrollment numbers are up. After initially coming in at 2,266 in August, the student count stood at 2,326 in September and has since risen to 2,380. No explanation was given as to where the 114 student increase came from.