Students, parents and patrons of the Hope Public School District turned out in numbers earlier this week for a public hearing to offer support for a proposed school-based health center planned for the Hope High School campus.
Students, parents and patrons of the Hope Public School District turned out in numbers Monday for a public hearing to offer support for a proposed school-based health center planned for the Hope High School campus.
The hearing on the proposal coincided with a site visit by a team from the Arkansas Department of Health and Arkansas Department of Education that will make a recommendation on the grant application for a $500,000 grant from the state to fund renovations and initial operations of the proposed health center in the former family and consumer sciences “cottage” on the HHS campus.
A determination on the grant application is expected by mid-May, according to information developed during the Monday visit.
Some 150 parents, students, and district stakeholders attended to make the case for the proposed grant and health center, emphasizing the underlying concern that Hope residents have for children in the community.
“We have people in this audience from all walks of life who have skipped their lunch hour to be here to support the school-based health center,” Zone 8 Hope School Board Representative David “Bubba” Powers said.
Powers, a former juvenile intake officer and former state representative, said the concept has been needed for a number of years.
“This facility will take us to the level where we needed to be when I was in the Legislature,” he said. “I worked toward the idea for years in the Legislature.”
Asked why the Hope High School campus was selected for the district’s proposal, District Nurse Renee Sells, RN, said it was the logical place to begin what is anticipated to become a service to all five campuses.
“We did surveys, and Hope High School had the greatest need,” Sells said. “We’re going to start there, and hope to serve all the campuses.”
After the main session in the HHS auditorium, the team invited attendees to participate in “breakout” sessions which dealt with specific physical and behavioral health requirements, as well as administrative responsibilities proposed under the grant.
The two-hour session concluded with a tour of the former consumer and family sciences “cottage” where team members got a first-hand look at the space which is to be converted to health center use.
Hope Superintendent Bobby Hart said he was pleased with the support shown.
“The Hope Public Schools thanks all who attended and supported our school-based health center site visit,” Hart said. “The site visit team was amazed by the public turnout and the quality of the comments. I am reminded of what a great community we live in during events such as this.”
Hart said the successful site session lends positive support to the grant application.
“We are extremely optimistic about our grant being approved and this center becoming a reality,” he said.
Hart thanked the HPSD team that worked on the proposal for the past two years.
“I want to especially thank Mrs. Portia Jones for her leadership and hard work, as well as our entire nursing staff, Renee Sells, Marcia Wiesel, Geri Maxfield, Glenda Newton, Mrs. Gretchen Carlton from the HHS staff, and Mrs. Mary Beth Fincher,” he said. “Mr. Hoglund and his staff, and so many others, have contributed thus far and will continue to work to improve outcomes and the lives of all of our students.”
Hart said the HPSD remains committed to Hope’s future.
“Our system is improving and making our town stronger,” he said. “Thanks, again, to all of our community partners.”
A decision concerning the grant proposal is expected by mid-May.