Talk in Batesville, the last few days, has mostly centered on a new strategic plan developed under new Batesville School District superintendent Dr. Michael Hester.
Among the goals of the plan is to provide additional revenue for teachers and other school employees in order to attract and retain a top-notch staff in these times of teacher shortages.
In his information releases, Dr. Hester has noted the administration will develop strategic plan options for the Batesville School Board to consider for the district’s elementary schools and a secondary plan that is tied to everything.
The district plans to reduce its “footprint” by closing the Cushman campus and moving the White River Academy into town; closing the Batesville Pre-School campus and moving it somewhere among existing buildings; and closing the District Administration Center and moving those offices into other district facilities. Dr. Hester says closing the three will save approximately $100,000 per year for each one.
Dr. Hester also said a new technology plan will save approximately $100,000 a year, an energy efficiency plan will also save a minimum of $100,000 a year, and an additional (also approximate) $100,000 a year will be saved by reducing six kitchens serving students and staff to three kitchens, leaving one kitchen at Eagle Mountain Magnet, another at West Magnet, and the third at Batesville High School.
In order to explain the new strategic plan in more detail, the superintendent has scheduled three public, town hall-style meetings, over the next two months.
On Wednesday, Nov. 22, there will be a Desha town hall meeting at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Desha. On Monday, Dec. 11, there will be one centered toward elementary parents at the Batesville Community Center, and a second parent town hall meeting will be held the next day, Tuesday, Dec. 12, also at the community center.
All town halls are scheduled for 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dr. Hester will also present the planning to the public at the Mayor’s Community Meeting on Thursday, Dec. 7 at Josie’s Restaurant, in Batesville.
“We understand these are emotional decisions, but we are one of the largest businesses in Independence County,” said Dr. Hester. “As a business, we must be prudent to sustain and compete. We must find ways to attract and retain our staff in this day and age of teacher shortages. Our staff is amazing, and it is the best gift we can give the children of the district as we continue to put students first.”
Gary Bridgman, W.R.D. Entertainment news director, contributed to this story.