The Van Buren School Board set a date of May 21 for its next election as a result of action taken in its February meeting.

Superintendent Dr. Harold Jeffcoat said he had to inform the Crawford County Clerk by the next day (Feb. 13) to ensure a May 21 election date. The board approved the recommendation, paving the way for a May election.

“By law we have to notify them by Feb. 13,” said Jeffcoat. “We have to let them know each year. The vast majority of districts across the state will be doing it at the same time.”

In other action the board approved an estimated budget for 2020-21, another annual move the board has to make.

“This is something we also do each year,” said Jeffcoat. “We’re basically approving an almost imaginary budget not next year but the year after that. We know the figures will change when we get closer to that year.”

The board also passed a vote providing a right-of-way easement for Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative at the district’s Oliver Springs Elementary School location, a measure taken simply to provide documentation for the entity in case it needs to enter the school property, and also approved the district’s 2019-20 calendar, which gives an additional day off before the Christmas break while allowing the semester to end prior to the Christmas break.

It’s the same calendar that received an approval vote by 60 percent of the district’s teachers.

The board also approved replacing the scoreboard at Blakemore Field at Citizen's Bank Stadium.

“We have probably one of the most vintage scoreboards in all of 7A in football,” said Jeffcoat. “We’ve talked before about the possibility of replacing that scoreboard. We always get sponsorships for our scoreboards and Citizens Bank has sponsored all of them in the past. We are proposing to transition to a digital board. It’s about the same size as our current board, but it’s all digital. Citizens is in favor of supporting that and we will also have Coca-Cola that will support that, too. We had four different vendors that we received pricing for and the lowest price that came in was from Raney Electronics.”

The new board is a 10 millimeter board, which Jeffcoat said is the “best quality-wise of the boards we are considering.”

The range is from 10 to 16 millimeters, which simply means the bulbs are 10-16 millimeters apart. The closer the bulbs the clearer the board.

The new board will be 19.5 feet tall by 32.1 feet wide, making it larger than the current 18 by 32 board.

“We will also have a four-foot tall sign that will say ‘Van Buren Pointers’ and below it we’ll have some signage for Citizens Bank and Coca-Cola,” Jeffcoat said.

The cost of the new board is $316,288. Raney Electric won the bid and will install the board.

“We’ve worked with Raney on almost all of the district’s scoreboards,” said Jeffcoat. “They provide tremendous support for us, which is another very important element for us. If we have a game on a Friday night and we’re an hour out and the board doesn’t come on we want to make sure we’re going to have people on their way immediately to help us and Raney has done that for us in the past.”

The sound system will also be changed out at the same time the board is replaced.

“We don’t have sponsorship for the sound system,” said Jeffcoat. “We will take care of that in house.”

Jeffcoat also told the board there were 905 tickets sold (compared to 700 in its first year) for the district’s Father-Daughter Dance, bringing in $9,050 for the IMPACT Program.

“As a school system, we always look for ways we can give back to the community,” he said. “I just feel like an event like this is pretty special. For $10 a ticket they come here and have a great time, they get cookies and punch, they get a professional photo done at no charge … I think it’s really giving back to our community. But the proceeds go to a very worthy cause.”