Alma School District Board of Education members discussed new turf for the football field and heard from school resource officers on their duties during their meeting Thursday night.
Alma Police Department School Resource Officers Steve Hutchinson and Jeremy Caldwell talked to board members about the roles they play in the school district.
SRO duties include acting as liaison between the school and police, providing safety and security, and even counseling in conjunction with the school-based counselor, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson has been with the school district for three years, and with APD almost five years, he said. Caldwell has been with APD for just over a year, and only started with the school district in December.
Both officers said they love working with students.
"I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and this is the best assignment I’ve ever had," Hutchinson said.
"This is a job you have to ask to do," Caldwell said. "The chief doesn’t just assign it to someone."
But Hutchinson said being a SRO requires a different way of policing.
"When you start out as a police officer, it’s more about putting away the bad guy," Hutchinson said. "This is more about working with kids to keep them out of trouble when they start heading down that road."
Also during the meeting, board members approved a proposal by Superintendent David Woolly to replace the artificial turf in the Alma High School football stadium.
Modern synthetic turf surfaces are safer and prevent injuries, Woolly said. The turf has a base of gravel, which allows drainage, long "grass" blades and the padding is a filler of tire rubber pellets, he said.
"It’s kind of like sand, like loose dirt on a grass field," Woolly said. "That’s why there haven’t been injuries - they’re more like grass fields."
Alma is one of only three out of 32 7A and 6A schools in Arkansas that do not have artificial turf, Woolly said.
All costs for the project will be paid for with contributions, including fees to Athletic Surfaces Plus, a consulting company that helps with fundraising for turf replacement projects.
Board members Chapin Rucker and Paul Winborn questioned the wisdom of committing to a project before all funding is in place, but Woolly said the school district can forgo or postpone the project at any time before construction begins if fundraising is going slowly.
He added that Athletic Surfaces has raised money in smaller communities, and has "never failed" to fund the project.
The proposal passed 4-2, with Rucker and Winborn voting against.
Board members also approved contracts for all current administrators to June 30, 2017.