The Conway Board of Education approved the expense of $183,435 for the first phase of the safe room project at the two remaining middle schools in the district during its meeting Tuesday.

The project included putting safe rooms at Bob and Betty Courtway Middle School and Carl Stuart Middle School.

Currently, all schools except the junior high and high school, are equipped with safe rooms; the elementary school project was recently finished.

Director of Support Services Jason Lawrence presented the situation to the board during the regular meeting.

Lawrence said in order to start work on the structures, a few fixes would have to be made at the schools first.

At Bob and Betty Courtway Middle School, he said, a sanitary sewer runs under where the crew would build and has to be moved, along with a few utilities, before they can start.

“To do that, they’re going to have to tear up the bus lane, which is OK because we’ll get some repaving there but they’ve got to get started on it pretty quick so that the bus lane isn’t torn up come Aug. 13,” Lawrence said.

He said at Cart Stuart Middle School, a few utilities also have to be moved, but that it won’t be nearly as expensive.

Lawrence added that in the next couple weeks, bids for the building-up phase will be coming in with guaranteed maximums that he will bring that before the board as well.

Board member Bill Clements asked Lawrence about parking and whether the new structure would displace any spots. Lawrence said fewer than 15 spots would be lost.

The director gave updates on other construction projects during the meeting but focused on the safe rooms.

Regarding the elementary storm shelter project, which former Assistant Superintendent Carroll Bishop spearheaded, Lawrence said the district came in under the estimated cost.

Due to the early completion and some unused contingency money, he said, the district saved $1.2 million.

During the meeting, the board also voted to use Arkansas School Board Association to carry out its insurance policy at $279,551 for the 2018-2019 school year, a different decision than in previous years.

For the past 12 years, the district has used Mike Tullis with MNH-Tullis Bonds and Insurance.

Lawrence told board members that Tullis recently came into his office and told him that Conway didn’t need to use his services anymore because he found the district a better plan.

“He is a Wampus Cat and he loves this district and really what it comes down to, he can get us a better price for the insurance but the deductible is so high, he can find it cheaper with a lower deductible,” he said.

The premium with the MNH-Tullis for the 2017-18 school year was $201,508 with a $50,000 deductible and a valuation of $252,378,277.

The premium for the 2018-19 year would have been $218,276 with a $250,000 deductible, which could have been brought down to $50,000 be increasing premium to $246,000.

Lawrence said Tullis told him it was not in the best interest of the district to do business with him and Hartford, a national company who was forced to raised rates due to the number of insurance claims filed as a result of recent hurricanes.

Tullis, he said, spoke with the Arkansas School Board Association which had a premium of $279,551 per year with a $10,000 deductible with buildings valued at $342,586,415.

“Which makes it much more likely for us to ever use a claim if we had something instead of just paying it out of the building fund,” Lawrence told board members.

The board voted in favor of using insurance with ASBA, which only insures in state – 170 school districts across Arkansas work with them.

Also during the meeting, four new administrators were recognized: Gary Logan as Florence Mattison principal; Melinda Francis as assistant principal at Carolyn Lewis; Shannon Riner as assistant principal at Julia Lee Moore; and Alisha Ross as assistant princpal at Woodrow Cummins.

“I’m a product of the Wampus Cats so I’m excited to be in this district and do the work that needs to be done and is already being done,” Riner said. “If you’d ask me if I was going to be an administrator my first year teaching I probably would’ve been like no way, but then I was always mentored by some great leaders and they showed me that I had great potential to be a leader.”

In other business, the board:

• Approved six student transfers.

• Approved eight resignations and 29 new hires.