Editor’s note: This editorial expresses the views of the Log Cabin Democrat editorial board, which is composed of Frank Leto, Jeanette Anderton and Alex Kienlen.
The Springdale School District announced it would not return to in-person instruction until Dec. 7 so that students, teachers and staff would have a week to quarantine following the Thanksgiving holiday. The district will have virtual learning next week and those students who have been attending class in person will return the following Monday.
It’s a smart approach, and one the Log Cabin Democrat would like to see school districts across the state take, especially here in Faulkner County.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arkansas Department of Health urged people not to travel or have large gatherings for Thanksgiving, bustling airports and social media posts show that many people ignored these guidelines.
With its COVID-19 case numbers rising at warp speed and hospitalizations due to the virus breaking records on a regular basis, Arkansas is considered a red zone.
Some school districts have had to pivot to virtual learning due to outbreaks in the district. Taking the extra nine days to quarantine after the holiday could very well prevent – or, at least, mitigate – those outbreaks. By being proactive and choosing to go virtual for one school week, Springdale could avoid having to go virtual later.
Elected officials should not receive bonuses
The Log Cabin Democrat reported earlier this week that city of Conway employees will receive larger appreciation bonuses than in past years. Another change was the addition of part-time elected officials, meaning city council members, receiving a bonus as well. Mayor Bart Castleberry said he wanted the increased bonuses for employees – which will be $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees – because of “tremendous job” they have done “under trying circumstances.” He said he wanted the city council to receive the bonus because in his fourth year as mayor, he has come to appreciate just how important the council is.
The Log Cabin Democrat commends the mayor and city council for its response to the pandemic (as we did in an editorial April 25). They had the foresight to implement a spending freeze the first week in March; Conway was one of the first cities to adopt a mask mandate before the statewide mandate was issued; and they worked hard to be transparent and provide people with all the data they had available as soon as it became available. However, we don’t think elected officials should receive appreciation bonuses like other employees. At $250 for each of the eight city council members, it didn’t cost the taxpayers very much to issue these bonuses – $2,000 – but that’s not the point. Quite frankly, residents elected you with the expectation that would do a good job. Your “bonus” should come in the form of re-election for those officials the residents believe have done the job well.