Tariffs, demands affecting Bryant District projects

Sarah Perry
Staff Writer

The Bryant School District has several construction project underway and several projects scheduled to begin soon. During a special meeting of the Bryant School Board on Thursday, Superintendent Dr. Karen Walters informed the board that the bids for a new fine arts center came in $4 million higher than expected.

“The numbers are not where they need to be,” Walters said.

She explained that there are several reasons for the increased bids. First, the project is approximately 10,000-square feet bigger than original estimates. Demand is also very high for construction companies.

Another reason for the higher bids, is tariffs that were ordered by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

In March, Trump ordered tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from every country except Canada and Mexico.

“A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security, absolutely vital,” Trump said. “Steel is steel. You don’t have steel, you don’t have a country.”
Trump ordered a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent levy on imported aluminum.

Roy Horsey, central Arkansas vice president for Baldwin & Shell Construction Company, spoke to the board about the impact of the tariffs on the project and the high demand for construction companies.

“What we’re seeing is the tariffs, right or wrong, that have been implemented ... now we’re a couple months down the road and those real increases are hitting,” Horsey said.

He added that construction companies are extremely busy, so not only are bids coming in higher than expected, but also the district has received fewer bidders than expected.

Because of the demand for construction companies, “a lot of guys bid a premium price,” he added.
After receiving the bids for the fine arts center, Walters said she wants to get bids for the cafeteria and physical education facility before making any final decisions.

“I’m not comfortable just accepting bids right now without seeing the bids for the other two projects,” she said.
Walters told the board she is working with the engineering company as well as representatives from Baldwin & Shell to decide how to reduce of the cost of the project.

She also mentioned that school officials expect there will be about $2 million of unused funds from the 2017-18 school year to offset this cost and the district may be able to use short-term funding options like loans.

“I’m not panicked yet,” Walters said.

During the meeting, the board also approved several personnel changes.


•Josh Fonville, secondary teacher.
•Grace Hevron, secondary teacher.
•Charles Rowland, secondary teacher.
•Amie Scroggins, elementary teacher.
•Sharon Wieser, secondary teacher.
•Jenn Alexander, instructional paraprofessional.
•LaDonna Anderson, custodian.
•Dexter Barksdale, bus driver.
•Christina Gentry, custodian.
•Susan Kennedy, school based health center coordinator.
•Brandon Love, master electrician.
•Brian Love, maintenance worker.

New Hires:

•Cathleen Cole, special education teacher.
•Jana Dixon, library media specialist.
•Jamie Golden, special education teacher.
•Julie Hicks, elementary school teacher.
•David Jenkins, special school teacher, middle school assistant football coach and middle school head boys track coach.
•Kendal McCampbell, secondary teacher.
•Brooke Meister, technical education teacher, keyboard and middle school cheer coach.
•Angela Motomura, secondary teacher.
•Mike Morrow, secondary teacher.
•Meghan Pope, secondary teacher.
•Kim Russell, secondary teacher.
•Samantha Vanderpool, elementary school teacher.
•Briana Williams, special education teacher.
•Linda Woodward, elementary school teacher.
•Michael Work, elementary/middle alternative learning environment and LINKS assistant principal.
•Jessica Calhoun, instructional paraprofessional.
•Megan Callaway, instructional paraprofessional.
•Jimmy Diamond, groundskeeper/campus support.
•Faith Frey, occupational and physical therapist.
•Monica Martinez, food service worker.
•Lorie Miller, occupational and physical therapist assistant.
•Laura Molden, occupational and physical therapist assistant.
•Brenda Myers, food service worker.
•Denise Peoples, occupational/physical therapist assistant.
•Olivia Roberts, occupational/physical therapist assistant.
•LeAnne Shepherd, occupational/physical therapist assistant.
•Arlene Spann, food service worker.

Contract Adjustments:

•Dexter Barksdale, additional of HEAT stipend Bryant High School.
•Brooke Crump, change from teacher and seventh and eighth grade drill team sponsor to secondary building learning specialist and high school drill team sponsor.
•John Harrison, addition of assistant boys varsity basketball coach.
•Lindsey McBride, from secondary teacher, middle school cheer coach to elementary assistant principal.
•Tracey Wilson, addition of half archery stipend at Springhill Elementary School.
•Deborah Wray, addition of half archery stipend at Springhill Elementary School.
•Richard Wrightner, addition of seventh-and eight-grade boys head basketball coach and removal of middle school head boys track coach.
•Amy Bronw, change from six-hour food service worker to three-house food service worker.
•Nanette Copeland, change from custodian to custodian crew leader.
•Tina Crawford, change from food service worker to food service manager.
•Brandon Edwards, change from groundskeeper and campus support to groundskeeper and campus support supervisor.
•Heather Hilterbrand, change from three-hour food service worker to six-hour food service worker.
•Scott Jackson, change from groundskeeper and campus support supervisor to maintenance worker.
•Charlotte Rogers, change from instructional paraprofessional to special education paraprofessional.


•Tim Brewer, effective June 30, 2018.

Following the special meeting, the board also held a workshop to discuss proposed changes to student handbooks and the proposed budget for the 2018-19 school year.
In the proposed budget, administrators are considered a $750 bonus for all district employees.
The board will be discussing the approval of the proposed budget at a later date.