MAYFLOWER, Ark. – With concrete changes still up in the air from Arkansas LEARNS, many school leaders are finding themselves in a holding period.

“It’s really hard because we’re trying to close out a year and then were thinking about next year,” Mayflower Elementary School principal Candie Watts said.

Some policies from LEARNS go into effect in the upcoming school year, giving districts just a few months to get their ABCs in order.

“Right now, the primary focus is on budgeting,” Watts said.

Mayflower Schools is one of many districts that have drafted its salary schedule for the 2023-2024 school year. It includes the required $50,000 minimum salary for teachers as well as $2,000 raises for those making over $50,000.

“We had to have something in place, one to get contracts out to teachers, and two to offer our applicants that we’re interviewing because we already have interviews going on right now,” Watts said.

According to district officials, it’s become a race against time, and against other districts.

“We’re still going to try and secure employees as quickly as we can because it’s a competitive business,” Mayflower Public Schools Superintendent Andy Chisum said.

The district said it is also looking at raises for staff but that they’ll have to come out of pocket.

“It’s been a lot to take in,” Watts said.

Most changes with LEARNS are still in the final rule-making process, leaving school districts with nothing to do but wait.

“Yeah, we would like to have those answers in concrete by this time of year and we don’t and that’s ok. We’ll monitor and adjust and do what we need to do,” Chisum said.

Multiple initiatives in LEARNS don’t have a due date for rules until July 2024.