Board Meeting in Review – August 10, 2020

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The regular electronic meeting was held starting at 6:30 p.m.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, an elementary teacher expressed that she would like to see kindergarten class sizes kept at 20 or under if possible.

The board approved the second reading of NEOLA policies, Vol. 34, No. 2 – February 2020; Special Update – March 2020.  Changes to the Title IX Regulations policy will come from Thrun Law Firm and will be incorporated into the NEOLA policy.

Student handbooks for all three buildings were approved, with the understanding that there may still be changes to maintain compliance with educational policy, such as Title IX policy updates.

The board approved the Board Goals Update, as presented by Mr. Denney.  Goal #1A actions taken covers additional tools to help struggling students; purchase of Literacy Footprints for elementary staff; planning for Title I and RTI staff.  Goal #1B actions taken include decision making using non-testing data points; school improvement teams finishing Return to Learn plans.  Goal #1C actions taken are improving our ability to deliver online curriculum; looking for creative ways to allow “normal” activities to resume.  Goal #1D actions taken include Kindergarten Round-Up, competitive contracts with both bargaining groups.  Goal #1E actions taken are coordination of the backpack program; continuation of meal program; coordination with Jackson County Health Dept.  Goal #1F actions taken include working on Whole Child initiatives; developing and implementing programs for the mental health and well-being of students.  Goal #2A actions taken are continuation of bond project; completion of LED lighting project; installation of clear partitions for offices, kitchens, cafeterias, and classrooms.  Goal #2B actions taken are purchases from the Technology Bond; ordering of Chromebooks and iPads; internet service to the press box; assessing needs of teachers for delivery of online curriculum; purchasing USB drives for student devices.  Goal #2C actions taken cover exploring options for the district’s bookkeeper position; partnership with mask supplier; Technology Consortium covering expense of enhanced Zoom platform.

The district’s COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan that complies with the MI Safe Schools Return to Learn Roadmap was approved by the board.  The board was required to pass a plan by August 15th.  The plan includes an option of in-person learning as well as online learning, and focuses on safety for staff and students.

The board approved a cooperative services agreement with the Jackson County Intermediate School District to replace the district’s bookkeeper, Adrienne Spencer, who is retiring effective November 1st.

Superintendent Denney reported to the board members on the following:

  • A huge thank you to everyone who has been working behind the scenes to put finishing touches on plans we will need to have in the next couple weeks.  There is a lot to do in that time period.
  • Thank you to the custodians for their hard work this summer; the buildings are looking good.
  • We should be seeing a lot of progress in construction of the new gym in the next couple weeks.  There have been some delays due to concerns with soil, as well as procuring supplies.
  • We are hopeful that the technology devices we have ordered will arrive in time for the start of school; if not, we have enough devices currently to get by for a short time.
  • Our district will be receiving over $15,000, which is 20% of ESSER funds.  This money is based on census data of financial need.
  • A budget deal has been signed with solidifies the 2019-20 budget for the state.  All remaining CARES Act money will fill in the gaps in the budget.  There was a reduction of $175 per pupil for 2019-20, however the district will receive $350 per pupil (approximately $400,000) of added revenue linked to COVID expenses for 2020-21.  The district has spent approximately $250,000 so far on COVID-related expenses getting ready for the new school year.
  • We are still waiting to see what the foundation allowance will be.  Last year’s pupil count numbers may be locked in for the upcoming year.
  • New carpeting has been installed in the middle school hallways.

The board members commented on the following:

  • Thank you to Superintendent Denney, administration, staff, and the Return to Learn committee for everything they have been doing to put together a learning plan for the next school year.  The board will try to give all the support they can to minimize disruptions.
  • The board would like to see smaller class sizes for Young 5’s, Kindergarten, and 1st grade, however, that will depend on the number of students who will be coming back for in-person learning and budget constraints.  We will not have an idea about the financial aspect until after school starts, but the board will always try to do what’s best.
  • The school buildings are looking good; there will be a lot of pressure on custodians to make sure schools are cleaned daily.
  • The possibility of looking for grants that may be out there to cover COVID expenses was brought up.
  • The board is proud of the work that has been done to plan a safe start to the new school year.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.

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