Adjustments to district operations in response to COVID-19 detailed at school board meeting
March 25, 2020
In light of the rapidly changing situation with COVID-19, which prompted the state-mandated closing of all schools in the state of Wisconsin last week until further notice, Cashton School District administrator, Ryan Alderson presented Cashton School Board with a plan detailing adjustments to district operations at the regular school board meeting held on Wednesday, March 18.
This presentation detailed the current plan at the time of the meeting last week (please note that circumstances may have changed since then, also causing further changes to the plan).
The plan addressed four main topics: Continuity of Learning, Compensation, Roles & Responsibilities and Temperature Screenings.
Alderson stressed that the school district has an obligation to provide education and resources to students and will strive to do so in the best way possible while in the midst of this unprecedented time and situation.
The presented plan noted that materials and instructional support will be provided for all students in an attempt to limit academic regression during the district’s closure and those materials will be appropriate to each student’s grade level standards and designed by their teachers, who will be keeping in mind that not all students have equal or even similar supports and resources at home. Prepared materials will be accessible by pick-up, delivery or electronic means.
On Friday, March 13, materials to support five days of learning opportunities for students were created. In the event that a date for school to resume is not identified by Wednesday, March 25, Alderson indicated that teachers will return to work beginning on March 25 in order to expand upon the learning materials created on March 13. Those additional learning materials will then be made available to students by March 30. From that point on, teachers will continue to plan learning activities for students for the duration of the closure.
The plan also noted that if school does reopen, face-to-face make up days will be scheduled on dates including those surrounding the Easter holiday: Thursday, April 9 and Monday, April 13 and weekdays through June 12 if necessary, in order to maximize student learning time. Any remaining in-session days may also be extended to make up additional instructional minutes. These schedule alterations would not result in additional salary cost.
All district teachers and administrators will continue to receive their regular salaries and benefits throughout the closure and in the event that school reopens. Regarding hourly employees, the district plans to “make reasonable efforts to maintain wages and benefits as compensation for work performed.”
Hourly staff will also report back to work for their regularly scheduled hours beginning on March 25 and responsibilities will include tasks still relevant to their positions as available and if insufficient relevant work is available, employees will be offered alternate tasks that might be outside their normal scope of work, such as duties from other departments as appropriate to each employee’s skills and limitations.
Hourly employees will also have the choice to opt out of earning wages during the period of school closure if their services are not required during that time and all employees will be able to access accrued sick leave, vacation and personal leave days during the school closure to address concerns and disruptions caused by COVID-19.
The plan provided some examples of roles and responsibilities for staff members during the school closure and also noted that the district will be requesting that any individuals who choose to access the building have their temperature checked by the school nurse at the school’s main entrance in order to screen for fever symptoms.
In other news the board approved a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of $8,425,000 taxable (convertible to tax-exempt) general obligation refunding bonds.
Unfortunately, the potential savings presented to the board at the February meeting of approximately $760,692 ($646,434 in present value) by going ahead with this refinancing dropped by over $200,000 due to the inability to lock in the US Treasury Escrow Investment Rate which was projected to be at 1.39 percent at the February meeting and then dropped to 0.47 percent before it could be locked in on March 12.
Potential savings are now projected to be around $546,194 ($464,256 in present value).
Brian Brewer with Baird called in during last week’s meeting to present the situation and was available to the board for questions. Brewer noted that the drop in the investment rate was the result of the market changes connected with the COVID-19 situation.
Brewer also explained that Baird would be dropping all fees for managing this project, as it had not been made clear in previous presentations that this rate could change.