Huntingdon School Board prepares to open school Aug. 4

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The Aug. 4 opening of school was the main topic of discussion at Thursday night’s Huntingdon Special School District Board of Education meeting. Decisions to open schools in the face of the coronavirus pandemic have been delayed due to the uncertainty of how it will be handled. Federal and state officials change the criteria constantly.

School board members passed a motion to follow general guidelines.

“There are changes every day,” said director of schools Pat Dillahunty. 

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A 2020-2021 budget and tax rate were passed, along with a couple of board policies on enrollment in college level courses and a final exam exempt policy for 2020-2021. A school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year was also noted.

In discussion about school starting, Dillahunty said teachers’ in-service will start July 27 and end July 31. 

On the opening day students will be attending for a half day. 

There are two options for classes, according to Dillahunty.

The options include in person classes and virtual on line classes. With the virtual option, a student can stay at home and do on line for a nine-week period.

“School teachers and officials will have to have conversations with students and parents,

Students’ temperatures will be taken every day and buildings will be cleaned with electrostatic means every night. 

“Visitors will be limited and will have to talk at the front door,” said Dillahunty. There will be packaged lunches and no school parties.”

Chrome books and tablets will be made available for students.

There are 1,350 students in the Huntingdon School System, according to Dillahunty. 

“We have to get the teachers and kids back in the classrooms,” she said. “There won’t be a back-to-school night like there has been in the past.”

If worse comes to worse technology means would be used, Dillahunty pointed out.

“Kids will still be held accountable when they go home,” she said. Six and a half hours would still be the norm for a school day.

There could possibly be staggered schedules where a certain group of students would go one day and another group go the next day.

Board member Tim Tucker said he felt that parents want their children back in school.

“Internet access is my biggest concern” said board chairman Dr. Lee Carter. “The main thing is to get the kids and staff back.”

Dillahunty said there is a lot to do to get ready for teaching.

A notice from Dillahunty about guidelines for teachers and parents is being posted on Facebook as of Monday night.

In passing the budget, Dillahunty said it was a balanced budget of $12,188,041 with the General Purpose budget making up $9,721,138 of it. The Federal Projects share is $1,242,504 with the Cafeteria Fund set at $706,805 and the Debt Service at $466,594.

The increase in the overall total budget is $257,180 over the 2019-2020 budget. However, there is a decrease in the General Purpose budget of $103,984 from last year.

The budget includes a one-time bonus of $750 for certified personnel and $500 for non-certified employees.

The certified tax rate is $1.1211 per $100 of assessed property which is no increase over last year and several previous years.

On the policy that passed regarding students taking college level courses, the state Board of Education modified its regulation on students taking these courses. TSBA has revised the model policy to more clearly align with the updated regulation. Concerning the passage of final exam exempt policy for 2020-2021, it says in order to be exempted from the final exams, there should be no discipline referral that requires action (e.g. warning does not require action) and at least an A and B average must be maintained in the class prior to the final exam (rounded to the nearest tenth). Students who do not meet the exemption criteria, will be required to take final exams in all courses.

A resolution passed concerning the emergency suspension of board policies during the 2020-2021 school year. The resolution would become effective in the event the district must implement all, or a portion of the Continuous Learning Plan.

The next board meeting is Aug. 20 at 7 p.m.

In passing the consent agenda, school board members acknowledged the employment of SavannahRe’ Bigham for fifth grade social studies, Crystal Locke as a middle school educational assistant, and Stephanie Cruce as special education teacher for the middle school. The retirement of special education teacher Debbie Lawson was approved. Dillahunty expressed appreciation for Lawson’s 34 years of service and the fact that she drove from Murray, Ky. every day.