Myriad of items on school board agenda


 Adopting a budget for the coming year, approving an Early Childhood Placement agreement with Wayne State College and discussing COVID-19 procedures were among the items on the Wayne Community Schools Board of Education agenda.

The board meet in regular session on Sept. 14 to first conduct public hearings on the proposed budget and tax requests.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Lenihan discussed some of the items in the budget, including the fact that $2.3 million has been allocated to the district's cash reserve. He told the board that the total valuation for the district changed very little from last year and that the tax asking is approximately two percent higher than last year.

The total tax rate for the coming fiscal year will be $1.044894, up from $1.027977 for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Dr. Lenihan also thanked Business Manager Rochelle Nelson and Bookkeeper Diane Peters for the work they did on preparing the upcoming budget.

He said that "we are doing our best to keep costs down. I would also like to thank the board for your support."

No one from the public spoke at either the budget hearing or the tax request hearing.

Following the hearings the board  approved the $9.88 million budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Wayne State College President Dr. Marysz Rames and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Elliott spoke to the board on an early Childhood Placement Agreement put together between WSC and Wayne Community Schools.

Dr. Rames told the board that the two schools have been working on an agreement since early this year. Part of Wayne State's reasoning for wanting the agreement was the fact that WSC students are not "getting the kind of experience they wanted" due to renovation being done on the Benthack Applied Science building.

"We know Wayne Community Schools has a premier (early learning) program and our students can learn from Wayne Community Schools," Dr. Rames told the board.

Dr. Elliott said the plan is to place 8-12 WSC students in the Early Learning Center to work with the teachers and students there. These students need to go through background checks and follow all safety procedures currently in place.

Dr. Lenihan said the Early Learning Center (ELC) has sufficient room to allow for the WSC students to work with the students at the ELC and this would be a "good opportunity for hands on learning."

Following the presentation, the board voted unanimously to move forward with the Early Childhood Partnership agreement with Wayne State. There will be no budget impact with the agreement and it will start immediately.

Dr. Lenihan presented enrollment numbers for the current school year.

He said that currently there are 957 students enrolled in the district in Pre-K through 12th grade. The numbers fluctuate, as the district is enrolling students on a weekly basis. There are currently 35 students within the district being home-school. This number includes 15 who are being home-schooled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Considerable discussion was held during Monday's meeting in regard to the district's COVID-19 plans.

Dr. Lenihan said the district has moved to the "yellow" status with regular, in-school instruction taking place. Additional precautions are being taken to ensure the safety  of the students.

He asked the board how they wanted to be kept informed of any changes in the instruction of students, including the possibility of moving to hybrid learning.

"There is a lot to think about as we move forward and we don't have answers to all of the questions," Dr. Lenihan said.

Board members expressed a desire to have a special meeting should changes need to be made. The consensus was that having a board meeting would allow for information to be made available to all board members at the same time and questions to be asked and answered in a timely fashion.

As part of his administrative report, Dr. Lenihan told the board that the U. S. Department of Agriculture has announced that the summer meal program will continue to provide free meals until Dec. 31, 2020 or until funds run out. This applies to all students within the district.

The Wayne community Schools' Board of Education will next meet in regular session on Monday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. at the junior-senior high school.