Scenarios for school year discussed during board meeting


 A number of scenarios in regard to what the start of the school year will look like were presented during Monday's meeting of the Wayne Community Schools' Board of Education.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Lenihan spoke at length about what administrators and staff have discussed in recent weeks and possible ways of delivering instruction to students in the district during the 2020-2021 school year.

"The safety and health of our students and staff are our top priority," Dr. Lenihan said. "We also want to maximize the amount of time the students, especially those in pre-K through fourth grade, spend in school."

Dr. Lenihan went on to say that the district will work to address the physical, social and emotional needs of the students.

Information from all sources - The Center for Disease Control, the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department and Nebraska Schools Activity Association (NSAA) - continues to be monitored and because of this, Dr. Lenihan said "we have to be flexible. What we have now is not the final document and will change as more details become available."

The 2020-21 school year is set to begin on Thursday, Aug. 13 with a 2 p.m. dismissal both that day and Friday, Aug. 14.

Additional information shared by Dr. Lenihan included the fact that the district has received 100 gallons  of hand sanitizer to be used in both the elementary school and junior-senior high school buildings. The district is working to get face coverings for students and visitors will be limited in the buildings.

"With 500 people in each building, it will be hard to social distance but we need to work to protect others," Dr. Lenihan said.

The district has developed a three level risk dial to determine how learning will take place and safety precautions that will be taken at each level.

He also spoke on the possible ways to deliver instruction to the students. These include regular, in-person teaching; a hybrid of in-school and remote teaching; remote learning with accountability and possibly have some days off from school.

"The way we deliver instruction to our students needs to be a community effort with students, teachers and parents all involved. I encourage anyone with concerns to discuss these with administrators and teachers," Dr. Lenihan said.

Board members approved extra duty contracts for staff members.

The agenda item was discussed at the June meeting and Dr. Lenihan said work has been done to make the contracts "fair to both the coaches and the taxpayers."

Because of the uncertainty of extra curricular activities due to COVID-19, the contracts would include wording for those involved to receive one -half of their compensation at the beginning of the season the remainder pro-rated if necessary if the season is canceled.

In other action, the board reviewed a number of board policies including anti-bullying, student fees, homeless students, parental involvement and improving learning for children with disabilities (ILCD). The policies are reviewed each year.

First reading was held for a number of other policies and for the 2020-2021 teacher handbook and non-certified staff handbook.

Bids were accepted for a survey of an area of land south and east of the junior-senior high school  ($9,600) and for a junior-senior high school parking lot design ($18,000). 

Bids for both these projects were less than what had been presented at the June board meeting and having the work done will allow the district to use the information sometime in the future.

The possibility of offering bowling as a school-sponsored sport was discussed at the meeting.

Dr. Lenihan presented some preliminary numbers in regard to what the cost to the district would be and told the board the season would begin after the Unified Bowling season. Those taking part would not be allowed to be involved in any other activity during the season. He said the bowling alley is very supportive of the idea. 

Additional information will be brought to a future meeting.

Work continues on the budget for the coming year with staff working on line-items in the General Fund portion of the budget. Dr. Lenihan said he anticipates a 1.89 percent increase in that portion of the budget. The final budget will be created after the district receives the property valuation numbers from the county, which happens on Aug. 20.

The Wayne Community Schools' Board of Education will next meet in regular session on Monday, Aug. 10.