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Palmyra R-I school board requests CARES Act funding, approves PAT home visit plan

Although the Palmyra R-I Board of Education discussed the annual audit, a complete one won’t be available until later because of the CARES Act.

The audit was part of last week’s R-I board meeting, at which the board also approved the PAT home visit plan, heard a construction update and took care of some back to school preparations.

According to Superintendent Kirt Malone, the annual school audit was completed in July, but the district will not receive a final audit until later in the year because of CARES Act requirements. 

The district had applied for Marion County CARES Act funds, for COVID-19 related expenses, in early August, but had not received word yet as of the board meeting.

“We have ordered additional cleaning supplies for all of our buildings, that includes disinfectants, additional towels for cleaning, machines to make cleaning and disinfecting more efficient for staff, thermometers, masks, trash cans, signage for buildings, bottles for hand sanitizer, etc,” Malone said.

In addition, the district has requested funds frorm Marion County for WiFi services for families who do not have internet at home.

“We have included the cost of the hot spots and related services in our Marion County CARES Act grants request, “Malone said, adding cellular companies such as U.S. Cellular, and Chariton Valley Wireless sell hotspots to customers. “We have been working all summer to acquire hot spots for families who do not have internet. WiFi hotspots are very difficult to find now, so we hope we get some in soon.”

In other business, the board approved the Parents as Teachers family visit plan, which includes in home visits, virtual visits and in school visits.

Guidelines for in-home family visits will include the taking of temperatures, washing hands, using individual play mats which can be sanitized, using only play items which can be sanitized, removal of shoes and the wearing of disposable foot coverings while in a person’s home and the use of hand sanitizer.

Parent educators will also wear masks and will not hold children while at a home. In addition, visits will be conducted outdoors when possible.

The plans also includes DESE approved virtual and/or telecommunication visits for families when in home visits are not available and for families choosing not to participate in face to face home visits.

In addition, parents and/or guardians will be allowed in the PAT home visitation room (Room 153), which is part of the PAT office if those visits are preferred.

Kathy Nicholson, PAT coordinator, also noted those visits will be limited to one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, allowing for time to sanitize the room after use.

“We will offer to parents what they feel most comfortable with. The safety of families and the PAT staff is the highest priority,” said Nicholson of the plan. “ We did virtual and telecommunication visits during the school shut down.  It was important to stay connected with families, but doing a visit through Zoom is just not the same.

“ I am looking forward to seeing families in person.”

The plan also outlines guidelines for screenings as well as virtual group connections.

The board heard an update on facilities. The school buildings are ready for students to arrive on Aug. 24, Malone said. 

The athletic complex construction is on schedule with the press box expected to be delivered and installed this week, he added. The concession stand is nearing completion and the storage under the grandstands is expected to be finished soon as well.

With the complex ready, Malone said the plan is to play the first home football game at it in September.

“We expect to be able to host games beginning Aug. 28. Right now our first home games are scheduled to be held the third week of the season,” he said, noting MSHSAA recently sent out a memo that schools can opt to play their fall sports in the spring. “As of today (last Friday) we will continue to play our fall sports as scheduled. As everyone knows the situation can change tomorrow.”

The board also learned that enrollment is up this year. However, as the school was aware of a larger kindergarten class, arrangements have already been made to accommodate five classes of kindergarten students.

In new business, the board approved the local IDEA Compliance Plan for 2020-2021.

The board also approved Larry Seago as the district’s homeless coordinator, foster parent liaison and migrant student coordinator. 

Kinsey Cissna was approved as the district’s nondiscrimination/anti-harassment coordinator and Section 504 coordinator.

Resignations were accepted from Cindy Stuhlman, PAT parent educator; Dianne Brumbaugh, high school FCCLA sponsor; and Krista Power, paraprofessional.

The board hired Stephanie West as a paraprofessional.

The Board approved the substitute teacher list as presented.

The board also learned the MSBA Fall Conference has gone to an online format for this year.