R-I board extends superintendent’s contract, Families First Coronavirus Relief Act

Superintendent Kirt Malone will be working for the Palmyra R-I School District at least one additional year, following action by the R-I Board of Education last week.

The board extended, by one year, the two-year contract of Malone during their meeting last week, at which they also extended the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, approved the tele-health agreement with Hannibal Clinic, heard a legislative update and briefly discussed the 2021-22 school year calendar.

Malone said he appreciated the faith the board has put into him in his position.

“I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to goo to work in an environment where so many people are dedicated to student success,” he said. “We have a district full of dedicated professionals and support staff who do their best to help students be successful every day.

“We have a great school district in a supportive community which sends their children and grandchildren to school ready to learn every day,” he added. That makes all of our jobs much easier.”

In other business, the board extended the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) through March 31, 2021. That program, which was enacted in March 2020, was to sunset on Dec. 31, 2020. On Dec. 27, 2020, a stimulus and relief bill which extended the FFCRA was signed into law.

After that date, school districts, like all employers, would no longer be required to provide to employees an additional two weeks of emergency paid sick leave or expanded access to FMLA for COVID-related situations.

“Schools districts had to decided to continue providing benefits under the FFCRA while employees must still meet the same eligibility requirements as before,” Malone explained. “Full and part-time employees are eligible for up to two weeks of paid leave under the emergency paid sick leave if they are unable to work because of at least one of the reasons under the act.”

Those reasons include government ordered to quarantine or self-isolate; advised by a health care provider to self-isolate; showing symptoms of COVID-19 or seeking medical diagnosis; caring for family member who is subject to a quarantine/isolation order or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate; or caring for a child whose school is closed or child care provider is unavailable.

“Likewise, if a school district decides to continue providing benefits under the FFCRA, full and part-time employees who have worked at least 30 days are eligible to use up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave under the expanded FMLA if they are unable to work because their child’s school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19,” Malone added.

The board also approved the tele-health agreement with Blessing Health Systems/Hannibal Clinic for a second year.

Under that agreement, the program provides tele-health services in each building. Tele-health is set up to schedule appointments with doctors and nurse practitioners from the Hannibal Clinic in Palmyra and the Blessing Clinic in Palmyra.  

“Tele-health saves parents time from having to leave work and make an appointment to get in to the doctor’s office, because the appointment takes place at school with the aid of the school nurse,” Malone explained. “A couple of examples of the services provided through tele-health are ailments such as sore throats and ear aches.”

There are charges for the visits including separate ones for advanced practice providers and physician visits. 

Malone also provided a legislative update to the board noting that while the legislative session only began Jan. 8, a number of education bills which could impact public education have been pre-filed.

“Before the legislative session ever started, public schools had $246.6 million withheld from the foundation formula in June and July as well as $14.3 million from school transportation last school year. On top of that there was a $78.4 million shortfall in gaming revenues because gaming facilities were closed, then had reduced capacity, during COVID,” Malone said. “Many of the pre-filed bills would take more money from the public school foundation formula and send our tax dollars to private schools throughout the state and to private virtual school companies from outside Missouri. 

“The result of many of these bills would be less money from the state fur students and an additional greater burden on local communities to pay for education.” 

Last year Missouri citizens had the fourth highest local education tax burden in the entire United States and sending money to private or out of state virtual school companies would only add to that burden, Malone said. 

The board also held some early discussion on the 2021-22 school year calendar, because of legislation passed last year dictating to local school districts when they can schedule the first day of school.

The earliest possible date is Aug. 23, Malone said, noting the board plans to finalize the calendar in February.

The board also accepted the resignation of David Nelson due to retirement and from Jenn Bryan, high school ELA teacher, which is effective the end of this school year.

During the meeting, the board also

• heard a report on the districts’ Early Childhood/Special Education program from Trina Schindler;

• heard a report on the district’s Special Education program from Kinsey Cissna; and

• approved MSBA policy updates and the updated substitute teacher list.