Because of issues related to COVID-19, the R-II Board of Education approved reducing the amount they are going to spend on professional development this school year.
The board made that decision during their meeting last week, at which they also extended the paid leave through the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), approved a change to the part-time student policy and approved the 2021-22 school year calendar.
According to Superintendent Jason Keilholz, because the transportation formula was not full-funded this school year, the board has the option to adjust the amount they are mandated to spend on professional development.
“Usually we are mandated to spend 1 percent of state money, but the board voted to allow us to spend 50 percent of that 1 percent,” said Keilholz. “Due to COVID, it is hard to send people places and hard to get people to commit to come in, so I felt this was the best option.
“DESE could waive this like last year, but this ensures we are not mandated to spend the full amount,” he added. “We can go over that 50 percent and will spend like a normal year if possible.”
Like other schools districts, the board voted to voluntarily extend paid leave for employees.
In order to be eligible for this, however, employees must meet certain guidelines, including being unable to work because their child’s school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.”
In addition, there are certain federal and/or state guidelines dealing with self-isolating or quarantining which have to be met for an employee to be eligible.
The board also approved a change to the part-time student policy in the school’s handbook, which will move the district to a Flex program.
Under that program, students will be allowed to work at an outside job and receive credit for that. The change will be implement for the 2021-22 school year.
In approving the 2021-22 school year calendar, the board also approved starting school on Aug. 24. The state has mandated school districts cannot start school until Aug. 23 at the earliest, but whereas Marion County R-II School is a four-day a week program, which Monday’s being the day school does not meet, the board approved the next earliest Tuesday date.
The final day for the school year will be May 27, and professional development days will be held on one Monday a month.