November School Board Meeting

Board Approves Bonuses
Posted on 11/06/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Board Approves Bonuses The November meeting of the Weakley County School Board included an update from Technology Coordinator Mark Maddox and approval of bonuses as well as the go ahead to move forward with a produce harvesting and marketing program at the Weakley County Schools Production Farm.

Maddox reminded the board that computers ordered to help during the pandemic had been delayed in production. He then reported 1,376 laptops were received in October and loaded with the necessary software. The devices were distributed this week.

WCS Director Randy Frazier underscored that, while the computers were needed in case of closure, students who have reported no access to a device at home will receive one of the new purchases and begin to use them immediately. School principals are overseeing the distribution process.

Board members inquired if more laptops are needed and Maddox confirmed more will be needed though the current distribution did not use all that were received. Some additional laptops were issued to libraries.

As the board addressed regular budgeting resolutions, they approved moving federal CARES funds (COVID-related) from the initial line items to areas that will cover expenses which have increased substantially during the pandemic such as substitute teacher pay.

Frazier then explained Dresden ag teacher and Weakley County Schools Farm Manager Jason Kemp had applied for and received a grant of more than $33,000. The funds were obtained through COVID-relief sources because the WC Farm was able to verify that money was lost as the result of the pandemic.

“We are going to open a meat locker, hoping to offer meat processing for our students with the intent to offer product to the public eventually,” Frazier said.

The board unanimously approved all resolution items including enthusiastically affirming one focused on planned-for financial bonuses to non-certified employees. “Non-certified” applies to cafeteria workers, Educational Assistants, bus drivers and maintenance personnel. He said that after meeting with the finance department and chairman of the County’s Financial Ways and Means Committee, he was told to increase the bonus to $750 for fulltime and $375 for part-time employees. He pointed out that Social Security, retirement and Medicare will be covered as well so that the bonus money distributed to the employees will be for the full amount.

Frazier said the County Commission should approve the request on November 16 so that employees can receive the funds before Christmas.

Another item of board business looked at the current policy for dedicating a school facility. Frazier noted that as it now reads, the policy requires an extensive delay from the time of death before a piece of school property can be designated in honor of the individual. He requested a temporary waiver to the policy to allow a school to move forward with a community-endorsed naming of a facility. The school hopes to keep the event as a surprise to the family so the specifics were not shared. The board approved the temporary waiver and Frazier said he would work with staff to recommend an appropriate policy update for the future.

During Frazier’s close of meeting report, he shared that a special called meeting of the County Commission will discuss fiber across the district, November 9 at 6 p.m. at the Dresden Middle School gymnasium.

“We’ve been open as a board on the importance that all our children have access to equitable internet,” he offered in an invitation for all board members to attend. “If you can come, I encourage you to do so. I will attend and update you if you cannot.”

Board Chair Steve Vantrease echoed Frazier’s remarks, “It is very important for the commission to hear input from us as educators.”

Frazier then moved to an update on the numbers related to COVID-19. Currently 339 students are using the Monitored Distance Education approach, which is down from a high of 575. He said 13 more will return on Monday and another 10-20 in the next week.

He then noted currently 8 students have tested positive for the virus and 6 staff with 106 students in quarantine and 7 staff.

He concluded with praise for school administrators, faculties, and staff indicating that efforts have resulted in not only allowing schools to remain open but a lower level of sicknesses being presented as well. He added that the state has identified the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas as a concern.

Vantrease then underscored the need for the community to stay vigilante regarding health precautions. “Those of us in our spheres of influence need to send the message that we need to be doing what we are supposed to be doing,” he said.