New Van Wert Superintendent Mark Bagley speaks on preparations for reopening in the fall during Wednesday’s meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent
With an eye on safely returning students to classrooms next month, Van Wert City Schools is working on plans to do so.
During Wednesday night’s brief board of education meeting, Superintendent Mark Bagley said the goal is to have a plan in place within a couple of weeks.
“We want to release that plan by the end of July because we know how much things are changing all around us,” Bagley told the board. “We think it’s really important to look at all aspects and, as I said last month, our intention is to be back in school with students and staff, but we want to make sure we do it safely and the right way.”
“Our start date is scheduled to be August 19 and we would love to be able to be back with students and staff in our buildings with many precautions,” Bagley continued. “It won’t be business as usual and it won’t be normal as it has been.
Bagley added that he’s met with the other county superintendents and the health department to discuss plans and he noted he also met with Van Wert County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy.
“He came in and talked about FEMA monies that are out there and offered many supplies to our district — masks, supplies, gloves, things that they want to help us with, so I feel really good about people who are trying to help,” Bagley said.
Bagley also said a special board meeting will likely be scheduled before the end of the month to unveil plans for the upcoming school year.
Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton told board members that work continues on the district’s transportation plan.
“It is a challenge because, as we know, (of) all of our spaces where there will be children, the bus is probably the tightest, compacted quarters that we’re dealing with,” Clifton stated. “We do have thoughts as a district and a county. We have input from the health department and we have a plan that we will be rolling out in the very near future to try to ease everyone’s minds on the health and safety of our students as we transport them.”
“I will tell you the biggest challenge with busing is reducing the number of children on a school bus, Clifton added. “I think we’re going to be able to avoid that because, at the same time, we don’t have enough buses. Our fleet is not large enough if we were to reduce our pupils who are being transported — not enough buses, not enough drivers, and, in addition to that, not enough time in the day to get everybody transported where they get a proper education.”
Clifton also said school meal prices will remain the same during the 2020-2021 school year and he said the track is being resurfaced and should be complete within a couple of weeks. He also noted new goal posts have been installed at Eggerss Stadium, replacing what may have been the original goal posts that went up in the 1930s.
Treasurer Michelle Mawer said the school system will receive approximately $94,000 in additional federal CARES Act money to spend on things like PPE and sanitation.
Board president Anthony Adams praised what Bagley and Clifton have done to prepare for the new school year and he said an update on fundraising and proposed work at Eggerss Stadium will likely come by the end of this month. He also said the board will welcome public input on the matter.
“We’d like anyone interested to attend to be able ask questions and get those questions answered,” Adams said. “We’ll certainly give notice of that through the press and through our own social media to make sure that gets out there.”
Board member Rachel Dickman noted that ground should be broken soon on the Niswonger Performing Art Center’s new annex project.
In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignations of seventh and eighth grade career connections teacher and in-school suspension monitor Larry McCauley, middle school science teacher Kelly Fritz, and general cafeteria worker and paraprofessional/bus stop monitor Laura Eikenbary. The board also approved a one-year leave of absence for fourth grade teacher Laura Holliday.
Board members agreed to hire Brooke Lehman as a third grade teacher, Evie Smith as a fourth grade teacher, and Josie Luthman as a middle school science teacher.
Other items on the agenda included approval of a new three-year contract with classified employees and an administrative salary schedule for the upcoming school year; approval of 2020-2021 preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle school, and high school handbooks; approval of a contract with Western Buckeye ESC for $584,527 to fulfill staffing and alternative school needs; approval of an agreement with NOACSC for $53,899, and acceptance of a $2,000 from Sharon and Charles Thompson for the Chuck Thompson Scholarship.
The next regular meeting of the Van Wert City Schools Board of Education will be 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 26, in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
Original article courtesy of The Van Wert Independent