Highland talks face shields, class funds

Posted 7/15/20

At the July 13 Highland School Board meeting, Supt. Ken Crawford mentioned that among ideas being discussed is moving fall sports to spring and spring sports to fall. One reason is that football …

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Highland talks face shields, class funds

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At the July 13 Highland School Board meeting, Supt. Ken Crawford mentioned that among ideas being discussed is moving fall sports to spring and spring sports to fall. One reason is that football involves a lot closer contact among players.

“We are making no official statement on masks or face shields for students yet,” Supt. Crawford told the board.  “We are hoping for direction from the state - either the governor or the Department of Education.  We are going in the direction of requiring a mask or face shield for staff. 

“I am purchasing face shields for all staff anticipating that is the direction we will go.  Buying now ensures they are here before the start of the year.

“I am anticipating the state to make an official statement for us,” Crawford added.  “If not, then the admin team and I will sit down with our survey results from the community and staff and make a decision.  

“We expect to enforce the 72-hour fever-free recommendation that most health departments have come up with over these past few months. 

“There is a lot that is up in the air right now until we get guidance from the state.  They will either tell us what they want us to do OR they will cut us loose and tell us to do what is best for our community.”

Instructional Support

The board voted unanimously to renew the instructional support program and levy for another five years. The levy brings in about $360,000 a year in additional taxes.

The action came following the close of the hearing on the program which allows the school district to levy up to 10% of the regular budget as a budget adjustment for each school year. The funds from the levy can be used for any instructional program purpose.

The board approved a fiscal 2020 tax levy of $13.06257 per $1,000 taxable valuation which is slightly lower than the current levy of $13.09.

The total projected budget for the 2020-21 budget is $4,244,381 of which $4,116,502 will come from property taxes and $127,879 will come from  utility replacement taxes. This includes $2,559,218 general fund,  $255,968 for the instructional support levy,  $509,999 for management, $324,927 for voted physical plant and equipment levy, regular physical plant and equipment, $107,226 and $487,043 in debt service.

The estimated total taxable valuation for the Highland school district is $324,926,878 with gas and electric.

The board approved a technical assistance support contract with Fussion Design & Marketing for social media and internet and paid the July bill of $600.

Class funds

At Supt. Ken Crawford’s suggestion, the board combined the unspent funds left by classes of 2013 to 2019 into one fund that could be used for any purpose. The ending balances for those classes totaled $2,446.27. He noted that once those students graduated, those funds could not otherwise been spent.

The board approved change orders for the elementary playground that brought the total cost of that project to $423,500. Original estimated cost was $390,600.

Superintendent Ken Crawford announced that he has ordered face shields for staff to wear when they are dealing with children. Masks will be optional, but that could change according to state guidelines which are yet to be issued. Guidelines are also being developed as to how to handle busing of students.

The board discussed legislative issues as outlined by the Iowa Association of School Board (IASB). The board indicated they were most interested with issues concerning  student mental health, special education, supplemental state aid, sharing and reorganization. There were a total of 30 legislative concerns.

In addition, the board discussed the board goals, student handbooks, reading of various school board policies 400 series dealing with employees and medical leave. The state is also making recommendations on how to deal with COVID-19 policy 409.2 E1 and E2.

In regards to school board policies, Crawford said that if a teacher does test positive, then we will follow the recommendations of our local health department.  If they say to quarantine for 2 weeks (10 working days), then we’ll follow that advice.  When anyone tests positive or we can trace a positive case into the school - the local health dept will be our first call.  We would try and follow the directions given to us by them and input from our school nurse.  Basically,  we are trying to get the medical professionals to help us is the first step. 

Supt. Crawford announced that the August  meeting will be the last board meeting to be held at 5 p.m.  The September meeting will be at 6 p.m.

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