Mountain View-Birch Tree School Board Talks 2020/2021 School Year
Wed, 07/22/2020 - 11:44am admin
Jennifer Pierce, contributing writer
The Mountain View Birch Tree School Board met on July 16 to discuss details of the 2020-2021 school year. School board president Keith Tharp called the meeting to order, and Shelly Mantel provided committee reports on the Missouri School Board Association recommendations for returning to school in August amid the changing COVID-19 pandemic. Statewide, some schools are unsure about reopening, but the Mountain View Birch Tree School District currently plans to start school on schedule. School Superintendent, Don Christensen, said, “We are prepared to meet the educational needs of our kids.”
The district is taking proactive measures so that their schools can mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect their students, staff members, and communities by screening, using physical distancing, and wearing optional masks and face coverings, Mantel said. At this time, masks will not be required. However, because of the fluctuating nature of the pandemic, the district will follow state guidelines. Superintendent Christensen said choir might be the only class to require face shields. He said, “Our kids need social interaction. We want them to stay safe but still interact.”
The district purchased electrostatic foggers for disinfecting, and specialized lunchroom tables to allow social distancing recommendations. In the classroom, all desks will face one direction, and seating charts will be maintained. Technology upgrades and WiFi improvements were implemented. The district purchased Chromebooks at a cost of $141,000 to prepare for the possibility of at-home learning requirements. Mantel said the possibility of “coming back to school but not staying back,” is real. The district wants to be ready to “flip the switch,” and be able to go online with schooling within a day. The board expects that documented expenses related to COVID-19 will be reimbursed, although no mechanisms for compensation are in place at this time.
The board discussed the budget for the upcoming year. Considerations included funding for restrooms at the athletic complex, an increase in base teacher pay, and additional money for new federal regulations concerning the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act to deal with consequences of Covid-19. State revenue will decrease this year due to downward trending numbers for the district’s ADA (average daily attendance). The district typically purchases one new school bus annually, but this year they will not. Christensen confirmed that the budget will balance for 2020-2021.
The meeting continued with discussion about future goals and accomplishments reached last year. Goals for the upcoming year included completion of the outdoor athletic complex: addition of the new restroom facilities, improvements to the bleachers, improved water drainage, and addition of handicapped accessibility. Other areas designated for improvement were standardized test scores and increased districtwide attendance. A review of last year's accomplishments included new projection screens with large touch screen TVs and rewiring of every school. The meeting concluded with Administrators’ Reports and closed session items.