Home Breaking News School district to receives CARES funds; upgrades likely for virtual learning

School district to receives CARES funds; upgrades likely for virtual learning

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By John R. Schirmer

News-Leader staff

The Nashville School District will receive $485,900 from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Superintendent Doug Graham told the school board Monday night.

“We’re working as a district to come up with a plan” for the funds, Graham said. “Our goal is to put together something technology-wise that we can use if we’re back in school as usual this fall or not back.”

Graham participated in a Zoom meeting Monday to learn more about the CARES program. 

Nashville, other public schools in the state, and colleges will receive funds “to address what has happened with COVID-19 and to spend money going forward to be better prepared for virtual learning” in case of a recurrence in the fall or to use in blended instruction if school resumes on a normal schedule.

Graham said he wants to “come up with a presentation system that students won’t lose a semester or a year. I hope we don’t get a call to shut school down again. This will be something we can use in everyday classes.”

The district will form a leadership team to determine how the money will be used, Graham said. “We’ll get input from teachers on what we need. We want blended learning to go to the next level, even if we’re in school the whole year.”

The district “is trying to meet the need of every student to have a computer and to be able to do assignments without wi-fi at home. We won’t get every family to have wi-fi at home” for a number of reasons, Graham said, including lack of internet service in some areas.

“We want students to have computers. They can go to the school parking lot or elsewhere with wi-fi to get assignments and return those assignments to their teachers,” Graham said.

After on-campus instruction was halted by the state in mid-March, teachers provided AMI work for their students the fourth nine weeks of the academic year. Some teachers sent packets home with assignments on paper; others used online formats for their assignments.

The last of the AMI work was due early this week.

Graham said that today (May 20), “I hope [education commissioner] Johnny Key and Gov. [Asa] Hutchinson will have an announcement for the schools. Will we have summer school? When will athletics be back? We anticipate knowing more” about 2020-2021 when the state officials make their presentations.

July 17 is “on go for graduation” pending approval from the state, Graham said. “The governor will tell us June 30 if we can have a traditional graduation. If we can’t, we have to make applications to the state for a non-traditional event.”

Hutchinson banned in-person graduations until the end of June because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tentative plans call for graduation to be held Friday, July 17, at 8 p.m. in Scrapper Arena.

Board members took care of several other matters during Monday night’s meeting.

The board accepted resignations from custodian Clyde Jefferson and primary teacher Rachel Neeley.

T.J. Langley was hired as a teacher and defensive line coach for the Scrappers. His selection completes the football coaching staff, which saw several vacancies because of retirement and moves to other schools.

Langley will come to Nashville from Northeastern Oklahoma A & M in Miami, Okla., where he was defensive line and linebackers coach. Before that, he was a teacher, coach and paraprofessional at 

Idabel High School. In 2011, he was a rookie defensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills of the NFL.

In other personnel action, Amanda Puryear was hired as primary teacher.

Lester Stewart, James Baron, Delford Traylor, Courtney Hampton, Mark Scroggins, Debra Thurman and Paul Edwards were named to the summer floor crew.

The board voted to renew the district’s contract with Aramark Food Service Management Co. for 2020-21. Graham said this will be year five of a five-year agreement with the company. The state requires a letter each year of the five-year arrangement. Afterward, “We’ll have to go through request for proposals. It’s a pretty detailed process to choose a company,” Graham said.

“Aramark has done a lot of good things. We serve more kids now than we ever have. We offer different meal choices. Aramark’s been a player in other areas too. They do things for the community. I’m pleased with Aramark and recommend you approve the contract,” Graham told the board.

The district’s student/athletic accident insurance policy with Dwight Jones Agency of Nashville was renewed for two years at a cost of $34,869 per year. The cost is a decrease of $3,874 from last year.

In the financial report, Graham said the district is 70 percent of the way through the 2019-20 budget. Expenses for fuel and oil, natural gas, water and electricity “are all way down,” Graham said, with the closure of school in March.

“All four campuses did a good job of staying in their budgets,” according to Graham.

The district has an operating balance of about $5.3 million, Graham said.