Board of Education Corner – December 2020

As we head into the 2020 holiday season, we continue working hard on behalf of our students, staff, and district residents to continue to propel our district forward in a positive direction. The Board of Education has been working, on many fronts, including the budget, the pandemic, legislative advocacy, and policy making.

Our Audit, Budget, and Finance Committee continues to meet monthly to discuss the financial status of the district. This month, the committee has evaluated an internal and an external audit report for this past fiscal year. We are happy to report that improvements have been made to shore up some of our practices that have been problematic in the past. Both of this year’s audits show a positive result for the district and indicates that we are moving in the right direction. The committee has also been working hard as we look at our budget for the upcoming year and generating ideas to deal with the potential loss of state aid. There are still a lot of unknowns at this point, but the committee and administration are staying on top of this evolving situation on a daily basis.

The Facilities Committee has also been busy evaluating the building condition survey that was completed this year. They have reviewed the report, line by line, looking at what items are a short term priority. And, we have looked at  what we could expect in the coming years as  a result of the survey. This has helped the district recognize some priority items that may need to be addressed, in the near future, to improve our facilities and keep our buildings in good working order.

Our Academic / Extracurricular Committee has finalized a revision to what was once known as our Booster Club policy.  The policy has been renamed the Affiliated Organization policy and has been revised to provide more clarity to those groups affiliated with our school district. The committee finalized the policy this past month and has sent it to the board for review. We hope to have this completed during the month of January. This will be a much needed change to our policy as it  will provide better direction for our administration while providing more details of what the board and district expect from our affiliated organizations.

We continue, almost on a daily basis, with our advocacy work on behalf of the district.   In particular, we are working hard to advocate at the state and federal level for increases in funding for school districts through relief packages to help offset the loss of revenue that we are seeing due to the current pandemic. We are also continuing efforts for mandate relief and revisions to the tax cap legislation. This would prevent school districts from obtaining the potential for a negative tax cap. In addition, we are asking for legislation that would limit that to a zero tax levy increase. These efforts will continue throughout the new year and we hope that we will be able to provide positive news along this front in the coming months.

Starting with the month of January, we will be reintroducing our Board of Education Community Outreach Campaign that we started last year, prior to the pandemic. We feel it is important to communicate, as board members, with our constituents outside of board meetings.  We also feel it is important to take information out to our community so members can be better informed of what is taking place in our district. This year, the starting point for this campaign will be a joint effort between the Board of Education and our Superintendent. We are looking at our first presentation to be done virtually and most likely will be an opportunity for members of the community to have a discussion with us on topics that they feel are important. More information will be provided on this as soon as it becomes available.

Lastly, the Board of Education, along with the district administration and staff, are fully committed to providing as much in-person instruction as possible for our students. We believe that there is no better way to educate our students, even in these difficult times, than in-person education where students are able to interact with teachers, in real time. We understand that school closures, such as what we are currently experiencing, are difficult for families and for students. This board has expressed its desire for in-person instruction as much and for as long as possible. As a district, we are all committed to this as long as we have the resources to do so and it does not jeopardize the safety of our students or staff.  We hope to be back to the Hybrid Model after the holiday break and our administration is working tirelessly to make that happen.

On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.

Happy Holidays,

Chris Tallon