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January 23rd Richland School Board Meeting

The Richland School Board met on January 23rd and addressed making up time lost this far in the district, and how to create additional time with the likelihood that additional poor weather days are needed.

District Administrator Jarred Burke indicated that the Richland School District has lost nine days this far – including four days in September due to flooding – and six additional hours because of delays or early releases. Burke said that the preference of most parties involved is to not add days at the end of the school year and maintain June 6th as the last day of regular instruction. He added that because of the state mandated requirements for hours and minutes of instruction, combined with the length of time the building levels operate each day, the Richland Middle School and 4-year old kindergarten were the only levels that need to make up one day of instruction as of now. The proposal from the administration was to make the planned February 24th in-service day a regular instruction day and add 15 minutes at the start of each instructional day starting February 6th. It was explained that this will create four more days in case additional bad weather days are needed. Board president Paul Corcoran expressed his concern about starting 15 minutes early – particularly for students who ride the bus and during the limited visibility during the winter. With one board member absent and two others unable to vote because of a conflict of interest, the initial proposal from the administration failed by a 2-to-2 tie vote, with Corcoran and Brady Doudna voting “no”. However after reconsidering other alternatives, including taking time off of spring break in April, Corcoran proposed an identical measure with a reevaluation of the schedule in April. That passed 3-to-1 with Corcoran pledging support.

The Richland School Board turned down a request to conduct a food needs survey for district families. The idea was brought forward by board member Sherrie Johnson and Jefferson principal Amy Hardy who explained that 73% of her students, and 52% of students district wide, are on free or reduced lunches. Hardy explained that the survey would provide data to see what – if any – program could be implemented to help with food insecurity needs when students are not at school. Members of the board had concerns about the costs associated with delivering the survey, as well as executing a plan once the results came in. The request to conduct the survey was denied on a 3-to-3 tie vote.

In other action from the Richland School Board meeting Monday night, the board approved a copier contract with Rhyme Business Products for 2017 through 2021. It was explained that there will be a number of cost saving features and added functionality and security with the new set-up that the previous copiers did not offer. The school board also committed to reevaluating the portion of the employee handbook regarding staff reporting to work when classes are not in session during inclement weather. It will be referred to the Personnel Committee. District business official Kathy Stoltz reported that the framework is underway for developing the 2017-18 district budget, but it will be difficult to project the spending plan until the state budget is proposed and finalized. Jarred Burke said they are not expecting a “huge windfall” from the state for public school funding.