5-6-2020 Board of Education

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Elmore County Schools superintendent Richard Dennis speaks to the Elmore County Board of Education via Zoom on Monday afternoon.

Elmore County Schools superintendent Richard Dennis updated the Elmore County Board of Education on the status winding down the school year and plans for next school year.

According to Dennis, the school system is facing an uncertain financial future.

“We understood the state would probably pass a budget mid-May,” he said. “That’s what’s been communicated and it will be funded at the same level as last year. Will title funding and federal funding hold? What we are not in a position to do is absorb large local funding.”

According to a recent report published by the Alabama State Department of Education, Elmore County ranks 134 out of 137 school systems based on per pupil funding.

“Our biggest funding source comes from sales tax,” Dennis said.

He said the school system is not certain what its funding looks like based on county sales tax collections for the month of April.

“So, the problem for us is there are potential cuts at the local (county) level,” he said. “That’s where our local concentration of funding comes from is sales taxes. April numbers will not be in until mid-June. That money fund some of our units. If the state does not pass a budget we will have to be careful. At the next board meeting we may have to reduce our force.”

Dennis said the school system is planning on May 15 as the last official day of the current school year. 

According to the schedule posted to the Elmore County Schools’ website, the year was initially set to end May 22.

“We are not teaching up to May 22,” he said. “May 15 is our deadline to get our grades in. It’s going to take us awhile to get everything shut down the following week.”

The reason for ending school a week early has to do with the school system’s nine-month and contract employees.

“May 22 is the last day for our nine-month personnel to work,” he said. “Usually, when school is in session on campus everyone is there, but we are having to spread it out.”

Dennis said he expects there will be some exceptions to the May 15 deadline for grades.

“We do have students involved in Access programs who may have incompletes,” he said. “Access will run through May 29. Those students would receive an incomplete grade until Access teachers finalize those grades.”

He said the school system plans to have everything else wrapped up and report cards in the mail on May 27.

The school system will continue its current Monday meal pickup through the child nutrition program through June 5. Dennis said 

the school system will continue beyond June 5 if the COVID-19 crisis continues or change to its usual summer feeding program.

“We will reevaluate the program this month and see if it continues or we shift to our summer feeding program,” Dennis said. “Either way, we have a summer feeding program; it’s just not done in the current format. We have 32 sites in the county in the summer feeding program.”

As for the 2020-21 school year, Dennis said the school system is in a better position to utilize a virtual learning environment.

“This coming year, there is a discussion of potentially a second wave of COVID-19 along with flu,” Dennis said. “We are taking the opportunity to be prepared for that.”

Dennis said preparations the school system has taken included the purchase of 2,800 laptop computers.

“That’s (the purchase of the laptops) put us in position of having one-to-one technology from kindergarten to 12th grade,” he said. “Our students can manage the laptop and learning platform to better understand and complete the curriculum that comes through those platforms.”