6-16-2020 BOE meeting

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Elmore County Schools superintendent Richard Dennis discusses plans for the 2020-2021 school year with the Elmore County Board of Education Monday afternoon.

Elmore County Schools is standing on good financial footing.

Superintendent Richard Dennis updated the Elmore County Board of Education on the system’s financial status as well as plans for the coming school year at its meeting Monday.

Dennis said right now the school system has approximately nearly two months of operating expenses covered.

“We are in a position where we are financially strong,” Dennis said. “Every place we can refrain from spending we’ve done so. We are wanting to get to two months operating cost.”

School board chief financial officer Jason Mann said the school system did not take as major of a blow to its bottom line due to decreased county tax collections in the months of April and May.

“For May and April we went down $35,000 in sales taxes,” Mann said. “We are still seeing an increase in property taxes.”

Mann said the school system budgeted for a decrease in sales taxes.

“I adjusted local tax revenue and went conservative,” he said. “I took last year’s numbers and backed those down a bit. We also lowed general fund expenditures. Some of those have not been purchased and we will not make those purchases this year.”

Dennis also presented the board with a 2020-21 school calendar that included five additional days in which students would virtually attend school.

“There are five professional development days for teachers where students can attend virtually,” Dennis said. “The students would complete virtual assignments to gain attend for the day.”

Dennis said the state requires public school systems to attend 180 days of school.

“Having virtual days will maintain our 180 school days for students,” he said. “That is the lowest I could get to for the state to approve.”

Dennis said he will hold off presenting the schedule to the board until July.

As of now, he intends to start school Aug. 10 as previously approved by the board.

The board approved Dennis’ recommendation to allow students be counted as present when they attend school via a virtual platform.

Dennis said previously the reason for revising the school system’s attendance policy is to ensure students who are sick stay home.

Dennis said he is eager to hear from state superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey on Friday as to how the state plans to approach the coming school year.

“We will receive a release from the state department on the 19th giving us the opening procedures,” Dennis said. “We are going to move as quick as possible and make adjustments to be prepared.”

Dennis said parents will be contacted as soon as possible after Mackey’s announcement. 

“The biggest challenge systems are facing is operating school in a restricted space where numbers of students are restricted,” Dennis said. “There are a lot of different ideas right now and the larger schools are going to be a bigger challenge.”

He said transporting students to and from school based on current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines poses an issue for the school system.

“We have buses in our fleet that if you followed CDC rules it would amount to 12 students (riding a bus),” he said. “That’s impractical. The state may step in to help or come up with a solution.” 

In other action, the board:

 Approved minutes from May 13, 18, June 2 and 9 and the board approved the consent agenda for the meeting