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ACOVSD Board of Education holds May 18 meeting

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Arrow right #1 Icon Created with Sketch. By Austin Rust-The Adams County Ohio Valley School District (ACOVSD) Board of Education held a regular meeting on Monday, May 18 and again the meeting was held virtually, in compliance with Ohio’s current health guidelines, and the video remains accessible via the ACOVSD YouTube channel.After a call to order, roll call, and the Pledge of Allegiance, corrections were made to the personnel section of the agenda, and it was approved. The Board next approved use of a virtual attendance sheet, then approved past meeting minutes. In the section for student / staff recognition, ACOVSD Superintendent Richard Seas recognized the district’s Child Nutrition Services Supervisor, Krys Hess, as well as local churches and volunteers, for ensuring that all district students were provided access to meals during the period of school closures from mid- March to the end of the 2019 – 2020 school year. Board President Charlie Bess explained that children who require food assistance past the school year’s end will move seamlessly into the Summer Blessings program, which provides them food until the start of school this fall.In this section, Superintendent Seas also recognized the district’s security team for assisting with graduation at the local high schools, and keeping the district’s buildings safe during their closure. Mr. Seas thanked the crew that filmed this year’s graduation ceremonies, as well, and thanked all of the district’s faculty and staff for their dedication to the district’s goals in unprecedented times.Next, the Board reviewed Treasurer Brian Switzer’s report, which included a five-year financial forecast for the district. Mr. Switzer explained that this forecast takes into account only the latest state funding cuts, and a new forecast will have to be adopted in the event that additional cuts are made (as anticipated) this summer; it is unknown how much funding could be further reduced, so the district will wait to see the exact amounts before drafting a new forecast, rather than estimate.Board Member David Riley added that the district’s finance committee had done excellent work in putting together the five-year forecast, and explained that fiscal outcomes over the last school year were right on track with what was expected, even taking into account the cuts to state funds and difficulties posed by the pandemic. The Board then voted to approve the Treasurer’s Report, which also included service agreements, expenditures, a financial report, and other items.Next, Superintendent Seas gave his report, first explaining that legislators were still debating the matter of what to do with EdChoice vouchers. Many ideas are still being discussed as to how the next school year (2020 – 2021) will look, Mr. Seas continued, but it is expected that there will be increased hygienic practices, periodic health checks, smaller classroom sizes, less roaming about school grounds, spaced-apart desks, spaced-apart lunchrooms, and increased distance learning in public schools.Board President Bess expressed concern that children may not receive enough of the vital social interaction they need to develop and mature in a more sterile school environment, and noted that social distancing, for example, may be difficult for young children to understand.Board Member Rick Davis then mentioned that he had been in contact with the OSBA (Ohio School Boards Association) regarding lacking internet infrastructure with the district, an issue which affects many students. OSBA advised the Board to submit a plan on how to address this issue to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Superintendent Seas mentioned that six wi-fi hotspots had recently been received through GRIT/Future Plans, and Board Member Gay Lynn Shipley explained that equipping them to buses may be an option for the upcoming school year; equipped to a bus, these hotspots can serve up to 120 devices within a range of about 300 to 400 feet. It was noted that a lack of devices within a household, especially in households with two or more students, could be another issue, particularly with elementary school students (who are not provided with Chromebooks as Grade 7-12 students are).Treasurer Switzer added that as part of its application for CARES Act funding, the district had applied for Grades 4 to 6 coverage which could include the provision of similar Chromebook devices to students in those grade levels.In concluding his report, Superintendent Seas noted that the upcoming school year’s curriculum could look different, or follow a different set of standards, but it has not yet been released. In the section for Facilities, Transportation, and Security, Board Member David Riley (and all members of the Board) thanked the district’s maintenance team for their work, which had to continue even after the buildings were closed. Mr. Seas added that while the buildings were closed, the district’s security team had utilized the time and opportunity to conduct safety drills and response training.Before adjournment, Treasurer Brian Switzer explained that many district operations did not stop when the schools closed in mid-March, and he thanked the staff members who continued to work in facilities and administration, listing staff who manage the Education Management Information System (EMIS) staff as one example.Superintendent Seas concluded with thanks to the district’s educators and its leadership, including its principals, for navigating the unprecedented times. 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