Faribault School Board Approves COVID Coordinator Position
The Faribault Public School Board approved a number of routine agreements with organizations like the River Ben Nature Center in Faribault. In addition the board voted unanimously in favor of hiring a COVID Coordinator for the district.
Superintendent Todd Sesker told board members while attempting to plan for the three scenarios laid out last week by the Minnesota Department of Education they realized a gap exists.
Sesker says, "We're finding some gaps in the planning process. We're educators so we're doing a pretty good job. The principals, teachers and everybody else planning for the three different phases or contingencies, that's what MDE (Minnesota Department of Education) and MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) is using. Contingency one, two and three. Which consists of all kids coming to school. The second contingency a hybrid of some sort where you have a certain number of students and the last one is distance learning like last year ended."
"The big gap we're missing right now," Sesker added, "is the step to make sure all staff and students are safe. It's a big step. This is a gap that we just can't fill."
District Personnel Director Nicole Yochum says, "The CDC, MDH, OSHA, all of those agencies are changing their guidelines quite rapidly. So it's been difficult to up with everything and make sure that we're putting all the proper processes in place for everyone. So we're really in need of one point person to be able to keep up to date on all the changes and then help us coordinate them."
The COVID Coordinator salary with benefits would be $104,000 a year. Yochum added, "Since the request was made concerning the COVID position we have found places within our district that we can really utilize and actual health and safety coordinator. That would encompass things like pandemic planning and preparedness for us."
"We have determined that the CARES Act will be able to fund one year's worth of this coordinator's salary. But then moving forward we would like to utilize our health and safety funding to continue on because we see it as much bigger. Right now we contract out with IEA as our consultants and with our contract with them we only get 40 days per year." Yochum pointed out, "Which isn't a lot. Especially when we've got 600 employees and just shy of four thousand kids that we're trying to keep safe and healthy all day every day."
The School Board also approved unanimously a request for iPad devices in the hands of all elementary students. Superintendent Sesker told the board, "We have had considerable requests from teachers in the elementary schools. You guys also got a bunch of persuasive speeches by elementary students to ask for some iPad (devices) for one to one devices."
Sesker says, "The kids and the staff wanted iPad (devices). The total cost would be $288,582. We've received about $800,000 from the Federal Government for The Cares program. We will have to allocate some of those funds to the private schools and to the other charter schools within our community. So the net is probably somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000 that we will see flowing to Faribault Public Schools in relief for COVID-19. One of the big pieces missing during distance learning was technology."
"With this proposal," the Faribault Superintended said, "we will be able to put a technology device in every single students' hands in grades K through 12. We think this is a great move for our district and the opportunity is there with the funding with the CARES program. We think this is a wonderful idea."
District IT Director Ryan Krominga says,"The proposal takes all the devices we had K-5 already and pulls those back together and we'll redistribute with this additional inventory of iPad (devices) so that we have a device for every kid K-5."
The Faribault Public School Board spent a lot of time talking about putting together a strategic plan including a mission statement for the district. Those discussions will continue during a special board meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on July 13th.