Jesup School Board approves hourly pay during closure; discusses coronavirus impactsThe Jesup School board approved paying a variety of hourly workers while the district’s schools are closed due to the coronavirus emergency. Governor Kim Reynolds declared a state of emergency in Iowa and asked all school districts to close to prevent the spread of the coronavirus throughout the state.
The coronavirus is a particularly virulent pathogen that causes Covid-19, an illness with symptoms ranging from mild to deadly. It originated in Wuhan China in December, 2019. It has spread over much of the world since then causing virtual shutdowns of entire countries in attempts to control its spread.
Jesup Schools have been closed at the direction of the school board until at least April 10, as requested by Governor Reynolds.
Board members attended a special meeting March 18 which originated at the Administration building conference room. The meeting was available to the public electronically through a go-to-meeting set-up which allowed two-way audio communication via cell phones or computers. There were about 15 attendees, including all board members.
Supt. Nathan Marting presented a resolution allowing the authority to pay hourly and/or non-exempt employees their customary and regular pay, for up to four weeks during the temporary closure of the school. If the school is closed longer than four weeks, then the board will re-convene to determine whether the payments will be continued. Marting noted that the employees include janitorial staff, secretaries, para-professionals, bus drivers, before and after school workers and food service workers. They will be paid for 17 missed student contact days through April 10 at this point.
Marting reviewed the fund balances in each account where this pay would be drawn, including the general fund; the nutrition account for food service workers, and the community recreation fund which pays for before and after school employees. Student employees would not be included.
The amount of pay for each hourly individual included, would be determined through a 4-week look back to determine an average number of hours worked during the previous 4 weeks.
Marting noted that the central office staff and custodians continue to work during the shut-down; and that along with disinfection of the school buildings, the custodial staff will work on several projects that would otherwise have been done next summer.
Once this resolution was approved by the board – by a unanimous vote – Marting noted that any employees who have applied for unemployment benefits would have to recall their application for benefits. He said the district would support employees to assist in this process as needed.
Employees may be asked, Marting said, to do work remotely or come in during this period of closure as needed.
The school buildings are closed and anyone seeking entry would have to come to the south activity entrance where they will be met by a school employee to offer assistance.
The district has applied to provide an emergency food plan, which would make available meals for curbside delivery at the school. Potentially bus drivers or para professionals may be used to provide home deliveries of meals if needed. State approval for this plan had not yet been received at the time of this board meeting.
The board will vote at a future meeting whether or not to waive the 17 days that are missed. Meanwhile teachers are working remotely with their building principals to provide plans to best use the time left once schools re-open, if they do re-open. Online instruction could also be required if the closure is lengthened. The teachers are also being asked to provide information on what students, if any, lack computer access and Internet access at home should online learning become required.
Marting also discussed with the board whether to waive negotiations with the teachers’ union; and options to publish the budget with one of three different rates for tax askings, depending on whether the 2.3% increase in school funding which was passed by the legislature is signed by the Governor, in time for publication requirements.
Marting told the board to expect a special board meeting on the budget in the next week or so.
The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 13.
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