DARLINGTON – The Darlington Community School District’s Board of Education met over Zoom video-call on Monday night, April 20.
With the federal government distributing funds in response to the coronavirus pandemic in the amount of $13.5 billion, the district discussed whether to now pay their spring sports staff their full salary. At the April 6 meeting, the board approved freezing the payments to the spring sports staff, essentially paying them two-thirds of their salary.
District Administrator Cale Jackson stated that the district is looking to obtain approximately $130,000 of the distributed funds that are ‘to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronoavirus’, the stabilization fund package stipulates.
“There is no definition on that,” Jackson said. “We could change our minds and pay them their full salary and be done or wait and see how things shake out for the rest of the year.”
Paying the spring sports coaches their full salary is $30,000. The district agreed to pay two-thirds, so the remaining amount to pay the coaches would be $10,000.
Board president Aaron Wolfe was in favor of paying them their full salary.
“That is what the money is for; to make sure people are getting paid,” Wolfe said.
Matt Crist didn’t feel it was practical to pay the entire amount at this time. Other board members felt the district should continue with paying them the two-thirds amount and wait to see what will happen next.
Colleen Reichling asked if the district has looked at other services such as co-curricular activities.
“It is not hard to look into them. Every extra-curricular is a little different,” Crist said.
Jackson said there is a list of 10-15 extra-/co-curriculars that had either just started or were a ways into their program when the schools were shut down. Jackson asked how should those activities be looked into.
There was agreement from the board that administration can look through and see what percentage each program had completed during the semester or quarter.
Teresa Siegenthaler stated all the programs should be given the same percentage of pay.
Wolfe said, “That what about the spring play staff compared to spring sports. Not sure how that will work. The point of the stimulus is to give pay checks.”
“There is a lot still up in the air,” Reichling said. She suggested looking at the pay scale and paying according to that. “We have to look at every single thing on the co-curricular pay schedule.”
“I want to be fair to the public, the people, the taxpayers,” Crist stated. “We need to take a good business look at this and see if there needs to be an adjustment. There are people out there with no jobs and we want to write a check for everything because we want to make a decision to make everyone happy.”
The board will discuss the co-curricular pay at the next meeting.
Grading for 4th Quarter
With Gov. Tony Evers new Safe-At-Home order, school will be canceled for the rest of the school year. Virtual schooling will continue until June 1 along with lunches.
Crist asked how the district was going to handle grading for the fourth quarter/second semester and if it would be pass fail grading like neighboring districts are doing.
Jackson said that principal Aaron Lancaster planned on leaving the regular grading policy in place. There are some students with special circumstances, such as internet issues but for the time being, the high school will stick to the normal grading scale.
DEMS Principal Lori Nodorft stated she wanted to talk more with administration about what to do in her building. There are some students teachers and staff has not been able to be in contact with due to internet issues. Nodorft is contemplating looking at the third quarter grades.
“I don’t want to say that fourth quarter doesn’t matter. There is a possibility that grades could improve,” Nodorft said.
They have reached out to try and distribute chromebooks to as many students as they can. It was agreed that students would be allowed to keep their chromebooks over the summer to be able to stay in contact with teachers if needed.
The question was raised on what was happening with graduation. Jackson stated it was not canceled and the district would be having it some way or another.
“Some other schools have announced that their graduation is happening in the summer. I want to get a committee or something with student involvement like the student council and senior advisors and come up with something,” Jackson said.
“For graduation we have to hope for the best and plan for the worst. We can have an actual ceremony in July. We should also talk about a virtual ceremony if we need to,” Wolfe said.
Enrichment Summer School in June has been canceled but there is a possibility it can still be available in July. The board would like to keep the option open of having Redbirds on Broadway and Children’s Theatre.
Remedial Summer School will still be happening in July as of now. There could be changes as things are constantly changing.
Jackson brought up the idea to the board of renegotiating the bus contract with Lamers as the district is not using their services as often as they usually would. There is language in their contract that states the district could revise the contract up or down due to changing circumstances. The board agreed for Jackson to look into renegotiation with Lamers.
The board also approved/accepted:
-a donation from Ellen & Bob Boatman and Gloria Boatman of $250 to the DEMS Service learning Student Activity Account in support of the Rose Bags program.
-a donation from the Southwest Spikers for $100 to the Volleyball Program.
-resignations from Greg Bykowski, High School Art Teacher (at the end of the school year), Kelly Rose, H.S. girls’ basketball coach, and Maria McMullen and Molly Rice, assistant girls’ basketball coaches.