By ERIC X. VICCARO
There were several main topics discussed during the Ste. Genevieve R-II School District board of education meeting last Tuesday.
Two main points covered included the district’s rationale for not moving to a fully virtual platform today — the last day before Thanksgiving break — and participation rates for parent-teacher conferences.
The district maintained current learning formats on Monday, Tuesday and today’s half-day session — despite the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
“We believe it is important to continue students’ education in our buildings during this time,” wrote district leadership in a letter to parents.
The letter, dated Nov. 19, was from superintendent Dr. Julie Flieg, assistant superintendent Dr. Paul Taylor and director of student services Dr. Teresa Green.
The letter also could be found on the school district’s Facebook page by clicking a link to a Google-formatted document.
It’s the district’s intention to provide students with “some normalcy through our curriculum-related Thanksgiving activities.”
The district acknowledged the positive number of COVID-19 cases is rising in Ste. Genevieve County.
However, the district said it has not seen positive cases spreading through close contacts in the schools when mitigating measures have been used.
Mitigating measures, for example, include face coverings and Plexiglas barriers.
The district reports that for students and staff who have contracted the virus, transmissions seem to be made through the home or outside events.
“As educators, the health of our students are staff is our first priority,” the district wrote. “… We want our students in school as long as possible, where they can socially distance, wear their masks, eat nutritious meals, continue with their education and interact socially.”
The district is concerned about a possible rise in cases when students and staff return from Thanksgiving break on Nov. 30.
“We will monitor this situation closely, and will continue to work with the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department to determine if our current learning structures are appropriate or if a transition to a virtual format is necessary.”
As of Nov. 19, the county health department reported 995 total confirmed cases, with 23 probable cases and 53 active ones.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, Ste. Genevieve County is currently listed in Category One – extreme risk.
In the past seven days, the positivity rate was at 20.9 percent per 100,000 people, even though the most recent county census figures stand at about 17,888.
The DHHS report strongly advises the use of masks at all offices and businesses where social distancing is not possible.
Governor Mike Parson on Nov. 19 signed an executive order extending the state of emergency regarding COVID-19 through March 31, 2021 – allowing critical resources to be deployed throughout the state with the Missouri National Guard as the conduit.
During the meeting, Taylor complimented students on wearing masks and socially distancing properly – as noted by drivers commuting past bus stops on their way to work.
“We’re adapting to the situation, doing what we need to do without question,” Taylor said.
During the superintendent’s report, parent-teacher conference statistics were shared with the board members.
It was learned 281 students at Bloomsdale Elementary School had at least one parent or guardian participating in the conference, 493 at Ste. Genevieve Elementary, 218 at Ste. Genevieve Middle School and 95 at Ste. Genevieve High School.
The participation rate was about 94.5 percent combined for the pair of elementary schools, 52.2 percent at the middle school level and 17.21 percent for SGHS.
“Comparing the numbers between this year and last year, we were more than pleased with parent participation, in light of the circumstances,” Flieg said.
“Our faculty and staff were able to offer virtual conferences and scheduled particular time slots to accommodate families,” Flieg continued. “We want to thank our parents for their involvement and support.”
Parent-teacher conferences took place on two days, Oct. 24 and 29.
Setting the election
In unfinished business, the board approved procedures for the annual school board election on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, the same day as Ste. Genevieve board of aldermen elections.
Board president David Bova and Joan Huck both have expiring terms.
Filing will open at 8 a.m. Dec. 15, and it ends at 5 p.m. Jan. 19, 2021.
To file for the election, visit the district office (375 North Fifth Street) during business hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For the following dates, filing will not available: Dec. 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30 and 31, Jan. 1 and Jan. 18, 2021.
• Andrew Zebell from the accounting firm of CliftonLarsonAllen, based in St. Louis, gave a brief presentation concerning the district’s annual audit.
Zebell said after completion of the audit, the firm gave the district an “unmodified” or clean bill of health.
• After some discussion, the board approved Flieg’s recommendation to go with Heartland Coca-Cola as the district’s beverage supplier. So, say goodbye to Pepsi.
According to figures shown in a PowerPoint presentation, the total estimated partnership value between the district and Heartland Coca-Cola will be $273,226.
Product pricing was somewhat lower from the Coca-Cola bid, including $1.50 for a 20-ounce Powerade (a Coke product) versus $1.75 for a 12-ounce Gatorade.
The district also will receive $7,500 in annual support funds, 3,105 cases of product yearly, free equipment and maintenance.
The new contract with Heartland will go into effect in January, including replacement vending machines in various school buildings. The contract will run through June 2026, school officials said.
• District officials approved a revised report cards for first-grade students, which with incorporate spelling with phonics and other minor changes to the subject of reading.
• Building principals provided reports on student’s accomplishments, and additional safety reports were shared.
In closed session, the district accepted the resignation of Katlynn Rice as special education paraprofessional effective Dec. 18.
Anna Brown was transferred to the role of credit recovery teacher at the high school effective last Thursday. Ashley Palmer was approved as district office secretary as of Dec. 2.