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Blevins School Board

By Liz Woll, 07/14/20 9:50 PM

The Blevins School Board met Monday evening at 6:30pm in the Blevins School Cafeteria. The meeting started with prayer, the pledge, and the approval of the last meeting’s minutes.

The topics discussed included the start date of the next school year. Originally, school was to begin August 18th, but now that date has been pushed back by Governor Hutchinson to the 24th – 26th. However, the school year must keep its determined end-date, and must still have the same number of school days. Superintendent Dixon stated that the calendar now needed reworking in order to make up for those days. The idea of turning a few school holidays into virtual learning days was proposed, but it raises issues. As per their contracts, some staff must be present at the school for a set number of days, thus requiring the school to be open for those days. Dixon said there would be a meeting the next day to arrange the new calendar, which will be ready for approval by the next board meeting.

Another matter addressed was how effectively the school was communicating with its community and what to do about it. Dixon informed the board that very few parents go to the school’s website for information. She also mentioned that during the most recent community engagement meeting, a prevalent complaint was that there were too many social media sources, various school committees posting different and sometimes even conflicting information on their individual Facebook accounts. The community wasn’t clear on what sources they should go to for information. This being the case, Dixon proposed that the school purchase its own app to better communicate with parents and students. This would enable the school to directly notify parents of emergencies or weather closures, and serve as a place to compile all relevant school announcements and news, with a direct link to the school’s website. Of course, a high-quality app is expensive, but Dixon managed to negotiate the bid from the highest-quality competitor, Apptegy, down by nearly a third. In light of this, the school board approved the Apptegy bid for the creation of a new Blevins School District app.

Finally, as part of the Superintendent’s report, it was discussed what the school’s mask and Covid-19 policies would look like. The short answer is they are still being developed. Standards and expectations for Blevins and all other Arkansas school districts have been changing, and at this point the state is now leaving policy decisions up to the individual districts. Blevins’ biggest concern is establishing a policy that protects the students and staff, without significantly disrupting instruction. This is easier said than done, as countless factors will affect policy, including how students and teachers will transition between classes, circumstances when wearing a mask will significantly inhibit teachers that need to be seen or heard clearly (as with language instruction), the recording of everyone who enters and leaves the school in case someone tests positive, and temperature screenings for all staff and students. All of these factors, combined with difficulties procuring cleaning supplies and PPE, have slowed policy determinations, but everyone involved appears to share a strong conviction towards finding the best possible solutions for the new year.

Other matters discussed include reviewing the last school year’s audit, the acceptance of the milk and food bids, graduation ticket limitations, and the resignation of school board member Steve Burke.

For a full account of the meeting’s minutes, you can find them on the Blevins School District’s web page.