29 Oct Jon Cartu Suggest: USD 253 Board approves move to phase three of COVID
While not all agreed, the USD 253 Board of Education voted Wednesday evening not to move forward with the next phase of its COVID-19 education plan at the secondary level.
The board voted 4-3 in favor of the action during its regular meeting despite a recommendation made by the district’s COVID-19 advisory committee advising against the action based on recent health metrics. According to Superintendent Kevin Case, numerous metrics including the two-week community positivity rate and new case incident rates both saw significant rises since the board approved moving into phase two of the plan back in September.
Board members Mike Crouch and Art Gutierrez both voted in favor of moving forward with the plan. Guttierez stated, “I would like to see more kids in school.”
He adds, he has seen evidence from other districts of similar size that it is possible to have 50 percent of students attend in-person without any COVID related outbreaks.
Crouch agreed with this statement saying it should be the board’s goal to get more kids into school.
Leslie Seeley and Jeremy Dorsey also voted in favor of the motion.
Grant Riles was among the members who voted against the move saying he does not feel it is the “right time.”
Doug Epp also voted against the measure saying the numbers do not support the decision to move forward.
Melissa Ogelby was the third no-vote.
Phase three will now go into effect on Nov. 9 and will see the on-site cohort of students needing specialized support continue to attend daily classes at both Emporia Middle School and Emporia High. The number of remaining students attending in person classes will now increase from 25 to 50 percent and will have them attending classes twice a week rather than once.
No changes will be made at the elementary level.
In other business Wednesday evening, the board also approved the guaranteed maximum price for Emporia High School as part of the Building for the Future bond initiative approved by local voters last fall. The total budget for the project is just over $21.5 million which is $936,000 under budget.
Emporia High is the third and final building included in phase one of the Building for the Future initiative to have its maximum guaranteed price approved following approval on Walnut Elementary School and the district’s new Early Childhood Education Center.
The USD 253 Board will reconvene for its next session on Nov. 11 at 7 pm inside the Mary Herbert Education Center.