Gov. Mike Parson’s order closing all Missouri public and charter schools was not unexpected, but still came as a surprise, Boonville Superintendent Sarah Marriott said.
“The school district received the school closure information at the same time as the public,” she said in an email. “We did not receive any prior communication.
While school buildings will remain closed, teachers continue to teach students remotely, which is a practice that started mid-March.
“This is certainly not the way our students, staff and teachers planned to end the school year,” Marriott said in the email.
The district will work on plans in the next few days and weeks to determine how to honor the Class of 2020, she said. Plans are underway for graduation, prom, summer school and a time for students to return to buildings to retrieve any belongings left ahead of the closure.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Seconday Education does not restrict summer school to June, so summer school may happen in July and possibly into the first week of August, Marriott said at Wednesday’s board of education meeting.
Parson’s order came the day after the meeting.
Graduation originally was planned for May 17, but now could happen late July, early August or there could be a virtual commencement, Marriott said.
Students still are maintaining a roughly 80-85% participation rate with class work. This percentage could decrease as the rest of the school year progresses.
“We do anticipate that the online participation rate will possibly decrease,” she said. “Grading is going to look very different and expectation for grading is very different than what it was prior to the school closure.”
Students who already were taking virtual learning through Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program will continue their coursework as scheduled, Marriott said.
The district also recognizes it may face technology access issues for its students. Those issues are being addressed. Each building had sent students home with devices. If someone still needs a device and they don’t have access, they should contact their respective school building to make sure a device can be provided.
Seniors were able to pick up graduation caps and gowns at the school April 5. There only were seven students who were not able to pick up caps and gowns.
“It was a very emotional time for those students to have to do that in a way that was very unexpected,” Marriott said.
Teachers also have adjusted and are finding unique ways to teach. Art teachers are doing show and tell with their classes and most teachers, including kindergarten and pre-school are doing Zoom meetings with their classes, Marriott said.
The district is working to save money by turning off lights and heating, ventilation and air condititioning systems. Construction projects, such as the roof at LSE Middle School, will move forward.
The board wanted to know about food service at Wednesday’s meeting. The number of meals distributed has increased. The first week 174 meals were handed out, while 376 meals were distributed Wednesday. Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School has contacted the district about assisting with the food distribution. A group of parishioners want to volunteer for the distribution.
Board member Lisa Leathers celebrated what others are doing to recognize students either on social media or in the community. The Boonville Booster Club put up banners on Main Street to recognize the athletes, she said
Since the school year will not reconvene before the end of the semester, the district is receiving guidance on revenue and state aid. State funding for school districts typically is based on the district’s average in-school attendance rate.
There is the potential for some pretty dramatic funding cuts, Marriott said.
“It’s really difficult right now as to how drastic and how conservative we need to be with planning and budgeting for next year,” she said.
No matter what, there will be a decrease in revenue for the 2020-21 school year. Next year revenue decreases may also affect food service since not as many meals are being served. Transportation funding also will be affected.
The district has sought reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its purchase of cleaning supplies.
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