WILLIAMSBURG - On Tuesday, the Williamsburg Board of Education approved Superintendent Tim Melton's plan on students returning to in-seat instruction beginning Sept. 28.
Melton's plan would give parents and students the option on whether to continue learning virtually or to return to class in person. The biggest change to Melton's plan is that Fridays would be designated as virtual learning days for every student, regardless if they choose to return to in-seat class throughout the rest of the week.
For those who choose to return to school in person, students would be physically at the school Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., but would learn virtually on Fridays.
Melton said this would only be applicable until December and that the board would revisit the plan before then as well. He said the revision in the plan would still see students who are virtual will be able to return to in-seat instruction following the end of each six-week period scheduled in the district's calendar.
The school would still provide meals to both virtual learners and those who return to class in person during all five days of the week.
The board also approved the school district's working budget for the 2020-2021 school year.
Financial Officer Jimmy Hall said he made a more concerted effort to make the working budget as accurate as he could.
"It's always reflected the big expenses, but not the small expenses," Hall said on the district's working budgets in the past. "I'm really worried about next year and years to come, and our funding from every source, just because of the dilemma that we're in now."
Hall said despite the school district bringing in two new teachers, he was able to work the budget to where the new hires would only cost the district $6,000 from its general fund.
Williamsburg's working budget this year will see a contingency of around 3 percent, said Hall. The state requires at least a 2 percent contingency.
"I estimated pretty low on my property taxes collections this year because I'm not real confident about that because of COVID, and I feel like money is going to start running dry right when we start trying to collect them," Hall noted on the working budget.
The board also approved the setting of the 2021 real estate tax rate at 48 cents per $100 assessment, a decrease of last year's rate of 49.80 cents. However, the personal property tax rate will remain the same at 49.80 cents per $100 assessment.
"This is the compensating rate to get us to the expected revenue that we got this current year. It is just the rate that the state gives us, so I think is what we need to do this year under all of the circumstances," Hall said on the tax rates.
The school board approved an agreement between Government Utilities Technology Service, Inc. (GUTS) and the school district.
"This year, we got notified that our past tax software, the software that we used to collect taxes, was not going to support us anymore," Hall informed the board.
The new software will cost the school district an initial set up fee of $6,000 and will cost around $1,500 annually. Hall said that $1,500 annual fee was a little more than what the school district had been paying, but that it was not a significant difference.
Hall added that the school district would have to begin the year collecting taxes without any software, as the school district is not scheduled to receive the aforementioned software until Dec. or Jan.
The board also approved the creation of a social worker position for the 2020-2021 school year.
Melton explained that the position was made available through monies from the the School Safety Fund, and that the funding stipulated the money be used towards a new position and not one already within the school.
The person hired will need to be state-certified, said Melton. Hall clarified that both the salary and benefits for the position would be covered through the state-funded money.
In other business, the board:
- Approved opting out of the employees 6.2 percent social security tax deferral between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020 for only applicable to classified employees.
- Approved an agreement with Elgin for the 2020-2021 school year.
Melton said that the agreement was one the school district had been involved with for years and called Elgin an integral partner as they fund the district's elementary Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) testing.
- Approved an agreement between Champion Physical Therapy Kentucky and WISD for physical therapy for the 2020-2021 school year.
The school district had an agreement with a different company in the past, but Melton said that company could no longer provide those services to the school district. The new agreement would see both virtual and in-person services provided to students.
- Approved the 2020-2021 WISD Certified Evaluation Plan.
"The only thing is that the wording was removed to allow tenure teachers on a summative year in 2020, to continue to complete it in 2021, and that's just because of the virus," explained Melton. "What I was told, it's one-time and it only affects about 15 folks."