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Thorndale ISD discusses changes to operations due to COVID-19

On Tuesday, March 24, Thorndale ISD held its regular meeting via a Zoom video conference due to the social distancing restrictions that are in place.

The board started by hearing administrative reports.  

Elementary Principal Michael Young was very complimentary of his staff and the process they have put in place to provide the best possible distance learning experience to their students.  

Middle School Principal Scott Frei stated that his teachers were feeling confident in their new procedures.  He added that there were only four Middle School students that did not have reliable access to the Internet. 

High School principal Jennifer Parnham was also excited to see what an incredible job her staff was doing in adapting to this new teaching environment.  

All principals were in agreement that, even though they are not fans of the current STAAR test, they felt that their staff had done an incredible job preparing students for the tests and were looking forward to some awesome results this year.  

Business Manager Rebecca Peel talked briefly about how the COVID-19 school closures would affect finance. She explained that it appears as though the state will continue to fund schools as expected through this fiscal year so the district would be able to continue paying all staff members as long as that funding holds up. 

She explained that she and Superintendent Adam Ivy had done research and sought guidance regarding how to handle staff pay during this time. She talked about how there may be a shortage in the food service budget because the cafeteria will not be creating any revenue during the school closures.  

There was a question about possible federal assistance. Ivy said that there was speculation about possible support both in funding and in relaxed requirements in other areas but that nothing had been promised so far. Peel explained that she would be creating a separate fund to account for any expenditures related to the school closure so that everything could be documented in case there are any reimbursement funds available. 

Ivy reported on quite a few items.  He started by informing the board that he was so proud of the efforts and attitude of the leadership team and the entire staff in the midst of this crisis.  He said that the staff was essentially creating a new way of teaching and had made it happen in only a few days.  

He talked about ongoing construction projects, stating that the track project is nearly finished and the Middle School gym project is underway. He added that the old clay sewer pipe that ran under the west end of the gym would have to be replaced as part of the construction project.  

Ivy informed the board that the community facilities meeting that had been scheduled for March 25 would be postponed and that he may try to host that as an online meeting where people could join in and participate from home.

Child Nutrition Director Jeni Anders talked about the current state of the school lunch program.  She explained that any Thorndale ISD student was eligible for a free lunch and breakfast each weekday.  She explained that currently, students would be given a lunch along with a breakfast for the following day.  She added that there may be changes as the situation develops. The student does not have to be present at the time of pickup. 

Ivy presented a resolution that would grant authority to the superintendent to make decisions related to the COVID-19 school closures.  He stated that this would allow him to make decisions quickly when necessary but that he would certainly keep the board informed of everything that is going on.  The resolution passed by a vote of 7-0. 

The next item was the possible postponement of the May 2 school board elections until the November general election. Ivy stated that this was recommended but not mandated by the Texas Secretary of State.  With early voting starting in just a couple of weeks it is important to make this decision in time to make preparations. The board voted 5-0 to postpone the election with two members abstaining from the vote. 

The school calendar for the 2020-21 school year was up next on the agenda. Ivy stated that this calendar is essentially the same as it has been for the past two years with only slight modifications based on the way that the calendar lines up.  He added that this had been sent out to staff about a month ago and there had been no comments or objections to it. The calendar was approved by a vote of 7-0.  

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