White River Valley Schools will continue teacher pay amid COVID-19 crisis

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The White River Valley Board of School Trustees met in regular public session at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 16 at WRV Elementary School.

WRV Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Hacker asked to add an agenda item and permission was granted.

“This will be a resolution to the board and it will be a little lengthy, so bear with me,” Hacker began, “I’d like to take a moment to commend our people. They are a credit to this board and a credit to our community. They have done and continue to do an outstanding job in dealing with trying times. In conjunction and consultation with state agencies and all relevant departments of White River Valley, the district, as have others in Greene County, decided to implement an emergency closure of our schools due to the COVID-19 situation. As a result, school employees may have been instructed not to report to work during this pandemic-related closure. The board concludes the need exists to address payment of employees who have been instructed not to work from home or telecommunicate. These employees may suffer a loss of pay unless work days are made up at a later date. Thus, the board concludes that continuing wage payments be made for employees who suffer a loss of pay due to a pandemic-related emergency closure. This action serves the purposes of maintaining morale, reducing turnover and ensuring continuity after our schools reopen. Therefore, may it be resolved that, in case of pandemic-related emergency school closure, the board authorizes continuing wage payments. I am asking for the passing of this resolution dated this day, March 16, 2020.”

The resolution was provided by the Indiana School Boards Association and was approved by WRV District Attorney Sam Drummy.

The resolution was brought to a vote and passed unanimously.

“Again, I appreciate the work of our employees during this endeavor. I also appreciate the work of these seven gentlemen (referring to school board members) in understanding the seriousness of the situation we are in and their caring about our employees, both certified and non-certified. Thank you, gentlemen,” Hacker said.

In other business:

• Dr. Hacker announced the procurement of several grants for White River Valley. The first, the IDOE Digital Learning-Community Advisory Grant, will provide WRV with $50,000 to use in their involvement with Project Lead the Way, enabling the district to employ a technology advisor for all three WRV schools. The grant, as stated by IDOE, is awarded to districts focused on building digital initiatives around the purposeful and strategic integration of technology into instruction. The second, the Governor’s Workforce Development Next Level Grant, gives WRV an initial planning grant of $5,000 and then an amount of $50,000, renewable for a second year, to help implement and expand WRV’s seven student-led businesses for the 2020-21 school year.

WRV currently has 26 business partners involved in helping to construct the business/corporate structure of the upcoming Advanced Manufacturing-Precision Machining, Welding, Agriculture/Agribusiness, Architecture and Construction, Business/Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Education and Training and Transportation and Logistics businesses. In addition, WRV has four post-secondary institutions working with them in dual-credit partnerships.

The third and final grant, the 2019 National School Lunch Program Equipment Grant, in the amount of $36,049, will allow WRV Elementary School to replace much-needed kitchen equipment, including a dishwasher, disposer, electric booster heater and standard condensate hood.

• The board announced the postponement of this year’s Stephen Campbell Alumni Banquet, originally scheduled for Friday, April 3. The banquet, honoring Teddy York (Switz City Central class of ‘68), Joe Cabel (L&M class of ‘79), Dr. Dan McKee (Worthington class of ‘65 ) and Brenda Reetz (WRV High School class of ‘97), will be rescheduled, hopefully for early May.

• Dr. Hacker addressed the problem of misinformation and miscommunication during the recent emergency school closure.

“I will say that, for all information regarding anything to do with recent developments, the district has one official voice, my voice,” he said. “Unless you have heard it from me, any news is not official.” Hacker stated communications are readily available through the school’s messenger system and any questions can be answered by contacting him directly at the administration offices weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. He added events such as prom and graduation will occur as scheduled until his notice of their postponement.

• The board approved the switching of banking services for the district from Mutual Bank to Owen County State Bank (OCSB). OCSB representatives were in attendance. OCSB is a partner with WRV in the upcoming student-led business endeavor, middle school life skills program and middle school reality store.

• The board approved extending the weed-spraying contract of Lone Tree Lawn care for the 2020 season, in the amount of $4,600. It was noted the company has been a very stable supplier of such services for the last three years.

• The transfer requests of one high school and one middle school student were approved by the board.

The next meeting of the White River Valley Board of School Trustees is scheduled for Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in room 110 at WRV High School. If necessary, due to an extended pandemic, the board may meet online.

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