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School Board To Discuss Designation Related to COVID-19

Cheatham County School Board members and Dr. Cathy Beck, Director of Schools, have scheduled a specially-called meeting Wednesday, July 15, to discuss a plan that would directly impact teachers and staff returning to classes for the 2020-2021 school year; specifically, a proposal which would affect how teachers and staff would be paid if they were to become infected with COVID-19.

During the July 9 regular meeting of the board via web teleconference, Dr. Beck commented to the board about importance of meeting to discuss the Critical Infrastructure Determination Status.

“This is based on law and has to do with whether a teacher or staff member, how they are paid if they have COVID-19 or are a caretaker for a family member who has COVID-19. This has major budgetary implications I want you to be aware of and major political implications that I want you to be aware of,” Dr. Beck said. Allen Woods, the school district’s attorney, would present information about choosing this determination to board members.

“I will say up front, my goal and I think is everybody’s goal is that we take care of our staff in the highest manner that we can possibly do,” she said.

“It’s not legislation, but it is a designation that will have a legal impact on our requirements and duties under the CARES Act and FMLA,” Woods said.

The Post will post further updates on the designation and the outcome of the meeting.

In other business at the July 9 meeting, human resources leaders shared new information about measures to recruit more teachers and staff and retain current employees as part of the district’s five-year plan. Wendy Cox, Supervisor of Human Resources, Student Services and Policy, said due to the coronavirus outbreak, the district had been doing more virtual recruiting, and that the recent launch of the Tennessee Department of Education’s teacher job connection online resource has allowed them to hire numerous teachers via the internet. Cox said current openings included nine teachers, eight special education teachers, five teaching assistants, three nurses, and seven daycare staff. Job fairs inside and outside the district were part of future goals for recruiting, she said.

Retention measures included perks like the Cheatham Advantage program, which is a partnership with local businesses to provide special discounts or offers to school employees. Cox said future goals included adding teacher induction ceremonies and signing bonuses when the budget allowed, as well as continuing to build a family atmosphere.

In budgetary action, the board voted in favor of Consolidated Application Approval for IDEA/ESEA 2020-2021 funds in the amount of $2,443,711.90, which includes Title I and other federal subsidies.

Board members also approved IDEA Partnership for Systematic Change: Preschool Sustainability Grant in the amount of $70,000.00.

The board also voted in favor of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) through the CARES Act in the amount of $769,981.28. Dr. Tara Watson, CCSD Chief Financial Officer, said the funds would go towards hiring three nurses for the school district, hiring additional substitute teachers, and purchasing laptops for fifth and sixth graders and disadvantaged students. Dr. Beck added that the online learning system for virtual classrooms would also be paid for through this funding.

In other business, the board approved a change to the policy governing school bus advertisements, which would now allow those ads to be in color.

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