Monroe County Community School Corporation's Board of Trustees met to discuss topics such as the new Connect, Achieve, Respond, Engage and Support initiative, the new superintendent contract and COVID-19 metrics at Monroe County schools at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Before the meeting began, MCCSC Board President Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer acknowledged that Keith Klein, a member of the MCCSC board since 2009, had died Monday.
“The world is a little colder today without his warmth,” Fuentes-Rohwer said.
The first item on the agenda was a public hearing on the proposed superintendent contract. The contract states that the new superintendent, who has yet to be identified by the board, will earn an initial base salary of $209,500 and will have 260 contracted work days in a year. Their term will be from July 1 through June 30, 2024.
Fuentes-Rohwer read a letter sent to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb requesting teachers and school personnel be prioritized for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This would provide peace of mind, stability and health — a concrete way of demonstrating that you value our schools for the essential and vital work they do,” the letter reads.
Fuentes-Rohwer said Klein approached her last week with the idea to write a letter to Holcomb on this issue.
MCCSC Superintendent Judith DeMuth said Monroe County schools would move to phase green, following a decision from the MCCSC Metrics Committee. This means that starting Monday, all Monroe County students can be in school five days a week with an online option still available.
MCCSC board member April Hennessey said she thinks the positive cases for online and in person students listed on the website need to be clarified because students who test positive are categorized as online students if they were not in a school building 48 hours prior to the onset of their symptoms. This applies to students who were doing online or in person classes before testing positive.
“That’s incredibly misleading and confusing in the way that we are tracking it on the actual dashboard,” Hennessey said.
She said this categorization is skewing the data which community leaders are using to make important decisions regarding COVID-19 restrictions.
The board agreed they would have a later discussion regarding a potential change to how the data is reported.
Markay Winston, MCCSC assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said the Indiana Department of Education indicated schools are required by state and federal law to administer the ILEARN, ISTEP+, I AM and WIDA assessments. All students, online and in person, need to take these exams in the school buildings, she said.
Becky Rose, MCCSC director of student services, presented on the new C.A.R.E.S. initiative, which started on Dec. 1, 2020. The initiative has social workers and MCCSC personnel reach out to students who have stopped performing well in school due to the pandemic in the hopes of helping them re-engage in their schoolwork.
“We’re very worried about our kids who aren’t participating,” she said. “While it’s overwhelming and it’s heavy and it’s hard, we know students need school and all of the benefits that it includes.”
Since the program started, there have been more than 250 outreach contacts, 23 home visits and 16 students have engaged more in the classroom, Rose said.
Rafi Hasan, MCCSC equity and inclusion coordinator, presented his initiatives to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in Monroe County Schools. One of the projects he discussed is a leadership academy he organized, in which he encourages middle school students to assume leadership roles.