Trustees delay start of school to Sept. 8; will seek parent, teacher input

By Becky Brewster

The Culberson County-Allamoore ISD Board of Trustees met in Regular Session on July 20, 2020. In keeping with the mandates from the state and federal government concerning social distancing, the Board met through video-conferencing.

The Board unanimously approved a revised 2020-2021 School Calendar pushing the start date of the school year to September 8, 2020. Supt. Ken Baugh reported that COVID-19 “community spread” is occurring within the County with 13 confirmed cases within the last month. This prompted the decision to delay the opening of school this fall. The District is following the guidance from the Governor through the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as it is released, and it is subject to change. Baugh noted that the District is required to offer live school as well as an option for online learning. CCAISD is in the process of contacting families to determine the interest in attending school vs. online lessons. The District has contacted 85 families so far, and the selection of live or online options is evenly split. The Board asked Baugh to survey the teachers as well to determine their take on returning to the classroom. The guidance is indicating that there should be 45 sq. ft. per student in the classroom, which would limit the class size to about 12 students to maintain distancing requirements.

Baugh also reported that there is little transmission of COVID-19 in children under 10, but that students over 10 have the same transmission likelihood as adults. The District will be required to implement the guidance from the State to reduce the likelihood of the transmission of COVID-19 within the campus. Baugh presented the initial draft of a mitigation plan to address the needs of the District. To this end, the District has purchased five facial infrared temperature screening kiosks to supplement the handheld touchless sensors already on hand in order to monitor the temperature of anyone entering the campus. The District has also ordered PPE supplies including masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer. The athletes will be provided with school logo reusable face masks. In order to disinfect the bus interiors and buildings, the District has acquired mist disinfection equipment.

The mitigation plan also addresses staffing issues outlining how the District will respond in the event of various scenarios such as if an employee presents with symptoms or if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19. The District has added three additional aide positions for the 2020-2021 school year to help limit the impact of these scenarios. The District has also increased on-line abilities.

Athletic Director Brock Tyrrell reported on the many changes being required of the athletic program, noting that all sports will require masks for everyone, including the athletes. The athletes will be required to wear masks except when playing on the surface. Social distancing measures will limit the number of fans at the events. The District is considering livestreaming the athletic events due to the limitation on the number of fans that will be allowed to attend. Tyrrell noted that with the switch to 6-man football, the District will consist of Van Horn, Marfa, Fort Davis and Buena Vista resulting in only three District games. He also noted that the District is required to provide 10-day acclimatization from the first day of practice to the first game. If the start of practice is delayed until the start of school (9-8-2020), the first scrimmage cannot be held until after the 10 days have passed. Tyrrell noted that he is waiting on updated UIL guidance, and will work with Baugh to determine the actual start date of practice. Tyrrell stated that he would be appreciative of an earlier start date to allow for the physical conditioning of the athletes.

Baugh presented Board Training on House Bill 3 (HB 3) Implementation regarding the Tax Rate Compression for 2020-2021.This section of HB 3 involves the method of setting the tax rate for the District. HB 3 was a sweeping school finance bill passed in 2019, and addresses four major policy areas: (1) Supports Teachers and Rewards Teacher Excellence; (2) Focuses on Learning and Improving Student Outcomes; (3) Increases Funding and Equity; and (4) Reduces and Reforms Property Taxes and Recapture. (https://tea.texas.gov/about-tea/government-relations-and-legal/government-relations/house-bill-3)

Sondra McCoy reported that CCAISD has officially been awarded a grant as a Pathways to Technology School (P-Tech) from the TEA creating the Van Horn Technology Early College High School to be known as VH Tech.

In other business, the CCAISD Board members:

Authorized Supt. Baugh to write a letter to the delinquent tax attorneys to expedite the judgment and subsequent tax sale of 9 properties as proposed by the Van Horn Economic Development Corporation.

Approved $3,135,000 in budget amendments.

Accepted the resignation of Juan Martinez.

Approved teacher contract for Noelle Gray.

Received audit reports for the Cafeteria and SPED program.

Discussed traffic control through speed bumps in cooperation with the Town of Van Horn.

Approved the consent agenda.