Sulphur Springs ISD Superintendent Micheal Lamb gave a brief COVID-19 update at Monday evening’s school board meeting. SSISD will request waivers from Texas Education Agency for missed instructional days and teacher appraisal requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SSISD Board of Trustees determined at the meeting.
SSISD COVID Update
Lamb reported the district plans to keep doing what its been doing since schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The superintendent anticipated not having as much direction, and presenting some options depending on state, national and local directives at the meeting Monday. However, the Governor made it clear that schools are to remain closed through the end of the regular 2019-2020 school year.
SSISD will continue its distance learning program. Lamb said he was proud to hear of many positive stories regarding distance learning, and of the way the teachers are reaching out in so many different ways, including Zoom and emails, to assist the students while campuses are closed.
The district will also continue to provide free breakfast and lunch meals for children five days a week. The district has averaged 1,700 meals a week since the feeding program began in March.
Administrators will continue working to figure out what the future will look like for Texas school districts.
Officials are still working to developing plans for the high school graduation and honors breakfast, but the prom and 8th grade banquet are postponed at this time. SSISD officials are hopeful that we will be permitted to host these events during the summer. District staff are closely monitoring social distancing requirements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will make every effort to schedule these events once they are permissible, officials reported earlier Monday.
Assistant Superintendent Josh Williams recommended that the district seek both an educator appraisal waiver and a missed school day waiver from TEA..
For school closure based on COVID-19 related concerns additional minute waivers are needed from TEA to meet the 75,600 operational minute requirement. Those waivers should be granted as long as the LEA commits to supporting students instructionally while at home.
The missed instructional days would remain as designated instructional days in attendance accounting software and counted in terms of total minutes of operation the same as they would have been if the LEA had been able to operate normally. Missed school day waivers require board approval, according to Williams.
Williams also sought trustees’ approval to apply for an “Educator Appraisal Waiver” from TEA. The waiver would exempt SSISD from some provisions of the Texas Education Code that address teacher appraisal, principal appraisal, and campus administrator appraisal due to circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In essence, Williams explained, the waiver allows SSISD to determine which aspects of the appraisal process it can complete and which, if any, cannot be completed due to operational disruptions caused by the pandemic. The waiver would permit SSISD to appraise or not appraise some or all of its teachers, principals and administrators.
“This allows us to not complete in areas where it’s not practical or possible,” Williams said.
While most districts across the state are facing the same issues, because the law requires the evaluations, TEA recommends making the request to put everything in compliant order. Thus,William recommended applying for the waiver.
Trustees unanimously agreed SSISD will request waivers for missing instructional days and educator appraisals.
Also on the Agenda
Robbin Vaughn, SSISD Board of Trustees president, gave a required report on board member training credit. All members met the training requirements for this year.
SSISD trustees also approved Monday as part of the consent agenda:
- Tax Credits and Supplements for March 2020.
- Delinquent Tax Collections for March 2020.
- Financial Statements and Bills Payable for March 2020.
- Quarterly Investment Report for the three months ended February 29, 2020.
- Instructional Materials Allotment TEKS Certification Form for 2020-2021.
Trustees too received a copy of the Head Start Director’s Report for March.