The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
The Times 

Dayton school board report for June

School reopening, 2020-21 budget, athletics discussed

 


DAYTON—It could be the middle of August before a solid plan for reopening Dayton schools can be presented to the community.

At last week’s school board meeting Superintendent, Doug Johnson said he and incoming school superintendent Guy Strot have been participating in many online meetings, including a meeting with neighboring school district superintendents about that topic.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has released instructions for reopening schools throughout the state.

“I think I would agree that the sense, in the meeting, was that everything we now know about reopening the schools will change again, and again, and again, before August,” he said.

Johnson is concerned that parents may think better planning should have taken place. Unfortunately, solid decisions are difficult to make due to the uncertainties regarding the COVID-19 situation, he said.

Dayton School District officials are working on a reopening plan based on students returning to schools and classrooms, rather than implementing a rotating schedule or total distance learning program.

Johnson said students and staff will need to follow the 6 ft. social distancing requirements and will be required to wear some type of face covering.

The District will determine a procedure for taking students’ temperatures at the beginning of each school day.

Johnson said some bus routes have between thirty and forty students on them, making social distancing requirements challenging.

“We will separate them as best as we can,” he said.

Johnson is optimistic.

“I really see our group of employees, students, and parents doing whatever they need to do to find a way to be successful,” he said.

Overview of the 2020-21 school budget

An overview of the 2020-21 budget was provided to the board of directors by Business Manager Paula Moisio.

The budget will end with a considerably higher cash balance than budgeted. The current estimated balance is $500,000 compared to the original estimate of $207,995 according to Moisio.

Several things are contributing to the higher number, but the biggest factor is a reduction in expenses due to the school closures in March.

Spring coach contracts, spring travel for professional development for staff, mental health counseling and nursing services, and Camp Wooten were all canceled. There has also been a reduced need for substitute staff, and transportation costs were lower.

Moisio said revenue for the 2020-21 school year is estimated at $6,850,000 based on a projected student enrollment of 382.

Estimated expenses for the 2020-21 school year total $6,929,000, leaving a budget deficit of $79, 310, which will be manageable, she said.

Moisio has budgeted funds for the replacement of Ag. Teacher Kristina Kneble as well as funds to hire additional custodial staff if needed.

Existing staff will fill the gap for Stephanie Heitstuman, who is taking a one-year leave of absence from the elementary school.

The District purchased heating fuel at a lower cost last year and is starting the school year with a full tank.

Moisio said the Associated Student Body (ASB) is anticipating a similar budget to this year’s budget. ASB revenue and expenses have been lower, and activity costs were lower this spring, she said.

“It is difficult to budget for next year because of the many uncertainties about COVID,” she said. “Really you have to go into it assuming it is going to be a regular year, and, if not, you just have to adjust as you go.”

The District will receive unrealized funds from the CARES Act, sometime in July, for COVID-related expenses. There will also be a higher reimbursement for the cost of providing breakfast and lunch to students during the COVID-19 shutdown, reimbursements for the DW Athletic Combine and for other fees and services.

Moisio will present a final budget for the board’s consideration on July 1.

Principal reports

Supt. Johnson has worn two hats this year. He is the DSD superintendent, but he has also been overseeing the elementary school, as a cost-cutting measure.

“The staff has been amazing in putting out learning activities for the kids,” he said.

He said the school year came to a successful close on Tuesday of last week with photo opportunities for students and parents and a visit from “Brutus”, the Bulldog mascot.

“Ít was a successful, but strange year,” he said.

MS/HS Principal Kristina Brown said there was also a celebration for Grades 6-12, and they had the photo booth opportunity, as well.

“I have been really impressed with my staff, about how hard they have been working for the kids,” she said.

Brown said she met with the staff last week to discuss what worked and what didn’t work for continuous learning from home.

Students who received an Incomplete grade will have the opportunity to get help from the Gear-Up program.

Athletics

Supt. Johnson said the HS League athletic directors are planning for the year as if there are no COVID impacts. They will make changes and modifications to the plan as needed.

The DW Athletic Combine is not offering any sports-related activities either on campus or off at this time, he said.

Johnson said it isn’t economically feasible for the District to allow people to use the gym when the District has to provide the time and money to pay for cleaning it, after every use.

Retiring

Elementary P.E. teacher Kathy Mason is retiring from the Dayton School District after 36 years of service.

Supt. Johnson said, “This is an amazing legacy for her. Our thanks go out to her for her many, many years of service.”

Last week’s meeting was the last for Doug Johnson, who is retiring after serving eleven years with the Dayton School District.

Guy Strot will take over as the Dayton School District Superintendent on July 1. He will also serve as Dayton’s next elementary school principal.

 

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