The Defiance City Board of Education discussed building-specific school reopening plans, approved the district’s remote learning plan and voted to approve end of year financials during its meeting Wednesday.
In addition, superintendent Bob Morton gave the board members a brief demonstration on the Defiance Virtual Learning Academy, sharing how it will work for those families who have chosen to have their child/children start the year in a virtual learning setting (see related story, page A1).
Morton opened his portion of the meeting with a statement saying: “I do want to thank the community for its patience, understanding, cooperativeness and input, while working with us through this process of getting back to school. We ask for patience and flexibility, and know we’re doing the best we can with the information we have at this moment.
Added Morton: “I look forward to getting our teachers and students back in the classroom, we know everyone is nervous, but we’ll get through that. We will follow every safety protocol and remain vigilant, and we feel once those protocols become routine, our students and staff can really focus on education.”
As far as reopening plans, Morton shared in addition to the district plan, each building will implement its own plan which is specific to that building (information on those plans can be found at defiancecityschools.org).
“We have a district-level plan, but these plans are specific to each building,” said Morton. “They will cover everything from safety protocols to how our students are dismissed at each building. This information will be mailed to each family, links will be shared to social media, and the information is posted on our school website.”
In her report, CFO/treasurer Cheryl Swisher gave an update on fiscal year 2020 financials, which closed June 30. Swisher reported revenues were $178,348 more than the May forecast, due to an unexpected Bureau of Workers’ Compensation COVID-19 refund, a catastrophic costs payment, higher than expected investment revenue and a tuition payment.
Expenses were down due to remote learning, as well as reductions in utilities, bus fuel, repairs, professional development, staff travel, extracurricular travel and purchasing less supplies.
Overall, the district finished in the black, $526,771. Swisher cautioned, however, that higher than expected insurance increases for fiscal year 2021 and beyond are coming in very high, which will increase deficit spending in future years, noting that will needed to be looked into in the near future.
The board approved the year-end financials.
The board was given an update on renovations to the Defiance Community Auditorium, in which painting is complete, flooring is expected to be completed by the end of the week and work on the curtains should be finished by Aug. 31. The board discussed holding a future meeting there once it’s completed.
Board president Cathy Davis updated the board on evaluations for both Morton and Swisher, sharing that each received good evaluations before saying: “Both have done an excellent job, we couldn’t ask for better leadership ... we are pleased to have them and proud of their work. They have each been given goals for the upcoming year, and I look forward to seeing their progress.”
The board met in executive session to discuss personnel matters and discuss the sale of property. Following executive session, the board approved a 2.25% salary increase for Swisher and Morton, as well as a 2.25% salary increase for confidential employees and administrators, the same percentage the Defiance Education Association and OAPSE employees received.
“It’s very gracious of them to offer and increase, I’m very appreciative, as is Cheryl,” said Morton. “I think the board recognizes the hard work put in the last six months specifically, and of course what lies ahead.”
In other business, the board:
• voted for the following year-end transfers: $40,000 from the general fund to the set-asides textbook/inst supplies fund; and $178.84 from Title I fiscal year 2019 to Title I fiscal year 2020.
• authorized META Solutions to advertise and receive bids for the purchase of two 84-passenger buses. The resolution does not obligate the district to purchase the buses.
• approved filing a proof of claim on behalf of the district in the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy lawsuit, at no cost to the district.
• okayed a then-and-now purchase order of $3,323.43 from Leichty Farm Equipment for tractor repair done in June and paid in August.
• voted for amendments to students handbooks for 2020-21 covering the bell schedule, remote learning attendance, book bags, intervention enrichment, lunch schedule and visitors.
• designated Sheri Steyer and Matt Carr as Title IX coordinators and investigators; Cheryl Swisher as initial decision maker; and Bob Morton as appeal decision maker, effective Aug. 14.
• approved a medical leave of absence for Steve Wahl from approximately Aug. 20, 2020-Jan. 14, 2021.
• okayed Lisa Phipps as a home instructor, as needed, for 2020-21; Jacob Henry for eight days of extended time; Janelle Rubio as high school secretary to the assistant principal; Linda Baumle as a substitute bus driver; Mike Burkhart as a substitute bus driver/custodian; Melissa Peck as a substitute secretary; and Marian Resendez as a substitute aide.
• accepted the resignation of Steve Wahl as high school math department head, and employed Rick Weaver as high school math department head.
• voted for several supplemental contracts for 2020-21.
• approved the list of substitute teachers from the NwOESC for 2020-21; the Wood County JDC/JRC agreement for 2020-21; and an MOU with Defiance College for the hosting of teacher education candidates from July 31, 2020-June 30, 2021.
• accepted a donation of 1,000 face masks and hand sanitizer from Lowe’s Home Improvement of Defiance.