PAULDING — The Paulding Exempted Village Board of Education heard about the start of the school year, approved a district face covering policy, was presented updates on projects taking place in the district and discussed taking part in the Seamless Summer Meal Program during its meeting Tuesday.

Superintendent Ken Amstutz told the board that the school year has gotten off to “an excellent start.”

“It has been an excellent start to the year, and when people ask me how it’s going, I tell them I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Amstutz. “The staff and students have been great, and the good part is that everyone is excited to be back. They want to be here, and as the days go on, everyone is feeling more comfortable.”

Amstutz gave a brief update on virtual learners in the district, explaining that several students have opted to return to in-person school, especially in the younger grades. There have been a few issues, however.

“We’ve had a few problems with kids not going through the lessons and trying to shortcut it, and that doesn’t work,” said Amstutz. “We’re working with those kids to get them where they need to be. Around Thanksgiving a letter will be sent out to the virtual learners to see who wants to continue the second half of the year.

Added Amstutz: “I anticipate a large number of kids returning to in-person learning the second semester.”

The board approved a COVID-19 face covering policy for the district, which outlines what face coverings can be used, rules for students and staff, exceptions to the policy, and the documentation needed for the exceptions.

Amstutz also gave an update on the press box project at the football/track complex, and an update on the progress of the new softball field under construction.

“As far as the press box, we’ve had two home football games, and there were some glitches,” said Amstutz. “We’re working on adding some ventilation, and getting everything squared away. As far as people coming to games, we’ve got to do a better job of getting our people to wear their masks. It’s a work in progress.

“At the softball field, we’re finishing up the fencing, the scoreboard and bleachers have been installed, and the field has been seeded,” continued Amstutz. “It’s really going to be a very nice facility.”

In her report to the board, CFO/treasurer Kim Sprague discussed that the district is taking part in the Seamless Summer Meal Program, in which districts can serve breakfast and lunch to all students in the district for free through Dec. 31, or until funds run out. Free meals for students started Monday.

The district will be reimbursed for those meals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sprague also discussed an advancement of $60,000 from the general fund to the food service fund, and the district being awarded funds from the Ohio Broadband Connectivity Grant.

“This advance is to cover salaries and benefits that we pay all summer,” said Sprague. “We have not received any federal reimbursement from last year as of yet. We have learned ODE is making changes on reimbursement, which will be beneficial to families and school districts.

“We applied for, and received, the Ohio Broadband Connectivity Grant in the amount of $36,000,” continued Sprague. “That money is to help pay for (internet) connectivity within the district. We’re looking into purchasing mobile hot spots for students to use at home and on buses, as well as making the parking lot WiFi accessible.”

The advance from the general fund to the food fund was approved.

In other business, the board:

• approved amending the classified contract of Brittany Newsome to a six-hour cafeteria worker from a five-hour cafeteria worker for 2020-21;

• voted for Ron Goodwin, Mike Mudel and Logan Mudel as substitute custodians.

• okayed a one-year limited contract for Leanne Brown, four-hour cafeteria worker, effective Sept. 16.

• accepted the retirement/resignation of Sandy Dobbelaere, art teacher, effective at the end of the current contract year. Dobbelaere will have served the district for 25 years.

• approved permanent appropriations for fiscal year 2021.

• okayed the following student activity budgets for 2020-21: OMUN, FFA, class of 2021, cheerleading, student business, volleyball and middle school principal.

• voted to increase the substitute rate of pay in all classifications of the OAPSE negotiated agreement, Step 0 on the pay scale, retroactive to Aug. 1.

• approved several policies due to changes in state and federal law.

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