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R-III School Board Discusses COVID Funds; Return to School Plan

Holden School Board members heard a report on COVID-related ESSER III funds at their regular meeting, held August 16.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Hough updated the board on what the Holden District would receive, and stipulations on what it can be spent on.

Dr. Hough reported the district’s allocation is an estimated $1.4 million for the ESSER III money.

He informed the board that the district could request the funds over the next several years, through Sept. 2024.

“At least 20 percent of the funds has to address learning loss due to the pandemic,” Dr. Hough said.

“Plans for the rest of the allocation include maintaining staffing and programs.”

ESSER III provides funding to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) through Section 2001 of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Fund, to address the impact of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools.

For ESSER III, Missouri will receive $1.96 billion, 90 percent of which will be distributed to school districts and charter schools to spend on a wide range of allowable uses to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A task force of Holden students, parents, stakeholders, teachers, administrators, and board members was formed and they met Thursday, August 19, to discuss the plan.

Board members, Tonyea Inglis and Georgia Jarman volunteered to serve on the task force.

Dr. Hough also talked about the Strong Start: Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan.

He reminded board members that the plan is on the website and will be updated as needed.

No questions or concerns were expressed by board members.

Dr. Hough also addressed the Critical Race Theory (CRT).

He explained what CRT is and that it has been mainly used as an analytical tool in post-secondary educational courses.

He stated the Holden District uses the MO Learning Standards (which do not include CRT) to guide the curriculum writing.

In other curriculum news, Jennifer Mann, Curriculum/MOSIS Director, shared the curriculum work that has been conducted over the summer.

She highlighted that Priority Standards are the current focus of the curriculum writing.

She also explained how Priority Standards benefit Holden students and support the teachers.

Mann shared the curriculum timelines.

In other reports, elementary Principal Sarah Burks told board members about the Early Childhood Report, highlighting plans to offer Early Childhood Special Education, Eagles Nest Pre-School, an expanded P.A.T. program, and partnering with Head Start to expand the Pre-K program.

“Head Start will employ their own personnel and conduct screenings to eligible students,” Burks said.

“We are hopeful to start with 10 students, but are licensed for 20 students at this time.”

The district will provide the space for the program.

Burks also shared kindergarten screening results of the 65 students who attended the screening last spring.

Prior to the regular meeting, Dr. Hough conducted the tax rate hearing.

He shared that combined reports from Johnson and Cass counties shows $115,715,626 in assessed valuation for 2021-22.

He said the tax rate total would remain constant at a total of $4.5900, with $3.4806 in incidental fund, $0.9094 in debt service, and $0.2000 in the capital projects fund.

No questions or concerns were voiced from the public.

The board voted to approve the tax rates of $3.4806 incidental fund, $0.9094 debt service fund, and $0.2000 capital projects fund – for a total tax levy of $4.5900.

Motion carried 7-0. In other board actions, the following were approved: Strong Start: Safe Return to School Plan; Strategic Plan, ASBR, IDEA Compliance; and designation of coordinator – Buffie McConville, SPED director, as ADA, Non-Discrimination and Grievance Officer, and Section 504 Coordinator.

The regular meeting of the R-III School Board closed, to reopen September 13.

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