In March, Neosho students enjoyed a week of spring break but when it ended, they didn't return to the classroom. Instead, school has been out of session while teachers work with students using both technology and packets parents were able to pick-up.
Currently, Neosho, like most other area districts is tentatively scheduled to remain out of the classroom through Friday, April 24. That is likely to change, however.
Neosho Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim Cummins noted during an online work session of the Neosho Board of Education that the return to school date will be evaluated.
"Our intention is to convene (with other area school districts) on April 17, a week ahead, to discuss reopening dates," Cummins said. "There's not a lot of optimism that we can come back in May."
Through last week, Cummins noted that the district has provided more than 20,000 breakfast ad lunch meals to students. Meals are distributed weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at three Neosho campuses, which are Benton Elementary, Neosho High School and Goodman Elementary. In addition, 7 district school buses are delivering meals to 20 different locations. On average, that's 900 to 950 meals provided each day to students.
With uncertainty about when school might be held, Cummins said that the focus right now is on knowledge retention with students.
"We're having to guess what summer is going to look like," he said. "We're looking at some different avenues for summer school."
Should the district not hold a summer session, concerns about the amount of time students will be out of the classroom exist.
"On the first day of school, August 24, it would be five months without school in session," he said. "That's a significant education gap."
Cummins also noted that each of the district's buildings have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
"The first two weeks we were out, custodial staff did deep cleaning," he said, stating that they used EPA approved products to combat COVID-19.
Plans to provide a 25% stipend for classified staff members was also discussed and approved unanimously y all board members. People who are continuing to report for their jobs in school facilities would be eligible for the bonuses, paid in addition to their regular salaries.
Cooks, custodians, groundskeepers, bus drivers and tech professionals would be eligible for the stipends, while administrators and salaried staff would not, according to documentation provided to board members. The stipend is for those who are reporting to work and continuing their duties during the closure.
Final insurance numbers were provided to the board for the construction of the new Goodman Elementary School, rebuilt after a tornado destroyed the previous building in April,2017.
According to final insurance documents presented by Cummins, $10,663,154 of the building's $12,507,868 cost will be paid by insurance. The remaining $1,844,714 was paid from district reserves.
The next regular monthly meeting of the Neosho Board of Education will be on Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m.