School board approves extended COVID-19 leave

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Eureka Springs School Board is extending its leave for staff members affected by COVID-19.

On Monday night, Superintendent Bryan Pruitt explained that the district received state aid to cover 10 days of COVID-19 leave per staff member in 2020. Pruitt said that aid expired on Dec. 19 but has been extended in 2021 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Pruitt asked the board to approve the extended leave and the board unanimously agreed to do so.

Pruitt also reported that the district has received additional stimulus funds, saying it would be a good idea to use those funds for HVAC work and technology needs.

“We’ve tried to purchase lots of new technology for students, but it’s all been backlogged,” Pruitt said.

During the principals’ reports, high school principal David Gilmore said the second semester officially started Monday, Jan. 11. Gilmore said there are 188 students at the high school, with 43 students learning virtually.

“That number stays about the same. It just kind of goes up and down,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore said the first semester of the year went “pretty well” considering the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We didn’t know how the semester was going to end up, but I’d say it was better than expected,” Gilmore said.

Report cards are going out this week, Gilmore said, and all the school’s seniors are on track to graduate. Gilmore thanked senior class sponsors Adam Louderback and Rachal Hyatt for working with the students to ensure their success.

“They do a great job keeping track of all the procedures,” Gilmore said. “The seniors are doing well and on track to graduate.”

Gilmore said the school is adding a Zoom room, which maintenance employees worked on at the end of the fall semester.

“Unfortunately, they’re not ready to install it because they need the equipment for it,” Gilmore said. “We hope that will be done soon. That’s going to be a great addition to our campus and add a lot of value to our students.”

Gilmore said the basketball teams are playing games again, saying the team had to postpone some games during the fall semester because several players and coaches were quarantined. He also reported that the early dismissal on Wednesday is going well.

“Some kids got extra help that needed it. We even had a dozen on-campus students stay to work with the teachers,” Gilmore said. “They stayed and got some extra help. So far, so good at the high school. We’re doing well and pleased with our results.”

Middle school principal Cindy Holt reported that there are 154 on-site students and 43 virtual students at the middle school. The number of on-site students has increased a bit, Holt said, because some virtual students decided to return to the classroom.

“We’re delighted to have them in the building,” Holt said. “We feel we’ve done a good job. Everybody’s still working to keep everybody safe. We’ve been pretty successful so far with that — some bumps in the road, but I think we’ve adjusted well to those.”

Elementary school principal Clare Lesieur said enrollment at the middle school includes 149 on-site students and 31 virtual students.

“We had five of our virtual students return to school this semester,” Lesieur said. “We’re happy to have them back.”

Lesieur said the 100th day of school is coming up.

“We’re so excited we’ve made it to the 100th day of school and we’re planning a big celebration to honor all the hard work,” Lesieur said. “I just want to give a shout out to the entire staff for working so well this year as a team to ensure safety and learning for all our students.”

Also at the meeting, treasurer Pam McGarrah reported that the bank balance is $8,956,000, the total balance is $8,982,000 and the legal balance is $3,142,000.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, in the middle school cafeteria.

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