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Clarion Area School Board Approves Transfers for Future Projects, Updates Remote Learning, Responds to Football & COVID-19

Saturday, October 17, 2020 @ 12:10 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

clarion-areaCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – The Clarion Area School Board approved nearly $2 million in transfers dedicated for future projects and expenses at the boards recent October monthly meeting.

“We have to look out for the biggest drivers for school districts: Pension obligations, Healthcare obligations, and Buildings,” explained superintendent Joe Carrico.

“That’s where your biggest amount of money goes and, historically, we should not really be sitting on a bunch of money in an unreserved account. As we wrap up our budget, whatever we have left, we put in different accounts. Those three are major ones.

“This year there were savings because of COVID. We have some production and transportation cost savings and a retirement that we didn’t fill their positions and things like that.”

The Board approved transferring of $550,000.00 for future building projects, $335,327.00 PlanCon reimbursements on a 2016 Bond, and $125,000.00 for the elementary playground project to the Capital Reserve Account for the year ending June 30, 2020.

The Board also approved committing $550,000.00 to future pension obligations, $400,000.00 to future medical insurance increases, and $90,000.00 to transportation subsidy reduction for the year ending June 30, 2020.

Remote Learning Progresses “Pretty Well”

Carrico said Clarion Area’s efforts with remote learning have gone “pretty well” thanks to the cooperation of families and teachers.

“I think we have been working hard,” Carrico said. “The families and everyone has been very cooperative and collegial through the whole process which has made it really nice. We realize we don’t have the infrastructure needed to maintain this robust of a virtual platform with our staffing, so we’re looking to make a few changes moving ahead.”

At the start of the school year, families had the option of students going back to school with face-to-face instruction or virtual learning at home.

“I think once we got through the first couple weeks of school, families were getting a little more comfortable, but we ultimately support their decisions. The biggest thing we’re doing is looking at attendance and grades and working more with the families around those things.”

During the second nine weeks, families are required to commit to virtual learning.

Carrico estimated that 18 percent (of students) taking some form of virtual classes returned for in-person instruction during the first nine weeks. The school won’t know for a few more weeks how many elected the second nine-week commitment for virtual learning.

“Everyone has been very pleasant – – at least as pleasant as anyone can be in times like these and everybody is working together and understanding.”

The Board approved a Virtual Program Handbook as presented. A copy is available by clicking here.

Football and COVID-19

Carrico was asked following the meeting about the decision to play at a Karns City football game despite reports of a student at the school who reportedly had COVID-19.

Clarion Central did play Karns City, and Carrico offered this explanation.

“We have preached from day one that we really need to trust our doctors and our scientists. We checked with the department of health and got advice from Butler Hospital that serves both schools. They said ‘it’s okay to be in school and it’s okay to be in contact.’

“None of the football teams were in quarantine and none of them were affected by this.

“This virus has people on edge, and it’s going to be the same thing when it happens here. When it happens, we will make those decisions based on what the medical experts say. If the Butler Health told Karns City don’t hold activities, we would not have gone.

“We also talked with Clarion-Limestone and North Clarion in making the decision.

“In planning for mitigation of the virus at our schools, the State Health department works closely with schools.

“They’re going to come in and look at our plans and our what we do, and they’re going to look at our charts and our seats, and they’re going to say – ‘Don’t do anything or close this room or shut this building down’ and then that’s what we do.”

In other business:

•The Board approved hiring Tara Carlson as a Part-time Paraprofessional with a starting salary of $10.00 per hour.

• The Board approved the Paraprofessional Service Contract procedure with the Clarion-Limestone Area School District for utilization of Clarion-Limestone paraprofessional staff at the sub rate of $72.00 per day (not to exceed 7.5 hours) in order to fill vacancies within the Clarion Area School District as available. Vacancies will only be filled when the typical duties of the Clarion-Limestone Area School District paraprofessional are not needed due to student absence.

•The Board approved the purchase of a 2019 Dodge Caravan at a cost of $20,945.47 using ESSER Grant Money.

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