Trenton Board of Education approves COVID-19 leave policy; teachers and admin now considered “essential”

Trenton R-9 School District

The Trenton R-9 Board of Education at the latest meeting on Tuesday, January 12th approved two motions regarding COVID-19 leave. Another motion did not pass.

On a vote of four to three, the board voted to consider teachers and administration essential. Voting yes were Vice President Brandon Gibler and board members David Whitaker, Corey Leeper, and Andy Burress. Those voting no were President Dorothy Taul and board members Marcie Cutsinger, and Cliff Roeder. Teachers and administrators who show symptoms would stay home.

Another motion was made to consider all staff as essential, but it failed.

The board voted unanimously to stay with 80 hours of leave for the 2020-2021 school year as a continuation of the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. The act mandated additional paid leave for COVID-19-related reasons, including Emergency Paid Sick Leave, and expired December 31st.  Teachers instructing from home can log their time and still be paid without cutting into leave time.  Superintendent Mike Stegman reported six certified staff members and four classified staff members have used their 80 hours already.

The board voted to send a check to the Grundy County Jewett Norris Library for the 2020 interest/dividend earned on the Frank Drake Library Fund. That total is $1,226. Trenton R-6 is the steward of the fund.  Stegman noted some of the investments in the portfolio were redeemed last year, and work is being done to determine what to do with the money. He said he believes a copy of the estate is in the library.

Director of Supportive Services Kris Ockenfels gave an update on the building project. He said the performing arts center is close to completion. It is anticipated to open around March 1st. The district is looking to possibly hold a spring concert there.

Director of Special Education Tara Hoffman presented Early Childhood and Parents as Teachers evaluation reports. She said 41 students are enrolled in the four-year-old classes and 47 are in the three-year-old classes for a total of 88 students served.

Fifty-seven children from 36 families are enrolled in the Parents as Teachers program. Ten of those families meet the high needs criteria.

Trenton Middle School Principal Daniel Gott presented the Health Services Evaluation Report as submitted by school nurses Tasha McCall and Tyann Cox. The report said that from August 14th, 2019 to March 13th, 2020 nurse office visits totaled 87 for preschool, 5,699 for kindergarten through fourth grade, 2,465 for middle school, and 944 for high school.

Stegman reported fire inspections will be done at all facilities this month.

About 15 air purifiers have been placed in offices and other high-traffic areas in the district, such as the music rooms, weight room, and wrestling room. The purifiers have filtration and a UVC light to purify the air.

Principals shared their thoughts on the Trenton R-9’s preparedness if the district would have to go to online-only this spring. They said their buildings would be ready if that happened.

Stegman said the district using new quarantining guidelines seems to be going well. Quarantine and positive numbers are lower than they have been, and he hopes they stay that way.

He reported eight students at Rissler Elementary School are under quarantine, six students and three staff members at the middle school are quarantining, and seven students and one staff member at the high school are under quarantine. TMS has three positives: two students and one staff member.

Twenty-one Rissler students are using the virtual learning option this semester. That involves one in kindergarten, one in first grade, eight in second grade, six in third grade, and five in fourth grade. At TMS, 18 are learning virtually, and 30 are online at THS.

It was announced no candidates had filed for the Trenton R-9 Board of Education election on April 6th as of the evening of January 12th. The deadline to file for the two available positions is January 19th at 5 o’clock.

Following an executive session Tuesday night of the Trenton R-9 Board of Education, three personnel actions have been announced.

The board accepted the resignation of band instructor Ethan Stewart. Brandon Huffman was employed as a substitute.

Superintendent Mike Stegman was offered a one-year extension to maintain having a three-year contract. The 2021-22 Superintendent’s salary is to be determined at a later date.