School Board Approves Emergency Measures

By Ralph Dickerson
The Hancock County Board of Education met in a brief meeting at the high school last Thursday. The major action taken by the board of education was the Declaration of Authority for COVID-19 Response. The declaration approved by the board gave Superintendent Kyle Estes the authority to take steps necessary to enact the provisions of Senate Bill 177, which is the state’s legislation providing relief to school districts affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is information in there on NTI (Non-traditional Instruction),” Estes said. “If we do not come back to school, there is information there on how we are to adapt and modify our certified evaluation plan.”
The state mandates students receive 1,062 hours of instruction each year. With the schools being out for the foreseeable future, the state enacted several provisions to help school districts comply. Normally, the state allows districts with approved NTI plans, like Hancock County, to use only 10 of those types of days per school year. With the pandemic, the state gave permission for districts to use more than 10, provided the commissioner of education approves the plan. The bill also provides procedures and waivers for districts in regards to other requirements mandated by the state, but difficult to meet due to the virus closing schools.
Due to the fluid nature of the pandemic, the board is in the process of developing and implementing the necessary steps to enact the provisions of the authority document. Superintendent Estes will make the necessary changes as the situation warrants.
With the approval of this measure, the board also approved an amendment to the school calendar to implement these provisions. The amended calendar approved using 10 or more consecutive Non-Traditional Instruction days, and also to use March 30 through April 2 as NTI days to go towards the 1,062 mandated hours. The current calendar lists May 8tth as the last student instructional day.
“How soon does that need to be signed, sealed and delivered?” board chairperson Allen Kennedy asked via video.
“I think your action covers it right now,” Estes said. “We could sign it six months later if needed. The action is documented and good to go.”
Board member Raphael Wheatley made the motion to adopt the declaration of authority, and board member Allen Kennedy provided the second. All board members voted for the measure.
In other action
• Approved BG#18-126 in the amount of $27,949.90 on the high school renovation project. It is a normal payment process when a project is in the final stages of completion. The payment went to Ernie Davis and Sons Mechanical Inc.
• February Treasurer’s Report: Balance at the start of the month, $5,940,636.95; Receipts for the month of February, $743,107.39. Expenses for the month: $1,073,580.44. Ending balance: $5,670,955.76.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board of education used a unique arrangement to conduct the meeting. Only superintendent Estes, board member David Emmick, board member Raphael Wheatley and technology supervisor Greg Payne physically attended the meeting. Board members Donna Quattrocchi, Allen Kennedy and Ricky Johnson joined in via videoconferencing.

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