During a virtual meeting Monday night, the Aledo ISD board of trustees reviewed a “worst case scenario” resolution in regard to the COVID-19 situation and will plan to take action on the document at 9 a.m. Friday.
“This is a resolution that school districts use in emergency situations, so it really is a worst case resolution. My understanding is that most school districts are adopting these resolutions. The worst case scenario is if we can’t get a quorum of [the school board] together — either you’re sick or one of you has a sick kid in the hospital or another family member, something like that,” AISD Superintendent Susan K. Bohn said. “The way I’m kind of looking at this is if we can’t get a quorum, then we cease to operate or we’re operating outside of the law because we’re making decisions that only the board has authority to do. If we’re able to continue to have meetings, even remotely, then there wouldn’t be a reason to use this.”
There are eight items listed on the resolution.
No. 1 is related to altering the school calendar. Bohn said she doesn’t anticipate they will need to extend the school year, which is what this resolution refers to.
No. 2 relates to employee leave and making some guidelines in relation to COVID-19.
“So we’re in a situation where we may have some employees that have COVID-19 and they need to take leave and so we may have to adjust some things related to the requirements about leave,” Bohn said. “I don’t anticipate that now, but it just gives me authority to potentially make some guidelines if we have a lot of staff that has the virus and how we handle that.”
No. 3 relates to suspending or modifying the timelines for the local grievance process. Bohn said they do have a couple of grievances in the works at this time and so there may be a possibility the board might want to suspend or modify that timeline.
No. 4 relates to the authority to seek any necessary waivers from the Texas Education Agency without further action from the board of trustees in relation to missed instructional days, low attendance or any matters because of the emergency closures.
“The commissioner [of education] has asserted that we should not be stressing about low attendance. Those are things that TEA is readily going to bring into those waivers,” Bohn said. “What we’ve heard from TEA is that we don’t need to take attendance. There will probably be an audit at the end of all of this to show we were providing some level of instruction, but we’re not required to take attendance in Texas. We will get attendance funding for all students.”
No. 5 would allow the declaration of a catastrophe regarding temporary suspension of the Texas Public Information Act. Bohn said she doesn’t see this being an issue unless there are documents they are unable to obtain because of closures or it takes longer than usual to obtain documentation for the requester.
No. 6 and 7 relate to goods and services, to which Bohn said she doesn’t anticipate anything significant there.
No. 8 relates to the authority to make purchases for goods and services up to $150,000.
“As you know, our board policy says $50,000, so anything that costs more than $50,000 we bring to [the board]. I think this would be the one that could be a possibility if there’s something that costs more than $50,000 that we need to purchase quickly,” Bohn said. “If there’s something significantly expensive that we need to purchase quickly or we’re going to lose out on it because everyone is trying to purchase the same thing, that’s the one I think would be most likely. When I think about things that cost that amount of money, it’s typically things like instructional materials.”
AISD Place 1 Board Member David Lear asked Bohn if they could include specifics on what types of purchases — keeping them all related to items they may need because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Lear also suggested addition language about how the resolution would expire once it’s no longer needed.
No. 9 gives authorization to the superintendent in the event other waivers or immediate actions are needed to submit/apply from national or state authorities or agencies.
“I absolutely agree that our superintendent needs some emergency powers, especially being able to buy something very quickly. We’ve worked as a team for so long and have worked great together and I think it’s important that we continue to approach these things as a team. We don’t know how long this thing is going to go, so our role doesn’t stop just because there’s a crisis and we need to continue to do the things we do,” AISD Board Secretary Forrest Collins said. “We’re embarking on something that no one has ever done and it’s important for us to stay involved and provide input into what’s happening. It’s interesting times for sure.”
Bohn said they will review the document, make any adjustments and present it back to the board of trustees, remotely, Friday morning for possible action.
“School districts have used these to give the superintendent authority to take care of some things very quickly and their recommendation is that we do that,” Bohn said. “I would hate for us to find ourselves in a situation where our students or staff missed out on something because we couldn’t act quickly.”
For the full resolution and more information on upcoming meetings, visit aledoisd.org.