Wednesday, December 9, 2020 - 9:07 am

The Board of Education approved the 2021-22 calendar at its regular meeting on Monday, Dec.  7.

Board president Annette Ashley presided over the meeting at the District Services Center, while other Board members participated remotely. The School Board has been meeting virtually since mid-March.

Students' first day of school is Wednesday, Sept. 1. Winter break runs from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2. Spring break runs from March 26 to April 3. There are also three days off for students and two for staff at the end of October. The 2021-22 calendar is available on the District website's Calendar Dates page.

The Board had reviewed the calendar at its Nov. 16 meeting.

In other news from the Dec. 7 meeting:   * The Board approved the Emergency Crisis Plan. The plan is approved annually by the Board. Director of Student Services Barb Buffington and Director of Technology Services Jim Blodgett presented the plan and answered questions. Buffington noted there were no substantive changes to the plan, although repetitive language had been trimmed down.     * Board members Annette Ashley, Bob Green, Bob Hesselbein and Katie Morgan indicated they plan to attend the Wisconsin Association of School Boards Education Convention in January. The conference is normally held in Milwaukee but will be held virtually in 2021. Cheryl Janssen noted each session is being recorded but can only be accessed by those registered for the convention.    

* The Board discussed proposed temporary District-sponsored COVID-related leave and will brought as an action item at the Dec. 14 meeting.   Assistant Superintendent of Operations Lori Ames noted the current federal act gives employees up to 80 hours of paid leave at 100 percent of their wages if they have to isolate or quarantine but that it is set to expire on Dec. 31 and not sure if it will be extended.   Most staff who are able to work have been able to do so remotely, but there are some employee groups that don't have positions that allow for that. If the Board approved this type of temporary leave it would provide stability and equality across all employee groups, Ames noted. The leave would also only be needed through June and only if the federal government doesn't extend it.

Ames noted the leave would be basically budget-neutral, because the District would have to pay staff using sick leave time or paying a sub if they can't work regardless. She reminded the Board that FMLA is still available for staff for non-related COVID leave.

* Board president Annette Ashley noted several emails were received, including many asking that they be read as part of the meeting. She noted the Board's policy since moving to virtual meetings is that the communications will be added to the District website once personally identifiable information is redacted. Ashley named the author of each communication and briefly reviewed the topic and viewpoint of each one. The majority wanted students back in school buildings as soon as possible.

The citizen comments from the Dec. 7 meeting are available on the District website's Community Announcements page. You can also view citizen comments from the meetings in October and November on the page.

* Superintendent Dana Monogue noted the Middleton-Cross Plains Times-Tribune did a story the week before Thanksgiving on how teaching has changed during the pandemic. The reporter talked to a teacher at each level and Monogue thanked the teachers for their willingness to share their experiences.