MISD board deals with impact of closing

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Though Mineola school trustees carried on with business as usual at the March board meeting Monday, the board and administration kept coming back to the topic of the day – the coronavirus outbreak.

Even the usually mundane attendance report drew a comment, now that attendance is at zero with the district closed at least an extra week for spring break.

Attendance levels had been good going into spring break.

As Assistant Superintendent of Business William Bjork noted, the school gets state funds based on enrollment. Officials assume that will be waived, with the possibility of school closings continuing.

Superintendent Cody Mize delved into several aspects of the school closing.

He called the recent events unprecedented and thanked everyone for being flexible.

Board President John Abbott said this is hard on everyone – parents, students, teachers – and thanked them for going above and beyond.

Mize outlined plans to offer meals to students while school is closed, with breakfast available to pickup from 7:30-8:30 a.m. at the Primary School and lunch from 11:30-12:30, with delivery options being explored for midweek.

The meals are free for anyone 18 and younger living in the district.

He said as of Monday some 740 school districts in the state had closed, with more being added daily.

A decision for the following week will be made each Friday at noon, Mize said.

The staff is developing plans on how learning will continue without students in the buildings, which presents challenges for students without access to computers or internet service.

“We’re doing the very best we can in a very trying time,” he said.

Even the presentation of monthly awards has been impacted, as Abbott greeted the students with a “chicken wing” greeting instead of a handshake or hug, and presenters also had to refrain from customary hugs.

As Bjork was presenting the annual report on various trusts that pay out scholarship money for MISD graduates, he noted recent stick market activity had lowered the value of the trust funds.

The board approved an agreement with the city and neighboring school districts on the career and technical education grant the district has received to fund a full-time temporary position to serve as a liaison between the various partners.

Mize said the position will be funded through August, and the district has an opportunity to seek an additional grant to continue the position.

The city has already OK’d the agreement.

Trustees approved a new English language arts curriculum for the high school for $53,461 after hearing the vetting process to select the best option.

The board also agreed to continue the district’s relationship with Tyler Junior College for dual credit courses.

Two administrator contracts were extended for band director Chris Brannan and middle school administrator Jeffery Tittle.

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