Burnet Consolidated Independent School District officials shared final information about the start of school at a special meeting on Aug. 17.
The first day of school at BCISD is Thursday, Aug. 20. Some of the information shared with the board includes:
• As of today, 2,948 students are registered for school, which is approximately 250 fewer students than what the district ended the 2019-20 school year.
It is not unusual for enrollment to increase by 90 to 100 students during the first 10 days of school. Of registered students, 36 percent have selected remote in struction and 64 percent have selected in-person instruction;
• Two substitutes have been secured for each campus during the first seven days of class to help with any back to school transition tasks or issues;
• A central office staff member will be available at each campus during arrival, dismissal and at lunch time during the first seven days of school; and
• Every bus route for the first day of school will have a monitor on it.
The board approved a resolution providing an additional five days of local COVID-19 extended leave for all staff.
“Burnet CISD administration has a substantial interest in protecting the health and safety of all students and staff,” the resolution stated. “The administration understands staff members may have to take more leave this year due to isolation/quarantine orders. Due to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) employees will also recetve additional paid sick leave (10 days) and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
"Even though BCISD employees will receive this additiona! FFCRA leave, administration recognizes employees new to the district or others are likely to have little to no available leave," the resolution concluded.
The extended COVID-19 leave may be used for quarantine/ isolation orders resulting from "close contact" while at school, as determined by the county medical advisor or a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnoses.
The additional leave days can only be used once, cannot be used for any other purposes and cannot be carried over to the next school year.
The board also approve an amended order calling for the school board election on Nov. 3, 2020. There are two places on the ballot: Place 3 – incumbent Suzanne Brown is uncontested and Place 7 – a contested race between incumbent Mark Kincaid and Tricia Carr.
Voter registration deadline for the election is Oct. 5, and the deadline to submit an application for ballot by mail is Oct. 23.
Early voting begins on Oct. 13 and runs through Oct. 30; election day is Nov. 3.
“School Board Elections are important and make a difference,” BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett wrote in a statement. “Please take time to register to vote if you are not already registered, and make sure you vote.
“As a reminder, this is a Presidential Election year, so if you want to avoid the lines, I encourage you to vote early at the AgriLife Auditorium located next to Quest High School,” he added. “Due to COVID-19, Early Voting has been extended an additional week.”
The Board ratified an interlocal agreement with Region 4 Service Center to purchase 300 wi-fi hotspots. This is a part of the state’s Operation Connectivity program that provides these devices at approximately half the cost to districts.
The Board approved revisions to the Student Code of Conduct. Because students now have the option of instructional settings due to COVID-19, more explicit language was added to reinforce that the district has disciplinary authority during online instruction. Another revision specified that remote instruction days would not count towards the fulfillment of an expulsion order. The new Code of Conduct is now linked in the “Parent” tab of the district website along with the 2020- 2021 Student Handbook.
Trustees approved the purchase of COVID-19 related items to prepare the school, staff and students for the return of instruction. In cumulative these items totaled over $250,000.
The purchases include personal protective equipment for staff and students, social distancing markers, protective dividers for classrooms and cafeterias and at least two months’ supply of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes.
The board also approved to pay off bonds early for the second time in three years.
“This early payment of bonds, called bond defeasance, is a strategy used to decrease the interest expense paid by the district on bonds,” McBurnett said. “This defeasance of $1.5 million will help reduce the total debt for Burnet CISD to below $30 million. The board and administration plan to schedule an additional defeasance in the Spring of 2021.”