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No masks, no taxes on tap for 2021

The Warren County School District is not expecting a tax increase nor masks for the 2021-2022 school year.

Director of Business Services Jim Grosch presented budget information to the board during Monday night’s meeting.

The proposed budget shows a deficit of $1.29 million without a tax increase. The maximum allowable increase — 2.3795 mills — would add a little over in $1 million in revenues and bring that deficit down to $272,373.

The board approved a version of the motion with a zero-increase and asked administration to bring that version of the final budget to the special meeting to be held at noon Friday, June 25.

There are millions of dollars in supplemental funds in that budget.

To qualify for some of those millions, the district must have a new health and safety plan on the books.

The school board plans to offer in-person learning from Aug. 31, 2021, through June 10, 2022. For now, there are no masks in that plan.

“We have to have a new health and safety plan put in place,” Stewart said. “We have no direction telling us that we are going to have to mask next year.”

The district is working to get students who fell behind due to being out of the school setting. “We have kids that stayed home that are going to have a gap,” Superintendent Amy Stewart said. “It’s not based on what our teachers did.”

The district will utilize various Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund — ESSER — dollars to help address that.

“There’s a lot of ‘back-on-track, get kids back in school’ things in there,” she said.

One particular area of concern is students who would like to enter the Warren County Career Center who may have fallen behind in credits due to the upheaval of the past two school years.

District-wide, there would be 10 more paraprofessionals focused on English Language Arts (ELA).

At the elementary level, “We’re proposing an additional five elementary teachers for class size reduction,” Stewart said. “I don’t want to see classes of 30 next year… get some more individualized education for kids and keep things in check.”

There were six new custodians working in the district in 2020-2021 as a response to COVID-19. Those personnel will be maintained for the 2021-2022 school year.

The district plans to organize support centers – like study halls but with several instructors available to help students.

“I’m going to put as many staff members as we in there each period,” Stewart said.

Some summer school programming is already underway and the district is offering additional materials, programs, and tutoring. There will be no charge for summer school this year. “Summer programming is one of the things that we’re expected to do, that we want to do, to get some of these kiddos caught up,” Stewart said.

Some of the ESSER dollars will help boost the Virtual Academy.

The most visible of those changes would be the addition of five teachers.

“We want to add a secretary because attendance is absolutely critical,” Stewart said. And, the principal would be reclassified from 220 days to 260 days. “That means they would be working now. We’re going to need that horsepower during the summer.”

The program would also add an educator whose primary job would be to be in contact with parents helping students recover from any losses.

End of 2020-2021

“We can put 2021 in the books and put a bow on it,” Stewart said.

“We were able to successfully get all of our kids across the stage with their names called,” she said of Friday’s commencement ceremonies. “We were able to have our kids spaced out so they didn’t have to wear masks. For the most part, it was a very big success.”

Any student speeches that were not able to be made during the ceremonies due to weather will be posted online.

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