Wamego school board to discuss budget, reopening plan and contract negotiations on Aug. 17

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Budget hearing and reopening discussion

The USD 320 Wamego Board of Education will hold a budget hearing during its meeting Monday.

Tim Winter, USD 320 Wamego superintendent, says as far as the tax levy goes, not much will change.

“Our mill rate is essentially staying flat, but it actually dropped almost two-tenths of a mill,” Winter said. “So a very, very slight decrease in our taxes to our patrons.”

The board will also discuss the school district’s reopening plan during the meeting.

According to Winter, most of the protocols will be fairly similar from building to building.

He says the plan also includes protocols for if classes move to a remote format, including an activity log students and parents will need to keep track of.

“It does include a log of activities that each student must complete with their parents to show that they’ve completed six-and-a-half hours of academic work each day,” Winter said.

The school district will host an informational meeting for parents about the reopening plan Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m..

As part of the reopening process, the Wamego school district is also looking at installing new air-filtration systems into schools to further improve the health and safety of staff and student environments.

According to Winter, they are looking at bipolar ionization technology, which kills viruses and bacteria in the air by electrically charging particles.

“It’s an expensive project, but it wouldn’t just be for COVID-19,” Winter said. “This would purify our air in our buildings year round. Maybe it would help with our flu season and so forth in future years.”

They are also looking at other ways that they can bring clean air into school buildings, such as bringing in more outdoor air.

“It’s not as efficient to do that, but it certainly is healthier than what is recommended by the experts,” Winter said.

This route could involve opening classroom windows, but Winter says doing so would not be good for the HVAC system.

Contract negotiations and job-security concerns

The Wamego school board plans to consider ratification of the NEA teacher-contract agreement for the 2020-2021 school year during its meeting Monday.

“Both sides have to ratify a majority vote, so teachers have to have a majority and the board, of course, would have to approve it as well,” Winter said. ”

Amid these negotiations and the coronavirus pandemic, some teachers may feel concerned over job security.

Winter says teachers, educators and staff have a right to feel this way.

“In today’s climate, with the pandemic, there’s a lot of our friends and family and neighbors that are not working due to the shut down of many of our businesses and so forth and the slowing economy,” Winter said.

The board meeting will take place Monday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. and can be viewed live on Facebook.

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