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School Board Reports on COVID-19, Annual Audit

Wednesday, November 11, 2020
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Ben Royston, center, was recognized as a long-time member of the Seminole ISD Board of Trustess at the Board’s meeting Monday evening. Pictured with Royston is school board member (left to right) Rex Darby and president Shane Wimmer. (Photo by Marilou D. Horton)

In addition to unanimously approving an independent audit report from Davis, Ray, and Co., the Seminole ISD School Board discussed current COVID guidelines and procedures within the district.

In his opening comments at the Monday night meeting, Superintendent Kyle Lynch said he has recently responded to questions about whether classes will shut down as COVID-19 continues to spike. "My answer has been, 'No.' We put together criteria in the very beginning. If the campus has ten percent or more positive cases, we will close the campus. We're right at one percent right now. The other thing is, we've put a lot of thought into the CDC and quarantine. We will be meeting about that later on this week."

Lynch explained that according to the SISD COVID dashboard, there had been a slight spike in positive cases at the high school and throughout the district. As of Monday, there were 23 positive cases; eleven of those are staff members. "FJ Young had a little bit of a run, but we got that under control; those staff members have come back now. We are concerned but still feel like school is one of the safest places kids can be right now from the standpoint of the environment, even safety. When I move around the district, I see that our kids are still doing a great job in the classroom." None of the students, so far, have been exposed to the virus on SISD campuses.

The superintendent explained it had been the district's policy that if a child has been exposed to COVID-19 outside their home, they must quarantine for five days and then be retested. If the student tests negative after those five days, they are allowed back on campus. He noted that the CDC has recommended that the quarantine period be 10 to 14 days after; however, the current five-day quarantine has worked successfully for the district.

Lynch stressed that SISD students who tested postive for COVID, and then quarantined for five days and were tested again, have all had negative results. “We’re just trying to find that balance, and it's tricky. What we're doing on campus has not hurt us; it's the outside stuff that has," Lynch explained.

"We take all the recommendations and try to do what's best for our kids. Until we start seeing effects otherwise, we're going to keep doing what we're doing," he added.

Lynch also addressed the question of students from New Mexico being allowed to attend schools in Seminole. That rumor is false. He clarified that the only students being allowed to attend SISD schools are out of state students whose families have moved into the area. "We require that they live in the state of Texas," he said.

About the audit, SISD Chief Financial Officer Jay Lashaway reported to the board that the annual financial report for the year ending June 30, 2020, received a "fair and clean audit" from Davis, Ray, and Co, P.C. The official opinion from the certified public accountants stated the following: "In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position of the government activities, each major fund, and the aggregate remaining fund information of Seminole Independent School District as of June 30, 2020, and the respective changes in financial position for the year then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America."

Lashaway added, "There were no major issues and no problems."

During the meeting, a long-time member of the Seminole ISD Board of Trustees, Ben Royston, was recognized and presented with a plaque for his service from 2008- 2020. School board president Shane Wimmer made the presentation.

The board approved a request to install cell phone boosters at FJ Young, the primary, Seminole Junior High, and the high school. Wimmer, during the discussion, said, "Our number one priority is student safety. With the threat of active shooters, we have to give teachers a means to communicate." Money for the boosters is covered under "supplemental items," which is currently a part of the budget.

Lynch asked the board to consider approval of the West Texas Food Service Cooperative agreement for 2021-22 with Education Service Center Region 17. A motion was made, and it carried 7-0. In other matters regarding unused leave for employees, Kyle made the motion that teachers submit a written request (as a notice) before retirement to receive the unused portion of their sick days.

The superintendent announced that an SISD Staff Appreciation dinner would be held on Nov. 16 from 4:30-7 p.m. The event will take place in the Wigwam Stadium parking lot. Every employee attending will receive two pork chop dinners. "Some of Kent Jackson's crew will get those cooked and handed out. I can't think of a better time to show appreciation to our staff," Lynch said.