School board looks at pandemic numbers

In a review of the Huntington County Community School Corporation’s efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the board of school trustees took a look of the numbers and statistics during their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 26.

Superintendent Chad Daugherty outlined the results of a survey that asked parents how they feel the district handled the crisis. Nearly 1,800 people took the survey between May 13 and May 22, he said.

On Question 1, when asked how they would rate HCCSC’s response to COVID-19 on a scale of 1 to 5, 45.63 percent of parents rated the corporation’s efforts as “highly effective.” Another 24.67 percent said the efforts were “mostly effective.” Those who chose “effective” were 21.37 percent; “somewhat effective” received 8.03 percent; and 2.3 percent responded to “not effective.”

“As you can see, it was very positive,” Daugherty said. “When you look at all of that data, you’re looking at close to almost 86 percent of people who were very happy with how we handled COVID-19.”

On Question 2, “Do you feel HCCSC has communicated effectively during COVID-19?” parents responded:
• Yes – 95.19 percent.
• No – 4.81 percent.

On Question 3, “Do you use the school ‘Grab and Go’ food program:
• Yes – 25.9 percent.
• No – 74.1 percent.

On Question 4, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the school ‘Grab and Go’ food service program?
• 5 – “Highly Effective” – 19.29 percent.
• 4 – “Mostly Effective” – 7.65 percent.
• 3 – “Effective” – 5.46 percent.
• 2 – “Somewhat Effective” – 1.26 percent.
• 1 – “Did not Use” – 66.34 percent.

“Many people did not take advantage of it,” Daugherty explained. “The ones that did respond, responded favorably.”

On Question 5, “Are your students able to use home internet to do eLearning/remote learning?”
• Yes – 95.79 percent.
• No – 4.21 percent.

On Question 6, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate HCCSC’s schedule of remote learning and waiver days?
• 5 – “Highly Effective” – 26.72 percent.
• 4 – “Mostly Effective” – 23.55 percent.
• 3 – “Effective” – 26.12 percent.
• 2 – “Somewhat Effective” – 16.34 percent.
• 1 – “Not Effective” – 7.27 percent.

Daugherty said HCCSC got in 163 waiver days, meeting the state requirements of 160. He noted nearly 75 percent of parents liked the waiver days.

“Some did not, and that will be something we’ll look at again, if we have to do this again,” he added. “We are going to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, coming this fall.”

On Question 7, “When you go back to work, will access to childcare be a concern?” Parents responded:
• Yes – 11.64 percent.
• No – 76.5 percent.
• Maybe – 11.86 percent.

On Question 8, “Do you rely on other family members to care for your children while you work?”
• Yes – 24.04 percent.
• No – 58.58 percent.
• Sometimes – 17.38 percent.

On Question 9, “In light of COVID-19, would you want your students to continue to participate in remote learning instead of attending school at their building for the 2020-21 school year?”
• Yes – 51.64 percent.
• No – 48.36 percent.

“We’re just trying to get a little bit of direction on where a lot of our people are at with COVID-19, whether or not they want to send their child to school during this pandemic,” Daugherty said. “We’re trying to come up with a lot of contingency plans, and how to make sure we’re going to be able to educate students where parents don’t want to send their child to school.”

The corporation’s administrative team has met twice and is scheduled to meet again to discuss the plans for the restart of school, and hope to bring a plan to the board at a June meeting, he said, adding that Gov. Eric Holcomb should let Hoosier schools know by July 4 what the state’s expectations are for the new school year.

One resident indicative of how happy parents are with the way the corporation has handled the pandemic, James Shoustal addressed the board to offer his kudos.

“I came here tonight to thank you for the job you’re doing with your eLearning technology,” he said, noting he has two grandchildren who have been using eLearning. “The kids like the way it comes on, they know what they’re expecting, how to do it. It runs smoothly. … Whatever you’re doing, you’re motivating the students.”

Shoustal added that his grandchildren have also become motivated to learn other things after they finish their remote learning lessons, such as medical coding.

In other business before the board:

• Daugherty noted that online registration is ahead of schedule, with 2,213 students currently registered for the upcoming school year. Another 2,662 still need to go online and register.

All school grounds and buildings remain closed through June 30. Athletics are set to begin again on July 1. A plan will be brought before the board at its June 8 meeting.

The new school year is planned to begin on Aug. 5. A plan will also be brought before the board at its June 22 meeting.

• Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Scott Bumgardner reported he is concerned about state revenue, which has been in decline, he said. With the June property tax draw coming up, Bumgardner said it is prudent to go over the school corporation’s financials with more scrutiny.

“We did talk to the auditor today, that feels like that the June draw will be on time, and possibly in a partial manner,” he told the board.

“Probably for the first time in my tenure here, our expenses are greater than our revenue.”

Bumgardner added that the financial situation is not abnormal during the summertime, but some expenses have been cut to keep an eye on the balance.

• Bumgardner had better news to give about the completion of the new Roanoke Elementary School building. He said teachers have now moved into the second floor of the building.

“We’re still waiting on the first floor, and will start abating the old building soon,” he said, adding the new building should be fully occupied and ready for students by August.

• Daugherty announced that BreAnne Dyer will become the next principal of Flint Springs Elementary School, succeeding Aimee Lunsford.

Dyer has been with HCCSC for nine years, and last served as Flint Spring’s dean of students and assistant principal.

Her hiring was approved by the board as part of its consent agenda.