SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Summer break for Northwest Louisiana students began this week, but the one thing on everyone’s mind is whether schools will reopen this fall.
Educators have less than three months to figure out what will happen next school year.
Caddo schools Superintendent Lamar Goree said a decision for his district could be made within the next month, but they are awaiting plans from the governor or state education superintendent.
“We are certainly going to be prepared for any situations and wait on that direction and guidance because it is important that we are consistent as a state,” Goree said. “I think if you look at how this has played out nationally, it’s the state leadership that dictates what it opening up, when the economy opens up and what things will look like."
A decision on when students will return to the classrooms could be made when Caddo School Board members meet at 3 p.m. June 16.
"We are looking to present something extremely concise, at the latest, mid-June,” Goree said.
And while they don’t know at this time when students will be returning to the classrooms, the superintendent added, Caddo is focusing on preparing and sanitizing the schools for when students do return.
“We are taking every effort to make sure that we remain informed around cleaning measures approved by the Louisiana Department of Health or the CDC,” Goree said. “In that respect, we are making sure schools are equipped with those things that will be necessary (for) a safe and clean environment.
“We are also looking at this from the perspective of what schedule will work best for our students based on recommendations from those two agencies,” the superintendent continued. "We are going to develop multiple schedules.
"There is nothing traditional about life as we know it right now. And right now, we have to look at all schedules, whether it’s all students at school, some type of hybrid system or rather it’s a full virtual classroom depending on what phase we are in and what’s best.”
School Board members met Tuesday night to discuss several items, including the budget, which Goree said will be different due to COVID-19. “We are in a situation where we cannot look at our current budget situation as traditional."
He explained why.
“A big part of our funding sources are related to sales tax. And when we had to do the stay-at-home order, which we supported, it affects sales tax," Goree said. "So that will affect us going forward.
“Even though we are adding on many opportunities for sanitation and things that we need as far as technology, we are going to have to be extremely strategic with our revenue and how we spend those,” the superintendent said. "We are looking to use our CARES Act money to help us in as many ways as we can. But there still will be some absolute challenges that we will see with budgeting to make sure we are providing great opportunities.”
Also Tuesday night, School Board members agreed to waive teacher evaluations. “If you think about it, teachers were put in such a challenging position from teaching in a classroom to total online instruction,” Goree said.
“Now, at the same time, we feel it’s appropriate that we waive all employees’ evaluations because that’s all of our certified persons and just do a year of waiving evaluations," he added. "We will operate this year as if everyone had a perfect evaluation and you will qualify for an incentives or pay steps associated with evaluations.”