The USD 251 North Lyon County School District was awarded the Kansans Can Star Recognition Commissioner’s Award from Commissioner of Education Randy Watson, Wednesday evening.
Watson presented the award to the Board of Education, stating beat its state-predicted postsecondary effectiveness risk factors that have been known to affect student success rates, such as poverty, chronic absenteeism and student mobility.
He said only 40 districts across the state had earned the award.
“You need to [toot] your own horn,” Watson said. “This is a big deal. Your staff, your teachers — this was a lot of hard work.”
Superintendent Robert Blair said that while a handful of students had been quarantined, so far, the district had not reported any positive cases of COVID-19.
Blair commended district staff and students for a high level of cooperation in following guidelines in keeping those numbers low so far. He felt the district had a good plan in place in case a staff member tested positive.
“I think in our plan if we can isolate where that person was, we can do some deep cleaning where that person was, we can stay in school,” he said.
Blair said the practice of mask-wearing and daily temperature checks was helping to mitigate the spread and keep students safe.
Board Member Tammie Reed questioned whether or not the practice of temperature checks thermometer would have a lasting psychological effect on children, comparing the use of no-contact infrared thermometers to pointing a gun to a child’s head.
“Do we, as a board, understand that we are taking a gun-shaped object and pointing it at every child that we have been entrusted to us every day?” she said. “It is a gun-like object that is being pointed at each one of their heads. It takes 21 days — good or bad — it takes 21 days to make a habit and that’s what we’re doing to the children.”
Reed said she had done a lot of research on pointing infrared thermometers on different points of the body instead of the head.
Blair said the district was earmarked for $400,000 in SPARK funding. Much of that he expected to be spent on personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and things of that nature. Part of the funding could go toward different temperature-scanning tools.
Reed questioned whether or not that expense was warranted if the district had not had recorded any high temperatures yet.
“I’m not making this stuff up,” Reed said. “Why are we doing this? Is it just because someone is telling us we have to? I’m just laying out questions and I would appreciate some conversation about it, but we are going to be held responsible for this as well.”
Board President Matt Horton said while he was not disputing any figures that Reed had found, he felt it was important to take into consideration the feelings of the district’s faculty and staff. USD 251 had many staff members express concerns over safety during negotiations prior to the start of the school year and several staff members resigned over health concerns.
Reed asked again if that justified pointing a gun-shaped object at a child’s forehead. She said children may not be old enough to know that it was a thermometer.
Horton said it was ultimately important for the district to follow public health guidelines in order to keep kids in the classroom.
The board also:
Approved a recommendation to opt out of President Trump’s tax deferral program for the remainder of 2020.
Approved a real estate purchase after discussions in executive session.