Committee members are continuing to examine different options for restarting school in the fall.
The 34-member steering committee and its multiple subcommittees have met for weeks and plan to keep gathering throughout July to examine all areas — such as learning, transportation, custodial — to create a comprehensive plan, district officials said during an update at the Stanwood-Camano School Board meeting on July 7.
The district surveyed staff and parents, collecting more than 1,000 responses from families, said Maurene Stanton, the district executive director of human resources.
“Everyone wants everything back to normal,” she said about the survey results. “But recognizing that that’s not possible based on the state guidelines, we’ve been discussing our options.”
In June, Chris Reykdal, state superintendent of public instruction, released a 55-page planning guide for reopening schools across the state. It requires, among other measures, that 6 feet of social distance is maintained all school day, that everyone wear masks, that daily health screenings are given upon entering schools and that the number of students gathering for meals and assemblies is limited. According to the planning guide, districts unable to meet all the requirements to open full-time can build on three options: A hybrid model with split or rotating schedules with continuous remote learning; a phased-in opening with continuous remote learning or 100% remote learning.
Like most other districts in Washington, Stanwood-Camano officials are looking hard at hybrid options that would bring students to schools two days a week and doing remote learning the rest of the time, Stanton said.
Committee members are looking at the advantages and disadvantages of various versions of the hybrid options.
“They haven’t made any decisions yet,” she said.
However, once the committee finalizes its recommendation and the School Board sees the plans, the district also will survey parents again to help fine-tune the options, Stanton said.
“We still have a lot to work on between now and August,” Superintendent Jean Shumate said in the meeting.
According to preliminary estimates, the district is likely to spend about $2.35 million more than its 2020-21 budgeted revenue, said Steve Lidgard, the district’s business and finance director.
The increased spending and decreased revenue were expected even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Lidgard said. However, the full extent of the financial impacts of the coronavirus won’t be known until later this year.
“We just need to stay as nimble as we can throughout the year,” Lidgard said. “The budget changes hour by hour these days.”
The district was already expecting extra costs associated with moving into the new high school and Church Creek Campus; increased health care costs; and a 1% decrease in state funding.
The district starts the year with a $9.7 million general fund balance.
“The biggest unknown for next year is enrollment,” Lidgard said. “It’s hard to get a handle on it. We’ll have to see what happens in September.”
Another wild card is waiting to see if state officials choose to give schools less money per student if the district uses a hybrid model.
A preliminary budget proposal will be finished in time for the Aug. 4 School Board meeting. The board plans to approve the 2020-21 budget Aug. 18.
The School District received a $10,000 donation from the Haggen Foundation to support the district’s Summer Feeding Program. The money will be used to supplement the program during the COVID-19 pandemic.