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Marietta schools go fully remote

Marietta City Schools teachers line the sidewalk of Academy Drive on Monday on the route leading to the school board office where some of the district’s board of education attended the regular business meeting in person. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

After classes conclude this week, Marietta City Schools students will stay home the first two weeks of instruction in 2021.

Superintendent Will Hampton asked the district’s board of education on Monday to approve the option to remain fully remote for all students following the winter holidays.

He recommended the return of Cohort 1 to buildings on Jan. 19 and Cohort 2 on Jan. 25.

The support from the board was unanimous, with Board Member Russ Garrison nodding to the hope that cases “settle down” after holiday exposures and thus reduce the need for quarantining whole classrooms due to exposure/close contact.

Board Member Bill Hutchinson called the move “prudent” and Board Member Mark Duckworth also noted that reevaluation may be required in the second week of January to determine if a return is still feasible the following week.

Hampton also gave only a brief update on ongoing contract negotiations with the district’s teachers’ union, the Marietta Education Association, noting that the talks are continuing this week.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll eventually get to an agreement,” he said to the board.

Meanwhile, for the board members who attended the meeting socially-distanced within the board office and the district staff still in the office Monday night, they were welcomed up Academy Drive with another peaceful demonstration from members of the union, lining the sidewalk.

Teachers held red signs with the words “RED for ED,” “MEA Strong” and “We are united” written on them to greet the arrivals of Duckworth and Board President Doug Mallett to the district office.

In other business Monday, the board also heard from Darrell Prim, director of facilities, transportation and safety, concerning the need for replacements of rafters and beams within the Marietta Middle School following identified needs from a preliminary inspection.

Prim explained that he had gone through the attic with Murray Sheet Metal and a contractor selected to perform the repair/replacement work.

Then looking at finances, District Treasurer Frank Antill gave an overview of the impact of coronavirus on the district’s coffers.

“This year is like no other,” said Antill. “Since May, our state aid has been reduced (more than) $1.1 million.”

He noted $800,000 received in federal CARES Act dollars.

“That was a direct shot from the federal government through the state to us,” said Antill. “However, $800,000 is less than $1.162 million. Our insurance premiums went up in July (by $227,000), our salary steps that’s steps built into our negotiated agreements went up (by $155,000).”

He noted the utility of retirements over the year have allowed for some cost-savings to offset increased expenditures to the tune of $475,000.

But coronavirus-related expenses have exceeded the grant revenues received, he noted (by approximately $130,000 so far this year.)

Looking into 2021, the board also scheduled its regular and organizational meetings for the year.

Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. the board will host its organizational meeting then also elected to consider the 2021 schedule as follows with each meeting scheduled for 6 p.m.:

¯ Jan. 25.

¯ Feb. 22.

¯ March 22.

¯ April 26.

¯ May 24.

¯ June 28.

¯ July 26.

¯ August 23.

¯ Sept. 27.

¯ Oct. 25.

¯ Nov. 22.

¯ Dec. 27.

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