Most agenda items were approved during Tuesday night's Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education meeting, and a review of proposed plans for bond monies was discussed.
With school back in session and familiar agenda items returned, the board meeting had a more normal feel, even if some members and staff were present through videoconferencing.
The Tigers ROAR item – in which a student, teacher, or group of people are recognized – featured Tahlequah High School Choir Director Holly Sisk, introducing THS student Katelyn Myers, who spoke of her audition with “American Idol.” Katelyn had high praise for her experiences in TPS music programs.
The 2020-2021 Estimate of Needs was reviewed, and a more detailed version will be presented at the October meeting.
All site principals gave updates on enrollment during their back-to-school reports. The district has 138 fewer students than in September 2019, but Sequoyah Pre-K is down by 61, and 20 were from the “boot school,” which currently has no students.
The breakdown of each site’s total enrollment and the number of those virtually learning is: Sequoyah, 147 enrolled, 37 virtual; Cherokee Elementary, 412 enrolled, 160 virtual; Greenwood Elementary, 494 enrolled, 152 virtual; Heritage Elementary, 511 enrolled, 146 virtual; Tahlequah Middle, 715 enrolled, 245 virtual; THS, 1,262 enrolled, 364 virtual, 107 blended; and Central Academy, 19 enrolled, 10 virtual.
Some sites have had students switch from virtual to traditional, and most have some who have been quarantined due to possible COVID-19 exposure and are temporarily doing “distance learning,” using a different learning platform than virtual students.
“I have not heard of anyone testing positive after being put into quarantine,” said Superintendent Leon Ashlock.
All principals praised the levels of commitment and dedication shown by the teachers, faculty and staff at their sites and in the district. Most commented on how well students were doing with wearing masks and social distancing, and that parents have been great about communicating with administration.
One of the biggest challenges for TMS and THS is the Edmentum software, which is not performing as staff thought it would, and it is causing issues with electives and basic learning.
Ashlock described the new School Violence Prevention Program Grant, and said he is excited about the number of grants TPS has been receiving.
While no date has been set for a vote on a bond for the district, JT Boynton and Associates presented possible construction projects and their costs. Some projects to be considered, if the bond passes, include new front entrances at Greenwood and Cherokee elementaries; updates to parking lots; new additions to Greenwood and THS; renovations to Cherokee’s old cafeteria; and a new indoor athletic facility for baseball and softball.
The large remodels and additions would also turn those areas into storm shelters. A plan for a ninth-grade center was shown, but is not necessarily for this bond. The total projected cost is $20,260,184, and TPS is considering a $20 million bond, which would increase taxes by 4 percent.
Ashlock will finish signing paperwork in the next couple of weeks for the purchase of land being sold by Circle of Care. This is the possible location of the ninth-grade center.
The board tabled the agenda item of changing Sept. 18 to traditional learning day, but all other items were approved.
The next regular Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 20 in the BOE conference room.