School board approves online academy, moves homecoming



The Tea Area school board met July 20 in their weekly meetings that will occur through Aug. 10 in preparation for the 2020-21 school year.

The board approved the Tea Area Online Academy for students to attend instruction off-campus from online teachers. Those teachers will teach their own class and then work as an extra duty and have an additional online teaching role that they will be compensated for. The online academy is budgeted for through the CARES Act money.

After hearing from families who have requested to receive online instruction, the board approved the Tea Area Online Academy where students will learn fully online one quarter of school at a time.

Superintendent Jennifer Lowery said students in the online academy will remain with full time online learning for a quarter at a time. If they wish to go to in-person instruction, they must notify the district two weeks ahead of the start of the new quarter and vice versa.

She noted the Tea Area Online Academy is different than if a student attends school in person and then has to be quarantined for 14 days. In that case they will be serviced by their classroom teacher and not go into the online academy.

The board also discussed the facilities and logistics plan but it was not approved. To help aid in decision making, they are forming a COVID-19 response team that will make recommendations to the board including face masks. At this time the facilities and logistics plan requires masks as prescribed by the CDC if you are within 6 feet of another individual. That is not a done deal but will go in front of the committee that includes medical professionals and then the board will ultimately decide. The face mask decision will be made at the July 28 meeting.

Lowery said the face mask decision needs to be made by then so families can decide between sending their children to the school building or the Tea Area Online Academy.

Homecoming schedule for the week of Aug. 31 has been moved to the week of Sept. 28. While homecoming has been rescheduled, it is unknown at this time what homecoming activities will look like this year. Sept. 4 will still be a half-day for students.

The board took from the table the substitute rates that were discussed at the July 13 meeting. They looked at the rates from six other districts. They decided to approve non-certified substitutes for $110 per day, certified at $120 per day, $130 per day for long-term non-certified after 15 consecutive days for the same staff member and $140 per day for long-term certified after 15 consecutive days for the same staff member.

They approved a 1 percent salary increase as part of a 2.3 percent compensation increase for teachers. The classified groups, bus drivers, support staff and administration received a 1 percent increase. TASK was not discussed.

Board member Todd Irvine turned in his resignation after the board meeting adjourned but his resignation will take effect until his seat is filled. Lowery said they will now ask for applications to fill his term through next spring until an election is held next summer. The board will review applications, conduct interviews and then appoint someone to fill the position within the next few weeks.

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