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WCS Modifies Plan For Sept. 8 Opening

All Waterville Central School students attending in-person to start the year will be in their buildings for half a day four days a week.

WCS administrators and Board of Education members hashed out for six hours over two nights final plans for the Sept. 8 opening. The revised plan puts all in-person students in remote learning on Wednesdays.

The additional discussion on the plan to open next week came after administrators learned the first state aid holdback is actually a permanent reduction, and the costs to put all students in buildings five days a week was out.

Here’s how WCS students will start the 2020-21 year Tuesday:

All students (other than those who will learn from home this year 100 percent of the time) will attend school in their building in either their morning or afternoon assigned Purple or Gold group. This will be done Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Purple students go in the morning and Gold students in the afternoon. Times at Memorial Park and the Junior-Senior High are staggered to allow for separate bus runs and to accommodate BOCES scheduling

All students will be required to sign on and follow their classes on Wednesdays during their assigned team time. Teachers will be providing live instruction.

For MPS students that means either morning or afternoon, and for Junior-Senior high students it is morning and afternoon. Exceptions to this are students in special education who qualify for attending in the buildings on Wednesdays.

This plan saves the district the costs of eight bus runs, which include salaries and eliminates an aide on the buses. Last week the state said hand sanitizer can be on buses, so those stations must be purchased.

Bus drivers will not take student temperatures; instead those will be done by staff before students enter their building.

To hear options and have time for discussion, Board members met for three hours both Monday and Tuesday nights. Administrators had put together five options in addition to the original plan.

Interim Superintendent Kathy Davis said running the transportation costs on the original plan of eight bus runs a day with a driver and aide per run puts the cost around $700,000. Using available budget money and federal Covid-19 aid, the district looked at a shortfall of about $300,000.

Other options included the two days on, three days off model for one or both buildings, or having Junior-Senior High students do remote learning only. While all of those cost less, Board members said they understood the importance of every student being in school every day.

“The numbers are not great,’’ Board president Steve Stanton said. “Cost will drive the decision much more than we want it to.’’

But Stanton and other Board members and administrators said the news last week that a 20 percent holdback in state aid is actually a takeback has them worried. Waterville lost about $45,000, which Business administrator Tracy Leone said will have a greater impact rolling forward this year.

If the 20 percent reduction in state aid holds throughout the school year Waterville would lose $2.5 million.

“This is not an uncertainty,’’ Stanton said. “We…

The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

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