During a Marshall School Board meeting on Tuesday, March 23, Marshall Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Terry Lorenz stated he had a few things to report.
“The fiber project at the high school has begun,” he told board members. “So we should start seeing some fiber lay over the next several weeks as we progress in that. Got … the final details of the sod contract ready to go and ready to get that project.”
Lorenz said the sod replacement for the Marshall High School football field would be somewhere between May 3-10. On Monday, July 27, 2020, the Marshall Police Department discovered property damage had been done to the field after receiving calls about erratic driving. Since then the school district has had to retrieve bids for sod, as well as mill/overlay on the track.
“I’ve got about 10 projects out or out on bid right now, so it’s been a busy couple of months,” Lorenz continued. “Soon as I get a couple of these under control in the next week or so, I’m planning on starting to work on the mill/overlay of the track. So I should have some more information next month about where we’re at in that stage.”
In other news, Superintendent Carol Maher stated the district will soon be discussing the regional salary with the salary committee and Marshall Community Teachers Association.
“This is … just a real quick schedule that I asked for from our conference — conference superintendents,” she said.
Maher explained the superintendents from her conference had surrounding areas turn in their starting salaries, as well as master’s degree level minimum salaries.
“Some of them are finished for next year, some of them are not,” she noted.
Maher stated she shared this information with Jim Papreck, who is in charge of data analysis for the district, so Marshall Schools can talk about salaries.
“One of the conversations that we’re going to have to discuss is the ever rising price of insurance,” she added. “That is something that I seem to talk about every year, but I do have a list of districts and how much they pay into each individual’s insurance plan, and they are quite high. Most of them are above $600, which is kind of the ceiling that we’ve placed on ours, but I think I’m going to have to — with the CTA’s help — discuss how long do we want to make sure that we tried to cover our employees’ insurance 100 percent and how long will that be able to not affect salaries.”
Later for her report, Maher stated Marshall Public Schools has received word from the federal government — through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — that Missouri schools will be receiving over $784,005.062. She said this will be split between different school districts for COVID relief. The funding comes from the School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) II.
“This money is … allocated to districts based on poverty rate,” Maher continued. “ … It is probably likely that schooling will never really be the same again. We are going to think much more about social distancing and cleanliness — improving the air quality of our schools — and because of that, because I think we’ve just learned a lot in the past year, we are looking at — the administration is looking at what is to efficiently and effectively spend this money to help Marshall Public Schools students the best way we can.”
She stated the allocation for Marshall is estimated to be $2,138,793.
“ … It’s a great happening for our district, I was very pleased with how much — I didn’t think it would be this much to be very honest with you,” Maher told board members. “I did email DESE early this morning (Tuesday), and said, ‘I just want to make sure that this is the amount and … we can plan on this amount.’ They answered, ‘Yes this was the final amount.’ Now the way this works is that districts spend and are reimbursed then. There is a relatively easy way to do this, and I went to a school finance seminar — well, it was a webinar last week — and the advice from the state finance individuals was that, ‘Don’t try to overthink this so much. Spend this money on salaries.’ Usually high school and middle school salaries do not commingle with federal funds. And then you can reimburse yourself for other expenditures that you want to look at to improve your school and to keep it safe for our students.”
According to the unofficial meeting minutes from March 23, the Marshall School District “plans to use this allocation for funding two sessions of summer school; purchase of real estate for Bueker Middle School green space and playground for outside ventilation and social distancing; replace HVAC at Eastwood Elementary and boilers at BMS for ventilation; and secure an all district marquee for increased communication efforts pertaining to health and welfare of students.”
Presently, Maher said the district has received close to $3 million in COVID relief funds.
“ … I can’t be thankful enough for that,” she said. “We absolutely need it in our very old and wonderful buildings. We have some difficulty with ventilation and air quality. So we’re going to look at those things and try to work together to improve that for our students. … Of course, this one time federal funding cannot be used for salary schedules. We are doing everything we can to continue. We’ve had success in the past in continuing to keep our salaries healthy, we feel.”
Maher explained the ESSER II is a one time revenue, so the district cannot put it on the salary schedule because it will be there forever if so.
“So we have to be careful and we have to think about things like that, but I just wanted to make sure the people understood that and that we all understood that this — yes it’s great revenue,” she stated. “We have some big ticket items that we need to use the revenue for and we will continue to work with our teachers and CTA.”
Community members can watch and listen to the full board meeting on MPS Streaming here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHgVKpk9iyc.