Colfax plans for students back in the buildings
August 6, 2020
COLFAX — The Colfax school board met July 27 in the boardroom and on Google Meet, approving a budget for the 2020-21 school year and taking in a report from Superintendent Jerry Pugh on plans for re-opening to students in September.
The budget consists of $8,472,614 in the general fund, $3,339,775 for capital projects, $1,159,675 for debt service, $265,130 for Associated Student Body fund and $150,000 in the transportation vehicle fund.
“Our concern is, depending on what the state does and the COVID thing, we’re really hoping the numbers show up,” said Pugh, referring to students.
Is this the plan – a full student count in the buildings?
“We’re bringing all the kids back,” Pugh told the Gazette July 28. “Face-to-face instruction, and a lot of different layers that go with that; face masks, social distancing. As normal as the state will allow us to do.”
The Colfax administration now works with teachers’ union representatives for a detailed plan set for release in the next two weeks for re-opening the schools, conferring with Troy Henderson, Whitman County health director.
“Unless the governor, OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) or state department of health says otherwise, we will proceed,” said Pugh. “It wasn’t us that shut it down before (in March).”
The district has also conducted a survey of parents, which closed July 20, drawing 230 responses to questions about distance-learning during the spring’s two-and-a-half month shutdown, and more.
Pugh pointed out that the Colfax student population and available room in the Jennings Elementary building and the junior/senior high school allow for spacing out kids and teachers – something that more crowded schools will be challenged with.
“We believe with our size, our room, we can meet the social distance rules,” said Pugh. “It’s gonna be spartan in those classrooms.”
Filing cabinets have already been moved to allow for more room to spread out desks, with further changes to come.
The superintendent also said that plans are in place for a change to distance learning – if that proves to be the case this fall – with the district to move to a common platform for students and teachers from which to interact.
In addition, Pugh expressed support for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s plan for four sports/activities seasons for 2020-21.
“So these kids can experience high school, and everything that goes with it,” he said.
In other matters, the school board July 27 approved the hiring of Tracy Imler, transportation supervisor; Andrea Gibb, kindergarten teacher; and Connie Mann, bus driver. Also approved was volunteer Zach McBride for football.
The board is scheduled to meet next on Aug. 24, with a possible special meeting to be added.
“We’ll be ready for fall,” Pugh said. “We’re back, the kids are back.”