Walton County School Board discusses closing of school year and graduation for Seniors

Story by STACY MARTIN 

On Tuesday, May 5, the Walton County School Board held it’s regular board meeting via Microsoft Teams virtual meeting platform. The meeting started out with announcements from Superintendent Russell Hughes reiterating that the public can attend the meetings at the boardrooms and will be seated accordingly with proper CDC compliance rules. The public can email boardmeeting@walton.k12.fl.us, using the Mirosoft Teams virtual Q&A section or called in to (850) 892-1100 ext. 1320 during the meeting.  

Next Hughes made a recommendation to approval of the May 5, 2020 regular meeting and the April 7, 2020 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried unanimously. 

Request to approve the consent agenda with motion by Marsha Winegarner, second by Bill Eddins and motion carried unanimously. 

Under action agenda: Motion was recommended for the school board’s permission to advertise amendments to existing school board rules and policies. Motion was made by Kim Kirby, and second by Gail Smith, with the board voting to approve unanimously.  

Next item was a recommendation for a motion was made to open a public hearing for the purchase of real property by Walton County School Board. Michelle Doggett was able to provide the board information with the process of the purchase of the property including the property survey, Phase I Study, and title work completion.  There was no public comment regarding the purchase of the property, and the motion was made and seconded to adjourn the public hearing.  

The council then received a motion was made for the approval of property deletions from July 2019 to March 2020.  Motion was made by Smith, second by Eddins with the board voting unanimously in favor. 

Next item a recommendation for the approval of WCSD budget amendments as of March 31, 2020.  Motion by Winegarner, second by Kirby. Final resolution: motion carried.

Hughes recommended an approval of the Seaside Neighborhood School & Foundation March Financial Reports. Motion by Kirby, second by Smith. Final resolution: motion carried

Approval of the Walton County School District monthly financial statements for March 2020. otion by Winegarner, second by Eddins. Final resolution: motion carried.

Approval of Walton Academy Financial Statements as of March 31, 2020.  Motion by Kirby, second by Eddins. Motion carried. 

Under human resources department: a recommendation for approval of the May 5, 2020 Personnel Recommendations & Personnel Addendum. Motion by Winegarner, second by Smith. Motion carried. 

Next was the recommendation for the approval to advertise the notice of rule development and the notice of intent to adopt the 2020-21 District Student Code of Conduct. The notice of rule development will be advertised in the newspaper beginning on May 28, 2020. The advertisement for the notice of intent will run in the newspaper on June 4. The public hearing for the Code of Conduct will be scheduled for July 7, 2020, with approval of the document immediately following.  Motion was made by Kirby, second by Smith with the motion carried.

Approval to advertise the notice of rule development and the notice of intent to adopt the 2020-21 District Student Progression Plan. A motion by Winegarner, second by Eddins and the motion carried.

Approval of STEAM Renovation Project, the final pay app. A motion by Kirby, second by Smith with the motion carried

A request for approval of construction management at risk firms for continuing services for minor projects and proposed project assignments. Motion by Smith, with a second by Eddins. Motion carried unanimously. 

Construction management at risk continuing services for minor projects contracts with Culpepper Construction and Childers Construction.  Motion by Marsha Winegarner, second by Gail Smith. Final resolution: Motion carried.

A good cause item request an approval of construction management at risk agreement with Childers Construction Co. for the Freeport transportation facility motion by Winegarner, second by Eddins. Final resolution: Motion carried

Another good cause item:  request the approval of work order to Childers Co. for re-roofing of West Defuniak Elementary.  Motion was made by Kirby, second by Smith, motion carried.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Hughes then directed the meeting to Charlie Morse who gave an update concerning the COVID-19 virus and the school district.  As of the time of the meeting, for the state of Florida, positive tests totals: 37,437 and 1,471 fatalities.

Concerning Walton County, there were several positive cases over the weekend.  Total of 729 tests in Walton County with 50 positive and 678 negative. Positive tests by geographical area are: DeFuniak Springs: 23, Santa Rosa Beach: 11, Miramar Beach: 3, Freeport: 3, Paxton: 1,  and 9 non-residents.

Morse also updated the board on daily employee visitor screening, with some changes made due the phase 1 of the reopening, limiting group sizes and social distancing. Daily sanitations are done as well as a deep cleaning which will be done on Friday.  The recent increase of positive testing is a result of a senior facility, with several people testing positive including staff members.  

Hughes also stated that schools will close half and sometimes whole days on Fridays for cleaning, and to start closing the school year out. Students and teachers will be invited in to clean out desks and lockers. There will also be returning of equipment from teachers and students. Food distribution will now be conducted on Wednesdays.  

Concerning Seniors, Hughes informed the board that he requested the high school principles to meet with students, families, sponsors faculty and staff concerning graduation.  The consensus is to hold a traditional graduation ceremony, all within the confines of the CDC rules.  Hughes said that he is looking into dates possibly at the end of July, so that it will not conflict with colleges and universities. Hughes stated that the principals are coming up with ways to conduct these ceremonies creatively and safely, including a virtual Senior Night and a potential graduation parade ceremony, that would be safe and on the students’ own campus.

Hughes said that he asked that they keep some semblance of normality when it comes to seniors and try to keep the same schedule of events, including last day for students, graduation supplies ordered and distributed, receipts of all sporting equipment, digital equipment, library books, grades and award ceremonies. Hughes mentioned having classes conclude for seniors on the last day that they would normally meet if attending in person. Award ceremonies will be held at individual schools with seniors.  

Under closing items: Hughes then asked the board for direction on the second board meeting if there will be one, and the platform that they were using.  

The May 19 meeting will be canceled and the next meeting will be held on June 2, with location or platform to be announced closer to meeting time.