Mar. 11—As we inch closer to spring, the Pulaski County Board of Education moved forward with plans for next school year — approving the second reading of the 2021-22 calendar during Tuesday's regular meeting.
The calendar has followed the same pattern for several years — excepting how the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc over the past year.
Opening day for students would be Wednesday, August 11, while the last day of classes for students (barring school closings) would be Tuesday, May 17, 2020. Fall Break would be October 4-8, Christmas Break December 20-January 3, and Spring Break April 4-8.
Pulaski Schools Superintendent Patrick Richardson also updated board members on the district beginning to work with schools on staffing allocations for next year based on the number of students enrolled.
"That will continue over the next two weeks," he said.
During his latest principals meeting, Supt. Richardson and school administrators hammered out some specifics on the upcoming summer academies aimed at addressing learning loss during the pandemic using ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) II funding.
Richardson told school board members that the district's elementary schools would offer a three-week academy when this school year ends as well as a two-week "Jump Start" academy right before classes begin in August.
"It will not be for all students but they are going to identify students to fill those slots," the superintendent explained, adding that middle- and high-school students will be offered a six-week academy. "We will continue working to identify those students that will be given the opportunity to attend those academies — just to try to catch up on some learning loss that may have occurred over the course of the pandemic."
Supt. Richardson continued that the district is "very fortunate" to have the federal funding to benefit their students. Pulaski's ESSER allocation totals $9.3 million and must be spent by September 2023.
In other news:
—board members authorized Supt. Richardson to negotiate a possible land purchase for the new Burnside Elementary. The superintendent reported last month that four properties in the Burnside area had been identified as potential locations for the school.
—board members approved a BG-1 to address lighting issues on the baseball and football fields at Pulaski County High School.
—Supt. Richardson reported that the district is wrapping up COVID-19 vaccinations for staff. The district's provider has indicated that around 35 percent of vaccine recipients are experiencing some reaction. Nearly 800 of the district's 1,300 employees will have been vaccinated once the first cycle is completed, with the superintendent reporting that the district will continue to work with the provider for those who may have initially turned down the vaccine as well as new hires.
"I think that's going to help us hopefully get rid of this thing eventually and keep kids in school," Richardson said.