Funding key issue for school district

Funding key issue for school district
Granville Central School District

The Granville Board of Education meeting Monday addressed many topics spanning from trying to limit COVID-19 exposure to future opportunities.

Adopting legislative priorities

School superintendent Thomas McGurl told the board about the top three priorities that the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services along with Granville Central School District came up with.

Superintendent Thomas McGurl

The first was a clear choice and what McGurl described as “the most important:” funding and aid to schools.

“To make sure aid stays restored for the upcoming school year,” McGurl said.

The second priority doesn’t directly affect Granville’s district, but more for the smaller populated BOCES schools.

“To approve the small group health insurance,” McGurl said via phone on Wednesday.

McGurl said this protects small numbers of employees from lower-populated districts when they buy into large-group insurance plans.

The third item being prioritized is false unemployment claims. McGurl elaborated on the more than $50,000 worth of claims that were sent to the district during the initial burst of the pandemic and heading into the summer, despite faculty and staff being 10-month workers.

Because of the high demand of unemployment claims in 2020, McGurl said the state was truly overwhelmed and just paid everyone who claimed unemployment without really diving into reasoning. Although limited personnel were advised to claim unemployment, most were not.

“It’s been a process to work with the state,” McGurl said. “Some of them (employees) were told to claim unemployment.”

The district continues to sort this issue out with the state.

Possible use of facilities

The board tentatively approved the use of athletic facilities for the Granville Youth Football organization over the summer.

“We might be able to approve it pending on COVID restrictions,” board president Audrey Hicks said.

As much as McGurl wants to give Matt James and the youth football organization a “hard yes,” he cannot until the state allows football to be played and the positive COVID-19 numbers are low enough.

“I’m certainly in favor of them using it,” McGurl said. “I don’t think COVID is going to be gone by the summer.”

McGurl added that he will be communicating with James on protocol and responsibilities that will turn into paperwork to be shared with the board.

“They’re (youth football organization) really looking for some guidance,” board member Molly Celani said.

McGurl established to the board that there won’t be a designated individual policing rules and policies for social distancing and spectatorship, but if a report were to come back to the board stating a failure to comply to the rules, then the district would have to revoke the privilege of using the facilities.

The official ruling will be tabled until the March meeting.

Superintendent’s report

Although COVID-19 has certainly made a significant impact in the Granville community in recent weeks, McGurl said he is proud of the determined effort made by faculty, staff and students to make school as “normal” as possible, considering the constant interruptions, student and staff quarantines and audibles to virtual learning.

“COVID doesn’t sleep… We are without a question seeing the impact of that,” McGurl said via phone call. “They’re (students, faculty and staff) working very hard to keep the program moving forward.”

McGurl said he and the district try to communicate with the Department of Health as efficiently as possible when an individual tests positive. Unfortunately, many factors are then affected because of quarantine, including replacing faculty and staff.

“Education is notoriously not a flexible entity,” he said. “People have been very understanding of that… we’re trying to make the safest decision for our kids and our staff.”

In a positive light, McGurl said he feels confident in saying he anticipates the return of full spring sports this school year. “We’re going to continue to soldier on,” McGurl said.