Although the federal government’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired on Dec. 31, Paris ISD teachers and staff will continue to have the guaranteed paid time off should they need it because of Covid-19.
The Paris ISD Board of Trustees on Monday responded positively to a request from Superintendent Paul Jones and Assistant Superintendent Gary Preston seeking to extend the federal government’s paid employee leave for teachers and staff who have yet to use the time or who still have some time remaining.
“We felt like, for all sorts of reasons, mainly the fact that this pandemic doesn’t show any signs of letting up, that we wanted to extend that type of leave,” Preston said.
Jones said the decision makes it fair for teachers and staff who may come into contact with or fall ill to Covid-19 in the spring as that time was available to those who needed to quarantine in the fall. The time is additional on top of 10 days of paid time off provided by the district, and that’s in addition to a teacher or staff member’s normal paid sick leave.
In other news, district business manager Tish Holleman said she’s gaining confidence in the district’s tax revenue generation after totaling revenues through December. Holleman previously voiced concern about tax collections given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on personal finances. However, on Monday, Holleman said collections have “come on like gangbusters” to boost December 2020 past the collections mark of previous Decembers.
“So, we are suddenly turned around, and I’m feeling much better about tax collections for the year. That’s both current and delinquent that we’re collecting the money at a really good pace, which is always a good thing,” Holleman said.
The business manager also told trustees the district is roughly halfway through its current fiscal year, and expenditures are in line with revenues. She also noted that an August commitment by the board for $348,000 worth of technology to provide remote learning has been met at no cost to the district. Half the cost was immediately funded by the federal government’s CARES Act, and the other half was covered by an $87,000 CARES Act grant from the City of Paris that was matched by the Texas Education Agency. Holleman said the TEA delivered the funds on Dec. 31, and she picked up the check from the city last week.
“Our Operation Connectivity order, the entire $348,000 worth of stuff, was free to the district through the grants and the city’s commitment to the district,” she said.
Also mentioned was the federal government’s reopening of the application period for the Prior Purchase Reimbursement Program. That happened because of the latest Covid-19 stimulus package, Holleman said. Due to a low number of initial applications, officials originally projected the district would receive up to 90% reimbursement, but now that applications are being accepted again, it’s expected the district will receive about 75% reimbursement. However, Paris ISD may now include additional Chromebooks that came in after the initial application period closed.
“We’re going to get a lower percentage, but the net, we think, is still going to be a little higher than we thought,” Holleman said.
Also on Monday, a public hearing was held after a brief 2019-20 annual report by Assistant Superintendent Althea Dixon. Much of the report repeated information from the prior school year because the Covid-19 pandemic ended the 2019-20 school year early. No one spoke during the hearing, and trustees unanimously approved the report. The report is available on the district’s website, parisisd.net.
Dixon also discussed enrollment briefly, telling trustees there are 3,780 students in the district and about 550 are learning remotely. Total enrollment is down 71 from the same time last year and down 34 from the end of the last school year, she noted.
Other business on Monday included the announcement of Travis High School of Choice’s graduation at 1 p.m. Jan. 29; a thank-you to the trustees during School Board Appreciation Month; the selection of trustee Dr. Bert Strom to serve on the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee; and the approval of the consent agenda, which included approving the district’s notice of election for available trustee seats, a contract for election services with the Lamar County Elections Office, and a joint election agreement between the district and the City of Paris.
Trustees also agreed to hire Karen Floyd as a Paris Junior High School teacher.