Iron County school officials announce tentative plan to reopen, table bond initiative indefinitely

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Iron County School District officials are moving ahead with plans to open school in the fall but are still awaiting official directives and guidelines from the governor and the state board of education.

File photo of sign in front of Iron County School District offices, Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 20, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Right now, we’re planning to have all of our schools open and all of our kids returning,” Iron School District Superintendent Shannon Dulaney told Cedar City News on Friday, adding that the tentative start date for the district’s school year is Aug. 11. “That’s our plan for right now, within the recommendations of the state. We are not sure yet what those are.”

Dulaney said the state board of education passed a checklist of recommendations Thursday, as well as requirements for every school district.

“Based on that document, we’ll need to plug in our plan for what that is, follow the requirements and then take the recommendations under advisement on how we do that.”

Iron County School District, like other districts throughout Utah, has not held in-person classes since concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic led to a statewide school shutdown in mid-March. Approximately one month later, Gov. Gary Herbert extended the closures until the end of the school year, leaving schools to resort to online-only methods of instruction.

Dulaney explained the district’s currently developing school reopening plans and outlined an anticipated timeline in an official public announcement sent to parents and staff Thursday evening, which is also published on the district’s website.

Our district team has been working diligently within the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines and requirements to develop our district plan for reopening in the fall. Over the next few days, our district team will be working with our local health department and our state education leaders to determine minimal operating standards that will drive district plans for facilities and operations, learning and instruction, and social emotional/wellbeing considerations.

The Utah State Board of Education’s recommended guidelines are expected to be incorporated into an executive order and publicly announced by Herbert early this week. The board is expected to hold planning webinars for district teams Thursday and Friday, after which the board will recommend that school districts publish their reopening plans sometime between June 29 and July 6.

“Please know that in our planning we will include consultation with critical stakeholders,” Dulaney wrote in the announcement, indicating that input will be sought from teachers, counselors, administrators, specialists and coordinators, nurses, board member(s), custodial and maintenance staff, nutrition, transportation, curriculum and content area personnel, parents and community council members.

Dulaney said that further updates will be forthcoming and will also be publicized via email, social media, automated text messages and other methods of communication.

In addition to ongoing discussion regarding school reopening, at the Iron County School District Board of Education’s last regular meeting on May 19, the board decided not to ask for a bond initiative to be placed on the November ballot.

“The board decided, with the economy the way it is, it wouldn’t be very prudent or very wise or fiscally responsible to our community, as well as to the district, to pursue a bond,” Dulaney said. “Their plan is that we will take the next couple of months to consider our options for next year. The board will decide probably either by the end of this calendar year or the very beginning of next year whether or not they’re going to pursue a bond in the fall of 2021.”

Dulaney said some of the district’s most pressing capital needs include expansion of both Cedar and Canyon View middle schools to accommodate growth and safety and security upgrades for all school building entrances, in addition to replacing East Elementary School, which is approximately 70 years old.

Although the ICSD Board of Education is still scheduled to meet for its regular monthly meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the board has continued any action on the budget until the following week, when they will convene in a special meeting at 5 p.m. that will include a public hearing to discuss the final amended 2019-20 budget of $98.9 million and the proposed 2020-21 budget totaling $98.2 million. For a full copy of the 34-page budget document, click here.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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