Crothersville officials provide update on school situation



During the coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak, one thing is certain for Crothersville Community School Corp.: Noncertified employees are still being given opportunities to earn a paycheck.

At an emergency meeting Wednesday night at the central administration building, the board of trustees unanimously approved a resolution to pay the noncertified employees the same way salaried employees are paid.

The Indiana Department of Education has allowed corporations to take that action during the pandemic, Crothersville Superintendent Terry Goodin said.

“This resolution gives school corporations authority to pay noncertified employees as if they were at work during this pandemic,” he said.

That goes into effect March 30 and expires June 30. While Crothersville students have been out of school this week, they have completed assignments via eLearning, and noncertified staff members were given the option to work and could help with other types of tasks, like cleaning.

Next week, the school is on spring break. Then the resolution will go into effect for the noncertified employees the week of March 30 when the school uses five of the 20 waiver days offered by the state. That will be considered a noninstructional week.

“We will make a decision, probably Thursday of that week, how we’re going to move forward once we get more information from the state,” Goodin said. “This resolution may be rescinded at any time if the board determines doing so is in the best interest of the school district.”

On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced schools will now be closed until May 1. Previously, all Jackson County schools had decided to close until at least April 6.

Crothersville will have 15 waiver days to use after April 3. Goodin said the corporation will still use eLearning days April 10 and 13 to make up for days missed because of snow and illness earlier this year.

Once the state provides guidance on instructional days beyond April 3, the corporation will release an updated school calendar.

This week while students have been out of school, staff members have delivered meals to parents who requested them via an online form. Those won’t be offered next week during spring break, but officials are working on a plan to continue meal delivery after that time.

Next week, Goodin suggested people donate to First Baptist Church of Crothersville’s food pantry so students have a place to go if they need food. Donations will be accepted from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the pantry, 309 E. Main St., Crothersville.

Town Market Foodies also is offering discounted hot lunches from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays, and people can make donations to cover the costs of the meals so they are free for students.

“People have stepped up. They understand what the situation is,” Goodin said. “In my lifetime, we’ve never been through it.”

Parent Kathie Rose asked if anyone is allowed on campus while school is closed, particularly athletes wanting to use the track. Goodin said no.

“The governor’s office has said no more than 10 people shall gather,” he said. “We’re trying to heed the advice of the governor’s office and state department of health. All of our teams have more than 10 kids, so we’re trying to make sure we stay within those guidelines.”

Parents of Crothersville seniors also had questions about the status of the senior trip, prom and graduation.

On March 11, the school announced the senior trip to New York City and Washington, D.C., scheduled for March 23 through 27 is canceled because of the pandemic.

Students had started raising money toward the trip in junior high. Goodin said he has spoken to the owner of Toby Tours, which had organized the trip, and she is looking into any possible refunds.

“She said it’s going to be weeks before she even hears anything like that,” Goodin said.

Parent Kristie Farmer asked if the school would disperse that back to the students. Goodin said to take his response as maybe.

“If that happens, anyone who has paid money out of pocket as far as class dues go, if they’ve got everything covered, those will probably be the first people that we would look at refunding because the other money was made working ballgames and all that,” he said. “That money we may not be able to disperse back, and I will have to get an official opinion from the attorneys to do that.”

Board President Dale Schmelzle asked if pushing the trip closer to graduation is an option. Graduation is set for May 22.

“The lady said with the way tours are set up that there are already tours scheduled for those times … those people take precedence,” Goodin said. “Unless there are people that canceled on that week, then they won’t have anything open.”

Farmer also asked Goodin about graduation.

“As a parent of a high school senior, my request is that if at all possible, will you be waiting as long as possible to make that decision?” she asked.

“I will,” Goodin said. “Here’s the conundrum. A lot of folks want me to make it early so they can plan not to buy stuff or whatever, but we’ll try to pass the word on. … We may have to cancel if we’re still under the same recommendations that we’re under now. I’ve been trying not to be knee-jerk, trying to make sure that I touch base with all of the correct authorities, the professionals that deal with this health stuff.”

Farmer said parents already ordered invitations in the fall and have paid for caps and gowns.

“From that perspective, we’re already out all of the money for graduation,” she said.

Fellow senior parent Rita Cook said she also recently purchased an Ivy Tech Community College cap and gown since her daughter is receiving an associate degree in general studies through the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative.

Goodin said it’s up to Ivy Tech to decide whether or not to have graduation in May, but the college already has gone to online classes for the remainder of the semester.

Prom, which is scheduled for May 1, also is up in the air right now.

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