Mayfield Independent School District is taking a proactive approach for non-traditional instruction (NTI) days for the 2020-21 school year based upon its experience related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The worldwide pandemic forced school closures in Kentucky in mid-March and prompted administrators, teachers and staff to implement instructional and other plans for newly homebound students.

That was the result of an emergency NTI application to the Kentucky Department of Education prior to the closures. During Monday’s virtual meeting from the district’s office, school board members unanimously voted to submit a 2020-21 NTI application for the state education department’s approval.

Mayfield Superintendent Joe Henderson explained that NTI days are generally set up for rural school districts to use a maximum of 10 days for winter weather. Since MISD rarely cancels school more than 10 days for weather issues, the district is not an NTI district.

“The possibility there may be some things come about in the fall, if there’s another spike with the virus, we may need some flexibility with NTI days,” Henderson said. “Hopefully we’ll make it through this year, but I think we need to be proactive.”

“I think being proactive is always the best,” added board member Chris Green.

Board members discussed the 2020-21 school calendar. State education leaders have requested schools to prepare for an early start date of around July 15-20, a middle start date and late start date.

Henderson said with construction work at Mayfield High School, an early date would not be feasible. August 5 is the scheduled start date for the district, but he added that could be adjusted depending on the outbreak’s status. A late date suggested would be around early October.

“Right now, it’s just preparing and looking at options,” Henderson said.

If they face another NTI situation, Henderson said his concern is Wi-Fi access for students’ learning devices. He is talking to Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan and Mayfield Electric and Water Systems regarding the issue.

Board members went through other approvals that included the tentative 2020-21 budget, which may change related to revenue and the state’s budgetary issues related to COVID-19.

“It’s similar to this year’s budget,” Henderson said. “We feel revenue-wise, this could change. I feel there will be some type of budget reduction for some schools.”

They also accepted the capital funds request for reimbursement of $596,233 on expenditures already paid during the 2019-20 school year. Henderson explained the funds are required locally and the state matches money put toward construction funds on an annual basis.

“This is money we normally use to pay bonds,” he said. “Because of the timing and sale of our bonds, the first payment isn’t due until August in the next fiscal year. If we take a hit with the budget, this will hopefully help us offset some of that reduction.”

It will be the last year the board will have this option because the district will begin making payments on bonds for the Mayfield High School renovation project.

The board was also made aware of CARES (Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding from the federal government. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding to the district equals $776,650, while the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds are $129,314.

In other business, board members approved a contract for the district’s audit with Benton CPA Kim Hamm for $11,000; approved the bid for the district property, fleet and workman’s compensation insurance with Cole and Durham through Liberty Mutual for $169,141; CFSB as the bank and bond of depository; 2020-21 SBDM allocations for May 1; changes to the code of conduct; personnel and treasurer’s report and payment of bills and salaries.

The board also approved the 2020-21 indirect cost charged to the MISD food service program at 12.62%, salary schedule with a 2% increase for certified and classified employees, and set 20-21 adult meal prices, per federal government requirements, at $2.50 for breakfasts and $3.75 for lunches.

An overnight basketball tournament for Mayfield’s boys basketball team to Carbondale for Dec. 28-30 was also approved, while a matter of 20-21 student fees was tabled.

The meeting opened with public comments regarding virtual cheer tryouts.