In a recent, comprehensive Leonia School Board meeting, notable issues ranging from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students to school finances, were fervently discussed. Tensions ran high as parents and board members aired their concerns and outlined plans for progress.
A significant part of the discourse focused on the aftermath of COVID-19 and the consequent school lockdowns. Tom, a parent with two children in the school system, criticized the prolonged closures, arguing that these led to severe repercussions for students, particularly younger ones. He faulted the government and teachers unions for their handling of the situation.
Board member Dan countered these comments, highlighting the board’s endeavors to balance safety with learning. “None of the decisions were made lightly,” Dan said, adding that all actions were taken with an aim to safeguard the health of the students and teachers alike. It was also clarified that the district provided breakfast and lunch to every student during the pandemic, with costs completely covered by the federal government.
Further, an unnamed assistant superintendent detailed the distribution and utilization of grants received by the school district. “We received about ninety thousand dollars in mental health supports which were used to build programs for our students…all of that does come through our Mental Health,” they explained. The funds also contributed to after-school programs, teacher professional development opportunities, tech upgrades for online learning, and tutoring services.
The meeting also addressed concerns about school finances. A citizen voiced several inquiries about school fees, contracts, and bills. In response, a board member clarified various costs, including the disparity in tuition fees between different districts due to an employee discount for teachers, and the reason behind a $500 cell phone reimbursement for school administrators and supervisors using their own phones.
A significant announcement regarding communications was made. Noah, the board member responsible for communications, declared the transition from the app ‘Remind’ to ‘ParentSquare’ starting July 1st. This new platform is expected to offer more streamlined, targeted communication, translating document features into different languages, and result in cost savings for the district.
Two board members, Maureen and Isaac, were acknowledged for their long service and contributions. Maureen celebrated ten years of service while Isaac received certification, the board expressing appreciation for their dedication and service.
Further discussions centered around committee reports, student achievements, and even a potential postponement of a Cubs concert due to an air quality alert.