Hannibal Schools going remote Thursday and Friday for Covid

HANNIBAL SCHOOL

Covid and early retirement were the two major topics on the agenda at Wednesday’s Hannibal Public School Board meeting.

Regarding the Covid issue, Superintendent Susan Johnson explained the reasoning behind the decision to go to remote learning for the rest of the week.  In her explanation, Johnson said there were 74 staff members absent on Wednesday due to Covid-19. She said that equals 12.6 percent of the staff. Johnson also told the board that there are 52 substitutes available for teachers and teacher’s aides. There were not enough subs for 25 teachers or aides. She is hopeful that the two day break from in school classes will be enough to allow the district to get back to a more normal schedule. Students in kindergarten and first grade were given work to take home for the two days. Students in second through 12th grades will be involved in the remote learning.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, board members heard from three teachers and the husband of one of those teachers asking to reconsider the December vote against funding the 20-year-old Early Separation Program for this year. The teachers are among six staff members who had applied for the program and had planned to retire early.

This school year is the first time in 20 years that the board has not funded the program, which according to Tracy Rademan, has saved the district between $5 and $6 million dollars over the life of the program. Rademan is the husband of Kay Rademan, one of the teachers who spoke to the board.

According to Rademan’s research, the ESP would have saved the district $48,000 this year. Not having the ESP will cost the six people involved $141,000. He projected savings of $239,000 over the next 5 years if the district passes ES. In voting against the Early Separation Program last month, board members said they felt it was not appropriate when the district is having so much trouble finding teachers. The teachers said teacher recruitment and retention is not their job. In order to discuss the issue, which was not on the agenda, the board added it to the old business discussion. Then on a vote of 4 to 3, the issue was tabled until the February meeting.

Before tabling the matter, board member Brad Kurz said he would not change his vote. Some of the speakers had criticized the board for acting too hastily and not understanding what they were voting on. Kurz, a former teacher, said he understood the issue and repeated that he did not believe it was appropriate to fund the program during a teacher shortage. 

Board elections will be held in April with three seats on the ballot. One of the seats will fill the remaining year of a seat currently held by Paul Ewert. Ewert was appointed to fill the vacancy created in May of last year as former President Mark Bross resigned from the board. He is being challenged by Stephen M. Colyar and Blaine Mundle. Six people have filed to run for two-three year terms on the board. Incumbent J’Nelle Lee is running for another term. Also on the ballot will be Scott Hawes, Anna I. Lemon, Kyle Troy Pociask, Stacey Graves and Gregory Lowes.

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