“We are venturing into new territory,” RRISD board President Amy Weir said. “We know there are many, many unanswered questions. This administration and this board will do all that we can to answer those questions as soon as we can.”
The RRISD board of trustees met in an emergency, virtual meeting on March 31 to discuss payment for staff and to authorize emergency expenditures during extended school closures related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The board authorized a resolution to continue to pay all district employees who have not been able to physically report to work during the coronavirus outbreak. Employees who have been unable to report to work will not be considered absent, per the resolution.
In addition, the board granted Superintendent Steve Flores the authority to create guidelines surrounding “absences, leave time, leave days, and compensation of any employee who is quarantined as a result of COVID-19 and/or who tests positive for COVID-19 and who presents appropriate medical documentation regarding themselves and/or an immediate family member, in compliance with Texas and federal law,” according to the resolution.
“The priority now as it always has been is the health of our community, state and nation,” Flores said. “We’ll do our part in this fight and make sure our students keep learning throughout.”
The board also granted Flores the ability to determine compensation for employees during this extended closure, including premium payments of up to two times the hourly wage to individuals who are continuing to report to work, per board discussion. This premium pay could potentially apply to custodians who are sanitizing and cleaning district facilities as well as food service teams providing curbside meals, among others, board members said during the meeting.
“This is certainly the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my 36 years in education,” Flores said. “I can tell you that my colleagues around the state and nation also feel the same. But the past few weeks have made me more confident that we can handle the situation and come out stronger because of it.”
Flores was granted temporary authority to execute contracts for goods and services of $50,000 or greater value without board approval. These contracts must be considered necessary in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
Examples of such purchases could include technology to continue to educate students remotely as well as custodial supplies such as disinfectant, district staff said during the meeting.
The resolution was adopted unanimously, with an end date of June 30.