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Ripley moving to full in-person return at school

RIPLEY — After a few “small blips” regarding student attendance, the Ripley Central School District is moving ahead with full in-person learning, board of education members learned at their meeting this month.

“We are just trying to bring everyone back,” said Ripley Superintendent William Caldwell. “We’re chugging ahead, waiting to hear what the future brings areas such as masks and social distancing.”

In January, the district returned second and third grade students to full-remote in response to a positive COVID report. After two weeks, there were no further incidents and the students were allowed to return to in-person learning, Caldwell said.

Recently, the district experienced a “blip” with the pre-kindergarten through third grade students, Caldwell said.

However, students were permitted to return to school after a few days.

Caldwell also reviewed budgetary issues, many of which are still uncertain because state and federal assistance has not ye been finalized. However, Caldwell said, the district has received promises that the funding that was cut will be restored.

In terms of transportation reimbursement for expenses incurred from delivering food and supplies to students during the full remote phase, Caldwell said a bill is currently before the legislature that would repay those costs.

In personnel matters, the board voted to make Molly Gates position of teacher aide to be permanent, effective Feb. 24, having successfully completed her probationary period.

Board members also granted the appointment of Kayla Spacht from the position of non-certified substitute teacher to certified substitute teacher, and appointed Victoria Mazurkiewicz on tenure in the music tenure area, effective March 8, 2021.

Letters of resignation for the purpose of retirement were accepted from teachers aide, Judy Baum, following 13 years of service, and from mechanic G. Michael Waite after 8.5 years of service.

In other business, board members accepted and awarded bids for the 2020-21 capital outlay project, bus garage, to the Perry Construction Group for a total of $81,000.

Board members voted to approve the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, wherein employees may carry over unused FSA funds contributed during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 plan years. They noted that funds are limited to employee contributions only and do not include employer contributions.

Oldham told the board that Hartman and Wilkinson deserve a special shout out for their flexibility in keeping the building open. He also offered a special “thank you” to the PTO for the Valentine goody bags.

Oldham reported on the ongoing Reading Challenge Competition. Sixth grade students celebrated their Reading Challenge win with a pizza party in January.

“Since the Reading Challenge began, we are seeing an increase in nightly reading across all grade levels,” he said. “Mrs. Rowe’s class won the January reading challenge.”

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