Interesting situations require interesting solutions.
Such was the case with Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Henderson Independent School Board, which took place during the noon hour with the added feature of teleconferencing.
In an effort to minimize undue exposure to HISD personnel, Dr. Thurston Lamb alerted various people to the meeting via an email sent Monday night inviting people to join and listen to the meeting.
The open meetings notice was officially posted last week, but this teleconference was being added as a convenience.
For future reference, however, HISD could use teleconference meetings as a way to keep the public informed without having to be present.
Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, “granted the Office of the Attorney General’s request for suspension of certain open-meeting statutes. This temporary suspension will allow for telephonic or videoconference meetings of governmental bodies that are accessible to the public in an effort to reduce in-person meetings that assemble large groups of people.”
To add to the uniqueness of the situation, it was apparent that not only was HISD moving into uncharted waters, but that all of the Texas school districts were moving in the same direction.
“This is unprecedented,” said Dr. Lamb in reference to the fall out of the Covid-19. “This has never happened in the history of education.”
According to a majority of the discussion, the goals of educating and feeding students in the district were paramount.
In that effort, the board entertained a resolution to extend pay to those people who are non-exempt employees to cook and serve food; and to prepare student study packets and have them delivered via bus drivers.
Some board members were sensitive to the costs associated to the situation.
Lamb mentioned that services such as electricity, gas for bus routes, etc.
As of this meeting, seven people cooked and packaged meals for 800 children twice a day.
The added cost of personnel was approximately $5,500.
Comparatively, the district pays approximately $30,000 monthly just for electricity.
As study packets are being processed, an additional 12 staff people could be asked to come in and deliver those packages. Others may be mailed out, but that would be a slower delivery method.
The resolution also called for paying all personnel and staff while the school is under emergency closure.
It was approved by a 7-0 vote of the board.
The board will meet again on 5:30 p.m. on April 14.