Jim Witt

Fie. Jim Witt, superintendent of Lake Local Schools, looks on during a recent meeting with state leaders. 

MILLBURY — The Lake Local Schools Board of Education asked the superintendent to move forward on a fall plan for school and not wait for state guidelines.

“We’re still waiting on the governor to roll out the guidelines,” said Superintendent Jim Witt at Wednesday’s board meeting. “He’s got to put out guidelines for us.”

Board members, though, said Witt should act now and not wait for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to release a plan on how schools open after being closed since mid-March due to coronavirus.

“There’s no way you’re going to hear anything,” said Scott Swartz. “This guy has done nothing but promote himself. He stands up there with his stupid videos and testing (himself for coronavirus), and the schools sit here and wait.”

“I think you need to proceed (with) what the plan is, with or without any stuff from the governor’s office,” said Board President Tim Krugh.

There are meetings set up this week with the administrative team, union representatives, school nurse and someone from the Wood County Educational Service Center.

There are also 25 community members who have volunteered to hone the Lake plan, Witt said. There will be subcommittees, such as transportation, athletics, visitor policy, cleaning and food service.

There has been some preliminary planning and discussions, Witt said.

The goal right now is to have face-to-face classes, he said after the meeting.

“We all agree that the overwhelming majority of kids need to be in school,” he said.

Masks will most likely not be required, especially for younger students.

“We think it’s pretty impractical — especially elementary kids — to wear a mask. And then when you consider our elementary building is not air conditioned, that really poses problems,” Witt said. “If they want to, they certainly can. If their parents want them to, they certainly can. But I cannot imagine that being a requirement.”

There will be an online component to fall school.

“Some of our residents are not ready to send their children back yet, so we’re working on a component where they can do things virtually,” Witt said. “It will still allow them to take part.

“I don’t think that will be a significant number, but we want to be ready for them.”

A survey of teachers and staff shows there are enough personnel who are willing to come back to campus, he said.

“One of our biggest challenges — and I’m just guessing here — is if there’s a recommendation of social distance … we might have to move some classes around in the high school to take more advantage of bigger spaces, but that’s doable,” Witt said.

The goal for busing is to do it as “normally as possible,” he said.

“But until we get those guidelines, we don’t know what that looks like. Our fleet is limited. Our number of drivers is limited. One kid per seat is going to be pretty difficult.”

The board is holding a special meeting on July 8 at 6 p.m. The board must let staff know by July 15 if there will be reductions, Witt said after the meeting.

“We’re going to talk about what next year looks like. If we’re going to lay anybody off, the contract states it has to be done 30 days before the start of the school year,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Authorized the purchase of a 30-passenger bus, if the state does not cut funding for this program. Lake is expected to receive $42,000 from Ohio toward the $63,500 purchase.

• Heard there is $11,000 in the Glider Pack food program. “It gives you some idea of the level of support from the community,” said Treasurer Jeff Carpenter.

• Approved final appropriations for fiscal year 2019-20 of $21.8 million.

• Approved several transfers for the year end. They include $120,257 for the Title 1 fund, which are costs not covered by the grant. Title 1 provides extra assistance to elementary math and English students.

• Approved donations of $525 from Emma’s Breadbasket, $500 from Lois Brecklen and $100 from anonymous for the Glider Pack program. These donations were received for sixth grade camp: $500 from Cindy Gladieux, $185 each from the DeLong and Raglow families, and $100 each from Audra Moore and the Behlmer family.