School Board recap: COVID-19 update presented; football questionable

Jennifer Bolling has been named the new principal of Pulaski County High School, effective June 1. And a date for graduation has now been set.

Bolling’s appointment was made Monday afternoon during a meeting of the School Board at the PCHS Little Theater.

Currently an assistant principal at PCHS, Bolling replaces Richie Thomas who has served as interim principal since the beginning of the second semester, following the re-assignment of former PCHS Principal Mike Grim.

Also, at PCHS, temporary Assistant Principal Brian Ward was elevated to a permanent position as assistant principal by the board.

In other personnel moves, William Atwood and Anthony Viers were named Assistant Principals at Pulaski County Middle School.

Mike Price has been named Principal at Pulaski Elementary School, replacing Rebeccah Smith who recently was named Principal of the new middle school.

While there will be no prom or eighth grade dance this year, graduation will still be held at PCHS at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 20.

Approximately 250 students will be graduating during the ceremony at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium with students being seated on the field, and parents seated on both the home and visitor sides of the stadium. Everyone, including graduates, will be placed six feet apart to abide by social distancing rules.

School officials grudgingly canceled both the prom and eighth grade dance because neither event could be held while social distancing rules are in place.

In an update of the school system’s COVID-19 response, School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers told the board that the nutrition staff has surpassed 85,000 meals prepared as of Monday. He said the last day of the current program is May 20.

On May 27, Siers said, the school system’s normal summer meal program begins at most county schools with curbside service.

He also announced that EBT cards worth $370 will be issued by the end of May to each student receiving free and reduced price meals at Dublin Middle School and Pulaski County High School, as well as all students who attend Community Eligibility Provision designated schools, which include all other schools in the county.

Siers said all summer programs including summer academies, credit recovery courses, extended school year and Camp Cougar will be held July 27 – Aug. 7.

Siers disclosed that state education officials have told localities to plan for three different contingencies on opening schools in the fall.

Those include normal opening, opening with staggered attendance and social distancing, and no opening with the continuance of distance learning strategies.

Siers also announced the county is eligible to receive $867,000 in CARES Act funding with a large portion of those funds to be used for expanding remote learning capabilities.

The superintendent said approximately one-third of county students have insufficient or no internet access.

Siers said local school officials are exploring ways to add additional instructional time into next year’s calendar.

“We’ll likely need to designate days at the beginning of the year to review material from this year, fill in gaps with skills and content students were not taught [due to the shutdown],” he said.

Finally, Siers announced that fall sports in the county is questionable at this time.

“We’re working with the high school to identify the impact not having a football season would have on the ability to fund the other sports programs,” Siers said.

Siers and School Board Chairman Tim Hurst discussed the fact football generates almost all the revenue to fund the other sports at PCHS, with football alone generating some $60,000 to $70,000.

Hurst said the only other sport at the high school that comes close to paying for itself is probably girls’ basketball.