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UL taking financial stock

Board of Education holds first in-person meeting in two months

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK Union Local school board members Dan Lucas, left, Koel Davia, Ed Stenger and Shaun Roe make temporary financial appropriations Tuesday. The district is likely to take more financial losses in state funding during the coronavirus pandemic.

BELMONT — The Union Local board of education is taking stock of finances as they prepare for next year and continuing the mission of educating children during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the board met in-person at the high school commons, keeping up social distancing. The board held its first in-person meeting in two months on June 25.

After a lengthy executive session Tuesday, the board approved temporary appropriations from Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021.

“Which is a temporary budget to get us to the point of getting more information as far as our funding. Then we have till the end of September to approve the final budget for 2021,” Treasurer Janet Hissrich said. “So we’re anticipating something more in July about any cuts that may be coming.”

The board appropriated a total of $16,320,050. Hissrich said the COVID-19 coronavirus is expected to continue to take a financial toll.

“We’re pretty much on the same keel at this point, however we did take a cut for our state sources for the months of May and June, and we’re anticipating another cut coming for Fiscal Year 21,” Hissrich said. “It was over $200,000.”

Hissrich said the board is awaiting more information.

“We should know soon. We don’t have that number just yet,” she said, adding the coming years will very likely be financially conservative.

“It’s definitely going to cause us to be very careful with all funds available. Be very fiscally responsible while still covering all of our necessities,” she said. “As far as cuts we’re going to make here, we’re not that far into it. We don’t know any cuts we’re going to have to make at this time.”

The board also voted to conduct air quality testing for the elementary, middle and high school buildings. One of the two-phase tests will take place next week, the other after the beginning of the school year.

“I assume they’re going to be here at least a day. They’re doing all three buildings,” board member Koel Davia said, adding it was a necessary first step before upgrading the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. “We’re getting a baseline.”

He speculated if the reduced finances might impact building renovation projects the district had planned.

“We had it cut already and we expect more and obviously that will affect anything we do in the district, what we can afford to do,” he said. “As far as health and safety, that’s our first priority and whatever we have to do to get it done. That’s what’s going to happen.”

He said more guidelines from the state regarding how to reopen schools in fall are expected later this week.

“I think we have to take opinions of a lot of different people into account,” board member Shaun Roe said. “We’re going to get some professional guidance from the state health department later this week, and once we get those guidelines, we can figure out what is practical from our standpoint…the health and safety of the kids has to come first and whatever we have to do to ensure that, that is what we have to do.”

The next meeting was set for 6 p.m. Wednesday July 15 instead of the usual Thursday.

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