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As the first day of class approaches, Burnet Consolidated Independent School District officials expect 1,887 students on campus and 1,061 learning remotely. School starts Thursday, Aug. 20, for all BCISD students.

During BCISD’s special board meeting Aug. 17, administration reported that 2,948 students had registered for class, breaking down to 64 percent for in-person learning and 34 percent for distance learning. 

BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett pointed out that the registration number is about 250 students fewer than were enrolled at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

But, he added, it’s not unusual for enrollment to rise by 90-100 students over the first 10 days of school.

He said the district is taking steps to help make the first few days of class run as smoothly as possible, including:

• securing two substitute teachers for each campus during the first seven days of schools to assist with back-to-school transition tasks or issues;

• having a Central Office staff member at each campus during arrival, dismissal, and lunch during the first seven days of class;

• and placing a monitor on each bus on the first day of school to assist the driver.

BCISD also gave five more days of paid leave to staff. Called COVID Extended Leave, staff and teachers can use it for the following reasons:

• quarantine/isolation orders resulting from “close contact” with a positive COVID-19 case while at school, as determined by the county medical advisor

• a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnoses 

These additional leave days can only be used once, according to McBurnett, and cannot be used for any other purposes. The days will not carry over to the next school year.

The district already offers four local leave days and five state leave days.

Under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, district employees can also receive up to 10 more paid sick leave days for COVID-19-related reasons. 

The district and board are committed to protecting the health and safety of staff and students, and that means some staff members might need to take additional leave this year due to isolation or quarantine orders, McBurnett said.

The board also approved a plan to pay off about $1.5 million of the district’s debt early. This will save the district and taxpayers interest on that debt. It also will help reduce BCISD’s debt below $30 million. 

The district took similar action in 2018 to make an early payment of bonds and will consider doing it again in the spring of 2021.

Earlier in August, the district earned a “Superior” rating through the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas with a perfect score of 100. The Texas Education Agency looks at 15 financial indicators such as administrative cost expenditures, the accuracy of a district’s financial information submitted to TEA, and any financial vulnerabilities or material weaknesses in internal controls as determined by an external auditor.

The TEA can assign one of four one possible ratings: Superior, Above Standard Achievement, Meets Standard, or Substandard Achievement.

“Burnet CISD’s financial position is extremely strong because of outstanding leadership, collaboration, and intentional planning between our Board of Trustees and our administrative team,” McBurnett stated in a media release. “This rating is just one more way that we demonstrate our commitment of investing taxpayers’ dollars in our mission of crafting an inspiring future for each of our students.”