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BCISD daily attendance declines due to COVID, but state funds should not

Burnet CISD Board of Trustees

Burnet Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees members recognized during the board’s Jan. 17 meeting were Robby Robertson (left), Mark Kincaid, Andy Feild, Angela Moore, Ross Behrens, Suzanne Brown, and Earl Foster. They were honored as part of School Board Recognition Month in January. Courtesy photo

State compensation based on student enrollment will not change for the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District despite a drop in attendance due to an outbreak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, officials learned. 

During the regular board meeting Monday, Jan. 17, district staff informed trustees that the latest variant has had a significant impact on the district’s average daily attendance, a number the Texas Education Agency uses to determine state funding to districts. 

According to BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett, Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath is aware of the impact the pandemic and low attendance rates could have on a district’s financial situation.

“Although the commissioner has not outlined how, he has assured school districts that they will not be penalized financially for lower attendance rates due to COVID,” McBurnett said. 

According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, 137 positive cases were confirmed the week of Jan. 10-16, and an additional 65 were confirmed Tuesday, Jan. 18, for the week so far. This does not reflect the total number of absences as students are kept home by parents for a variety of reasons and illnesses not reflected in the dashboard.

To help with teacher shortages because of the virus, the TEA reduced the isolation period for staff who test positive from 10 days to five days. However, the agency has not reduced the isolation period for students, which remains 10 days. 

In a board meeting recap that McBurnett sends to staff and teachers, he praised them and thanked them for their continued hard work and dedication.

“I know the last week and today (Monday, Jan. 17) have been challenging with staff members and students out due to COVID,” he stated. “Thank you for your flexibility and efforts to help us keep campuses open. I am hoping that this week we will begin to see a downward trend in new cases.

“One of my favorite Martin Luther King (Jr.) quotes is ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”’ As teachers and staff, you can resoundingly answer that question that you are preparing students for their future, and there simply is no greater calling or vocation,” McBurnett added.

In other business, the board:

  • approved construction documents for R.J. Richey Elementary School and Shady Grove Elementary School as part of the bond program;
  • approved the purchase of equipment for the weight room in the under-construction Student Activity Center and the existing weight room near the practice field, which will be repurposed for Burnet Middle School;
  • approved the purchase of two scoreboards in the Burnet High School gym, two in the campus’ auxiliary gym, and one each for baseball and softball to replace the current ones;
  • recognized Burnet senior Rylee Hernandez, who was recently named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State Volleyball Team;
  • and recognized the BCISD board during the meeting in honor of  School Board Recognition Month.

Finally, the board approved calling the Saturday, May 7, school board election with two places on the ballot: Place 1, currently held by Earl Foster, and Place 5, currently held by Andy Feild.

daniel@thepicayune.com