NEW BUFFALO — During its Oct. 12 regular meeting the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education was informed about a new menu item – COVID-19 – that has been added to the district’s website homepage to let parents and the community know the latest information on “confirmed and probable cases in isolation.”

The tab includes a link to Berrien RESA that provides a dashboard report on all schools in the county.

As of Friday, Oct. 16, the site showed New Buffalo Elementary School with one reported case. The cases can result from exposures both in and outside of school. Superintendent Jeff Leslie said the New Buffalo case concerned an exposure outside of school. The site also includes COVID-related information for parents and staff, return to school plans and survey results, community resources and information on emergency child care for essential workers.

The New Buffalo Area Schools released the following information in the COVID-19 section of its website:

• Late in the afternoon of October 8, we received notification that a student member of our school family was a probable positive case for COVID-19. Following the protocols already established for this situation, we have been in contact with local public health officials from the Berrien County Health Department and are working to support all needs for follow-up with those individuals who may have had COVID-19 exposure in this case.

At this time, all people who were identified as having had close contact with the probable positive case have been notified and asked to quarantine by the Berrien County Health Department. We are committed to the health and safety of our students and staff and will continue to work with local health

officials as needed.

• Late in the afternoon of October 9, we received notification that a substitute teacher at the middle school was a positive case for COVID-19. Following the protocols already established for this situation, we have been in contact with local public health officials from the Berrien County Health Department and are working to support all needs for follow-up with those individuals who may have had COVID-19 exposure in this case.

At this time, all people who were identified as having had close contact with the positive case have been notified and asked to quarantine by the Berrien County Health Department. We are committed to the health and safety of our students and staff and will continue to work with local health officials as needed.

On Monday, Oct. 19, Leslie said district officials learned on Friday, Oct. 16, about one more staff member who had tested positive (further explained by the following from the website):

• Late in the afternoon of October 16, we received notification that a staff member at the secondary school was a positive case for COVID-19. Following the protocols already established for this situation, we have been in contact with local public health officials from the Berrien County Health Department and are working to support all needs for follow-up with those individuals who may have had COVID-19 exposure in this case.

At this time, all people who were identified as having had close contact with the positive case have been notified and asked to quarantine by the Berrien County Health Department.

During the Oct. 12 meeting, the school board heard a summary of the district’s 2020 audit by Alex Schaeffer, partner with Kruggel Lawton & Co. He reported that the district ended the year with general fund revenues of $15.9 million, down about $507,000 from the previous year.

Schaeffer said the majority of revenues are derived from property taxes. Expenses were about the same as last year at $13.5 million. The ending fund balance of $4.9 million is enough to run the district for about four months, according to Schaeffer.

The auditor cautioned the board that it is hard to predict events in these times of COVID and said it is important to watch tax rolls and the district’s economic health in general.

Echoing Schaeffer, Trustee Lisa Werner complimented the “great job by administrative staff throughout the year.” She said overseeing the audit was one of the most important things the board does throughout the year.

Also on Oct. 12, the board agreed with Leslie’s recommendation not to participate in the second Schools of Choice period in order to keep student numbers as low as possible for spacing reasons and also to accommodate students returning to in-person instruction from the Bison Virtual Academy option.

To enable participation in the wrestling co-op with River Valley School District, the board approved enrolling the Middle School in the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

The board also adopted the Summer Tax Resolution allowing the collection of 50 percent of property taxes in the summer tax bill and relinquished federal funds for Title III since the required audit would cost more than the funds received. Title III deals with immigrant students and English learners,

In other business, the board employed Cynthia Sichra as middle/high school custodian, John Riley as custodian/grounds, Caitlin Rosinko as virtual paraprofessional and Maria Lozano as instructional paraprofessional. The board accepted the resignation of Marietta Meuli as elementary noon aide.

The board also proclaimed Nov. 16-20 as American Education Week.

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