Medina schools deal with uncertainty

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Medina Board of Education met on Thursday and utilized social distancing to stay apart. Normally the board members and administrators sit close next to each other at one long table. Arlene Pawlaczyk is the BOE president. Mark Kruzynski, district superintendent, is in back at right. The district capped the people in the board room at 10 to adhere to the governor’s directive to reduce social capacity in buildings.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2020 at 1:03 pm

Not sure when students can return, and state funding also an unknown

MEDINA – The school district is adjusting to an unknown calendar in the coming weeks and months. Right now, there are no classes, sports or other extracurricular activities.

Even graduation, about three months away, is uncertain.

Mark Kruzynski, the district superintendent, hopes for a return to normalcy. But, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continues to grow in the state, that might not be anytime soon.

The superintendent urged everyone to practice social distancing in public by staying at least 6 feet away from other people. If you are sick, stay home.

Adhering to guidelines will speed up how quickly the state and country can get back on schedule, he said during Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.

“How long do you think it will last?” Kruzynski said during the meeting. “Your guess is as good as mine.”

Thursday’s meeting was limited to 10 people at the boardroom to reduce the chance for spreading the virus.

While the district has been largely emptied of people the past week, the school buildings have been undergoing a “deep cleaning,” Kruzynski said.

Students also have been given on-line materials and other schoolwork during the current shutdown. The district also has been serving about 1,000 meals daily since Tuesday. Those meals are available to students between 11 a.m. and noon at the following locations: Pine Street Park, MAAC Thrift Depot, Orleans County YMCA parking lot, former Towne School Parking Lot, Shelby Fire Department parking lot, Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company parking lot in Knowlesville and the Oak Orchard Elementary bus loop.

Kruzynski praised the cafeteria workers for preparing the meals, bus drivers for delivering them, and teachers for their efforts preparing schoolwork.

“The Medina Mustang family really showed how amazing they are this past week,” Kruzynski said.

The school district was closed on Saturday. The governor has closed all school districts in the state for two weeks. Kruzynski expects another directive from the governor, extending the closings.

Kruzynski said school administrators also are trying to get the final details together on the school budget. The biggest source of revenue, state aid, now faces uncertainty due to the economic pain for small businesses due to the coronavirus.

“State aid is a concern,” Kruzynski said. “What started off as a really smooth has been turned upside down.”

The superintendent also said state aid testing scheduled for next week has been postponed. The state hasn’t set if the tests could happen later in the school year.

The meeting on Thursday was on YouTube (click here). Kruzynski took a moment to address students who are out of school until further notice.

“Students if you are watching, you are still our focus and you will remain our focus as we get through this,” Kruzynski said.

Board member Dave Sevenski said the school shutdown is hard on the community, especially for the seniors. Many colleges have cancelled their commencement programs in May. Medina’s graduation is scheduled for June 26.

“Let’s say we don’t open,” Sevenski said about the remainder of the school year. “What happens to the seniors?”

“That is a good question,” responded Marc Graff, Medina’s assistant superintendent. “If I were a senior or a parent of a senior, I would be asking the same thing. It’s a fluid situation. It’s coming day by day.”

If Medina and other schools are unable to have commencement, Kruzynski said Medina would hold a celebration for students at some point.

The district leadership was praised by board members for their quick response and efforts to provide services to students.

“Thank you for rolling with it and for being flexible and efficient,” said board member Ann Bunch.

The board on Thursday approved resolutions authorizing the superintendent to shorten the workday to 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., only a few people are currently working in the district office – Kruzynski; Graff; Julie Kuhn, the district clerk; and Dan Doctor, director of community outreach who is helping coordinate the district’s food delivery during the shutdown.

The board also approved a resolution for the district to continuing paying staff their normal pay, and also a resolution to allow people to work out of job descriptions. Kruzynski said that would allow indoor cleaners to work outside, for example.

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