Most parents want the Chardon Local School District to follow tradition by opening the upcoming academic year in August and holding mostly in-person classes.

Those are just two of the results of a survey taken by a “return to school” task force earlier this month as the district waits for information from the state in regard to the fall opening, officials said during a Monday BOE meeting hosted by YouTube.

“The Ohio Department of Education is in the process of finalizing a guidance document that will serve, somewhat, as the basis for reopenings,” Superintendent Michael Hanlon told the board on Monday. He said the document will define broad standards, but won’t include specific dictates, like specifying the number of children who can be in a classroom at once or requiring all students to wear masks.

In preparation for the fall semester, the task force created and distributed a Return-to-School Planning Survey to all district student and teacher households via email on May 12. At the Monday meeting, Assistant Superintendent Ed Klein presented some survey findings.

The survey was sent to 2,581 households with 1,114 responding including 82 percent of Chardon teachers and 58.2 percent of students.

“We approached our survey with the notion of what limited guidance we have at this time, considering where we may be as a community and larger society,” Dr. Klein said. “We have some guidance at this time, but that’s pertinent to May, and we’re trying to start the school year in August, so that’s how we presented this.”

Dr. Klein said that 95 percent of parents expressed interest in leaving the start date for the 2020-21 academic year at Aug. 18, as opposed to an earlier or later start date. Also, 20.8 percent of parents indicated that they would like the district to offer a full online learning option in the fall semester, contingent on Gov. Mike DeWine’s orders.

But an overwhelming number of respondents said that in-person classes are their first choice. Other options included all online classes, alternating days, alternating weeks and only going to school for a portion of each day.

Dr. Klein included some of the common open-ended responses teacher and parents provided, such as, “Safety and health of our children is number one but social interaction is important too.” And, “Please make smart and cautious choices about our children. Don’t give in to pressure from those who just want childcare.”

Dr. Hanlon also called attention to the “first of its kind” commencement that recognized the achievements of Chardon’s graduating seniors this past Saturday. He thanked G-TV and Pastor Photography, who helped in producing the event.

“I want to especially express appreciation to Chardon High School administration and staff and all of our community organization that came together to recognize students,” he said. “It certainly is an experience I’ll always remember.”

Dr. Hanlon congratulated two student girl scouts who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award. Traditionally, he delivers the awards in person, but concerns over COVID-19 prevented that from occurring this year.

Natalie Fullerman’s Gold Award project was building her Munson Outdoor Reading Hut, while Madeline McDonald received the award for installing the McDonald Family Handrail at Chardon Memorial Field.

The Board also discussed some of the revenue reductions that are plaguing school districts throughout the country. Dr. Hanlon told the board that Gov. DeWine does not plan on touching Ohio’s rainy day fund in fiscal year 2020-21. He shared a recent presentation by Aaron Rausch, the director of Budget and School Funding at the Ohio Department of Education.

Dr. Hanlon said the key point is that, in April, state tax receipts were $866.5 million lower than their estimated totals.

“[District Treasurer Deb] Armbruster and I will continue to work together and share that information about revenue that’s constantly changing with you as it becomes available,” Dr. Hanlon said.

In her financial report, Mrs. Armbruster outlined controllable and uncontrollable conditions that are affecting Chardon during the pandemic. Chardon, she said, did not cause the current conditions, and are currently at the mercy of the state’s regulations and recommendations moving forward, regardless of how that could affect the district financially.

In other news, she said that the district had a $25.9 million cash balance at the end of April and that their five main areas of expenditure were $1.2 million under budget for this year. The districts 500 funds and athletic fund are currently in the red.

The board is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. on June 15 via YouTube livestream.

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