Under the new rule, employees would be able to work remotely or through a hybrid work model if approved by management. The policy is meant to promote recruitment and retention as well as productivity. It also allows temporary remote work during extraordinary circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The rule includes standards on remote workspaces and equipment requirements.
The rule was approved during Tuesday’s meeting, during which the board covered a myriad of topics. Members also voted to update the department’s internet filtering policies, requiring schools to keep up-to-date with filtration software and completing annual certifications.
Other rule changes altered the requirements to obtain a teaching certificate and clarified requirements for access to the department’s records.
The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER III) funds are on their way from the federal government, and the department outlined its spending plan during Tuesday’s meeting. Missouri is set to receive $1.96 billion; the state will have immediate access to two-thirds of its allocation with the remainder dependent on the approval of its application which will be submitted this week.
The plan seeks to address the state’s teacher shortage, an issue Missouri has grappled with since even before the pandemic. The department hopes to fund a statewide recruitment campaign and grants geared toward retention and recruitment. Board members also encouraged an extension of the temporary waiver allowing retired teachers to gain certification which is tied to Missouri’s COVID-19 state of emergency set to expire on Aug. 31.
Another focus was addressing the digital divide, an issue the board considered numerous times over the past year as the state moved to virtual learning. Funds would go toward bolstering access to technology and equipment while legislators are considering broadband access in rural Missouri.
Board members noted spending authority for the funds would have to be granted by the state, either through a supplemental budget or a regular appropriation.
The Normandy School Collaborative presented its Normandy Next plan to pave the way to full accreditation by the state. The presentation was the first of a series of quarterly reports required by the board to monitor the academic performance of the school. Planned initiatives include college readiness programs, a more rigorous curriculum, and working with human resource experts to bolster recruitment.
The board also disciplined four educators and heard an update on the newly-formed Office of Childhood which is set to begin operating later this year.
The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Aug. 17.