Important Budget and Staffing Update
August 14, 2020
Dear Parkway Staff,
Today, I want to share an important update and an impending recommendation we will make to the Board of Education next week in order to support the needs of our students, staff and community.
As this pandemic has unfolded, we now have a better picture of our short-term and long-term budget realities. We need to be honest with our community that Parkway and all school districts are not immune to the economic impact of COVID-19.
As you know, we have already reduced our budget for 2020-21. This includes a 10 percent reduction to all department and school budgets, restrictions on travel, conferences and more. At the same time, we have seen increased costs to provide digital learning for our students including technology, devices, Wi-Fi hotspots and digital curriculum resources. The supplies needed to ensure the safe return of our students and staff are costly including personal protective equipment, masks, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, hand sanitizer, signage and plexiglass.
Historically, we know when there is an economic downturn, Parkway is significantly impacted. The long term effects will be felt in our largest source of revenue - our local property taxes. The immediate impact may be less new construction and growth leading to reductions in commercial property tax. However, the longer-term impact will be in the possible closing of businesses with empty storefronts and the potential decreased need for business office space. This impact is yet to be determined, but cannot be ignored as a possible outcome.
We must plan ahead and make fiscally responsible decisions for our students, staff, taxpayers and community. Our first priority is to ensure high-quality learning experiences are guaranteed for current and future Parkway students.
Next week, at the August 19 school board meeting, we will present an update on this budget reality. We will also present a recommendation to offer a voluntary furlough package to employees who cannot complete their job responsibilities or duties as a result of a virtual learning schedule.
Only specific positions are eligible to request a voluntary furlough. You will be notified if your position qualifies to request furlough. Employees that would be eligible to request the voluntary furlough include, but are not limited to, bus drivers, food service, custodians, secretaries and operations staff who cannot complete their full job responsibilities because students are not attending school in-person and they cannot perform job duties remotely.
We are not recommending a mandatory furlough at this time. We recognize a furlough can be beneficial for some employees due to the current federal unemployment benefit packages. Employees who qualify to request a voluntary furlough will be notified by their supervisor and the Human Resources Department.
We are fortunate in Parkway to have some of the finest operations staff in the region and state who serve our students. These outstanding professionals provide so much care and support for our children beyond their outlined job responsibilities. Our students are fond of them, as are we. They are part of our Parkway family and we want to do everything we can to support them. To that point, the following support will be provided to employees who choose a temporary, voluntary furlough:
- Parkway will automatically apply for unemployment on behalf of employees who elect a voluntary furlough to save them time and worry about the process. Due to federal unemployment benefits, employees may receive similar or possibly greater benefits compared to their current pay.
- All employees currently eligible for medical benefits will keep their individual and family health insurance - medical, dental, vision, life and disability benefits - at their current rates during the furlough period.
- If we move forward, the furlough period and dates would be clearly defined and shared with employees. If we are able to return to school in-person, the furlough will not be extended and staff will return to their positions and responsibilities. If we need to continue in a virtual learning environment this fall or winter, we may need to take further action to extend or alter the furlough. We will continue to stay in touch and provide frequent updates.
- More information on the voluntary furlough is available here. If the recommendation is approved by the Board of Education, we will share more specific details of the furlough offer. If you have questions, please reach out to your supervisor or the Human Resources department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-415-8018.
As we hope to get our students back in school as soon as possible, we also look forward to having all of our caring, dedicated staff members return to school as well.
We will continue to stay in touch and provide updates on our plans and any action taken by the Board of Education.
Thank you for your support,
Dr. Keith Marty