BUSD Board Meeting Discusses Financial Plans and COVID-19 Concerns

By: Kyla Mitchell

On Thursday, January 20, BUSD held their usual Board meeting discussing issues on schools in the districts. President board member, Shari Zada, asked her fellow board members if they wanted to openly discuss them which received two “yes’s”. After an update from Liberty’s principal, Dr. Young briefly spoke up about the surge of COVID-19 on campuses.

“Hats off to everybody hanging tough through this…the superintendents met with Dr. Matias, the health director, on Fridays… he didn’t say that there were any guarantees but one of the things that he said that I thought sounded somewhat hopeful is that he said it looks like we might be at the peak of this surge..” According to Dr. Young, Dr. Matias claims that, “…we might exit this surge quicker than the ones we have had in the past…”

After that, the fifth grade teacher at Robert Semple, Jamie Karins, fought for 15 days worth of sick days back between him and his wife, a third-grade teacher at Joe Henderson, when he received COVID-19 from one of his students. “I started showing symptoms on October 1st…I had to return to work before I was completely even well…” 

Karins states that he was told that he had to go through workers comp. to try and get them back. The fifth grade teacher claimed that he could go into detail about the “90-minute zoom meetings” he had with investigators the “30 pages of paperwork” he and his wife had to fill out, and how he was “hung up on” when he wouldn’t give the name of the ten-year-old child he might have gotten COVID from. In the end, he was cut short due to his limited time to present his issue. While the board didn’t comment on his speech, they simply moved on.

The second half of the meeting talked about the budget between Mary Farmer, Benicia Middle School, and Benicia High School.  Each quarter or each year, the board updates the public on the measure “S” bond that gave the board $49.6 million to work on school facility projects throughout the district. 

Ms. Egan shared with the board the improvements the middle school has received so far and upcoming projects that she stated would be done by summer. She also shared that the high school recently received safety lights in the lower parking lot. Ms. Egan claimed that Mary Farmer is their biggest project coming up but did not go into detail about the plans.

In the end, she explained that the district was awarded $9 million dollars and got approved an additional application of $7.5 million dollars in a grand total of $16.5 million dollars, with an extra $4.5 million that will be acceptable in the next five years, to use for upcoming projects. 

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