With graduation looming and no resumption of in-class learning in sight due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Midlothian ISD board of trustees — with four of seven trustees meeting via videoconference — agreed in a nearly-3-hour special meeting last Wednesday to a number of items addressing the situation of the district’s senior classes.

Board members voted to pass a resolution regarding class rank and grade point average. The final rank and GPA, and class honors deriving thereof, will be based on the grades available from the fall 2019 semester which ended on Dec. 20, the final day before the Christmas break in MISD.

The vote was 6-0, with trustee Heather Prather, who has a senior child, abstaining following a second vote on the matter. Trustees also voted 6-0, with Prather abstaining, to waive the local 10-hour community service hours requirement for this year’s seniors.

Deputy superintendent Judy Walling, participating via videoconference, told the board that students have all four years to accumulate their hours of service, but some don’t seek to complete those hours until their senior year. “We don’t want this to keep anybody from graduating,” Walling said.

On calculation of GPA, Walling said graduation honors are usually set at the end of the fifth six weeks but should instead be frozen at the end of the first semester.

Four trustees — board president Matt Sanders and trustees Andrea Walton and Tami Tobey — were present in the boardroom at the L.A. Mills Administration Complex. Trustees Prather, Carl Smith, Bobby Soto and Gary Vineyard participated online.

COVID updates

Superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter said he remains in daily contact with the Texas commissioner of education, Ellis County emergency personnel and the Region 10 Education Service Center in Richardson, and keeps principals updated each morning on what has happened the previous night.

Ledbetter added that he has engaged with Midlothian Mayor Richard Reno and city officials.

“We gather a lot of information and we’ve been processing a lot of information daily,” Ledbetter said. “We’re in a great situation. Obviously it’s not ideal for anybody, but in terms of where we are as a district with the resources that this board and previous boards have allowed us to pursue ... an environment has been enabled which I think is productive. We’re doing some things which are quality for our kids.”

Ledbetter praised district information technology director Leslie Garakani for his efforts in implementing the MISD at-home learning program. Garakani reported that engagement at various campuses continues to increase at each district campus.

Other items

• The board approved personnel positions for the 2020-2021 school year after assistant superintendent KayLynn Day outlined needs and a possible hiring timeline.

• Assistant superintendent Jim Norris updated the board on the 2020-2021 district budget and several options moving forward. The taxable value of new property in MISD was $239 million, Norris said, but he added a warning that revenues may decrease drastically because of the collapse of the petroleum market in Texas and a decrease in real estate demand as a result of COVID-19.

• Consent agenda items that were approved included a food service management company contact for 2020-2021; requisitions over $50,000; purchase of technology items for Dieterich Middle School; various budget amendments; and a bid for new lighting and rigging at the MHS auditorium.

• In a matter not included on the agenda, MISD’s grab-and-go breakfast and lunch schedule has been changed in order to increase safety. Starting Monday, meals will be distributed on Mondays and Wednesdays only, with two breakfasts and lunches on Mondays and three breakfasts and lunches on Wednesdays. This week, three days’ worth of meals were issued on Wednesday.