The Waunakee school board held an emergency meeting at its district office last week to discuss staff compensation during the mandatory school closure.

Attendance was limited to nine people, in accordance with a March 17 directive by the governor.

The meeting was broadcast on the district’s YouTube channel and began with an explanation from superintendent Randy Guttenberg as to the purpose of the gathering.

“Tonight’s meeting was called together for us to update the board on some very pertinent topics,” Guttenberg said, “so we can provide some clarity to staff as we work through how we can utilize them, repurpose them, and best serve our students and community.”

The superintendent noted that statewide school closure stemming from public health concerns was an unprecedented event which would require unprecedented measures from the district.

He turned the floor over to Human Resources Director Brian Grabarski to discuss some of those measures.

Grabarski presented board members with amendments to the district’s employment guidelines that would affect teachers, custodians and all other staff, with the exception of daily substitutes.

“The amendments in reference would relate to school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Grabarski said. “The idea is that our staff will continue to be paid at their same and current rate of pay, and kept at their same benefit level, throughout the remainder of this school year.”

Grabarski said teachers and other employees would need to work with their supervisors in order to identify tasks that they could complete throughout the duration of the school closure.

The HR director explained that some of those duties could be performed at home.

Alternatively, Grabarski said employees could request paid time off – including sick leave, vacation leave, personal days and comp time – if they had such benefits available.

“Employees will have access to their normal bank of days to be out of work,” Grabarski said, “depending on their employee group and personal status. In addition, the employees will be able to access the four snow or emergency-weather days as part of their personal bank of days.”

Grabarski said staff would also have the option to take an unpaid leave of absence.

“We’ll also provide employees an opportunity to enter a different kind of status called ‘out-of-active employment,’” Grabarski said. “Since we are operating under non-typical operations, they can basically pause their employment – which means that they will not be paid.”

The amendments were passed unanimously by the board, with the clarification that long-term substitute teachers and co-curricular staff would be included under the modified protocol.

Also at the March 18 meeting, the board:

- approved a motion to negotiate cost savings with Lamers Bus Lines, Inc.

- approved a motion to maintain the district’s partnership with Taher Food Service, and work with the company to develop a food program for families in need during the closure.

- canceled the remainder of its committee meetings scheduled for the month of March.

- postponed a community workshop regarding the anticipated November referendum.

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