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Danville school district lowers taxes

Football, other fall sports plans discussed

 

Taxes, student fees and football were the hot topics of discussion at the Danville Board of Education meeting last week.

Superintendent Dr. Tammy McDonald told the board members they had the opportunity to lower the school tax rate this year from 98.5 to 98.3 when the tax bills are sent out in November.

Without discussion, the board voted unanimously to lower the rate. Board chair Steve Becker said, “When you’re actually able to lower taxes … now granted it’s not like 5%, but it’s two-tenths and we’re in this situation with COVID … I think the fact that we are able to do this is really a big deal. … This is a great occasion for our district and our stakeholders.”

The board also voted unanimously to waive student fees this school year because students are attending classes virtually, at least for now, and the pandemic has caused financial hardships on many families in the district.

Danville’s football season was also discussed in depth during the meeting.

McDonald presented a list of seven topics that she asked the board to consider and make decisions on so that the fall sports’ coaches, players and families would have some guidance on what the season would look like during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Josh Wigglesworth, with Danville Pediatrics said, “The school board has been asked to solve a problem” that the National Football League can’t solve either, and it has a much larger budget.

“We’re dealing with a question that doesn’t have an answer.”

In team sports, players would be exposed to each other, which would increase the risk of the coronavirus infection. “Parents have to realize, even with great precautions, there is still a risk of infection,” he said.

He went on to say that the board would be trying to determine what risks were too much and what were not enough.

A special called meeting will be held tonight (Sept. 1) at 5 p.m. where a sports update with possible action is on the agenda.

Board decisions on Aug. 24 included:

  • Fall sports will be prioritized and athletes of winter/spring sports will be allowed to practice in “pods” of 10 as long as they follow the recommendations of the Kentucky High School Athletics Association. Fall team athletes who are also on winter/spring teams will not be allowed to practice with the winter/spring teams during the fall season.
  • The board will not set a time limit or number of practices but coaches are encouraged to only use practice time as needed.
  • Varsity teams will be limited to playing two games a week. Middle school teams will be limited to playing one game a week.
  • Coaches and athletes will be tested for COVID-19 at the beginning of the season. Random testing will follow throughout the season.
  • The use of locker rooms will be limited when possible. Coaches and athletes will be required to wear masks while in the locker room and space out as much as possible.
  • Allowing spectators at the football stadium and gym hasn’t been decided on yet. The board asked the administration to devise a plan on how to limit spectators at the events and present it at the next school board meeting.

Athletics Director Lisa Fisher told the board that limiting spectators was a complicated issue: A rule requiring spectators to wear facial masks “can’t be enforced”; limiting the number of spectators in the stands, and perhaps banning visiting spectators could be problematic; keeping  fans off of and away from the stadium chain link fence and distanced from each other would be nearly impossible to enforce; and how to handle the actual sell of tickets are just some of the issues that will need to be worked out before the first home football game is played on Sept. 8.

“This is not a winnable position no matter what,” Fisher said.

However, she added, “We’ll do our best to make sure something works.”