A motion to require masks at the elementary level throughout Mustang Public Schools failed at the district’s Monday Board of Education meeting.
Member Jeff Landrith made the motion after inquiring if the board had plans to require masks districtwide, which would have followed four other districts throughout the state, including Yukon Public Schools. The motion failed 3-2, with Landrith and member Dedra Stafford voting in favor and clerk Stacy Oldham, Vice President Chad Schroeder and President Todd Lovelace voting in opposition.
“I don’t want a child to wear a mask because I vote for them to wear a mask,” Lovelace said. “I want them to wear a mask because their parents believe that’s the right thing to do.”
Landrith said he had received many emails from elementary parents, regarding masks.
Since the injunction of the Senate Bill 658 lawsuit, school districts can mandate masks, while also recognizing three opt-outs. People can opt-out for medical, religious or strong personal reasons.
Beforehand, Gov. Kevin Stitt had to declare a state of emergency and then school boards could begin mask requirement discussions. Now, districts must maintain that students and staff can opt-out of wearing masks if a requirement is decided upon.
MPS will still recommend students and staff wear masks and quarantine if they are in close contact to a positive COVID-19 case, per updated state and county health departments’ guidance. Requiring masks also presents some challenges, as far as maintaining proper wearing, Superintendent Charles Bradley said. The district has not polled parents on where they stand regarding masks, as well.
As of Monday, Bradley shared known positive cases have decreased across the district from August. The superintendent also mentioned the district is working with the Canadian County Health Department to develop an on-site testing strategy.
Landrith shares concerns with vendor work at science building
In board reports, Landrith told members he is unhappy with the lack of improvements at the science building, which he has continually discussed. When he visited the building for Open House, he noted tiles are still coming up on the floors, some lights do not work, a fridge is inoperable and a circuit feature has been cheaply-replaced.
“It’s critical as a board, we hold these vendors accountable,” Landrith said.
As Crossland Construction Co. is the construction manager for the building, it is working with each of the subcontractors on the various issues, Bradley said.
Jason Pittenger, assistant superintendent of operations, said this is the third time for the tiles to be coming up. To address this, Crossland is working with a cement testing company to see where water is coming from and determine what the best remedy is, he said.
“We’re working to continue to identify the root of the issue,” Pittenger said.
He also said finding lighting fixtures has been difficult. A work order for the fridge was also not known by Pittenger.
Landrith also said he does not believe taxpayers dollars were spent wisely on the building. The member mentioned the Sept. 10 protest, as well.
A group of students gathered at Mustang High School before the start of the school day. MPS officials said a handful of the students violated the Student Code of Conduct after class began and the situations had been addressed.
Specific details were not shared by officials, due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects students’ privacy.
Retired teacher shares concerns to board
Retired elementary teacher Donna Gleason brought several items to the board’s attention that she would like improved during the meeting’s public comment section. Gleason’s grandson, who is in the eighth grade at Mustang South Middle School, is a football player who practices before school begins.
There are missing shower heads and curtains and some of the showers do not work in the locker room, which results in some players being late to class, she said.
“The boys deserve better,” Gleason said.
While Gleason said she appreciates Mustang’s law enforcement officers, she believes having four police vehicles at the entrance of MHS is excessive.
“I’d like to see more officers in the school,” she said, noting that she has heard more teachers break-up fights.
The 25-year teacher also said she would like to see the district’s empty marquees filled with educational informational or encouragement.
Bradley said the issues will be looked into.
Board tables certificate of substantial completion of PAC
In business news, board members tabled approving a certificate of substantial completion for the Performing Arts Center, due to mechanical, electrical and plumbing issues.
While the structure is sound, systems still need to be tweaked to ensure functionality, Pittenger said. Members will coordinate a walk-through the facility with Pittenger soon.
The board did approve certificates of substantial completion of Mustang North Middle School’s and Mustang Middle School’s special education remodels.
Substitute compensation is increased
The board also approved raising substitute compensation. Certified substitutes will now receive $85 per day, a $15 increase.
Noncertified will receive $75, another $15 increase. After 20 days, long-term substitutes will receive $200, a $19 increase.
A support employee substitute hourly rate is now $9 per hour, a $1.75 increase.
New FFA policy adopted
Members adopted a Future Farmers of America program policy, of which there was not one previously in place. The policy puts structures in place, such as how to purchase animals, how many can remain in pens and safeguards if an animal is sick.
Counselor-in-Training summer camp a ‘success’
Bronco Club district coordinator Julie Chastain told board members their Counselor-in-Training program was a hit this summer. The program is for seventh and eighth grade students to receive hands-on experience leading younger youth.
About 135 campers attended throughout each of the 10 weeks.
Chastain commended the 14 CIT students, who helped the program run smoothly — Addisyn Weinrich, Carter Bankston, Jade Ledford, Miranda McDonald, Teagan Winters, Jenni Hall, Lindsay Jedele, Mia Gambel, Sullivan Thomasson, William Causey, Abigail Blodgett, Harper Acosta, Serena Patel and Faith Ellis.
In more student news, 16 were recognized for their positive attitudes as part of the district’s Mindset Matters initiative, which is continued from last year:
• Addison Fancher at Centennial Elementary;
• CJ Murphy at Mustang Creek Elementary;
• William Christian at Mustang Elementary;
• Jensen Jones at Lakehoma Elementary;
• Lawson Beard at Mustang Trails Elementary;
• Mario Nnaji at Mustang Valley Elementary;
• Norah Edwards at Prairie View Elementary;
• Everly Humphrey at Riverwood Elementary;
• Kelsie Huntley at the Mustang Education Center;
• Kelsey Robertson at Canyon Ridge Intermediate;
• Avery Lawson at Meadow Brook Intermediate;
• Blake Johnson at Horizon Intermediate;
• Emerson Kissling at Mustang Central Middle School;
• Jack Ponder at Mustang North;
• Evelin DelaFuente at Mustang South Middle School;
• Millie Martinez at MHS.