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Numbers have shifted

Region One Enrollment

FALLS VILLAGE — At the regular (and online) meeting of the Region One Board of Education on Monday, Jan. 4, Superintendent Lisa Carter reported that overall Region One enrollment has dropped by eight students since October.

Carter said that between October 2020, when school enrollments are reported, and mid-December 2020, Kent Center School had a decrease of nine students; Salisbury Central, a decrease of five students; and Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS), a decrease of 10 students.

However, the Lee H. Kellogg School in Falls Village had an increase of five students; Cornwall Consolidated School, an increase of four students; and North Canaan Elementary School, an increase of seven students.

Sharon Center School remained the same.

Increase in home schooling

In the same period, the number of home-schooled students reported for all of Region One increased from 59 to 70.

In a phone interview Saturday, Jan. 9, Carter said that not all the students who withdrew are now being home schooled. Some families moved out of the area.

She added that the families who remain in the area and opted for homeschooling didn’t do so out of dissatisfaction with what Region One schools offer for distance learning, but because they have the time and ability to give their children one-on-one attention.

Carter reported to the board that the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) was not renewed by Congress in the larger pandemic relief bill that passed in December.

The FFCRA mandated paid leave for employees who must quarantine due to COVID-19 and/or remain home with children due to school or child-care facility closings.

Carter said that Region One has been relatively lucky in that nobody has become “terribly ill,” and those teachers who did have to quarantine “immediately pivoted to teleworking.”

Carter said discussions with the faculty associations at the seven Region One schools will be ongoing, and noted that it is possible the new Congress and/or the Biden administration could renew the FFCRA.

“Nobody knows what’s coming.”

On the phone Jan. 9, Carter expanded a bit, saying that the Region One teachers have been “wonderful” in working with her and the Region One principals — and in avoiding the clashes between administrators and teachers unions elsewhere in the state and in the country.

Concerns about COVID testing

At the start of the Jan. 4 meeting, a parent from Cornwall asked about rapid testing for COVID-19 in the region.

Carter said the available rapid test is an antigen test, which does not give reliable results for individuals without symptoms.

She said that Region One parents have been diligent about keeping their children home if they show the slightest sign of illness, and that given “our scarcity of human resources,” she decided not to use them on an unreliable test.

Progress on school budgets

Business manager Sam Her-rick said the budget sub- committee (with John Sanders of Cornwall, Stacie Weiner of Salisbury and Jenn Duncan of Kent) has been meeting. Her- rick said the process is not as far along as usual because “there are a lot of uncertainties,” but he was con dent that a budget proposal would be ready for the normal process that culminates with a region-wide referendum vote in the rest week of May.

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