By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford School Board just extended emergency powers for Superintendent Tim Throne for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year. The resolution passed 7-0 at the Sept. 1 board meeting.
The resolution gives the superintendent “greater flexibility to respond quickly and appropriately to the evolving crisis, including ensuring compliance with Executive Orders and also adapting to the changing environment, including provision of alternative modes of instruction.”
The temporary powers include authority to waive Board policies or take actions as necessary to comply with executive orders, to respond to direction from health and government authorities, or to “COVID-19 related issues.”
In addition to waiving policies, the superintendent can institute new policies or procedures to implement the executive orders and the schools’ COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
He can also “enter into contracts without board approval for any dollar amount” to purchase supplies or services “directly related to the COVID-19 emergency.”
The superintendent is directed to keep the Board informed of any actions taken under this emergency authority as soon as is practicable in light of the circumstances.
“If something needs to come up or change, it gives me the power to on the fly invoke some of those decisions perhaps without reconvening the Board to take a vote,” Throne explained at the Aug. 25 Board meeting. “It’s more of an insurance policy that allows us to do what we need to do in a timely manner, but it certainly will not be my intent to make a decision or take some action, obviously, without your knowledge or without your approval.”
School Board Trustee Mary Hanser voiced support of the resolution. “I think it is important that Tim (Throne) has the authority to do what needs to be done on a timely basis as fast as everything keeps changing these days,” she said. “It’s really important that we act as we need to. I’ve been confident in previous decisions so I just want to support that I think this is the best idea.”
The resolution offers examples of actions the superintendent might take:
“Adjustments to curriculum and the provision of alternative educational program options; adjustments to the calendar; adjustments to employee work schedules and assignments; adjustments to the delivery of school-provided meals; limitations on access to property owned or controlled by the Oxford Community Schools District. . .”
The Board may rescind or extend the powers by a majority vote. A similar resolution was passed by the Board in April.