MARIETTA — The Marietta Board of Education is set to extend the contracts of a group of 26 support teachers through the end of the fall semester.

In a school board work session held at Marietta High School on Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Tyler Gwynn presented a recommendation for the district to extend their 26 supply teachers through Dec. 18. According to Gwynn, the district hired the 26 teachers to support full-time staff through the phased reopening of schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, and Superintendent Grant Rivera recommended extending them through the fall.

“We have hired 26 supply teachers for support as we roll through the phases,” Gwynn told the school board. “These folks have done an amazing job.”

The cost of extending the teachers will not exceed $350,000, and they will be funded through a grant from the Cobb Board of Commissioners. The supply teacher contracts were initially set to expire on Oct. 31.

The certified supply teachers have led face-to-face instruction, virtual teaching, small group tutoring and provided support wherever necessary in Marietta schools as they have reopened. According to Rivera, the supply teachers could step in to lead classes in the event that a teacher has to go on leave or quarantine due to the coronavirus.

The Marietta board members added the item to their consent agenda, which they will vote on next Tuesday at their regular monthly meeting.

Additional Virus Mitigation ExpensesThe Marietta school board approved a pair of requests for equipment to help schools adapt to the pandemic. Chuck Gardner, the district’s chief operations officer, presented a recommendation for the district to purchase temperature scanning devices for school buses. According to Gardner, the scanners mount directly to the buses, scan students before they set foot on the vehicle and then approve students who do not have a fever.

Rivera recommended approving the purchase of the thermometers from Gatekeeper Systems for $61,371, and the board approved the purchase unanimously, 5-0.

Gardner also presented Rivera’s recommendation to rent tents from A-1 Rentals for the district’s schools. According to Gardner, schools have used the tents to form makeshift outdoor classrooms, providing spaces for classes to learn outdoors, have lunch outdoors or step outside for short breaks from wearing face masks.

“Dr. Rivera made the decision to rent a tent for each elementary school,” Gardner said. “What that did is allow teachers to leverage that outdoor space for outdoor learning.”

The original contract for the tent rentals was set to expire on Oct. 31. Gardner said four elementary schools wanted to keep the tents until Thanksgiving break, and Marietta Sixth Grade Academy will also have a tent when it reopens on Oct. 26. At a cost of $21,015, the board voted unanimously to approve extending the tent rental through Nov. 20.

Classroom TechnologyGardner also presented Rivera’s recommendation to purchase 33 ViewSonic interactive display panels, large-screen computers to be used in classrooms. The board initially approved a purchase of 410 interactive displays in July 2019, but the district requires 33 more for remaining classrooms.

The purchase of the displays, funded through the education special purpose local option sales tax, or E-SPLOST V, will cost $124,710, according to the meeting agenda. Gardner said the large-screen displays act as a typical computer, providing teachers with another education resource in the classroom. The COO also said the monitors have a lifespan of five to 10 years, comparable to similar technology.

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