School Board holds first-ever virtual meeting

OKEECHOBEE — On April 14, the Okeechobee County School Board had its first meeting since the COVID-19 shutdown began in mid-March.
The meeting looked a little different than it normally does.

To comply with social distancing guidelines, instead of their normal seating arrangement, members were seated far apart in a circle at tables around the board meeting room. Members of the public were invited to watch the meeting on the video conferencing app Zoom, which has become ubiquitous in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Board member Malissa Morgan took part in the meeting from home, using Zoom to listen to the proceedings and vote on motions.

Although there were a few technical hiccups with phone calls breaking up and some microphone feedback here and there, for the most part the school district’s first venture into hosting a meeting online ran smoothly.

One of the first orders of business was to amend school board policy regarding meetings following Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order allowing for remote meetings. Previously, Florida statutes required local government bodies to meet in person to achieve the majority required to conduct official government meetings.

The board also adjusted the 2019-20 instructional calender to reflect the two days missed and the distance learning days due to COVID-19.

CenterState Bank requested an adjustment on its banking contract with the Okeechobee County School District. Due to recent reductions in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, CenterState Bank requested that the school district’s rate be reduced from a fixed rate of 3% to a fixed rate of 1%.

“Times have changed and they aren’t making as much money on investments,” explained Superintendent Ken Kenworthy. “So they have asked us to amend the contract for the remaining term of the agreement. Moving down from 3 percent to 1 percent on a monthly basis is about $23,000 in interest. You can do what they request and forfeit that interest or you can maintain the current contract. If you do that, my guess is you will get a termination letter from them because they need to get out from underneath from that 3 percent they’re currently paying.”

CenterState was the only respondent when the school district was looking for a banking partner in 2019.

The school board approved the rate change, with Melisa Jahner abstaining due to conflict because she is employed by CenterState.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment