Despite COVID-19 throwing the current school year up in the air, the Joplin Board of Education made preparations for summer school and afterward on Tuesday night.

It approved the application for summer school, purchased buses and authorized construction projects at several district buildings.

The district opened enrollment for this year's summer school program. Sarah Mwangi, assistant superintendent of learning services, said that alterations to the current year's schedule may require adjustments to the dates of the program. But for now, the schedule is May 27 to June 26.

While high school students still require a paper-based enrollment, students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade may be enrolled online at joplinschools.org.

Superintendent Melinda Moss encouraged parents to enroll their students.

"Summer learning loss is a real thing," Moss said during the meeting. "I think this year it will be even more crucial for parents to send their children. It strengthens their academics and gives them quality things to do."

The board approved the purchase of six school buses from Midwest Transit for $614,108. Of two bids received, it was the higher bid — Midwest Bus Sales Inc. offered a bid of $608,239 — but Midwest Transit was able to provide more safety features, said Mike Bevis, director of transportation.

The safety features Bevis cited included a specific braking system, the rear bumper and a switch for overhead four-way lights being located on the steering wheel.

The purchase of cases for Chromebooks, intended to be distributed among high school students, was authorized by the board. KCAV will furnish cases for the laptop computers at a cost of $49,197. The lowest bid was provided by Bump Armor, at $38,082, but district officials said similar cases in use at the middle school level were less sturdy, with corners peeling up and areas becoming soft and worn, according to documentation provided to the board.

In its consent agenda, the board approved a number of construction projects.

The metal roof of the Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Office will be replaced by DMC General Contracting at a cost of $92,100.

A replacement heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for McKinley Elementary, including 19 rooftop units, will be installed by Satterlee Plumbing, Heating and Air at a cost of $218,850.

Cracks in asphalt at six buildings — Joplin High School; Royal Heights, McKinley, Stapleton and Cecil Ford elementary schools; and the food service building — will be sealed by Logan Paving at a cost of $37,760.25.

An east-facing window in the cafeteria of Royal Heights will be replaced by Commercial Glass and Metal for $27,974.

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

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