Audit faults New Lebanon cybersecurity

A State Comptroller’s audit identified faults in the New Lebanon Central School District’s IT security. File photo

NEW LEBANON — As school districts await guidance for fall reopenings, the New Lebanon Central School District wants to embrace in-person learning.

“I would like to go ahead and plan for full in-person for all students,” District Superintendent Andrew Kourt told the Board of Education.

The district has been waiting for guidance from the state about requirements for remote instruction in the fall, but to no avail.

Kourt said the district did not receive an estimate from the state regarding when districts will have guidance.

“We just advocated for sooner than later,” he said.

Kourt recommended the district offer virtual instruction only if mandated to do it.

If the district is required by New York state to provide virtual instruction, Kourt said he believes the district should use a service from Questar III BOCES instead of doing it on its own.

BOCES has said it will offer a virtual instruction program, but Kourt does not know how much it will cost, he said.

“What that cost is, how many students we’re talking, I don’t know,” he said.

Kourt hopes outsourcing remote instruction will encourage families to send their students to school in person because the virtual teaching will not come from district staff, he said.

There is always a home-school option, and the district will have to look into what to do if a student has medical leave and a doctor’s note, Kourt said.

Teachers have struggled to provide both in-person and remote instruction and it’s not normal or typical for teachers to do so, Kourt said.

“It’s impossible to maintain for everyone,” he said. “I don’t think we can ask them to do that again.”

Students and faculty can now be unmasked outdoors based on Department of Health guidance, Kourt said.

The district has received $285,473 from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which can be used within two years and $618,672 from the American Rescue Plan, which can be used within three years, he said.

The funds can not be used for allocations already in the budget, Kourt said. The money is specifically for COVID-19 relief and instruction loss.

The grant application for the money is due Monday and the plan for using the funding will be on the district website by July 1, Kourt said.

“We have to use it,” he said. “If we don’t use it, we lose it, and we have to use it for very specific things.”

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