Extended COVID-19 leave approved for Fort Smith Public School employees

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 625 views 

With federal and state leave associated with the COVID-19 pandemic set to expire at the end of the month, the Fort Smith Public Schools (FSPS) Board of Education on Monday (Dec. 14) adopted a resolution providing up to 10 days of District COVID leave.

The District will provide these additional leave days to employees who test positive for the COVID virus or because they were quarantined as a close contact by the district, a medical professional or the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

Incoming FSPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Morawski said, “We believe that it is important to encourage employees to quarantine when required without having to fear any insurmountable loss of district sick leave. This provision approved by the board tonight is designed to close any gap that may be present until additional federal or state COVID-19 leave is renewed, extended or replaced.”

Action approved is not a change in policy, but a new procedure to be applied by the district. The procedure becomes effective Jan. 4. Eligible FSPS employees may use the FSPS COVID leave, at the District’s expense, before regular sick leave if an employee is unable to telework and has tested positive or is identified as a probable close contact as described. The leave may be awarded retroactive to the date of onset of COVID-19 symptoms or exposure if absences occur on or after Jan. 4, a news release said. The provision will expire when the current government subsidized paid leave is renewed, extended or replaced, or as of May 31.

Also during the meeting, Morawski announced that Martin Mahan, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, was named deputy superintendent of Fort Smith Public Schools. Mahan has served in his current position since July 2019 and worked in public education for almost 30 years. Morawski made the announcement during the superintendent’s report, which he presented Monday night in the absence of Superintendent Dr. Doug Brubaker’s.

Morawski has served as the deputy superintendent since 2018. The board agreed to promote Morawski as the new FSPS superintendent Nov. 10 after accepting Brubaker’s resignation. Brubaker has been named the new superintendent of the Texarkana, Texas, Independent School District. His first day on the job there will be Jan. 4.

During his tenure with the Fort Smith Public Schools, Mahan has held a variety of roles including assistant superintendent of human resources and campus support, executive director of human resources, director of secondary education, principal at Northside High School, principal at Kimmons Junior High, assistant principal at Darby Junior High, and social worker/counselor and instructor at Belle Point Alternative Center. Mahan holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Henderson State University, a master’s degree in education from the University of Arkansas and an educational specialist degree from Arkansas Tech University.

“Mr. Mahan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role. He is Fort Smith Public Schools proud, and I am honored to serve with him as he enters this new role with the district,” Morawski said.

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