State of The Schools….by DCS Superintendent Jim Kent
State of the Schools
Sixth Coronavirus edition/April Board Meeting
It is safe to bet that life will not return to normal any time soon. Social distancing, closing schools and other entities as well as having people stay at home is certainly flattening the curve. That flattening is resulting in a peak of the curve that is constantly being moved back. That peak was originally predicted to be in early April, now the prognostication is mid-May. Since there still is not a case within the Southwest Health District, the peak here might be early June.
With that being said, the board made several decisions at the April meeting.
The board voted to cancel Prom for the 2020 year.
The board voted to postpone Graduation. The subject of when to schedule the ceremony will appear on the board’s June agenda. My interpretation of the board’s feeling is that they would still like to have as normal of a graduation ceremony as possible. Just a reminder everyone who meets our graduation requirements will get a diploma, the ceremony is a public celebration of the student’s achievements sponsored by the school.
End of general instruction
Based on the administration’s recommendation, the board voted to end general instruction for students on Friday, May 8. The remainder of the teacher contract days will be spent working with targeted students who need extra assistance to pass the fourth quarter and be ready for next year. Whether next year is the third grade or college.
The board also passed a resolution to have the teachers and administration develop plans to calculate student grades for fourth quarter based on effort and academic accomplishment. The plan is to maintain a grading structure that is as close as possible to what we normally do. It is very possible for students who have declined to do the work assigned to fail fourth quarter and the semester. The guidance from the Governor and Commissioner of Education was clear that we provide continuity of instruction, which translates to continued effort on the part of students. If you tried, you are probably okay, if you decided you did not have to do school work you could have a problem. The information coming from the school in general and me in particular has very consistently stressed that students are expected to complete the work and that TRYING would generate some leniency. This was never about starting summer vacation in March.
It was very good to have superintendent-elect Rick Haney sit in on the meeting via the Zoom connection. Hopefully, his schedule will allow him to be in on the next two as well.
The board approved part time teaching contracts for the 2020-2021 school year for Nic Leiting (Spanish) and Jenn Loker (Math/Spanish). With that action all of our known certificated staff openings for next year are filled.
The board also approved the installation of a new and improved roof over the Benkelman Elementary Gym. That roof is 18 years old and has a 10-year warranty and the new one will have a 20-year warranty. Weathercraft will do the work at a cost of $36,020 out of the Special Building Fund.
This is the sixth week I have written a communication to all of you about the coronavirus and how we are handling the situation as a school district.
Our staff has done and is continuing to do a fantastic job exercising ‘continuity of education” for our students. Many of our students have done a great job of working hard to continue to learn. That is difficult for students of all ages, kindergarten or college, as well as the teachers and parents.
I realize that ‘schooling at home’ is not the best situation but we are not in control of that. What we are in control of is how we deal with the situation. As a school we are going to try to provide instruction within the limits that are place upon us, we are embracing this situation as a new learning experience, an opportunity to grow. Hopefully, everyone is making the choice to look at this in a positive light and as an opportunity for growth. There is not one thing that will have more impact on the success of ‘continuity of learning’ than a positive attitude. It is my hope that all of you get ‘infected’ with that positive attitude.