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BOYCEVILLE —Superintendent Nick Kaiser updated Boyceville’s Board of Education on the progress of the district’s reopening plans for the 2020-21 school years during its July meeting held last Wednesday evening, July 15 in the Tiffany Creek Elementary IMC.
With just three of its five members present to constitute a quorum, Kaiser told the board during its half-hour meeting that a reopening committee comprised of 20 district employees had already met twice – on July 2 and 8, and that school building groups had also met earlier that day to work on plans and protocols to reopen school to students next month following the lengthy shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We did receive guidance, there was a document that came June 22 from the DPI and we are using that as a tool,” Kaiser told the board, adding that it is being added to each week.
Basically, Kaiser informed the board that the committee is working on a three-way plan for educating students in the fall.
“That’s obviously back here (at school), face-to-face, not here at all or virtual learning, and blended or hybrid as they call it,” Kaiser expounded.
“The hybrid part has lots of different opportunities but right now we are focusing on being here and figuring out what we can do that way,” continued Kaiser. “We will have blended options for those kids that cannot be here (in school) if they have health issues. For older kids, that do not want to be here, we have the virtual school option. There will also be opportunities for parents, depending on how they feel and depending on health issues.”
Kaiser explained that with each option there are protocols that have to be taken into consideration, some things are easier said than done.
“We did put out a family survey and will be doing a staff survey as well and will be going over that information next week and hope that will help lead us in the direction we are going,” said Kaiser.
“We want to get a plan to present to the board at the August 5th work session,” added Kaiser, “I feel like it could be a little late but the way things are changing I think it would be better to have it be that date than any earlier because I think things will change quite a bit over the next couple of weeks. It will be good to come to you (the board) with a decent framework of what we want to do although there will still be a lot of details still to work out.”
The committee wants to continue to develop those protocols and that is what the building groups are doing right now explained Kaiser.
“We have already worked through some food service issues, we are already getting some supplies ordered including personal protective equipment (PPE) that we need, additional computers and things like that,” stated Kaiser
But Kaiser said that his greatest concern is still the inequity of access for internet with kids.
“If we do end up having to shut down again or get forced to shut down or if students get sick and have to be at home and don’t have that internet connection; it is an issue we are still working on that.”
“The DPI has put out some information but I don’t think we are going to have a solid answer to start school with that as far as if we have people that don’t have internet,” Kaiser said. “That is something we will continue to work on.”
Kaiser said that while the committee has done a lot of work over a short period of time there is still much to be done. He also informed the board that should schools have to close once again, they have a reliable virtual-learning system in place with grades three through 12 using Google Classroom while pre-kindergarten through second grades will rely on Seesaw.
That led the superintendent into a discussion on summer school. Kaiser said that the district has been working in conjunction with the Dunn County Health Department to offer a summer school session which will take place July 21 through August 13. Kaiser stated that 17 students had registered for the session as of that evening’s meeting.
Kaiser also noted that the school’s annual audit was underway with much of the work being done virtually through Zoom and emails.
Finally, Kaiser told the board that the district’s annual meeting and budget hearing is slated for Wednesday, October 14 beginning at 6:00 p.m.
In other action the Boyceville Board of Education approved:
• The resignation of fourth grade teacher Bryor Hellmann, who has accepted a teaching position in the Mendota Heights, MN School District. In his resignation letter to Superintendent Kaiser and the board, Hellmann, who is a Boyceville graduate and native, wrote that it was a very difficult to leave the Boyceville School District but with his upcoming marriage, Hellmann has chosen to move closer to his fiancé’s location of employment in the Twin Cities.
• The hiring of Christina Mittlestadt to replace Hellmann as a fourth-grade teacher at Tiffany Creek Elementary. Kaiser informed the board that Mittlestadt, who has chosen from a field of 23 candidates, had once served as a substitute and para-educator in the district prior to returning to school to earn her teaching degree.
• The resignation of RuthAnn Ledgerwood as a co-yearbook advisor. In a related matter, the board hired Megan Steinkraus to replace Ledgerwood and Nancy White as the yearbook advisors.
• The hiring of Gretchen Pederson as the National Honor Society advisor. She will replace Karlene Berry who stepped down from the position.
• The resignation of Daryl Tryggestad as a bus driver.
• Approved the 2020-2021 Wisconsin Model Academic Standards which specify what students should know and be able to do in the classroom. The board also gave its stamp of approval for the 2020-2021 Academic and Career Planning Services.
• The renewal of an occupational therapy cooperative agreement with the Barron School District. The Boyceville School District will be responsible for 40 percent of the cost.