School committees discuss virtual school, funding and reentry planning

by Kate Evans
The Morgan County Schools strategic planning committee met on May 11 to discuss CARES funding possibilities, virtual school, homebound instruction, the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) and other issues.
The committee considered how to use the preliminary ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) relief funding that totaled $486,909.  The recommended priority was remote learning equity and access through devices and broadband support.
Principals had researched whether students in their schools have devices and/or access to the internet.  Some 1,100 more devices were needed for a true 1:1 computer/device ratio.
Other possible uses for the CARES funding could be added technology support, video recording studio equipment, special education devices and building needs.

Virtual school

The committee considered a virtual school option for all students and discussed issues such as a provider, eligibility, who would oversee the program, policy creation and more.  Virtual school was also considered at the curriculum and instruction meeting and a summary of that discussion was shared.
The enrollment period that the student would remain in the program would be for a year.  WV Virtual School would be the provider.

Homebound instruction

A homebound determination team similar to a SAT team (student assistance team) was proposed to review homebound instruction requests. The committee discussed who should be on that team since it involves a medical condition.  A team consisting of a nurse, SAT coordinator, counselor, teacher and administrator was considered.
The committee also talked about medical/homebound COVID-19 issues, having homebound teachers in homes and shifting to virtual delivery.

Education changing

The strategic planning committee discussed how the educational model of delivery is shifting and changing and how there’s a need for contingency planning.  They considered ideas for supporting staff and families and ways to deliver new instruction.
The committee is reviewing the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan.  There is no extension on time to complete the review.  Portions of the document-community analysis, education-are being proofread.  The facilities work is mostly finished.

Salary scale

The committee also talked about the supplemental salary scale.  For principals the salary scale is based on the number of kids enrolled in the school.  Committee members felt there is a need to reexamine this and consider removing enrollment as a salary determination and move to a per school amount.
The committee also discussed rotational increases, a rotational review or revising the entire supplemental salary scale.   Human Resources Director Russell Penner will review the issue and bring back his findings to a future committee meeting.

Curriculum committee

The Morgan County Schools curriculum and instruction committee also met on May 11 and addressed school re-entry planning, virtual school policy, SAT/PSAT fall testing dates and other topics.
Regarding school re-entry planning, the committee noted that the state task force is working on nine different focus areas.  There are currently three plans for reopening schools in the fall-traditional in-school learning, blended home/school learning and remote learning.  They’re examining the current digital tools for instruction-hardware, internet and educational platforms.
New instruction must be offered in the fall which will be challenging in a blended/remote learning situation.  The committee discussed parent needs, rethinking buses, cafeteria and classroom changes, training for families and staff professional development opportunities.

Virtual school policy

Curriculum and instruction committee members wanted to update the current policy to reflect selection criteria such as grade point averages. (GPA)  They considered possible application approval through a student assistance team (SAT) committee along with an application deadline in the spring.
WV Virtual School is being looked at as a possible provider.  The committee also touched on the SAT/IEP/ appeal process.

SAT/PSAT exams

Seniors will be able to take the SAT exam for free in the fall. Juniors are required to take the PSAT/NMSQT exam on October 14.  Freshman and sophomores will take the PSAT exam in the spring of 2021.
Seniors could have the option to take SAT School Day on October 14.  SAT School Day allows students to take the suite of SAT exams at school, expanding access to the nationally recognized college admission exam.

Other

The committee was updated about a grant request to support COVID-19 efforts.  Grant funds are being used for other purposes in the community and they’ll reapply next year.
The academic competitions committee met before schools closed.  Members wanted to mark standards so staff can know how to best support teachers and students.

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