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District asks for flexibility during school shutdown

Cadott School Board

With ever changing circumstances during the school shutdown, the Cadott School District asked for flexibility, during a public hearing and regular school board meeting April 13.

The school board held a public hearing on a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) waiver for hours/minutes of instruction and a DPI waiver on educator effectiveness.

Superintendent Jenny Starck explained the hours/minutes waiver, if approved, would allow the district to end the year with fewer hours than normally mandated by the state. Students in grades one to six are normally required to have 1,050 minutes of instruction each year, and grades seven to 12 need 1,137 hours of instruction.

“Even with online things that we are able to do, there are really specific criteria for DPI that you have to meet,” said Starck.

One of those specifics is a certain percentage of students having the internet bandwidth to access the school programs. Starck says the Cadott community isn’t set up for that level of internet access yet.

“What this (waiver) would do, is allow us, for this school year only, is waive the minutes of instruction, based on the COVID-19 public health emergency,” said Starck.

The educator effectiveness waiver deals with how all the teachers are evaluated through a DPI program. Starck says the program can’t be completed if teachers and students are not in the classroom, and state assessments aren’t completed. Starck says some teachers will be able to finish the program this year.

“But for most teachers, that would roll them over into next year,” said Starck.

Tony Riley, board member, asked if there were any teachers on performance enhancement. Starck said there wasn’t anyone they were looking at recommending for non-renewal.

In a meeting following the hearing, board members approved the waivers.

Bids for a new floor scrubber were also approved during the meeting. Members approved the purchase of a floor scrubber from for $19,747.

Mark Schley, board member, asked if the district received more than one bid for the equipment. Starck said they did, and that the prices were very similar for the same model.

Riley asked how long the scrubbers typically last. Sue Shakal, director of finance and human resources, said the current scrubber is about 10 years old.

Members also approved a donation of $380 from Tyrel Danielson for school library books.

Starck also reported on happenings from the Committee of the Whole meeting the previous week. Action was taken during the meeting to expedite items during the school shutdown. During the committee meeting, members approved bids from Hagen Decorators, Inc, for $16,326 for painting the outside of the elementary school gym. They also approved bids for welding ventilation, from Certified, for $121,863.

In the consent agenda, members approved the hire of Dalan Hartman, as the junior and senior high art teacher for the 2020-21 school year.

Policies were also discussed during the committee meeting. Starck says a voting policy was discussed, but no action was taken because the current policy on voting already allows board members to vote remotely.

Some of the policies discussed at the committee meeting were brought for a vote at the regular meeting. A policy on quorum was discussed to allow members to attend meetings in person or virtually.

Public participation during the pandemic was also discussed, where a policy change would allow people to email or mail public comments ahead of meetings, to be shared. The changes were approved, after board members voted to suspend the second reading of the policies.

Starck also updated the board on student lunches during reports. She said lunch numbers are leveling out and the program has helped the district get chromebooks and assignments to students. “Eventually now, we can get some things back,” said Starck.

Starck also says a distance learning plan is being built as they go. She says the district is working to get a better idea of who is unable or struggling to access the online work.

“I have seen more and more people sitting in the parking lot, using the internet,” said Starck.

Rod Tegels, board president, asked if it would be possible for video lessons to be put on flash drives for students without access. Starck says the district does have flash drives that might work for transferring the lessons.

The board also heard a budget update. Starck showed how expenditures are slightly lower than projected for this point in the year. She said some of that difference is because students are not in the buildings.

“There are some extracurriculars that aren’t happening,” said Starck. “There are some materials that we would have purchased for classes...we’ll wait and purchase them when they’re going to use them.”

As a “heads up” to the board, Starck said summer school is a big part of the district’s state aid, so if they are not able to have summer school, it could affect aid. She also noted the state has talked about re-addressing the state budget, depending on how long the public health crisis lasts.

“Our budget could possibly be flat instead of the increase we were promised,” said Starck.

Following a closed session, the board approved language changes, as presented, to the 2020-21 superintendent’s contract.