Marathon will try to have graduation, prom
There will be an attempt to hold Marathon Public Schools graduations and a high school prom while still obeying Safer at Home orders from Gov. Tony Evers during the COVID-19 pandemic, principals told the local board of education last week Wednesday.
High school principal Dave Beranek said there is a slight possibility that an in-person graduation might be held at the end of the school year, but, if that is impossible, a virtual graduation sponsored by Jostens is an option. He said a summer graduation ceremony is a possibility, but he predicted it would be difficult to gather the entire Class of 2020 to hold the event.
Beranek said, too, his school would try to “honor” a junior prom by scheduling it later in the year. He said a contracted DJ is willing to entertain at the event when the high school finds a date that will work.
Marathon Venture Academy (MVA) principal Sarah Budny said she is planning for an eighth grade graduation but told school board members it may have to be a virtual event with slide shows.
The principals made their remarks prior to Gov. Evers announcing his “safer at home” executive order would remain in effect until Tuesday, May 26, and that public schools would not reopen this school year.
In other reports, the principals said distance learning was largely going well. Efforts have been made to provide all students with internet access, they said, and that large numbers of students are engaged with their school work. Beranek said 88 percent of high school students were doing their school work, while Budny said 95 of MVA students were highly engaged. “Both teachers and students are doing the best they can in the situation we have,” she said. “Most of the students are doing well. They are not struggling.”
The principals said normal grading of student work has been halted during the pandemic.
Beranek said that grades have been frozen at the high school. He said it was not fair to grade student distance learning work when students had different home environments and where some students had better computers. The principal said his students will get extra chances to turn in late work so they can complete courses. He said most of the school’s competitive scholarships based on grades had been awarded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At MVA, Budny said standards based grading would continue but without a worst “not yet” category. This category replaced the “F” grade.
In other board action:
_ District administrator Rick Parks said it was uncertain whether the district would hold a summer school and that not doing so would possibly cost the district between $120,000 and $150,000 in state aid. Principal Budny said summer school, as currently planned, would run for three weeks apiece in both June and July. She said teachers are willing to teach remedial education during afternoons at the summer school, if it is held.
Board members discussed possibly starting school early. Parks said the school district would need a Department of Public Instruction to do that, but, he added, the district could without a waiver hold a late “summer school” that might accomplish the same thing.
_ The board agreed to increase the elementary music teacher’s position from half to three-quarters time in grades Pre-K through 5. The addition will help a second grades 6-12 music teacher teach added lessons. Board member Lia Klumpyan pushed for the position saying that the school’s vocal music program has struggled for years.
_ Board members voted to paint the Marathon Area Elementary School
gymnasium at the end of April for up to $18,260.
_ The board approved a two year health insurance contract with Security Health Plan. The health plan will increase premiums $34,156 or 3.4 percent in a first year with a second year cap of 8.9 percent. It was announced the school district’s dental policy will renew at a zero percent increase.
_ Administrator Parks said he would negotiate payments to district bus company Fischer Transportation, Fenwood, based on what the company can possibly get through the federal Payroll Protection Program.
_ Board members granted teachers a $1,200 or 2.6 percent salary increase. Cost of the raises will be $65,000. Board president Brian Gumtz said he supported the pay increase. “In this stressful environment, this is the one thing that teachers don’t have to worry about,” he said. Board members also approved 2020-21 teacher contracts.
_ Administrator Parks announced that the Marathon Athletic Club had donated a timer and volleyball equipment worth $14,000 to the school district. He also said community members had donated an enormous amount of food towards the Fill A Backpack Fill A Belly program. Food bags, he said, were available in the high school main entrance.
_ Board members accepted the resignations of Kristen Ikert and Rhonda Siikarla.