PCSD32 board amends calendar

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The Perry County District 32 School Board spent a majority of its latest meeting on Nov. 12, looking to the future, specifically the second semester and just what it will look like. The board approved an amended 2020-2021 academic calendar that would eliminate a majority of the “flex days” on Wednesdays and added 11 days of face-to-face instruction, 44 for A-day students and 45 for B-day students starting in the second semester. Those numbers are up from 33 days of face-to-face instruction for grades 6-12. The academic calendar was amended by collaborating with a group of teachers, community members and Board members Nancy Voelker, Mary Bauwens and Ashley Geringer Bauwens asked how the teachers took the news, as they had grown fond of the Wednesday flex days from the high school level. “Right now it’s hard to wrap your head around it because there is so much that these teachers do,” Assistant Superintendent Jeanie White said. “It’s not about asking the teachers to do more, but what can we do so they can do less? When the teachers spend this semester planning in-school and out-of-school assignments, there’s a lot of planning going on. So how can we help the teachers and still provide the proper instruction?” To help with that the different buildings on the campus have different plans on how to get more students in each building starting on Jan. 5 when the district returns from Christmas break. The Primary and Elementary Schools are currently implementing a cohort system and will continue to do that five days per week. In the middle school, more than 500 students will be split into a “green” block and a “white” block. With all the kids returning, one group would do their core classes, while the other would be in their exploratory classes. The classes would go to a 90-minute block, which actually picks up a section of instruction, which is another exploratory class. “We’ve been through this with a fine tooth comb, but we think it will work out,” Middle School principal Milt Wick said.

At the high school, A-day students will attend Monday and Tuesday, but if they are needing assistance they can come to school on Thursdays and Fridays, but will be placed in a separate room away from B-day students. The process is vice-versa for B-day students. High school Principal Jeff Steffens said that the change would require a sign-up process to ensure the limited space is not overwhelmed. “If kids need a quiet place to get away from their cellphones and complete their assignments, they can do that,” High school Principal Jeff Steffens said. The meeting continued as Superintendent Andy Comstock reminded the board of the selection process for the John T. Belcher scholarship. Each school that belongs to MSBA, submits a nominee from their District for the John T. Belcher scholarship. A $1,000 annual scholarship is awarded to a student in each of MSBA’s 17 regions. Applicants are judged on the basis of academic performance, extracurricular activities and the quality of an essay. A statewide winner is selected from the group of regional winners and awarded an additional $1,500. The Board was asked for two board members to work on the committee to help select the nominee from the district. Mary Bauwens and Ashley Geringer volunteered to work on the selection committee. The application deadline is Jan. 11, 2021. Dan Querry ended the meeting as he presented the technology program evaluation. He talked about some of the improvements taken on by the technology department which include 75 Verizon hotspots that students will be able to use for their online assignments, amongst several other improvement items.

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