Members of the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education met Friday to approve an application for a waiver of attendance requirements.
Superintendent Khris Thexton also updated the board on the continuous learning plan being followed during the pandemic, and the board approved personnel changes. The meeting was held using Zoom, with board members, administrators and guests meeting online from various locations.
Thexton explained that the waiver of attendance application is required by the Kansas State Department of Education because the district won’t fulfill the usual school term of 1,116 hours of education in the schools. The district was only open for 840 hours during the 2019-2020 school year and is requesting a waiver from the remaining 276 hours.
The district is required to send a copy of its continuous learning plan to the state.
“If we need to make adjustments, that is fine,” Thexton said. “This has been a process that we’re going through; we’re trying our best to make this as useful to families and as productive as possible. We’re trying to be flexible with families and support them as much as possible.”
Board members had questions about whether students’ social-emotional needs are also being met. That is also addressed in the continuous learning plan.
“Are counselors reaching out?” board member Don Williams asked.
“Definitely,” Thexton said. “GBHS is easier because of email. We definitely have kids that are on the radar, even before this happened.” If necessary, the district will send people out to check on families. And, teachers are mindful that the lesson plans sent out may also be a source of stress.
Assistant Superintendent John Popp said The Center for Counseling and Consultation is also working with USD 428 counselors. “It’s going to be a multi-team approach to make sure we are touching bases with these kids.”
Board member Deanna Essmiller asked about social interaction. “Are any teachers doing a classroom Zoom (meeting) to their whole class?”
At GBHS, most teachers record classes and post them on video, Popp said. Students have a chance to log in and ask questions.
“My daughter had two whole class Zoom lessons,” he said. “They had a lot of fun just waving to each other.” He said the interaction is happening in different ways across the district.
This is the time of year when teachers often announce their resignations, effective at the end of the school year. The board accepted resignations from Deanna Curtis, teacher of special education at Lincoln Elementary School, and Tanner Dahlke, teacher of special education at Riley Elementary School.
The board also approved the appointment of Whitney Bowen, who will be a technology specialist at Riley Elementary School.