Board of education approves new fall semester end date

Judd Weil
Dodge City Daily Globe
USD 443 deputy superintendent Scott Springston relays the growing need for technical support expertise in the school district to the Board of Education at its Monday meeting.

The Dodge City USD 443 Board of Education meeting on Monday was a mostly informative one, with the board receiving several updates regarding activities in the district, ongoing changes made to the 2020-2021 school year and COVID-19 cases.

The board passed, 6-0, the amended USD 443 Academic Calendar for 20202021 presented by assistant superintendent of secondary education Matt Turner. The second quarter of school will end Dec. 18.

Because of the uncertainty of COVID-19, when the board voted at the July 27 meeting to start school on Aug. 25, the second quarter was originally set to end on Jan. 8, 2021.

The primary reasons for ending the second quarter of the school year on Dec. 18 are:

• It will allow early graduates to have all their grades posted as an early graduate, thus making them eligible for any financial assistance offered in the spring that they would have missed if they did not finish until after winter break.

• By finishing before break, all students will begin their third-quarter classes upon returning from winter break, whereas under the previous model, students would have attended their second quarter classes for one week and then switched to third quarter.

Assistant superintendent of elementary education Tami Knedler gave the board information regarding teachers adjusting and learning the assisting programs that accompany Remote Live Learning via Google Training Opportunities.

There are about 20 teachers signed up for each training, according to Knedler, and they are optional for one hour in the evening.

The first round of modules that teachers will attend include Kami, Google Meet and Google Forms, and Google Slides and Google Docs. The current module is Kami, a Google Classroom add-on.

After the first round of training, more teachers are intended to participate for a second set of trainings.

“We are requiring the Google platform and we are trying to provide training for that so that everybody has an opportunity to utilize it to the best of their ability,” said superintendent Fred Dierksen.

The board received an overview of the District Instructional Intervention Protocols, from deputy superintendent Scott Springston, with Sunnyside instructional coach Brandon Miller and Sunnyside third-grade teacher Priscilla Morton.

This is the district’s third year of systemic design and implementation of alignment of instruction, collecting student performance data, collaboration structures and most importantly, tiered instructional supports to meet all students’ needs academically and behaviorally.

The first tier consisted of accessing and privatizing individual student growth while supplying tools to teachers to ensure that all students understand the math and reading material instructed at their grade level.

After having put in the extensive work of the first tier, the second tier of the process is ready to begin, with the 2020-2021 school year being the second full year of utilizing these district protocols and resources while producing a more enhanced level of support that teachers and administrators need.

The board at another meeting will be presented with information regarding the potential need for additional staffing to provide district-wide technical support expertise to meet the growing levels necessary of academic and instructional supports.

Springston provided an academic update on English Language Arts rollout, district Math Workgroup and Google Classroom and a need for technical expertise and support at the district level.

District director of safety and security Shawn Lampe closed out the meeting with a COVID-19 update for the district.

Lampe reported that as of 3:13 p.m. Monday, there were 22 people, 14 staff members and eight students quarantined with active coronavirus cases.

“It’s kind of stayed right in that area, between 20 and 30, and it seems to be our staff more than our students,” Lampe said.

Information regarding COVID-19 in USD 443 is updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the district website.

According to Lampe, 116 students and 23 staff members were quarantined as of Monday due to exposure.

Most teachers who are quarantined but are not ill are said to be teaching from home, while other personnel assist them by physically monitoring activities in their classroom.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held Oct. 26.