(By Matt Pedigo, The Citizen-Times, February 15, 2018, Used with Permission)
In the February regular session of the Allen County Board of Education Monday, Director of Instruction Rick Fisher provided a summary of how the first trial of a new snow-day school work program went.
Last winter, when nclass@home was added as an instructional option, was much milder than this winter. There were no snow days to make up. But this January, with school being out 10 days for both the flu and snow, nclass@home was deployed for the first time.
The program is available in both digital and printed versions, for students who don’t have internet access or whose homes have older computers with incompatible browsers. The digital lessons are available by going to the School District’s website, allen.kyschools.us, and clicking on the nclass@home icon beneath the “District News” section of the homepage. Students in all grades can get their “school’s out” lessons and homework there.
The program was recently tested to see how many students cannot access the online version. It was about half, Fisher said. Those students were given printed homework packets.
State law allows up to 10 days to be made up via the home lesson system; in Allen County, administrators still believe classroom time is better, so nclass@home work only kicks in after the fifth day out.
With the exception of Allen County-Scottsville High School—which marked its participation rates as 86.07, 83.57 and 80.97 respectively in days one through three in which nclass@home was used—all schools’ participation rates were well above 90 percent for the days it was used. The highest participation rate was among Allen County Intermediate Center fourth-graders, with 99.6-percent participation all three days. District wide, the vast majority of students did the nclass@home work, with lowest daily rate being 93.472 percent on day three.
“Schools have stayed on the students who didn’t,” Fisher added.
Fisher also conducted faculty satisfaction surveys, rating one to five from little to top satisfaction. In terms of satisfaction with students doing the work, nearly 90 percent scored it at least a “three.”
In addition to at least somewhat keeping the curriculum flowing over school outages, Allen County Primary Center teacher Tim Wilson noted another benefit to having the nclass@home program in place. After the long illness/snow closure, he said, “Teachers said the kids came in more ready to learn—especially in procedures. We didn’t have to review as much.”
As the program was used for real the first time, administrators were available at the Central Office for parents or students to call with questions. As participants got used to the system, the calls tapered off. Fisher said.
“We had 61 calls the first day, about half that the second day and a scant maybe 10 calls on the third day,” he said.
The program may be used again this semester. Winter’s not over—nor is the flu and sickness epidemic. Director of Pupil Personnel Garry DeWitt said attendance is still sagging due to illness, despite the dismissed school days and a thorough cleaning of all schools.
“Flu’s got a lot of people, and strep’s got a lot of people,” he said.
For the month-five period of the school year—December 7 through January 22—was 92.64 percent. That’s down from last year’s rate for the same time frame (94.21 percent) and it’s actually worse now. For Monday, the district-wide rate was 89.4 percent. That includes 87 percent at the Allen County Primary Center and Intermediate Center, and 91 percent at Allen County-Scottsville High School and James E. Bazzell Middle School.
Administrators will be watching attendance rates this week to determine if school may be closed again due to illness.
The new in-school clinic has helped some, Director of Business Operations Brian Carter reported. In its first 28 days of operation, the new Patriot Clinic in AC-S has served 305 patients, he said. Of those, 142 have been students, and another 139 have been faculty members. The remaining 24 patients have been family members of faculty, or local retired educators.
On average, the clinic has seen about 11 patients a day in its four hours of daily operation.
“We’ve been able to send several kids back to class because of it,” Carter said.
In other business:
•Superintendent Randall Jackson reported that the District seems to have dodged a big budgetary bullet. Jackson said Green River Regional Education Cooperative superintendents, including him, had travelled to Frankfort to meet with legislators as the General Assembly neared the halfway point of its 60-day 2018 session. These included Allen County’s delegation, State Rep. Wilson Stone (D-22nd District) and State Sen. David Givens (R-Ninth District).
“The message we’re getting is that Governor (Matt) Bevin’s (R) budget as proposed would not get through,” Jackson said.
He noted that Bevin’s proposed budget sought “deep cuts to education.” Allen County’s state funding cut would have been as much as $1.2 to $1.4 million, he added.
“The universal consensus among the legislators is that this will not happen,” Jackson said.
At the halfway point of a session that legislators of
both parties said would be dominated by the need for pension reform and to
draft a bi-ennial budget, neither issue has seen resolution.
•The board gave unanimous second reading to the District’s 2018-2019 school year calendar. Thursday, Aug. 9 will be the first day of school for students. October 1-5 is Fall Break. School would be out for Thanksgiving on Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 21-23, and for Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 3.
The Christmas Break will be Monday, Dec. 17 through Tuesday, Jan.
1, 2019, with school resuming on January 2. In that, however, Monday and
Tuesday, Dec. 17-18, are listed as make-up days should school see fall semester
closures for early snow or illnesses.
In the spring 2019 semester, holidays include Monday, Jan. 21 for Martin Luther King Day, Spring Break as Monday through Friday, Apr. 1-5. Good Friday, Apr. 19, is out, but can be used as a make-up day if needed. The last day of school for students—barring makeup days for snow or illness—as Thursday, May 23. Should make-up days cause school to continue beyond that day, schools would close for Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, with makeup days scheduled for weekdays from Tuesday, May 28 through Thursday, June 13.
Over the course of the year, school would also be out
periodically for teacher professional development days, which are all on
Mondays and set for the following dates: September 24, October 22, November 12
and February 18.