Mid-Prairie Community School District
Kalona, Wellman, West Chester
Mid-Prairie High School Multi-Purpose Room, Wellman, IA 52356
July 27, 2020 – 7:00 p.m.
President Marianne Schlabach called the meeting to order.
Board members present Mary Allred, Denise Chittick, Gabrielle Frederick, Jeremy Gugel, Jodi Meader, Jeremy Pickard (joined the meeting at 7:16 p.m.), and Marianne Schlabach.
Board members absent: Jeremy Pickard (arrived at 7:16 p.m.).
Staff Present: Superintendent Mark Schneider, Business Manager/Board Secretary Jeff Swartzentruber, High School Principal Jay Strickland, Middle School Principal Marc Pennington, West Elementary Principal Bill Poock, Alternative Learning Center Principal Amy Shalla, Home School Assistance Program Director Rachel Kerns, Learning Design Coach Frank Slabaugh.
Approximately 50 additional people attended representing the public, parents, and staff.
Gabrielle Frederick moved to adopt the agenda as presented. Seconded by Jodi Meader. Motion carried 6-0.
School Nurses for 2020-2021 School Year
Superintendent Schneider presented a rationale to the Board for the hiring of additional nursing staff to bring Nurse staffing levels to 4 Full Time Equivalent’s (FTE’s). Due to the COVID pandemic, the need for additional nursing services in each building will increase significantly. He expanded upon the reasons. Currently, there is approximately 2.75 FTE’s on staff. If we cannot have 4 FTE nurses on staff, then Schneider would request the ability to hire a health paraprofessional staff to fill the gap. The funding will come from General Fund and General Fund Reserves.
Denise Chittick moved to approve the increase of Nurses up to 4 FTE’s as recommended. Mary Allred seconded the motion. Motion carried 6-0.
Mid-Prairie Virtual Academy
Superintendent Schneider and Frank Slabaugh, Learning Design Coach, updated the Board on the approval by the State of the Mid-Prairie Virtual Academy. Frank has been working on the Virtual Academy for approximately the past year and more intensively the past 3 months. The State’s approval makes Mid-Prairie the 7th School District in Iowa with a Virtual Academy. It is intended that the District will contract with Edmentum, who will provide the Iowa certified teachers. Slabaugh discussed early planning for the numbers of students at the various levels within K-12. He also shared about the level of participation required by parents, especially at the K-5 levels. If and upon passage, the Virtual Academy will need a Principal. Additionally and finally, Schneider recommended Frank Slabaugh to take on the role of Interim Principal in this initial year of the Virtual Academy’s operation.
Denise Chittick moved to approve the creation, implementation, and services of the Mid-Prairie Virtual Academy to begin operations in the 2020-2021 School Year as presented. Jeremy Gugel seconded the motion. Motion carried 6-0.
Gabrielle Frederick moved to approve the appointment of Frank Slabaugh as Interim Principal of the Mid-Prairie Virtual Academy for the 2020-2021 School Year. Jodi Meader seconded the motion. Motion carried 6-0.
Administrative Recommendation for the Start of School (Jeremy Pickard arrived at 7:16 p.m.)
Superintendent Schneider presented the Administrative Recommendation for the Start of School Plan for the 2020-2021 School Year. He noted that the Board has stated no action will be taken at tonight’s meeting. The recommendations are the “big rocks”—the larger items related to the plan—details will be worked out on many items, including but not limited to building level initiatives, leading up to the first day of School on August 24th—4 weeks from today, July 27th. The Board is tasked with evaluating the recommendations, modifying them, and/or taking a different direction altogether. Highlights included:
- Since May 14th the Administrative Team has met 21 times to discuss the elements of the start of school for the 2020-2021 School Year with the last meeting taking place on July 27 just prior to tonight’s meeting. In between those meetings, the Administrators and Directors have been gathering information, participating in on-line trainings and meetings to gather necessary background information on the many levels of COVID;
- The Administrative Recommendation contains three options for student learning with corresponding approach and emphasis of each:
- Part-time In-Person – Students will attend in two groups during, at least the first 4.5 weeks of school, which will reach a 50% attendance time and approximate 50% building capacity; Social Distancing was the number one concern of Staff related to in-person;
- Mid-Prairie Virtual Academy 100% Online Learning – Curriculum and course choice will be provided by Edmentum with Iowa licensed teachers;
- Home School Assistance Program – A Parent-driven curriculum that is assisted by Supervising Teachers within the program;
- Health Information – This element of the recommendation includes parameters for visitors, face coverings, parents to screen their children/students’ health daily, employees will certify at the beginning of the school year to screen their own health on a daily basis, Implementation of desk/counter dividers, hand sanitizer availability will be a priority, employee training, building specific health and safety procedures tailored for each building, travel restrictions/quarantine for out of country travel, tracking of cases and use of Washington County Public Health Quarantine Guidelines;
- Transportation Information – Transporting of students, bus/vehicle disinfection and cleaning, bus/vehicle ventilation, comparison and delineation between transport to/from school as compared to transport for Mid-Prairie activities;
- Cleaning/Disinfecting Buildings – Processes, strategies, and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting buildings by Custodians and Staff;
The Board listened and asked questions for further clarification. Questions centered on classroom capacity in each building.
President Schlabach opened the meeting for public comment related to the Start of School Plan ideas and recommendations by saying the initial plan is to spend one hour at 8:35 p.m. within the Public Forum. Numerous people spoke on various topics related to the Opening of School including Social Distancing, communication with parents during the process from May to now, people with underlying health conditions—staff and students, a desire to make a requirement of face masks/face coverings for everyone, back up plan if/when the Governor shuts things down again, discussion of the desired permanent plan and what this “end game” might look like, what is the longer term plan—not just the first 4.5 weeks, comments about childcare centers issues versus school issues during part-time in-person school, comments and on mental health impact on children for part-time in-person.
President Schlabach closed the Public Form at 9:35 p.m.
School Board Discussion about the Start of School Plan
President Schlabach led the Board in continued discussion for the Start of School Plan for the 2020-2021 School Year. She asked the Board to share their individual concerns and perspectives about the options and recommendations currently on the table. The time spent sharing perspectives provided the board with insights into Board perspectives. It also provided the Board with opportunity to ask Administrators for information on specific areas of questions. There was encouragement for creative ways to solve the some of the issues and maybe have additional options. Concern for mental health conditions was highlighted, as were social interaction possibilities. There was encouragement of the Board to consider a 100%, “all in” option— and a request to hear thoughts from parents and staff on this option in either additional survey(s) and/or emails to the Board.
Announcements and Suggestions for Next Meeting
Location and Time of Future Meetings
The next Board meeting will be on Monday, August 3, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at the High School Cafetorium—or room to be determined based upon anticipated size of attendance. This will be a single topic meeting on the Return to Learn Decision by the School Board.
The next regularly scheduled Board meeting will then be on Monday, August 10, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. with location most likely at the Central Office in the Community Room.
The meeting adjourned at 10:12 p.m.