School Board extends school day, discusses new procedures
(Rosebud, Texas) - During a regularly scheduled meeting of the Rosebud-Lott Board of Trustees, the board approved adding an additional 30 minutes of instructional time to each school day.
This is in response to the TEA’s suggestion that districts extended the school year in order to account for the educational gap that is expected in the aftermath of the COVID-19 disruptions during the 2019-2020 school year.
It will give a total of an additional 11 days worth of time to students, which combined with the three built-in backup days will result in a total of 14 days worth of minutes. These additional minutes can be used to ensure that in the event the district must close for a COVID-19 related reason, the school year will not have to be extended into the month of June nor will students miss out on instructional minutes required by the Texas Education Agency. Each campus has different ways they plan to utilize these additional minutes each day, as Superintendent Dr. Jim Rosebrock is leaving the allocation up to the discretion of administrators.
Jonathan Shaw, newly promoted RLES principal, plans to add an additional five minutes to each class period, making tem 80 minutes long instead of 75. It will be used as an intervention time, for STAAR review, and will allow time for teachers to clean between classes. Other procedures being put in place include limiting the common use of spaces, spreading out cafeteria usage, and staggering recess times. During lunch, half the students will be spread throughout the cafeteria and the other half will eat in their classrooms, the system to be rotated every six weeks. Students will be expected to report to their classroom upon arrival and will be dismissed from there as well.
At the high school level, Jarrod Barton plans to use the additional 30 minutes in the day to add five minutes to each class period as well, making them 50 minutes long. The minutes will ideally be used for STAAR remediation, UIL practices, athletics, and implementing two support periods. There will also be two separate lunch periods to minimize the number of students in the cafeteria at one time, as well as adding the use of the gymnasium for lunch to further spread students.
This change also did away with two of the three early release days throughout the year. The only early release day will be Dec. 18, just before winter break.
The district will be providing an option for virtual learning to those parents who want it. Of a survey given to families, about 80 percent of respondents said they would be sending their child to class, though this was only about 50 percent of households within RLISD, according to Rosebrock.
“I’ve got about 50 percent that have not responded,” he said. “So, we’re going to call every parent to see what their intentions are.”
There are a number of tools that will be purchased to accomplish this goal. During the meeting board members approved purchasing a license for the Wisdom Learning Management System, which will replace google classroom on the virtual learning side.
“We are required by the state to have a learning management system,” Rosebrock told trustees. “We have to prove to the state that they are actually logged in and doing the work.”
The system allows for timestamps of how long students are logged, how long they work on a specific assignment, as well as when assignments are turned in.
Along with the LMS came the purchase of 60 HoverCams and 1 HoverCam - PilotX, which will replace the Elmo technology currently used. These allow for a number of functions including recording, picture in picture, and integration with both the LMS and the smart boards used by RLISD. The single PilotX camera, which is an ungraded version of the HoverCam, will be used by the elementary school teacher tasked with virtual only instruction, as the goal is to have all virtual students under the same teacher. There is also a plan in place in case one teacher is not enough for the amount of students that opt for virtual learning.
These resources will benefit the school district far beyond the coronavirus pandemic according to Rosebrock, as will the future endeavors of Leap Forward and the Learning.com tech application.
“I would’ve recommended them with or without COVID,” the educator said, of the three applications.
Parents will have up until two weeks before the school year begins to designate officially whether they plan to keep their children home or not. They will be expected to commit to that decision for an entire six-week grading period, but can change their decision at the end of that time. Parents who decide to send children to school will also have the option of switching to virtual learning at the end each grading period as well.
It was stated during the meeting that there would be an emphasis on teaching students how to learn virtually in the event of a district closure similar to the one seen at the end of the previous school year.
To ensure the safety of students, TEA is supplying RLISD with over 6,000 face masks, as well as 65 gallons of hand sanitizer. The district plans to purchase face shields for educators as well, to allow ease for learning. Teachers/staff will be expected to disinfect each classroom between uses, as well as playground and gym equipment.
The district also plans to purchase 42 freestanding hand sanitizer dispensers, to be dispersed at different intervals throughout each campus. There are 20 allotted for the secondary school and 12 for the elementary school.
Along with COVID-19 procedures, the Board of Trustees spoke on a number of other items.
A budget workshop was conducted in the hour prior to the regularly scheduled meeting. The board discussed a number of items, such as raises, items added for COVID-19, and a general discussion about the 2020-2021 proposed budget. Teachers are set to receive a $2,000 raise. This is set by a “step schedule” related to the number of years an educator has worked. Board member Julie Bennet asked about raises for the seven administrative positions not receiving additional income. After the discussion, it was decided that Dr. Rosebrock would research options for implementing a raise schedule and/or a range for potential supplements. Items added for COVID-19 are outlined above.
Representatives from Powell Youngblood & Taylor, LLP were at the Board of Trustees regular meeting to take the next step in the Ben Milam Solar 1 and Ben Milam Solar 2 projects. Members were required to sign an acknowledgement of the conflict of interest policy, where only member Cindy Kahlig had a conflict of interest in the second project. She opted to abstain from the entire process of both projects due to this. The consulting firm presented the different parts and requirements of each application, as well as reminded board members of the timeline for the project, before presenting them with the two completed applications. Each application was approved separately with a 6-0-1 vote. It was emphasized that this is non-binding and a final decision to move forward with the projects would not be required until a few more steps in the process are complete.
Playground equipment from Rosebud Primary, the sale of Lott Elementary School, and the future of the Pep Center Property were discussed. One of the three pieces of playground equipment will go to RLES, but the other two are set to be donated to the City of Rosebud. They will either be used for the upgrading of American Legion Park or will be auctioned off to help fund Phase One of the project. Falls County title is still searching for a way to get a title for the Lott Elementary School property, but one has not been found yet. Robert Jones, who owns RJ’s Bargains in Lott, is willing to buy it without a title. The Pep Center property has the option of being renovated or sold. Either option would result in duplexes being built in its spot, either for teacher housing if renovated or sold to developers if not. Cindy Kahlig stated that she knew of someone interested in buying the property. It is set to come back to the board in the August meeting.
The Board discussed the purchase of the Traits Writing educational supplement from Scholastic Education. Traits Writing is built on the cornerstones of writing practices: writing process, writing workshop, and writing traits. There are grade specific resources that are meant to develop great writing skills from Kindergarten up until eighth grade. This is being implemented because STAAR testing is expected to become more rigorous in the coming years, with additional short answer questions. According to Rosebrock, the writing section of the exam will eventually be 25 percent of the total. The motion to move forward with the purchase was approved unanimously. The materials will cost about $25,000, with an additional $10,000 for training, to be administered Aug 11-12.
According to TEA’s adoption cycle, English/Language Art materials are set to be upgraded to new instructional materials. Three bids were taken, but McGraw Hill won out, as it is the same system used by the middle school ELA, which was adopted for the 2019-2020 school year. It was the only one of the three bids that allowed for choice of novels, which will allow different reading material for each grade level, if wanted. There were options for standard textbooks, digital versions, or combination of the two that provides not only digital copies of the materials, but a soft bound copy for each student. There were five secondary ELA teachers involved in the review process, along with an ELA specialist. They strongly recommended the last option, as it makes it easier for students to interact with their learning materials. McGraw Hill will send new materials each year for incoming students. The company is incredibly teacher-friendly and is available for videoconference or in-person training on how to use the materials, if necessary. The Board unanimously approved a four-year plan totalling just over $26,000.
Financials and bills were approved as presented, along with a bond payment for August 15, 2020 in the amount of $250,718.75 and 2019-2020 budget amendments. Dr. Jim Rosebrock was approved as an authorized representative as part of the Lone Star Investment Group with First Public. Minutes from the June meeting were approved as presented as well.