Board discusses COVID-19; Leberman resigns

Sarah Ebeling | Managing Editor
The Parker School board met in emergency session on Wednesday, March 18. After calling the meeting to order Superintendent Donavan DeBoer debriefed the board, and the people attending via Zoom, a online meeting platform, on what had been happening up to date.
DeBoer discussed the new e-learning platform and board president Jason Chester said he was looking for guidance on what the board expected. DeBoer noted that the whole thing had everyone feeling a bit overwhelmed when they rolled it out but that the teachers were on top of everything.
DeBoer also discussed grading and how teachers were going to be able to access students’ work. The group also discussed how much work was too much work for kids working on schooling from home. He noted that the teachers would be again meeting to discuss and make adjustments and plans.
Board member Erin Anderson said she comes from a homeschooling background and that spending a whole day working on schoolwork is unrealistic. She noted two to three hours a day would be best and that they need to set some sort of grading expectations. She stated too that teachers should be able to check in, having a face to face with the kids and give them an opportunity to join in and ask questions.
Board member Ransom Jones thanked DeBoer for all he has done and said he thinks that the whole e-learning started off like a gunshot and it became overwhelming to everyone and although expectations need to remain high, they need to back off a bit.
Brett Olson, board member, asked if two to three hours a day is enough?
DeBoer answered, saying it depends on what the board thinks as far as grading. He explained that teaching younger kids is hard when they are not hands on.
Board member Greg Simmermon asked what can be done because kids aren’t doing a full day of school. He noted that parents have to step up because the work has to be done.
Chester noted that if they do not get enough people on board with the school board, they will be going to school in July.
Teachers on the conference call explained that what they have been doing for their students and how they have been connecting to them through all of this. From emails to different websites to connect to each other, teachers are working to make the connections.
Chester asked if this goes on until the end of the year, would the school lower their standards, noting they are doing the best they can and hopefully they can get kids back in the classroom and back on track.
Jones questioned the seniors and asked DeBoer what he thinks long term?
DeBoer explained that they are hearing more than anything that schools have to close for a length of time before the state will make any decisions regarding grades, graduation and state assessments.
And as far as make-up days, they are waiting for word as that is a federal decision. DeBoer did say that he does not think that the seniors will graduate on the day that is predicted.
“It is a big day for them. I will do everything I can to get them graduated,” he said.
He noted that they will have a graduation, but he doesn’t know what it will look like and doesn’t know if it will be May 16.
Anderson said that through this all, the board is 100 percent behind what the teachers are doing.
“But remember, you are human, give yourself grace and you will get through it,” she said.
DeBoer again thanked the teachers for all they have done and to Todd McKenney and his custodial staff for cleaning and disinfecting everything.
Next on the agenda, was to approve the resignation of junior high and high school principal Bill Leberman. DeBoer said that it was with regret, but Leberman would be moving on at the end of the year.
Before going into executive session, business manager Jim Vogel thanked DeBoer and school secretary’s Rhonda Ross and Kim Flint for all they have done through this crisis.

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