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Consolidated High School District 230’s eLearning program originally was intended as backup for a weather event, such as a polar vortex.
Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing D230 to use it now. But the prior development time has proved invaluable.
“We look like geniuses,” said School Board President Tony Serratore during the board meeting held March 18. “We were ready to go when it was time [on March 16] and that gave us a leg up on a lot of places.”
Serratore praised the student attendance record — thus far at 95 percent — and the engagement and communication between staff, parents and students that helped engender the switch to a virtual platform after closing the schools. All students have Chromebooks and can log in through Skyward. They have daily assignments posted on Canvas or Google Docs. Teachers were asked to be available if students had questions.
“Our students aren’t just taking tests,” said Eric Olsen, principal of Stagg High School. “It is a very interactive experience with our teachers.”
Teachers are given freedom to hold classes in a variety of ways, from group discussions to blogging to interactive sites.
According to Superintendent James Gay, the school board had started looking at potential eLearning programs last June, and by September had a working plan approved by the State. “When this all came about a couple weeks ago, a lot of districts were scrambling to get this eLearning plan approved by the state, but we had a working plan that we’d already practiced,” he said.
Board Secretary Susan Dalton added, “It’s a D230 proud moment when I know where we are at for our students.”
Still, Serratore said the preparedness should help D230 with the uncertainty ahead..
“I wish we knew when all of this was going to end, but none of us know,” Serratore said. “This will keep them on top of their subjects, and they’ll be learning every day.”
In addition to the educational transition, the board was also working hard to support other student needs. Much of the board spent the day prior to the meeting going door-to-door delivering 10 days’ worth of meals
“You don’t know what you have until it all comes crashing around you,” Board Member Dave O’Connor said. “I think our district did great work; everybody jumped up and the food delivery made us all proud.”
Public hearing for $24 million bond sale
During the School Board meeting, a public hearing was held on the subject of issuing $24 million in bonds to add to the district’s working cash.
The cash is to be used to fund multiple projects, as previously reported.