HCCSC board hears report on first e-Learning day

There were several action items on the agenda of the Huntington County Community School Corporation’s Board of School Trustees’ meeting on Monday, Dec. 17, but the item that captured the interest of board members was a review of the corporation’s first school-wide flex day/e-learning day, held Dec. 4.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Chad Daugherty provided much of the post-event statistics of the day, which was used for classified and certified staff development for about 700 employees, while students stayed home to work on assignments online.

“It was a very good day,” Daugherty said. “We all felt like Huntington County Community Schools got better with every individual employee, and also that will then hopefully transpire on to our students and our staff and all the people that we serve.”

Included in programs presented to classified staff was a presentation by Transportation Director Vanessa Fields on vaping paraphernalia, drug use and what to look for. Daugherty said the presentation, which included participation from law enforcement, was a success, with drivers catching five students with vaping devices on buses since attending the program.

Drivers also attended a program on suicide prevention.

Other programs included a lesson for cafeteria workers on Servesoft and preparing food; clinic assistance with student medical conditions, such as using epi pens; and training for paraprofessionals on autism, sensory communication and trauma presented by the Bowen Center.

The corporation’s 450 teachers also received training on topics such as the new I-LEARN test, which replaces the ISTEP exam; a review of the literacy model and best practices in the classroom; the K-5 Impact curriculum; and aligning curriculum to put all schools on the same footing.

“We were able to find out a lot of data – some of the holes in some of our curriculum and the gaps, so it was a great day,” Daugherty added.

Another component of the day was to evaluate how students and parents are served by the corporation when it comes to Internet access.

Daugherty said 91 percent have access to the Internet at home. However, he said 195 students attend the Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County, where there is homework assistance. To provide Internet for the 9 percent that do not have access, HCCSC has teamed the Boys and Girls Club to train their staff on how to use the Canvas program and provide more help for club members, including using high school students in the education professions track.

Daugherty said there were only 45 calls from parents that were fielded by the tech hotline and individual schools asking for help with Canvas and technology, and only 10 students and parents came to the school to access Wi-Fi and get help.

“We were anticipating a bigger number, but our parents and our teachers and our ministers did a great job of communicating those expectations out to people,” he said. “We thought that was very positive.”

A survey of how the e-Learning day went was met with 82 percent of classified staff giving the program a thumbs-up; 90 percent of certified staff said they liked it; and 75 percent of parents gave the go-ahead to move forward with the program. Eighty-one percent of students also gave the program their approval.

Among challenges to be worked out in future e-Learning days is correcting attendance of students as they complete assignments. Another kink in the program gave some middle and high school students eight to nine hours of homework – about twice as much because the work was assigned on two separate days.

“That is something we’re going to look at before we proceed to our next (e-Learning) day,” Daugherty said. “Also, students weren’t able to do the assignments until the next day. The one thing we’ll allow will be to have all those students to have access to the assignments the night before.”

Superintendent Randy Harris said the corporation had been working on its e-Learning program for more than a year before its initial run.
“The (professional development) team did a phenomenal job,” he said. “But it really took all of the staff members, parents, students, everybody. I think it was, for the first time out of the box, it probably went as well as we could have predicted it would, and a lot of hard work went into that by everybody.”

In action items brought before the board:

• Changes to the 2019-2020 student handbook were approved on their first reading, presented by Handbook Committee member Amy Rudolf. Among the changes were the tardiness of elementary students will now be two or more hours tardy will be counted as absent; penalties for fighting will be up to five days of out-of-school suspension (OSS) for the first offense, and up to 10 days OSS, contact of probation and possible expulsion.

Also, if a student athlete has a failing grade, they will now be deemed academically ineligible for sports, but can be reinstated if, after two weeks, they can bring their grades up to a passing grade.

Another change requires home-schooled students to be enrolled in one HCCSC class; they cannot be dual-enrolled, Rudolf said.

A full listing of the handbook changes can be accessed in the Dec. 17 board agenda on the HCCSC website, hccsc.k12.in.us, by clicking on “Current School Board Meeting Agenda.”

• A new course proposal of a high school math ready course for juniors and seniors was approved on its first reading. The course, released by the Indiana Department of Education for its Graduation Pathways program, can be taken in place of trigonometry, Daugherty said.

• The board approved on its first reading to dispose of four Hill Rom obsolete hospital beds used in the Learning Center.

• The board also approved on first reading a resolution to file a civil lawsuit to “quiet” the title to the two Kriegbaum Field properties, to safeguard against anyone who might claim title to the parcels.

Harris acknowledged the properties are not currently for sale, but the measure is preventative housekeeping against any future claims.

• Nine new policies were also approved on their first reading. Among those listed were policies regarding homeless students, children and youth in foster care, use of student medications and authorization for audio, video and digital recording operations.

Harris told the board that another two more sets of policy revisions will be forthcoming, as federal and state laws change.

The complete list of adopted policies can be viewed on the HCCSC website.

In another item, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Scott Bumgardner told the board he has shown the Lancaster and Northwest Elementary School properties several times. Although he has not yet received a bid, bidding will close on Friday, Dec. 21. He said he expects to bring a bid to the next board meeting or present the next steps in disposing of the properties.

Bumgardner also said the auditorium lighting project pre-bid meeting is scheduled for Jan. 16, and bids on the project will be taken on Jan. 23.
The next school board meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 14. At that meeting three board members will take the oath of office and new board officers will be elected.