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By Mike Scott
Clark County R-1 School district, along with districts across the state and nation, are trying to cope with abrupt shutdown of the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson ordered schools to remain closed for the rest of the scheduled school year.
Unlike some area schools which are trying to switch to online learning of their students, the CCR-1 district is focusing providing enrichment activities.
“There several issues with e-learning,” CCR-1 Superintendent Dr. Ritchie Kracht told school board member via a Zoom online meeting on Thursday, April 9.
First, we have a lot of kids, and staff members that don’t have internet access at home,” Kracht said.
“If we make all students work for a grade, then we have to follow all IEPs (Individualized Education Programs). It’s impossible to meet their needs online,” Kracht said.
“The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) says we have to educate everyone, or no one,” added Indian Pride Learning Center principal Megan Wendling. “Some districts may be doing it, but they don’t have 200-plus IEPs.”
“We’re looking for more optional activities,” said High School principal Jason Harper.
Harper also noted that online college-credit classes have continued.
Running Fox Elementary principal Katrina Nixon added, “If we’re teaching them to cook or other life skills while they’re at home, it’s a win.”
Betsy Parrish, Black Hawk Elementary principal, offered a different perspective. Her children are doing e-learning from Knox County R-1.
“Knox County has been one-to-one for years. It’s students and staff were ready, and kids have assignments every day,” she said.
Parrish noted that many students and parents are currently feeling stressed, and that some students aren’t doing the work at all, and the online platform crashes frequently because it’s overloaded.
“The equity gap is getting bigger,” she said.
It was the consensus of the school board to continue to provide enrichment activities.
Discussion then turned to traditional activities, such as Prom and Graduation.
“I have no idea when we’ll be able to have Prom or Graduation. I don’t know when we’ll get cleared for a large gathering like graduation,” said Kracht. “I don’t expect it until late summer.”
“We’re committed fully to having them-when it’s safe,” added Harper.
The board discussed a Prom-Graduation weekend sometime this summer, with Prom on Friday night and graduation on Sunday.
School finances are a concern because state funding is based in part on attendance.
“They haven’t made a ruling yet on how that will be handled,” Kracht said.
Sales tax also figures into the school funding formula.
“I’m concerned we’ll take a significant hit if people are making money and buying things,” he added.
He noted that the district will save some money on fuel and utilities, but the bulk of the money spent is on teachers and staff.
In other business:
-Kracht reported that the FFA Trip and MSHSAA spring sports seasons have been canceled, and that Marine Ecology trip is expected to be postponed.
-The district agreed to lease four early childhood buses for $46,984, which will be fully reimbursed by the state.