The school board convened Monday, December 21 to address a variety of topics. Amid regular reports the elementary school principal, Todd Hettler, presented developments on a previously proposed change in learning and grading systems for elementary students. If chosen, this change would be gradual over an estimated 3-year period. Hettler expressed excitement for a shift as the proposed model would present a clearer in-depth understanding for students and parents alike in seeing how a specific grade was achieved. This system is sipported by Robert Marzano, the same individual that created the school’s current teacher evaluation program. A 1-hour presentation to the curriculum committee was conducted resulting in their support. Tentatively, information will be presented to elementary staff in January of 2021 to obtain their input. From there, a presentation will be brought before the board.
High-school Principal Ethan Askvig shared that a number of teachers brought forth the idea of a “learning recovery day” for students in grades 9-12 in order to facilitate a little extra help catching up at the end of this semester. This would reflect a day for students at a 76% grade level or below to work with teachers for 1.5 hours per content blocks. For example, if a student would benefit from time to retry an assignment in math or complete work in improving English grade levels, they could utilize this time for that purpose. Students above the 76% grade level would be allowed the day off for other pursuits. Those below 76% will be allowed a chance to either catch up for the current semester or set themselves up for a stronger foundation going into the 2nd semester. This was discussed at a previous staff meeting with general approval. Additionally, there will be no semester tests this year. This decision was put to the staff resulting in a 12-3 vote in favor of no final testing for this semester.
In regards to winter sports at the school, the activities committee is working on a potential idea with the help of County Health to implement a reserved seating system at sporting events. This is an effort to facilitate social distancing among attendees. They’ve been in contact with Ticket Spicket, a company that is implemented at a number of schools across the state, to aid in this system. Under this plan, seats would be lettered by row and numbered by seat. Ticket Spicket's platform would allow online payment for tickets, with the added benefit of either printing tickets or presenting them at the door on purchasers’ cell phones. Furthermore, when tickets are purchased, they form a block that eliminates surrounding seats for purchase, automating social distancing. Enrolling in the sites program is free of upfront charges. When tickets are purchased through their site, they asses a 5% service fee of the charge. The school would have a 30-day free trial that can be canceled at any time. After that, if interest remains there’s a 3-year contract with no minimum or maximum usage requirement, meaning the software could sit there unused if needed at no cost. The school has already labeled seats in anticipation of this plan. With the gymnasium holding a 1300 seat capacity, the school is confident in ample space for a reserve seating framework.
Additionally, as Cavalier County’s previous COVID case number peak was at 23%, the school wishes to place limits on events based off the counties 14 day rolling number of positive cases. A 20% infection rate would trigger automatic limitations at events for student safety and to avoid the school being responsible for holding a 'spread' event. Choosing an arbitrary percentage allows the school better control and a clear plan moving forward on when to make difficult decisions.
Finally, the board chose to approve custodial staff as election officials just as they did for the June 2020 election. The counting of ballots will be open to the public for viewing. It was also discussed among members the various routes that election information is being distributed. They are striving to convey all available information clearly through as many means of communication as possible. Information will continue to be presented through The Cavalier County Republican, Simmons Media, the school's official Facebook page, the Langdon Area School Building Mill Levy information page, and via communication directly with the school. As of meeting on the 21st, 869 application for ballot requests and 525 ballots have been sent out by the school.
Moving forward, the next regularly scheduled board meeting will be held Tuesday, January 12, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. at the Langdon Area High School. That same evening, election canvassing will begin at 7:00 p.m.