DANVILLE – Danville District 118 officials are still trying to coordinate classroom times with school bus schedules for students who will participate in a blended learning experience this fall.
During registration, which started online this week, parents will be asked to select one of two learning options for their child during the fall semester: either all-virtual or blended in-person and virtual.
Due to bus scheduling, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education John Hart said some of the in-person classroom times for the blended learning students have been tweaked since last week’s school board meeting.
“Unfortunately we’re dependent on one bus company,” Superintendent Alicia Geddis said via a teleconference school board meeting Wednesday night. “The amount of buses and the number of drivers can’t expand.”
“It causes a scheduling issue,” Hart said. “We live and die by the bus schedule.”
Prekindergarten students will attend class in-person every day for either a two-hour-and-45-minute half-day in the morning or a two-hour-and-45-minute half-day in the afternoon.
Elementary students in grades first through fourth will attend class in-person every day for either a three-hour half-day in the morning or a three-hour half-day in the afternoon.
Students in grades fifth through eighth grades at South View Upper Elementary and North Ridge Middle schools and at Kenneth D. Bailey Academy will follow a staggered A Day/B Day schedule in which some students will attend class in-person on Mondays and Wednesdays, and other students will attend Tuesdays and Thursdays, and all will work on lessons virtually on their own from home on Fridays.
Danville High School and Kenneth D. Bailey Academy students in grades ninth through 12th also will follow a staggered A Day/B Day schedule in which some students will attend class in-person on some days and work on lessons virtually from home on their “off” days, but they must attend class in-person for a total of 12.9 hours a week.
Hart said the district will try to make sure all the students in a household will have the same A Day or B Day schedules.
For the most part, the actual hours the schools are open are the same hours as last year.
DHS will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 2:58 p.m. Kenneth D. Bailey Academy will be in session from 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m. North Ridge Middle and South View Upper Elementary schools will be in session from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Elementary school students will attend half-day classes five days a week. The morning session will attend from 8 to 11 a.m., and the afternoon session will attend from noon to 3 p.m.
Geddis said she also is determined to make sure the students who come to school are fed a meal.
“We need to feed the students – either breakfast or lunch,” she said. “We have too much food insecurity in this community.”
“There are lots of details to figure out,” Hart admitted. “There are many details we’re working out. Also, what does online learning look like?”
Geddis promised this fall’s remote learning program would not resemble the remote learning conducted between March and May to finish out the 2019-2020 school year.
“The remote learning program will not look anything like it did last (school) year,” she said. “That was an emergency situation and grades didn’t count.
“It will look very different than it did in the emergency situation last year, and it’s going to be a different level of accountability,” Geddis continued. “The rigor will be the same as if you were in an in-person class.”
Geddis also told the board that the district will develop a fully remote learning program in case the schools are shut down again.
“We need to be prepared,” she said.
However, Board President Bill Dobbles said, “It’s contingent on how many staff is willing to come back. It could have a dramatic effect on whether we come back all virtually.
“If we do all virtual learning, expect your students will learn a lot and will have a lot to do,” he said, addressing parents who might have been watching the meeting.
Also on Wednesday, the board:
• Appointed Southwest Elementary School Principal Lindsey Prunkard as the new principal of South View Upper Elementary School for the 2020-2021 school year.
She replaces Mendy Spesard who stepped down as South View’s principal earlier this month to return to the classroom.
Prunkard had been assistant principal at South View Upper Elementary School until she became Southwest’s principal starting in the 2017-2018 school year.
“I’m looking forward to returning to South View, but I’m leaving my heart at Southwest,” she told the board via teleconference.
“I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “Get ready, South View, I’m coming.”
Prunkard joined District 118 in 2008 as a fifth-grade teacher at Meade Park Elementary School, and has served as a summer school teacher, volleyball coach, scholastic bowl coach and yearbook adviser.
Prior to serving as assistant principal at South View during the 2016-2017 school year, Prunkard was a data and instructional facilitator at Meade Park.
• Authorized Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., with PMA serving as financial adviser, to begin the process of refunding Bond Series 2011a and refinancing the district’s debt.
Because of the current low interest rates, the district would realize a cost savings in excess of $2 million over the remaining 10 years of the 2011 bond it sold to fund the renovations of North Ridge Middle, South View Upper Elementary and Mark Denman Elementary schools.
A representative from PMA Stifel Securities presented two possible refunding scenarios to the board via teleconference.
With the first scenario, the district would realize a $2.375 million cost savings over the next 10 years by continuing to pay back the debt service as originally scheduled through June 2031.
A second scenario required the district to accelerate its payback by making larger payments toward the debt service between now and 2022, but would yield a cost savings of $2.7 million over the next 10 years.
Geddis supported the first scenario, telling the board, “We’re not in a position to pay out extra money, especially when we don’t know what is going to happen in the next couple of years.”