DANVILLE — Danville District 118 school board members tonight will hear how the 2020-2021 school year might start and what the fall semester might possibly look like.
Superintendent Alicia Geddis said solid plans for the new school year will depend on what State Superintendent Carmen Ayala and the Illinois State Board of Education ultimately decide, but, for now, the state wants districts to consider and make plans for a three-model approach.
“We are waiting for the state to tell us,” Geddis said of how the fall semester will proceed. “The state superintendent told us to think about what the fall might look like and to make plans.”
The district would create three sets of plans that would entail teaching children the traditional way, via remote learning, and a hybrid of traditional and remote learning, Geddis said.
If state officials decide that districts will conduct remote learning only in the fall, Geddis said that might affect District 118 staffing.
“If we go back to remote learning in the fall, we might have to consider RIFing support staff,” she said, referring to a Reduction In Force. “We hope we don’t have to, but it’s a possibility.”
Also depending on what the state decides about the fall semester, Geddis said students who attend Northeast Elementary Magnet School, which follows a year-round balanced calendar, might not start their school year in July but instead in August and follow the traditional school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year only.
In addition, the state has amended its 2020-2021 guidelines for health examinations and immunizations for school-aged children. The new guidelines now exclude the “first day” rule in which student immunizations must be up-to-date by the first day of school.
“With doctors being unavailable to do physicals and shots, the state will allow a first-day exclusion and require that physicals and immunizations be done by Oct. 15,” Geddis said.
The Oct. 15 extension for physicals and immunizations is still worrisome because of the backlog of appointments physicians face.
“We’ve talked to local pediatricians and meeting that first-day exclusion is a concern for them,” she said.
The board will hear an update on the buildings and grounds’ schedule for cleaning the schools as well as an update on a summer project to install the new pool dehumidifier unit in the Danville High School natatorium.
“The dehumidifier unit is in the parking lot, and the crane is here to install it, but they haven’t been able to do the work yet with graduation going on,” Geddis said.
The board also will hear updates on the district’s strategic plan, which was started last fall before the COVID-19 outbreak, and about possible refinancing of debt.
Consultant Liz Small, a DHS graduate who is the founder and president of Chicago-based Small Insights, had been meeting in January and February with 22 focus groups consisting of parents, staff and students to help develop a three-year strategic plan for the district for 2020-2023.
“We will ask Liz Small to get us a report and make a presentation,” Geddis said.
The district also is working with Stifel, the district’s bond underwriter, “to see what the possibilities are for refinancing” the district’s debt.
“With the low interest rates, we are going to see if we try to refinance our bonds, what the savings might look like,” Geddis said.
Tonight the board also will:
• Discuss the results of a remote learning survey given to the teachers at the end of the school year.
“We will hear what the teachers said worked and what didn’t work so we can be prepared in the fall if remote learning continues,” Geddis said.
• Hear the results of the District 118 Readiness Assessment from the One to One Institute.
“Last year we did a one-to-one audit,” Geddis said, referring to developing a plan to issue a laptop computer to every student in the district.
• Hear about the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act requirements for using the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Grant funding and discuss using that funding to meet the district’s one-to-one needs.
“We’ll look at the audit and ask the board to allow us to use CARES Act money to fund our one-to-one plan,” Geddis said.
The money also could be used for additional remote learning training, streamlining the remote learning platforms the district uses, and conducting a Parent University session to train parents on the technology.
The district learned it will receive $3.5 million, but some of that money will be shared with non-public schools within District 118’s boundaries.
“We’re required to share the funds with non-public schools,” Geddis said. “Just like with Title I funding, it has to be shared with other schools in District 118’s territory based on students who come from homes with lower incomes.
“If they buy equipment, it’s still owned by District 118,” she said of the other schools.
• Discuss summer food service and the continuation of the food distribution program. The district also will consider entering into an agreement with the Danville Family YMCA to provide meals for the Y’s summer programs.
Geddis said the district’s weekly food distribution on Tuesdays at the high school has experienced a decline in participation, so she will recommend to the board that the hours of distribution be reduced to one hour a week, from 10-11 a.m. on Tuesdays.
“We will still do a food distribution, but it will be limited to one hour, and we still have the McDonald’s program,” she said.
• Hear about the district’s summer school plans.
“The state came out with plans to offer summer school for every child who received an incomplete or needs credit recovery,” Geddis said.
The district will still offer 60 hours of summer school but is waiting for further guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, she said.
• Consider renewing the district’s contract with Embrace for $13,460 for online Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Section 504 Plan development.