North Butler to continue offering voluntary educational opportunities

Bethany Carson

At a special meeting of the North Butler School Board, held via video conference, the school closure resolution was extended, and it was decided the school will continue to offer voluntary continued edu-cation for students.

“Our original resolution that we passed was through April 12, and with the governor’s extension of the closure of schools until April 30, we just need to extend our original resolution,” said Superinten-dent Joel Foster.

The school closure resolu-tion and policy, which also allows the school to continue to pay hourly employees while the school is closed, was ex-tended through the end of May, just as a precautionary measure, should the governor close schools for the rest of the school year.

“I’m recommending that so that we don’t have to have another meeting if the governor does extend it again in two weeks,” Foster said.

If school is allowed to re-sume the first week of May, the district will return to stand-ard operation policies.

Foster noted that there have been many conversations about paying hourly employees among area superintendents.

“We feel that it’s the right way to proceed. The legislature has already sent us the money to pay; it’s been budgeted, and we feel like if we ask our people to go on unemploy-ment, we’re hitting the taxpay-ers twice. And we’re afraid that the legislature would come back then and … maybe take something away from us for doing that,” Foster said.

The Dept. of Education has given school districts three choices moving forward. If districts do nothing, students have to make up for hours missed. If the district doesn’t want to make up hours, they must offer either voluntary educational services (which North Butler has already been doing) or go to required ser-vices.

“To go to required services at this point would take a lot of extra time. I’m not sure how we would meet all of the equity issues that go along with that. We’ve talked as an administra-tive team. We’ve talked to the leadership teams, and we be-lieve that the best choice of action is to move ahead with the voluntary programs,” Fos-ter said. “As far as giving cred-it to students for the semester, that’s a local decision in how we move forward with any of that.”

Foster said that within the Top of Iowa Conference, there are only, he believes, three or four schools that are going with the mandatory route, and those are doing so only at the high school level.

Some parents have raised concerns about access for their kids if the district were to take the mandatory route. It was also noted that some high school kids are currently work-ing in essential services.

“What do we do for kids when they do come back, and how would you catch them up from this period that’s been missed?” asked school board president Laurie Shultz. “Thinking particularly if they don’t come back until fall, are we probably going to have to do some things to revisit cur-riculums and bring them up to grade level? Have there been discussions about that yet?”

Foster said the topic has merited a lot of discussion.

“I think the answer is find-ing out where the kids are at, and we’re going to have to do a lot of individualization of the education as we move forward for a while to get to the points where we need to be,” said Foster. “We’re going to have to hit the high points in the standards and get rid of some of the extra things.”

Shultz asked what poten-tially missing the rest of the school year would mean for seniors.

“That is a local decision. I think all of our seniors were on track to graduate, so I think we’re good with that,” Foster said. “I do know that we need to look at some of the essential skills with some of them – I believe that was the conversa-tion we had. Was that correct, Mrs. Holm?”

Principal Heather Holm said there are a couple students who are still working on credit recovery options because they failed a course in the past. Those classes are still taking place online.

“They can continue to work on those, and they still must complete those if they’re on credit recovery,” Holm said. “Otherwise students are going to earn credit for this semester for their classes when school was in session. They will not be penalized because we missed school during the closure.”

The school board approved continuing the voluntary con-tinued education route, with the understanding that this decision may be revisited. The high school leadership team is considering switching to re-quired services if the closure continues to the end of the school year.


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