USD 333 Concordia Board of Education Approves its Continuous Learning Plan Application

USD 333 Concordia Board of Education Approves its Continuous Learning Plan Application

The USD 333 Concordia Board of Education met for a special meeting on Wednesday, March 25th where they voted unanimously to approve a Continuous Learning Plan Application for the district.

On Tuesday, March 17th, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced that school buildings across the state must be closed for the duration of this school year for the purpose of general student and staff attendance.

Last week, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson convened a 25-member Continuous Learning Task Force to provide guidance on how schools can implement Continuous Learning.  Just as the name implies, Continuous Learning will allow Kansas students to continue learning despite school buildings being closed.

USD 333 Concordia has identified key areas and a framework to support the varying professional development needs of their staff.  Superintendent Quentin Breese says technology presentations to staff through Google Meet, video tutorials, and various presentations are instrumental in the district's initial rollout as well as its continued growth in the development of this successful model.

According to the district's application, the district's one-to-one initiative has been instrumental in providing this modified learning environment through "Google Classroom."  The district will continue to monitor every student through this platform and various other applications for their participation, engagement, and demonstration of critical skills.

The application stresses that this is not a time to focus on new learning.

Activities will be short -- one hour or less each day at many levels -- and will focus on interactive experiences.  The recommended guidelines by the Continuous Learning Task Force for maximum student commitment each day are:
o    Pre-K: 30 minutes.
o    K-1: 45 minutes
o    Grades 2-3: 60 minutes.
o    Grades 4-5: 90 minutes.
o    Grades 6-12: 30 minutes per teacher for a maximum of three hours per day.

Superintendent Breese said they understand many parents will either be working from home and/or will not be comfortable assisting students with new learning.  He ensures activities will be both student and parent friendly.

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The district will provide students with opportunities to participate in "live" lessons, as well as pre-recorded or posted content to do at any time during the day.

USD 333 Concordia officials have been working with local providers as well as providing outdoor Wifi to identified areas.  District survey data showed that 1,148 students did have sufficient Wifi or hot spot technology available to them within their 1,200 student population, while about 64 students indicated they needed assistance.  Cunningham Cable in Concordia is assisting with the district's connectivity needs, while the school district is installing outdoor Wifi components producing signal into the parking lots to their buildings.

Board Chairman Mark Nordell thanked the district's administrative team for their work on the development of the district's Continuous Learning Plan.

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Breese said communication will be key.  They will meet with their teachers on a regular basis to provide assistance, guidance, and feedback.  Teachers will communicate with parents on a daily basis and continue to provide needed support.

State Waiver of 1,116 Hour Requirements
The USD 333 Concordia Board of Education also approved a waiver application asking the state to waive 251 hours from the district's 2019-2020 school term.

As a result of COVID-19, school districts must submit an application by April 8th to waive attendance requirements of 1,116 attendance hours for all students and 1,086 attendance hours for high school seniors.

This year, USD 333 Concordia was open 866.25 hours.

Resolution for Modification of Graduation Credits
The board unanimously approved a resolution suspending all graduation credit requirements above and beyond those minimum required credits set forth by the Kansas State Department of Education for the graduating class of 2020.

District policies require 25 credits to graduate, while the state minimum is 21 credits.

Superintendent Breese said they are still discussing opportunities to honor the 2020 graduating class.

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Resolution Regarding Wage Payments During Emergency School Closings
The Board of Education also authorized continued wage payments to all regular employees, including regular salaried hourly employees and employees under current contracts with the board who are instructed not to report to work on days they would otherwise be required to be working during an emergency closing.

Superintendent Breese said the board recognizes that continuing wage payments serve the public purpose of maintaining morale, reduces turnover and ensures continuity of district staffing when schools reopen.

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The resolution grants the authority to continue wage payments to idled employees through June 30, 2020, unless the board takes action to authorize payments during a longer duration.

Other Items
The USD 333 Concordia Board of Education also voted Wednesday to accept the retirement of Special Education Teacher Sharon Krueger.

The board accepted the resignations of Concordia Junior/Senior High School Vocal Music Instructor Landon Slipke, and the resignation of Sara Ramirez as an Assistant Cheer Coach.

And the board named Derek Holmes as the new Concordia High School Head Boys Basketball Coach.

Holmes, the current Concordia Elementary School Principal, previously served as an assistant coach for the Panther Boys from 2010 to 2016.  He replaces Michael Roe who resigned this spring after eight years with the program.

A Kansas and Oklahoma All-State High School player, Holmes later attended Friends University where he received All-District and All-League honors in college. 

A former Head Boys Basketball Coach at Altoona-Midway in Iola and Shawnee Heights in Tecumseh, Holmes joined USD 333 Concordia at the start of the 2008-2009 academic year as the Head Girls Basketball Coach.  In two years at the helm of the girls program, Holmes was 51-1 overall, leading the Lady Panthers to two straight state championship game appearances and a Class 4A State Title win in 2009.  Holmes was named the 4A Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2009. 

Under Coach Roe, the Concordia High School Boys Basketball team was 83-88 overall, highlighted by a 4th place finish at the 2014 Class 4A - Division II Boys State Basketball Tournament.  Holmes served as an assistant coach for the boys program during that state tournament run.

The Panther Boys finished 4-17 this past winter.  Junior Wing Chas Carlgren garnered North Central Kansas League First Team honors, while Panther Junior Guard Wyatt Trost was named All-NCKL Honorable Mention.