The Rock Port R-II School Board of Education met via Zoom Thursday, April 16, 2020. President Jeremy Davis called the virtual meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Board members in attendance were Afton Schomburg, Ken Miller, Richard Dewhirst, Harold Lawrence, Dan Lucas, and Clay Vogler. Also present were Superintendent Ethan Sickels, High School Principal Donnie Parsons, Elementary Principal Steve Waigand, and Board Secretary Debbie Young. In compliance with mandatory orders issued by Governor Parsons banning public gatherings during the public health emergency due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the public was directed to the district website for instructions on attending the virtual meeting and/or being placed on the agenda as scheduled audience.

It was noted that the April Municipal Election has been postponed to June therefore, the new board members will take the oath of office and the board reorganization with election of officers will take place at a later date. Jeremy Davis, Ken Miller and Clay Vogler, are the members with terms expiring, and they will continue to serve until the election is held.

The agenda was adopted. The minutes of the calendar hearing and regular meeting of March 12, 2020, and the work study sessions of March 18, 2020, and March 30, 2020, were approved. Mr. Sickels reviewed the financial information for the month ending March 2020. The transfer of funds, the March final check register, the April check register to date, and the activity account checks were approved. Mr. Sickels read a thank you note from support staff members Debbie Clodfelter, Debbie Sly and Georgia Criger.

Mr. Waigand reported he has been hosting Zoom meetings the past two weeks with all staff to experience Zoom technology and coordinate plans for the extended school closure. In April he plans to continue bi-weekly staff meetings on Zoom. The past two weeks teachers have been in contact with students and families to see how they are doing and check on device/wifi needs. Classroom teachers have been sending out learning challenges, videoing themselves reading to students, and helping parents navigate the logistics of the iXL and Accelerated Reader programs. Special education teachers have been in contact with students and families they serve and communicating where they are at with evaluations and timelines. Plans for outreach and learning opportunities through May 1 include: daily assignments for math and reading skills that can be completed on iXL; learning challenges/activities each week which will try to blend academics, fun, and family time; students are encouraged to continue reading, and they have opened up the ability to take Accelerated Reader quizzes on books. If students are running low on book options they are encouraged to contact their classroom teacher, Mrs. Skillen, Mrs. Mertens, or Mrs. Spiegel for more information. Staff will attempt weekly contact (virtually or by phone) with students to check and connect, and each classroom teacher has created an April calendar for parents to navigate through the learning opportunities. They tried to keep a consistent template among all grade levels yet provide flexibility for teachers to tailor learning opportunities to their particular grade level. Discovery and Title teachers will also have a calendar that parents can access with activities for students. Parent communication will be funneled through the online newsletter (Smore) as well as posted on the website and Twitter.

Mr. Parsons reported all 7-12 courses have a virtual version through Google Classrooms. All students have been invited, and as of April 3, about 80% of students had accepted invitations. There is an option to add “Guardians” to each course to give parental access. Courses are updated at least weekly. Discussion boards, videos, quizzes, virtual collaboration, and various activities are among the assessments being used. While virtual work continues, student grades will not be negatively impacted during the closure, however, teachers do have liberty to provide assignments to bump up a grade. All teachers have an active Zoom account for video conferences, and each teacher has a weekly “Office Hour” for all his/her students to join. This is meant for general questions, collaboration, emotional check-ups, and to simply give the opportunity to interact about academics and life in general. Each teacher has the ability to block off times for course-specific Zoom sessions. All Zoom sessions are secure and safeguards are in place to prevent unwanted guests. Other considerations: staff members are readily available through email; students with IEPs and 504s are being serviced as needed; and over 40 Chromebooks were checked out to students in grades 7-12. Weekly high school staff meetings are held on Zoom. Thoughts were shared on possible procedures for textbook and Chromebook check-in as well as locker clean-out. Possible dates for rescheduling graduation were also discussed.

Mr. Sickels reviewed the monthly program evaluation report on student athletics and activities. The progress on the Superintendent growth plan was reviewed. Mr. Sickels stated the passage of the CARES Act should result in some additional funding for the district, but so far no information has been received on the amount or timing. Other state and local revenues will surely be less than originally expected due to reduced sales tax, income tax, and gaming revenues. He reviewed some of the facility/maintenance projects and technology purchases that he plans to delay until more information is received from the state. Mr. Sickels reviewed the annual teacher recognition awards to be presented at the end-of-year staff luncheon. He reported on the food service program and meals being served to families during the school closure. There were no reports from board members.

The board proceeded to address several items of new business. Action was taken to certify the graduating class of 2020 pending the completion of all requirements per board policy and regulation 2525; to approve the 2020-21 PDC Committee goals as presented; to approve board policy and regulation 2874 as presented; to approve MSBA as the board policy and regulation service provider for 2020-21; to approve renewal of the district MSBA membership for 2020-21; to approve the 2019-20 budget amendments as presented; to approve the 2020-21 extra-duty and non-certified preschool lead teacher salary schedules as presented; and to approve the purchase of two 65” ActivPanels for the high school.

The resignation of Rudy Cox effective at the end of the 2019-20 school year was accepted.

Board members also approved the employment of Syndey Rains as the elementary special education teacher for the 2020-21 school year.

Employment agreements for the 2020-21 school year were extended to the following non-certified staff members: Debbie Clodfelter, Andrea Cook, Patricia Crawford, Georgia Criger, Richard Fentiman, Danny Fischer, Cindie Gaines, Michelle Garst, Emily Graham, Steve Grossman, Valeria Grossman, Mary Hale, Wendy Hays, Kristi Herron, Tisha Jackson, Mark McMahon, Richard Morgan, Dawn Niles, Katarina Robertson, Debbie Sly, Dixie Teten, and Debbie Young. Trejan Criger was employed as a temporary summer custodial worker;

Extra-duty contracts for 2020-21 were extended to the following: Jennifer L. Vogler, junior high football and basketball cheer and dance team; Jennifer D. Vogler, assistant high school volleyball and assistant high school track; Shauna Farmer, MOSIS coordinator, concession stand manager, and high school football and basketball cheer; Tiffanie Gaines, technology coordinator and FBLA; Kerri Acton, high school play; Jeremy Palmer, FFA and assistant junior high football coach; Crystal Goins, FCCLA; Abby Palmer, instrumental and vocal music and marching auxiliary; Thomas Herron, high school student council, head high school volleyball, assistant junior high volleyball, junior high scholar bowl, and head high school boys track; Amy Skillen, yearbook; Megan Bebb, National Honor Society; Angela Mace, cross country; Dalton Jones, head high school football, assistant high school boys basketball, and assistant summer weight program; Jacob Erdman, assistant high school football, and head high school and junior high wrestling; Alec Hendrickson, assistant high school football and junior high boys track; Shawn Shineman, head girls and boys golf and head high school boys basketball; Rachel Jenkins, assistant high school volleyball, head junior high volleyball, and head high school girls track; Stephen Gaines, head junior high football and head junior high boys basketball; Emily Graham, head high school girls basketball and junior high girls track; Gary Davis, assistant high school girls basketball and head junior high girls basketball; Mark McMahon, assistant high school and junior high wrestling; Sammantha Giddinge, assistant junior high boys basketball; Trudy Herron, high school scholar bowl; Phil Vogler, head summer weight program; Amy Skillen, Kristi Herron, and Michelle Garst, website management; Shauna Farmer and Tawni Ellis, peer counselor sponsors; Jennifer L. Vogler, Megan Bebb, and Jeremy Palmer, junior class sponsors; and Shauna Farmer, Rachel Jenkins, and Shawn Shineman, senior class sponsors.

After a brief discussion of future business items the meeting was adjourned.