School preparing for ‘blended’ environment

Glenn Parrish
Todd Tatum was elected president of the Booneville School Board last week.

During its regularly scheduled meeting last week the Booneville School Board approved a school improvement plan which including an expectation of provided blended learning in the fall.

Superintendent Trent Goff said he would be bringing a comprehensive plan for the 2020-2021 school year for the board to examine when it meets on July 14.

Board member Eric Jones asked if Goff had any inclination as to what it might look like to which Goff answered schools have been told to “be prepared because (state officials) are worried we may have to pivot back and forth.”

Goff said he had also, earlier that day, obtained a first estimate for personal protective equipment (PPE) and was somewhat taken aback by the amount.

Goff said the school district has also consulted parents of students at each building and found an overwhelming number of of them who want everything “as normal as possible.”

In the event that doesn’t happen the school board also approved the purchase of 300 new Chrome Book devices which will be placed at the high school with existing still usable devices “trickling down” through the junior high and elementary school, Goff said.

At that point, the superintendent said, the school will have enough of the devices for “one-to-one” coverage for all students from third grade through seniors.

“We may come back with a bid for tablets for K-2 next month,” Goff added.

On Thursday, during Governor Asa Hutchinson’s daily press briefing, state officials revealed a plan that allows flexibility for learning in the event of an interruption as well as encouraging school districts to seek input from teachers, parents, students and the community in crafting local plans.

The return to campus discussion followed an election of board officers for the coming year in which Todd Tatum moved from vice president to president, Tyson Washburn from secretary to vice president, and Bobby Haynes becoming the secretary.

Tatum replaces Andy Napier as the board president.

While the school improvement plan can be adapted at any time the district had to pass a plan before the end of June, according to superintendent Trent Goff.

Goff said the plan is largely a duplication of last year’s plan.

Booneville High School Principal Amy Goers said that’s because a lot of the goals established in the plan for last year could not be measured because the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic cause closure of school the final nine weeks, wiping out standardized testing.

In other matters the board approved a resolution which states the school will observe any state directives when they conflict with school board approved policy.

Goff also told the board the remodel of the new administration building is on schedule with walls painted, Wi-Fi being set up and flooring expected to be completed by the end of next week and a move from the current building across from the elementary school shortly thereafter.