Chesterton Tribune



Duneland students will have six eLearning days

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The Duneland School Board approved prescheduled eLearning days for the first time at its meeting Tuesday night.

Scheduled eLearning days, where students are expected to work from home with online lessons and assignments, are as follows: Tuesday, Sept. 11; Wednesday, Oct. 17; Tuesday, Nov. 6; Wednesday, Dec. 12; Wednesday, April 3; and Tuesday, May 7. eLearning applies to all students, K-12, but participation in the first two days will be optional, according to Superintendent Dr. Ginger Bolinger.

Two of the eLearning days-- Nov. 6 and May 7--are election days. On the remaining four days, employees will still be at the schools participating in professional development. Teachers will be given dedicated time during those days to check their emails and be available to answer questions from students.

Board Secretary Ron Stone asked how students with no internet or unreliable connections can complete their work on the eLearning days. Duneland Schools IT Director Kevin Wilson answered that lessons and assignments will be prepopulated onto students’ devices before the students leave the day before. Assignments also won’t be due on the eLearning day. “There’s a little bit of a grace period to work with some of those technical problems that arise.”

“I’ve always liked the idea of having it on a snow day,” Stone said. Unexpected eLearning days probably won’t be called this year for inclement weather, but it could be possible in the future, Bolinger said, though snow days can be made up with eLearning days. Bolinger gave the example that the first day of spring break could be scheduled as an eLearning day instead of bringing students in for a make-up day following a closure.

Wilson said he is preparing various forms of communication to provide parents with information on eLearning days. He’s working on scheduling open houses that focus on eLearning at each school, and two of his employees are working closely with principals to coordinate those efforts.

Board member Kristin Kroeger was unsure of holding separate open houses in addition to parent teacher conferences and the regular open house. “Speaking as a parent, we go to the CHS open house, but to have to go back and talk about eLearning? I’m not sure that’d be high on my to do list.”

Wilson said he hopes to eliminate the burden of making it to an open house by recording the open houses and posting videos online so parents can watch at their own pace at any time and refer back. Kroeger thought that was a good idea.

“Despite our best efforts, no matter how well we communicate, this is the first year. We’re gonna have problems. There’s gonna be an adjustment period,” Board President John Marshall said.

“We’re gonna play this and make sure that we take good notes and make good decisions for the following year,” said Bolinger.

Financial matters

The Board also talked about several financial matters Tuesday. Bolinger recommended, and the Board subsequently approved, a two percent pay raise for all Duneland administrators and classified employees starting in the 2018-2019 school year.

Employees must have worked 65 percent of the 2017-2018 school year and received an effective or highly effective rating on their evaluations to benefit from the raise. Administrators who started over the summer will start at the new rate. A two percent raise is a change from last year, when employees received a flat rate.

The Board will save money on its Liberty Mutual insurance premium, managed by Anton Insurance. Anton Insurance was able to secure a reduction of $24,721 in the annual premium. The savings prompted the Board to invest in cyber liability coverage for $16,059.

Board Vice-president Brandon Kroft said the additional protection was a “no brainer” since buying it still leaves Duneland with a reduction of over $8,000 on the premium. Bolinger said the new coverage is an added layer of protection for Duneland’s data. “I’ve heard of schools in other states having their data held hostage. We’re doing our best to mitigate those risks.”

The Board opted to renew its vending contract with Pepsi, with one change. Cafeteria water sales will not be governed by Pepsi, as water can be bought and sold at a cheaper price. Bolinger said cafeteria sales were excluded from the contract because it “directly impacts students,” noting that bottled water from a Pepsi vending machine is two dollars. The sponsorship from Pepsi nets $9,030, which Bolinger says is disbursed to the schools and used to “do a number of things for faculty and students.”

School starts Monday

Bolinger made a reminder to the community that school for all students begins Monday, August 13. She asked that residents be mindful of students walking to school and patient with bus traffic as the school year begins.




Posted 8/8/2018




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