Some students who chose to attend school virtually this year are being asked to return to the classroom, according to Huntington County Community School Corporation officials.
HCCSC Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Jay Peters said the corporation sent out 150 letters three weeks ago to students who were failing to complete assignments and engage with virtual instruction. Peters said a document sent out to virtual students stated that failing to meet the requirements assigned for virtual learning world result in a request to return to campus.
Peters said one elementary school student already has 45 missing assignments, which makes him concerned.
“There comes a point where we have to say, it’s time for your kids to come back on campus and work with us to make (engagement) happen because right now – that’s concerning. It’s concerning as a community, it’s concerning as a district that students are not engaged with us, and we are doing everything in our power to make that happen for them.”
There are currently 864 students in virtual learning, Peters says, and a majority are doing well with the program. For those who are not engaging, Peters said the corporation should take swift action.
“I’m concerned enough that we need to do something now sooner rather than later to try and get them back on campus and try to survive this first semester or recoup some of this first semester,” he said. “I’m afraid of how far they will be behind if we don’t do something. It’s urgent.”
Board president Matt Roth asked Peters if some grade levels are worse than others, but Peters said it’s spread out across elementary, middle and high schools.
“We are looking at the ones that are not engaging, have done nothing to this point,” he said.
Peters said teachers and administration have done a great job of doing home visits to problem students and sending texts, email and messages to try and rectify the issues.
Superintendent Chad Daugherty said Peters has done a great job of ensuring the virtual learning options are rigorous and meet state standards, but Peters warned that the state has promised to audit learning programs for schools who aren’t getting compliance out of students.
“I can tell you that we meet with principals tomorrow, and I can tell you that from the very get go when we started this virtual option, we tried to be very patient, very understanding. We heard what our public was saying that they wanted this option,” Peters explained.
In order to make the program work, Peters said it has been very clear that parents would have to help out and support students to make sure things are going well.
“We shared with you at a board meeting that for this to work it takes engagement from the parent and engagement from the student,” he said.
Some parents have said they are experiencing issues with getting reliable wifi, but Peters said they can’t allow that to affect the student’s development and learning.
In other business, HCCSC Assistant Superintendent Scott Bumgardner said HCCSC is doing well financially.
“We have a very positive cash balance as well as our expenses and revenues have began to work themselves out from the April, March months in which we were more concerned with our revenues,” he said. “We’ve had a pretty good year overall and expect to finish strong here in the next couple months to wrap up the 2020 school year. We however do have concerns about 2021-22 and the state revenues that they are predicting, but at this time we are in a good position to weather whatever storm may come.”
Bumgardner reported that average daily membership (ADM), which affects state funding, has turned out better than the corporation was expecting after a count last week.
Right now, HCCSC is around 4,911 students.
“We are still working through a couple kids but as far as numbers, but it looks like we are down maybe 50/60 kids less from when we ended in February. But it’s surely not the damage that we were fearful of,” he said.
As for the 2021 budget, the board unanimously approved it following a public hearing where no one from the public spoke against the proposed plan.