School district policy on remote learning prompts parental input

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HURON — The Huron School Board’s regular meeting Monday night in the Instructional Planning Center at Huron Arena was highlighted by a comprehensive presentation by nearly a dozen Huron Middle School teachers and administrators.

Introduced by HMS Principal Laura Willemssen, who described the run-up to the personalized professional development goals that the staff has been using, the teachers shared the steps used to set goals, manage their respective classrooms, implementing curriculum.

Teachers from the math, science, social studies and English language arts shared successes of the individualized approach to professional development, how it has impacted the classroom and how they were able to implement the changes.

Huron High School Principal Mike Radke presented the Classified Employee of the Month award to HHS administrative assistant Stephanie Tschetter, for her contributions to the smooth operations at HHS, particularly the implementation of the Infinite Campus scheduling software being utilized at the high school.

Lily Halter, an HHS junior and vice-president of the Huron Improv Club gave a brief report on the positive aspects that she has seen in participating in the club. HHS student Tessa Gogolin, the student representative to the school board, is the club’s vice president. They meet after school on Thursdays.

Several policy items were listed under ‘old business,’ and all were approved, however the board’s policy on ‘remote’ or ‘e-learning’ received more discussion, first from the board, followed by a parent and students.

Board chair Garrett Bischoff noted that the policy was created after the district lost several school days to the weather last year, which had to be made up by adding days at the end of the year, as there was no plan in place.

“It doesn’t happen often, but this will help us be prepared,” he said.

Brittany Layher, who said she and her husband have children in four different school buildings, said she opposed the remote learning plan for younger students completely, and asked that the decision on remote learning be postponed until parents could better prepare to school their children at home during bad weather.

“My husband and I both work,” she said. “This policy will have my children teaching themselves.”

She noted that other parents don’t have the option of being home with students and said that she would share information she found on a study with the board members.

Parents may not be able to assist with teaching in the evening when they get home from work, she said.

In other action, the board:
• Approved eight new hires and three resignations, as well as recognizing eight separate intent for funding requests.

• Approved three open enrollment requests.
• Approved new advertising agreements with American Bank & Trust for Tiger Stadium for 2024 ($3,500), Huron Arena for 2024 ($5,400) and Tiger Stadium ($3,150) and 2024 and 2025 for Huron Arena ($5,100) and Tiger Stadium ($2,975).
• Approved a new one-year advertising agreement with Ryan’s Hangar Restaurant for Huron Arena ($750).
• Approved a second reading of a revised school calendar for the 2024-25 school year with an Aug. 20 start date.
• Approved second readings of policies regarding supervision of students, reporting child abuse and staff ethics.
• Heard and introduction of a new policy regarding military leave.
The new policy, recommended by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, will replace the district’s current policy.