OSKALOOSA — The 2020-2021 school year will resume on Aug. 24.
The idea to begin school more than week earlier, on Aug. 13, had been discussed as a possibility.
Ultimately, the school board’s concerns about the early start date interfering with students’ 4-H and FFA commitments to the state fair – as well as family vacations – was a deciding factor in keeping the typical start date.
Gov. Kim Reynolds recently allowed schools to start the year early but she also proclaimed those days could not count toward schools’ required hours of service.
Oskaloosa Community School District Superintendent Paula Wright said she had sent out a survey and responders were split evenly between the two options.
“So no matter what decision you make tonight, half of the people will like it and half of them won’t. No matter what decision,” she said. “So we just need to do what we feel is best for the kids in the district.”
Wright said the Oskaloosa school district counts hours students are in class, not days. Both calendars, she said, were very similar in terms of hours and both had some built-in snow days. Both also had two additional working days for teachers that the teaches agreed to pay for out of the teacher quality fund.
“Really, the difference is, if you start a week earlier you can kind of spread those hours out a little bit more. And believe me, teachers and kids need breaks,” she said. “In the second calendar where it starts on the original day it’s kind of squished together and there’s just not as many breaks. There are still a few, but they’re not as many.”
The approved plan had 1,139 hours of academic time.
Additionally, Wright said, the was a possible opportunity from Aug. 3–14 to provide some additional learning to help fifth graders transition to sixth, eighth graders to ninth and for kindergarteners.
“It provides us two weeks of time that we can provide some targeted opportunities for kids to come in and maybe be with their last year’s teacher and kind of graduate to the next year’s teacher,” she said. “That would all be covered with some summer school type money that we do have some funds to provide. Again, we’re in the brainstorm process and we’re very early in writing our return to learn plan.”
Wright said a “return to learn” plan would be ready by July 1. Homecoming is set for Oct. 2.
School board member Sharma Parlett said she liked having more hours of instruction.
“And I think we will need every hour we can get next year,” she said.
Wright said she felt some additional time would be needed to evaluate the students and find out where they’re at and help them move forward.
Other board business
• Each school district is required to review and update their special education service delivery plan every five years. The plan will out for public comment for 30 days, after which time, the board will vote on it.
• The board approved the resignations of Ryan Parker, Tammi Wight and Eddie Aleman. The resignations of Alexandria Eckenrod and Connor Kem will be approved pending suitable replacement.
• Curricula for secondary social studies and career technical education were approved.
• The school board renewed a contract for rights to video production of events with Indians Network was approved for three years. Wright said it is emphasized Oskalosoa Video Production students are to participate in the process and should always have a seat in the announcing booth’s second commentary seat.
• The board approved an Oskaloosa High School band trip to Orlando, Fla. in the 2020-2021 school year, subject to clear communication the district will not be refunding or covering costs should the trip be canceled.