Plans for end of academic year, financial issues covered at Alta-Aurelia school board meeting

Friday, May 15, 2020

End of school year details have occurred over the past few weeks in the Alta-Aurelia School District. The school year officially ends May 22nd, although schools were closed in March due to COVID-19.

Principals discussed the improvised end-of-year procedures at the May 11th school board meeting which was available by livestream.

All schools had students pick up their school items and return textbooks and school-owned technology which will occur through May 22nd.

On the topic of high school grades, Alta - Aurelia High School Principal Tom Ryherd explained how the grade system was revised this year. High school students can accept their 3rd quarter letter grade, a foundational grade, or can take pass/fail to complete the school year. “Anything that they did over the closure can only only benefit them,” he said.

Jeannie Henningsen, Principal of Aurelia Elementary and Middle School, said students will pick up their items and return school materials May 21st and 22nd. Elementary students will pick up bags that are already packed.

She said elementary teachers continue to meet their students with Facetime, Flipgrid and Zoom meetings. “Our students have done a great job on learning how to learn a new way,” Henningsen said.

The 4th and 8th grade transition activities will stay on schedule, but through technology. “We’re trying to set everyone’s mind at ease,” she said.

At Alta - Aurelia Elementary School, students picking up and returning items occurred last week. Teachers are continuing with Zoom meetings with their classes, daily announcements and sidewalk conferences with 6-foot distancing, Principal Stacy Mueller said.

“We know that next year brings a whole new set of challenges and excitement, and so we’re ready for August,” she said.

Grab and go meal pickup has resumed from 11:30-12:30 Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Alta and Aurelia schools. Signing up ahead of time is necessary.

In school board financial reports, it was discussed that there are deficits at the middle and high school because of missed activities and sports cancellations, and the dance team was unable to have their dance team night which usually produces about $2,000-3,000.

When activities and fundraisers resume, that can be reconciled, Superintendent William Walters said. “Once that happens, we’ll be fine.”

Walters also expects the district to receive about $77,000 within the next few weeks in CARES dollars to fund anything educationally related to COVID-19, including technology, a high priority at this time.

On the topic of professional development, Lesa Heschke gave a review to board members. Since the closure, “I’ve had numerous e-mails from faculty asking for professional development that they can do on their own in their homes, online,” Heschke said.

Adjustments have been made by individuals, companies and AEA in order to make it possible for people to access the professional development from home, she said.

In other school board news:

New hires for 2020-21 are Scott Mitchell as Alta High School principal and Cara Pedersen as Alta Elementary School secretary.

The school district fitness centers are open and the number of visitors is kept low for social distancing.

The Board voted to approve the renewal of EMC/Jester Insurance. Walters said EMC is the frontrunner and that the company provides a comprehensive plan.

Thirty softball uniforms will be purchased, paid for by a nearly $4,000 donation and the boosters, Walters said.

A Zoom meeting will be held on May 28th to amend the budget because of bonds.