E-Learning to Fill Snow Days at Gibraltar

Anderson steps down after 27 years on school board

Last year’s extreme winter weather meant many missed instructional days at local schools, which, at Gibraltar, led the school board to task its administration with investigating e-learning to fill snow days for this year.

Superintendent Tina Van Meer made the announcement in an Oct. 24 letter to parents. Although the project was spurred by missed instruction due to snow days, Van Meer said it could also eventually aid students who are struggling from physical injury, long-term illness or mental-health issues.

E-learning days will look different for all students, depending on their grade. Special-education and English-learner staff members will be available on these days, and students will have access to their support during e-learning and when they return to school, she wrote in the letter.

It would also benefit students in AP classes who need extra instructional time to keep up on coursework, board member Angela Sherman said.

Teacher Mike Scoville announced the news to the Community Voices of Gibraltar Facebook page Oct. 20, resulting in 151 comments from the community. A variety of concerns arose, including lack of internet connection, students spending hours at their computer and children being unable to enjoy a snow day outside.

At elementary parent-teacher conferences, 81.2 percent of families were surveyed about the types of devices and internet connection they have at home. Of those, 80.4 percent had reliable internet at home, 15 percent had unreliable internet, and the rest had no internet. Ninety percent of students reported having devices at home. 

At the board meeting, mock lesson plans and templates were shared from teachers who came up with ideas during their Oct. 4 in-service professional-development day.

The e-learning days would run 10 am – 3 pm, with an hour-long lunch break, 12-1 pm. Although secondary student days are broken into eight periods, elementary students’ schedules will be different. 

E-learning days would incorporate videos, recordings, communications and web assignments from teachers. The late start will give teachers time to adjust their plans if needed. The elementary school will use a program called Seesaw; grades six through 12 will use Google Classrooms.

If students are unable to participate in an e-learning day because of lack of internet connection, they can make up the lessons the following day. The administration has not yet determined how that will be done. 

A mock e-learning day will take place at school on Nov. 25, when teachers and students will be able to test the technology and see it in action. Families will also receive a packet of instructions to facilitate practice runs at home in December. 

Multi-Sensory Education

The board unanimously approved a two-year contract with the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education to provide teacher training in Orton-Gillingham reading programs: a literary training approach for individuals with dyslexia and those who have learning and behavior needs. 

The cost of the training is $27,040 each year for one to 29 participants. The teachers will also participate in a three-hour webinar at $250 per hour. The board included extra funds in the budget in case teachers request further training.

School Board Resignation

Longtime school board member Fred Anderson announced his resignation, effective Dec. 31. Anderson, whose term is up in April, said he wishes to spend more time with family in the South during the winter. The board and meeting attendees stood to applaud Anderson to thank him for 27 years of service on the board.

“I will really, really miss you, Fred,” said board President Mark Weborg. “Your knowledge on finances and dollars is remarkable, and we’re going to miss that, along with many other things you contribute to the board. Thank you for your many, many great years of service.”

The board is seeking résumés from volunteers to fill the remainder of Anderson’s term. Those interested should send a résumé to administrative assistant Evelyn Eckhardt. If the person who is selected is interested in continuing on the board, she or he must run for election in April.

Door Community Auditorium

Due to construction at Gibraltar, the Door Community Auditorium (DCA) requested a fee reduction for the 2019 calendar year. The DCA pays the school $32,000 per year in rent, plus $10,000 per year in quarterly payments for facility maintenance. The DCA requested that the board waive its $10,000 maintenance fee this year. 

DCA Executive Director Cari Lewis said construction contributed to a 17 percent drop in ticket sales due to parking lot changes, electric outages, and older patrons not wanting to walk farther to get to the building.

The board thought that, with the information it had provided ahead of the construction, the DCA could have taken additional measures to reduce the loss of ticket sales. The board approved a reduction of $2,000 of the maintenance fee.

Related Organizations