THE DALLES — The North Wasco county District 21 school board unanimously voted to approve and adopt the virtual learning curriculum Acellus as the online learning option for virtual academy students in the Oct. 28 regular meeting, .
In the education services report presented by Scott Whitbeck, director of school improvement, along with Nick Nelson, Acellus program administrator, it was recommended to adopt the online learning program Acellus, — which, in the spring of 2021, was selected by a board of five D21 school administrators based on cost, usability, technical support, teacher accessible data, quality, and feature familiarity — as an official virtual learning option for D21 students.
According to the report, more than 400 students were enrolled in and accommodated by the program last spring. As of the Oct. 28 meeting, according to Nelson, a total of 87 students are currently participating in the virtual learning program, with 52 students in grades K-5 and 35 students in grades 6-8, including 23 students with disabilities and 13 students who are English language learners.
According to Nelson, the program includes benefits such as vector instruction, in which it detects when a student is struggling with a specific concept and directs them to videos and other supplemental instruction, and the online learning instructor is notified “almost in real time” when a student appears to be struggling, giving them the opportunity to reach out to provide additional support and instruction.
The rest of the educational services report included a learning plan for quarantined students, utilizing a mix of homework packets and independent work, as well as check-ins with teachers and other staff for social-emotional support, and an update for the brand-new instructional coaches’ program, in which teachers receive support through instructional coaching.
During the superintendent’s report, Superintendent Dr. Carolyn Bernal shared the annual Division 22 standards and assurances report for the 2020-21 school year. By law, superintendents must report the compliance or non-compliance of the standards set for public elementary and secondary schools to the school board every year. Out of the 57 standards for the 20-21 school year, three — the Assessment of Essential Skills, Kindergarten Assessment, and the identification of academically talented and intellectually gifted students — were waived. According to Bernal’s report, the North Wasco County School District (NWCSD) met every standard.
“I’m very happy to say that for the 20-21 school year, the (NWCSD) is in compliance with all of the assurances, which I believe is remarkable and a testament to your staff,” said Bernal, “our staff that we have that worked really hard last year to ensure that even in the midst of a pandemic, they were able to accomplish and meet all of the assurances.”
Sport league changes
The board also heard a presentation by Kurt Evans breaking down the ongoing OSAA redistricting process that will take effect 2022 through 2026 once a final vote is made. Redistricting is decided based on adjusted base enrollment and travel times “to establish competitive balance between schools.” Currently, Oregon utilizes a six-classification model for all high schools, with TDHS classified as a small 5A school and part of the 5A-4 Intermountain Conference league with Cook County, Hood River Valley (HRV), Pendleton, Redmond, and Ridgeview. The current redistricting proposals for the next four-year block would classify TDHS as a 4A school, either retaining a six-classification model and placing TD as part of the Tri-Valley Conference league along with schools such as Estacada, Gladstone, La Salle, Madras, North Marion, Molalla, and Parkrose, or moving to a five-classification model and for the most part retaining placement in the Intermountain Conference, with the addition of Madras and La Grande, and the loss of HRV.
Evans emphasized this redistricting process would not include football, which holds its own process. He said that while he saw no downside to either scenario, staying part of the Intermountain Conference would be preferable, one reason being the working relationship between schools. “We all work well together.” Evans said.
After a Communications update and the Chief Financial Officer’s report, the board conducted several action items, including the approval of the resolution transferring appropriation redistribution of appropriations to adjust bus depreciation funds, the approval of the costs going towards building student pavilion at TDHS, as well as purchase of a food truck in an effort to create more eating location options at the high school. The total cost approved for the pavilion was $207,569 to be paid with ESSR III funding, and up to $100,000 to be spent on a new food truck with ESSR II funds. The board also approved up to $240,000 of ESSR II funding to be put towards installing/upgrading district-wide camera systems, and up to $70,000 of the funding to replace old and irreparable instruments for the high school band.
The school board will meet for their next regular meeting Thursday, Nov. 18. To watch the entire Oct. 28 meeting, go to the district 21 Media Channel on Youtube.