By REBECCA HAZEN
The Dade County Board of Education discussed the new COVID-19 Response Plan, and other ways to be informed about on-going COVID-19 news, during the Monday, Aug. 23 meeting.
“Our goal is to slow the spread and to keep kids as safe as possible, but we also want to think about the social and emotional aspect, and keep them in school and interacting with their peers as much as possible,” Superintendent Josh Ingle said.
There are three levels of the COVID-19 Response plan, depending on the amount of cases and quarantines.
If approximately 25 percent of the school population is at home, either because of a positive case or quarantined, then the school will consider going to Level II, which is a hybrid schedule. If that number goes over 50 percent, then Level III will be considered which is remote learning.
Currently, Dade County High School and Dade Middle School are in the middle of a hybrid schedule. School will be closed on Monday, Sept. 6 for Labor Day. That week, the schedule will shift over one day, with half of the students attending on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the second half attending on Thursday and Friday. The two schools will return to a normal, five day a week schedule on Monday, Sept. 13.
COVID-19 numbers (both cases and quarantines) in the schools are reported every Monday in the Superintendent Newsletter.
The schedule, the COVID-19 response plan, and the Superintendent Newsletter can be found online at dadecountyschools.org/dcs.
Also during the meeting, the Board heard reports from various school departments.
There were 2,098 students total enrolled in the schools in 2020, and 2,049 students in 2021. There is a 43 percent increase in the number of students riding the bus compared to last year.
Shenea Hill, Director of Career and Technology Innovation, informed the board that she received certification in Stratasys Training, so she is able to certify school instructors. Stratasys is a company involved with 3D printing innovation.
“This is going to help our students be prepared for the workforce and be industry ready,” Hill said.
There are now 3D printers at both elementary schools.
“They have the capability now, and all of the instructors have went through training,” Hill said.
Hill also said that the Handrail Flex Clip 3D, made by students at Dade Middle School, as a part of NASA HUNCH, can be used to help organize materials, repair of ISS equipment and prevent items from floating away.
GreenPower is a new program at the Dade Middle. This program provides a premiere Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program that will provide students in sixth through eighth grade with a hands-on, project based learning experience.
Hill has reached out to both Tesla START and Integer, to hopefully form partnerships with them. Hill noted that she is trying to form a partnership with Volkswagen, but she has been unable to contact anyone so far.
Pam Barton, Director of Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education, also gave a report to the Board. Barton told the Board the number of students enrolled in each pathway.
For example, there are 32 students in the agriculture/animal science pathway, 74 students in the carpentry/electrical pathway, and 68 students in the nutrition and food science pathway. There are many more pathways, including allied health and medicine/therapeutic services, business and technology, digital media technology and communications, mechatronics, and work-based learning/youth apprenticeship.
There are Dade Middle School feeder pathways: business, digital technology and engineering and technology. Dade and Davis Elementary have benefited from the digital media pathway, receiving older lab equipment to enable them to have broadcasting capabilities in their schools.
Barton also spoke about Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO). Dade County High School provides all students the opportunity to join six state and nationally accredited organizations, which represent career and pathway interests for all 10 pathways. Students enjoy attending local, state and national conferences, as well was competing in various club-sponsored competitions. There are also opportunities to work on community service projects throughout the school year.
“Our teachers, in the first two weeks of school, are assessing students and seeing what competitive events they might be interested in,” Barton said. “It might be virtual this year, but we will still have participants. Our CTSOs are very strong.”
Dr. Cleta Long, Director of Nutrition, reported that 426,973 total student meals were served last year, and 50.93 percent of students received free and reduced priced meals last year.
“Summer was a big success with our Jammin’ June promotion. We had a lot of students participating. We reached a lot more students than in years past,” Long said.
Long noted that health inspections are twice a year, and all of the schools received scores of 100.
Patti Johnson, Director of Academics and Testing, reported on the MTSS (multi-tiered system of supports).
The MTSS Committee met during the summer to create the district MTSS Manual. Initial training on the GO MTSS system within Infinite Campus was held. This is where all the information about students who are Tier II or III will be housed.
MTSS grant funds of $7,500 were used to purchase items for schools based on their need.
“Right now we are attempting screening all of our students. We have until Nov. 1 to get that done,” Johnson said.
Johnson also noted that the process of getting a student into the gifted program has changed. Instead of parent or teacher recommendation, there is a universal screener.
Paula Stallings, representing the Finance Department, gave the financial report.
“I only have SPLOST V financials,” Stallings said. “We are still working on closing fiscal year 2021. Hopefully by September we will be completely closed out.”
July 2021 ad valorem collections were $64,697.14, and were up by 6,380.37 compared to last year. The sales tax collection ending balance for June was $1,646,468.59. The ending balance for SPLOST V for July is $1,662,446.89.
The Board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters. The Board approved the resignations of Megan Dodd and Kaitlyn Mizell. They approved Susan Fields, Kelly Beesley, and Kayla Brown for hire for the 2022 school year, and Diana Spurgin and Katherine Taylor as substitute teachers.
The next Board of Education meeting is Sept. 27.