Remote Learners Having Hard Time

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Students struggling at remote learning or not taking it seriously remains a problem, the Hillsboro School Board learned at their Tuesday, Oct. 13, meeting at the junior high school cafeteria.

"The overall number of remote learners is going down," Superintendent David Powell said, echoing a similar report last month on those who have chosen not to attend class in person during the pandemic.  "The number of those who are struggling is not going down, so the percentage of those struggling is going up."

Beckemeyer Principal Zach Frailey said 72 students at the elementary school remain at home.  The principal and Assistant Principal Michelle Reeves thanked the Hillsboro Police Department for their cooperation in contacting families of remote learning students who are doing no school work.

Junior high Assistant Principal Zach Lipe summarized the struggle with remote learning: "It is up to the student–for the most part–to decide whether education is important or not." 

High school Principal Patti Heyen shared with board members a written packet developed for parents of remote learners who are struggling.

"It's direct help for parents who are struggling with their students," Heyen said.  "It's also a warning."

Pre-K director Marci Gutierrez said her school, too, has a lot of students returning to class.

Board President Barbara Adams asked if the remote learning option can be taken away from students who are not succeeding in that format.

"The regional office of education says yes; the Illinois State Board of Education says no," the superintendent answered.  He will continue to seek a final official answer.

Even though some remote learners are choosing to return to school, that also comes with some issues.

"The more students we have in class, the more difficult it is to keep our distance," Powell said of social distancing requirements.

Still, the number of students not succeeding at remote learning led the superintendent to bring up the possibility of requiring all students to be in class next semester.  The discussion will continue.

District curriculum director Hope McBrain reported on various grant programs in the district, including a grant that fund parts of the ag program, grants that funds tech and vocational education, grants specific to the pandemic, Title grants, special ed grants, a library grant, and a "back to books" grant.

"This money is distributed based on our census count," board member Earl Meier reminded.  "If we don't have a good census, we will lose some money."

The meeting began with applause for Brook Ozier, who was recognized by the high school principal as a "commended student" for scoring in the top 34,000 of more than 1.5 million high school students on standardized tests.

Next month, the board will vote on required policy revisions regarding sexual harassment and required training, and other such issues, as well as a new Mid-State Special Education-recommended behavioral intervention policy.

Without a closed session, the board accepted the resignation of teachers' aide Shelby Monroe and bus aide Becky Burris, then employed Kayden Schmedeke as bus aide and April Pier as bus driver. Board member Dan Tester was not present.

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