At the December 8th School Committee meeting an update on the Remote Learning Academy was presented, along with results from the recent survey. Discussions also began on the FY21-22 School Operating Budget. The meeting packet also included enrollment projections and the 2020 Performance Report.
Several parents expressed concerns regarding the remote and hybrid learning models, especially at the elementary level.
Update on Student Learning: Remote Learning Academy
Teachers and administrators provided an overview of remote learning. There has been a focus on creating a sense of connection and community among students, families, and teachers. There have been some unexpected benefits, such as reduced distractions, stronger family involvement, and increased student independence.
November Survey Results
Diane Simmons presented findings from the recent survey that was given to students, families, and staff regarding student learning in both the remote and hybrid models. About 3,500 people completed the survey in mid-November. Data was presented on questions relating to technology, health and safety, key concerns, satisfaction levels, as well as with responses to open-ended questions. The full presentation can be found int he meeting packet. Highlights include:
Families are most concerned about academic growth, especially in the younger grades, while staff are more concerned about students' social-emotional wellbeing.
Family satisfaction for the hybrid model is lower overall than for the remote model, but is highest for the in-person learning portion of the hybrid model — indicating that students are having two different learning experiences within the hybrid model.
Staff expressed higher overall satisfaction with the hybrid model than families.
There was a disparity between students and families in the perception of how easy or difficult schoolwork is, with 56% of students feeling their assignments are difficult, versus 37% of families, and only 15% of students finding the work easy, versus 28% of families.
Comments & Next Steps:
Data from the survey will be reviewed by school councils and the new K-5 Hybrid Learning Exploratory Team.
Responses from the green cohort were included in the hybrid data, but those students have more in-person learning time than gold and blue cohort students, so it would be helpful to look at that data separately.
The survey results highlight, particularly at the elementary level, that there are serious issues with the hybrid model. Students and families want more time with their teacher, but large changes will require huge structural changes and additional resources.
Teachers are less concerned about kids “falling behind” academically than families. Perhaps there needs to be more communication about how the curriculum has been adjusted and what the learning priorities are.
Athletics: Per state guidance some winter sports will take place: swimming & diving, skiing, gymnastics, basketball, and ice hockey. There will not be spectators, but they will attempt to stream events. Indoor track, cheer, dance, wrestling, and squash will be moved to the spring (potentially).
Health reminder: The cases that have been occurring are not through the schools, but in small group settings outside of school. For schools to remain open it is crucial for families to stop small gatherings, parties, and sleepovers.
2021-22 Budget Request
The total "Non-Covid" budget request is $2,868,308 (3.55%) increase over the FY21 budget, which is the smallest increase in almost 10 years. The assumes a return to in-person learning with minimal Covid-related health and safety expenses.
Salary Increases $1.5 million
Level Service $1.1 million
Program Improvements $263,00
Staffing request: 4.24 additional FTEs across the district
A supplemental budget request of $3.2 million has been developed to cover possible Covid-related costs, such as continued hybrid and/or remote learning plans. This is a rough number ("worst-case scenario"), and will be adjusted over the coming months. Added to the "Non-Covid" budget, this would be a 7.5% increase over last year.
School Committee will meet next on Tuesday, December 15, at 6:30pm.