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Galena School Board hears update on return to learn plan


GALENA–With just a couple weeks before the start of a very different-looking 2020-21 school year, the Galena School Board got an update on the district’s return to learn plan during the Tuesday, Aug. 4 business meeting.

The first official day for students is Thursday, Aug. 20, with early releases planned for Thursday and Friday of that week.

Superintendent Tim Vincent explained that of 686 parent surveys, 508 opted for in-person learning, 116 for remote and 62 for a hybrid option. He said families can change at any point with a simple notification to the school.

Vincent also outlined a couple changes to the plan that the board officially approved at the July regular meeting. After continued meetings with bargaining groups and the transition team, the plan has been altered to allow high school and middle school students to be released each day at 2:15 and primary school students at 2:30 so that teachers have time to meet individually or in groups with remote learners.

During that time, paraprofessionals will do other work until the normal time they would leave for the day, Vincent said.

Vincent said outdoors areas have been tested for sufficient internet connection and those areas with the strongest signals will be used for outdoor learning environments, which are encouraged as part of the plan.

According to Vincent, the district’s remote learning plan is complete and ready to go if necessary. He said that unlike the spring, the state recommends two-and-a-half hours of live learning/streaming per day and a total of five hours of student engagement.


Other business

In other business, the board:

•approved an amendment to the retirement agreement with Beth Murphy, high school principal, that has Murphy retiring a year earlier than originally planned. Her retirement will take place on June 30, 2022, instead of June 30, 2023.

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Under the amended agreement, Murphy will receive two years of 6 percent raises versus three years of 4 percent raises.

She also receives an additional five sick days and 20 vacation days. Previously Murphy was to receive four years of 4 percent raises.

•approved technology software purchases in the amount of $12,615 and laptop purchases for high school staff in the amount of $24,832.

•accepted the resignation of Steve Holland, fifth-12th grade instrumental music teacher and middle school football and basketball coach.

•hired Mike Vaschur as fifth-12th grade instrumental music teacher.

•hired Kerry Bussan as a full-time bus driver for the 2020-21 school year.

•approved fall and winter coaches for the 2020-21 school year. The seventh and eighth grade assistant football and eighth grade boys basketball positions remain open. Board member Nikki Frank abstained.

•approved an amendment to the route wage for bus drivers for the 2020-21 school year.

•approved policy updates.

•approved an amendment to the district’s 403B plan.

The district will offer employees the option to participate in a Roth 403B, another possibility for investment post tax vs. the 403B pre-tax. Additionally, the loans and hardship withdrawals were eliminated. Board member Brian McIntyre abstained.