Independence school to reduce virtual options for ‘21-22 year

The Independence School District will be reducing virtual learning options in the 2021-22 school year, citing the stress placed on teachers created by teaching concurrently in person and virtually.

District superintendent Bärry Schmitt explained that those with an accommodation specified in a formal 504, Individualized Education Program (IEP), health plan or a health department order to quarantine would still be accommodated, but he would also like to see the district’s virtual offerings scaled back.

“We opened Pandora’s box this year, and we just can’t ignore it and close it that quickly,” Schmitt said. “I think for the sake of good instruction, for the sake of our staff, we have to limit the amount of virtual learning that happens. Especially in some of the lower grades, where it hasn’t been really effective at all.”

In separate action, the district approved a bus contract renewal with Pape School Bus, Inc. for a three percent increase in cost for the 2021-22 school year to $311,327.80. The contract also includes additional scheduled increases of one percent in each of the following two years, with the following two years of the five-year deal to be decided by June of 2023.

The board also approved an insurance bid from Security Health Plan that maintains their current deductible rates while expanding their network of providers. The plan also features a relatively negligible .21 percent decrease for their current renewal and a .28 percent increase for an embedded plan.

In a separate hiring action, Amanda Jensen was hired as an occupational therapist. Melanie Lewis was also hired as a cheerleading advisor, and summer school contracts were extended to facilitate summer school, summer agriculture programming and summer music programming. The resignations of middle/high school science teacher Andrew Bradford, middle school ELA teacher Sarah Ross and special education paraprofessionals Jenny Estenson and Cleo Skroch were also approved.


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