By Press Times Staff
DE PERE – Following the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to online learning, the West De Pere school board voted Monday, April 6, in favor of submitting a waiver to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction related to the district’s hours/minutes of instruction for the 2019-20 school year.
The district’s director of curriculum, Amy LaPierre, informed the board about the opportunity to request the waiver from meeting and/or documenting the normally required minutes with all K-12 schools now closed for an indefinite period of time.
“While teachers and students are working hard in a new remote learning environment, it will be impossible to accurately document instructional minutes during this time,” LaPierre said.
West De Pere joins Howard-Suamico, Ashwaubenon and Green Bay as other districts to formally request the waiver.
Pass/no pass grading
Due to the alternate/remote learning structures in place during the pandemic, the board also approved an alternative grading structure for grades 6-12 to apply only in the third trimester of this school year.
LaPierre said state organizations and legal counsel recommended schools that use a traditional grading scale to use a pass/no pass system during this time.
“This recommendation is based on issues of equity and on issues related to a teacher’s ability to accurately assess student learning to the level required for specific letter grades,” she said.
The board backed a series of recommendations to increase the district staffing for 2020-21 to include:
• An additional full-time psychologist to increase the number serving the entire district to four. The district’s student population and number of students identified as having a disability increased the past several years while having three psychologists.
• Increasing the middle school French teacher from a 70 percent employed staff member to 100 percent to cover one high school course each trimester due to enrollment growth in the district’s French courses for the next school year.
• The addition of a literacy coach position at the middle school to also help prepare for the opening of the intermediate school in 2021-22 when the position would then transition to being the literacy coach for grades 5-8 and provide literary coaching support at both buildings.
Contracts for 2020-21 will also include an Esports advisor with the upcoming school year being the third for Esports and activities having increased every year.
Two additional assistant track coaches were approved for contracts in 2020-21 with there being currently five assistants coaching a wide variety of athletes, who have more than doubled in numbers since 2014 to 135 in 2020.
West De Pere not only announced Chris Greisen as the new varsity head football coach for next season, the board also approved hiring him as a high school math teacher to replace Jack Batten as a coach and James Zilmer as a teacher.
Greisen has taught math at Notre Dame Academy and previously was an assistant high school football coach.
He graduated from Sturgeon Bay High School and played quarterback at Northwest Missouri State University, which won the 1998 NCAA Division II national championship, before being drafted in 1999 by the Arizona Cardinals.
The board also approved Shelby Fehrenbach as a family and consumer education teacher at the high school to replace Janine Balistrieri.