De Pere school district seeking DPI waivers
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – The De Pere school held a public hearing regarding education waivers during its remote meeting Monday, April 20.
Superintendent Ben Villarruel said the district will seek waivers from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In light of the governor’s order to physically close school buildings and school facilities, we began a virtual learning experience for our students on March 16,” he said. “However, based on the requirements for instructional minutes, we are requesting a waiver from the DPI.”
Villarruel said the issue of instructional minutes deals with regular and special education students.
“In no way does the virtual instruction come close to meeting or satisfying the experience students would receive if they were physically allowed to be in the classroom,” he said. “Additionally, for the special education students, they have required services outlined in their IEP (individualized education program). Some of it involves instruction, related services to physical and occupational therapy, mobility and needs for our visually impaired students. The waiver would allow the district to continue with what it’s currently doing and not run afoul with the DPI.”
Jerry Nicholson, De Pere director of pupil services, said he expects most of the school districts in the state to apply for the waiver.
After the waiver motion was unanimously approved, high school math teacher, Cliff Goodacre, gave a presentation regarding online teaching/learning.
“Cliff was one of the core teachers who planned implementation of staff training,” said high school principal Nick Joseph. “He does a great job with his classes and the support staff. To see how our staff has rallied around each other during this difficult time has been great to see. We’re still offering a high-level education and I’m extremely proud of all the teachers.”
Goodacre spent four years at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College as a faculty development trainer.
“One of the main areas I’ve been working on is how to get faculty to adapt their teaching to online learning,” he said. “The transition from NWTC to De Pere has been smooth in helping accomplish this.”
Goodacre said most of the teachers at the high school use Google Classroom.
“We’ve asked all the teachers to put a link of their homepage to their virtual office hours,” he said. “Having virtual office hours – mostly through Google Hangouts – is good for everyone. We’ve asked the teachers to keep their front page clean because once the students click on the classroom link, it gets really busy. Students can see what the agenda is for each day, what the learning targets are and an outline of what is expected. We have strived to use consistent language for students throughout so they know what to look for no matter the class.”
Goodacre said each teacher is posting their online learning by 8:30 a.m. so students can go online by 9 a.m. and get started.
In other news, the Town of Ledgeview is requesting an easement from the district on the 23 acres of land it owns off of Dickinson Road and Bower Creek Road.
A 24-inch storm sewer pipe along the north property line of the parcel would be installed.
The easement would be 15 feet wide, and there would be no cost to the district.
The town would also compensate or reimburse the district for incurred loss or damage.
On the same 23 acres, the district has leased the parcel to farmers to grow crops.
The farmer who leased the land passed away, so the district would like to enter into a new lease agreement with Big Valley Farms to farm the land.
Both motions were unanimously approved.