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Green Bay commits to full-time learning in the fall

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Planning is already underway for 2021-22 as Green Bay secondary students return for in-person instruction four days a week for the first time this school year.

Board members had a brief discussion regarding next school year at their meeting Monday, April 12, which should resemble a return to normal.

The board and district staff reiterated its commitment to a full, in-person, five-day a week school year for 2021-22.

“I know there have been questions in the community over the course of the past couple months about what does the future look like?” said Superintendent Steve Murlery. “We want to reassure the public again that the board has adopted a calendar for the 2021-22 school year that has our teachers coming back in August and our students coming back in September that’s predicated on a five-day week just as we have had in-person in previous years. So our intent is to start the next school year based on the calendar the board has adopted to be in-person for that five-day weekly schedule.”

No official vote was taken specifically on a five-day a week plan, which was disappointing for some board members.

“I had thought maybe there would be a motion here because there are people looking for clarity and are very concerned,” said Trustee Andrew Becker. “Frankly, I’m worried that people are making a decision now whether to leave the district or not, or attempt to leave the district whether or not they have a hard commitment. It’s unfortunate there is no motion here.”

Others said the commitment has already been made.

“Certainly, we have adopted the calendar, we’ve said it publicly many times (that we would return to a five-day week next year),” said Eric Vanden Heuvel, board president. “If there is a desire, if there is good public will to make a motion, we certainly can put that for action at the May board meeting. Didn’t put it on here tonight because we were going to give this update. We’ve obviously put it on the agenda to re-enforce it. But if you feel like making a motion would be taking it a step further we certainly can reaffirm the fall calendar.”

Ultimately, the board agreed to include a vote on the issue at the May 10 meeting.

Virtual options for fall

There will be virtual options for families who choose to continue with the online learning platform for the 2021-22 school year.

“We will be offering a pre-K through fifth grade virtual program for children whose families wish to keep them online to start next fall,” Murley said. “That will be separate from our in-person, physical school. That will create an opportunity for those students to be in that program, stay in that program over the course of the year, but won’t have any impact on our in-person classrooms.”

Secondary students will have a virtual learning option through the John Dewey Academy of Learning (JDAL) for the 2021-22 school year.

“From a planning process it was much more straightforward for us to get that elementary program up and off the ground,” Murley said. “We also knew that the JDAL option was available for the secondary students so it wasn’t as pressing as getting the elementary program up and rolling.”

Murley said some NEW School of Innovation classes will be moved to NWTC to make room for a possible increase in enrollment to JDAL.

“The NWTC team has been fantastically accommodating,” he said. “So we already have classrooms that are designated for our students. So we will be moving students off our campus on Cherry Street in the fall, so that should free up some additional room for us.”

Murley said it is the plan to have a virtual option for all grades pre-K to 12 by fall 2022.

Full April 26 agenda

The agenda for the April 26 board work session is slated to be quite lengthy.

Many items that were set on the back burner amidst the pandemic will be back on the board table for discussion – including class sizes, school start time and student dress code.

A special board meeting will also be held prior to the work session to nominate and vote for board officers.

Trustees will vote for board president, vice president, treasure, clerk and board secretary.

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