Green Bay online school on track for 2021-22 launch
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Pieces are falling into place for the Green Bay school district’s new online school, as it’s on track to launch for students in grades 4K through fifth at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
The school board got an update on the school’s progress at its Monday, May 24 meeting.
Deputy Superintendent Vicki Bayer said there are three main drivers for the online school – parent requests for a virtual learning option, the desire to expand education opportunities and a focus on the opportunity to increase student enrollment.
“The online school has been developed with the students at the center of the work,” Bayer said.
Online instructors will use the district-adopted curriculum, and students participate in state and district assessments like their in-person peers.
The online school will be open to all students.
“Because of the flexibility that we have, we feel like we can meet the needs of all students with disabilities no matter how significant,” said Claudia Henrickson, executive director of student services. “Because, what they can’t get virtually, we will be able to schedule time for them to come onsite to get their occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and any other specialized services they need. The same would go for the English language learners, They would have the opportunity to come onsite for additional services as well.
Henrickson said a counselor, social worker and psychologist will be assigned to the virtual school, depending on how many students enroll.
“I feel we are very well positioned to be able to meet the needs of every single learner that wants to attend school virtually through the Green Bay Area Public Schools,” she said.
Virtual teachers will work in what is being called instructional studios.
“We’ve been working with our partners, specifically Zoom and Poly studios, on designing spaces to teach in,” Joshua Patchak, executive director of technology and information said. “We are thinking of these, not so much as classrooms, we’ve been calling them instructional studios because in this future that we are imagining, it’s not like the current hybrid situation where you need to receive a certain amount of space for students in class. You don’t need to worry about kids being onsite and offsite at the same time. What you really need is a flexible environment that allows you to create high-quality educational content, whether that is on a livestream or an asynchronous task for the students. The focus should be on video production and providing flexibility in an environment to kind of rapidly transition.”
Patchak said each studio will include a green screen, document camera, cabinetry, large monitors and hardware which turns the room into its own presentation device.
He said that takes a lot of the burden off the instructor and allows them to get into natural instruction, rather than worry about the technology getting in the way.
The instructional studios will be housed at Lincoln Elementary School, and Adam Gloudeman will serve as principal for both schools.
“We as a district have really strong principal leaders,” Bayer said. “And starting this school is going to require the same type of strength. Adam Gloudeman presently serves as, and will continue to serve as, Lincoln Elementary principal, and we asked him to step up and lean in and help us lead this and he has.”
Gloudeman said the district is still in the process of defining the physical space while maintaining Lincoln as a functioning school, and ensuring those students are getting the resources, but then also providing that center, community hub and instructional studios for the online school.
Administrators said there is room in the Lincoln school building for both.
Gloudeman said the district’s online school is different from what we know as a virtual school through the pandemic.
“The school will have a center,” he said. “One of the things that we believe is important for a successful school is the ability to build a community to ensure belonging, provide resources and support to enrich the experience. I think a lot of times we heard going through the whole pandemic was our students are struggling because they just want to be back at school or they don’t feel like they belong or they feel isolated. This will now give the students and the families the opportunity to belong to a bigger community as a whole.”
Gloudeman said special classes including art, physical education and music, are still being developed.
“That is still under development, but there will definitely be an opportunity for related arts and additional experiences, such as field trips and stuff like that,” he said. “Really, what we are looking at is working with transportation to try and design calendars that would allow families if they so choose to come and get some of those experiences. Also, they would have the opportunity to get those specials via online working with those teachers as well.”
District welcome center
The administration is proposing the board approve the purchase of the former Cup O Joy building, which currently serves as the district’s welcome center.
“(The welcome center) is definitely serving a purpose as we come back to in person, facilitating new enrollments in the district,” Superintendent Steve Murley said.
Last August, the board approved entering a two-year lease-to-own agreement with Cup Oh Joy, with an option to purchase at any time.
The district has been paying $4,000 per month in rent with $2,000 of it going toward offsetting the purchase price, which is $525,000.
Murley said a modification plan for the facility will be put together once the district owns the building, but said there are some changes that can be made in the short term.
“We want to make sure that for parents and families that come into the facility, we’ve got everyone onsite that we would need in a one-stop shop as they are new to the district,” he said. “So we would make some modifications on a short term just to get those folks over there. But then some of the things that we would like to do to the facility will take a little bit more time, and that will take some planning to get that done.”
The board will vote on whether to exercise the purchase option at its June 14 meeting.