Though the United South Central School Board felt they had a positive work session last week on Feb. 14, one parent came to their regularly scheduled School Board meeting to share her view of how USC's Flex Learning Day was not as beneficial as their data may have reflected.
Jessica Schrader, the mother of both a fourth grader and a high school student at USC, shared her frustrations with the School Board, stating her high schooler's Flex Learning Day schoolwork took six hours to complete. As for her fourth grader, she informed the board her student's assignments were not where they were said to be online.
"The flex day was a disaster in our house," said the concerned parent. "I have two very smart kids, and we spent far too long on the assignments that were brought home. Not to mention that our Internet connectivity wasn't the greatest, which made it an even larger struggle for my students."
At the board's work session on Valentine's Day, both of the concerns brought up by the parent had been previously addressed in the data received after the Flex Learning Day survey information was collected. Those figures regarding the outcome of the Flex Learning Day are available to the public on USC's website.
As for USC's technology, one of the items on the board's agenda was to consider the approval of a short-term pilot program lease agreement with Vantage Financial to test out Chromebooks, compared to the students' current MacBooks and iPads.
Superintendent Keith Fleming informed the board there was a consideration in a change in technology for USC and wanted to see if the board would be interested in creating a short-term pilot lease with the financial group to try out the new hardware.
"We're finding the software for the MacBooks will be fairly outdated in a few years," said Fleming. "If we consider this option now, we may have the ability to turn over the MacBooks and they would still have a considerable amount of value."
According to Michelle Gottberg a staff member at USC, the school would be able to purchase 2.5 Chromebooks for the cost of one Macbook if they decided to go with Chromebooks after the pilot test.
"This short-term pilot test lease, if the board chooses to approve it, would bring in 60 Chromebooks to USC for classrooms to try," said Fleming. "This is just the first step in this process. We would create a contract with Vantage Financial and bring the contract back to the board for another approval."
One of the concerns from board member Diana Brooks was the quick turnover in technology and how it would affect a child's ability to learn.
"We've just gotten students adapted to how iPads and MacBooks work and now we're changing the technology on them? I have some concern that may cause issues for some of our students," said Brooks.
USC's superintendent mentioned the change in technology really centers around the Google format and technology, which students use fairly frequently.
After their discussion, the board approved the short-term pilot agreement with Vantage Financial. Fleming informed the board he would work with the school's lawyer to draw up a contract and move forward.
The Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) recommended USC consider an update of their strategic planning last fall, but found a bit of a snafu in their system: MSBA's partner, the South Central Service Cooperative (SCSC) which would spearhead USC's strategic planning, is booked to the brim.
"It seems that SCSC?has had a lot of interest from other schools in our area and they are requesting we consider rescheduling our strategic planning agreement until the next school year, perhaps sometime in September," Fleming said.
The board approved the change in the agreement with SCSC and MSBA and hope to meet with them in the fall.
Fleming also informed the board of Jackson County Central's interest in joining the Southern Plains Education Cooperative. Members of the cooperative planned to discuss this possibility at a meeting held on Feb. 22.
The USC School Board plans to have its next regular meeting March 21 at 5:30 p.m.