Brownstown officials provide update on school year


During the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, Brownstown Central Community School Corp. officials have noticed several positives.

Around 1,500 students were given Chromebooks to do their eLearning assignments from home, and teachers have helped them adapt to a different way of learning.

In the past month, staff members have prepared and delivered 12,000 meals to students to ensure no one goes hungry.

Hourly employees continue to receive pandemic pay.

Even a couple of construction projects have been able to move forward at the high school.

All of the positives were noted during Tuesday night’s board of trustees meeting, which was done virtually for the first time.

“Even through these tough times, I feel like the school corporation as a whole is doing some great things,” Trustee Clayton Beard said. “That makes me proud to be a school board member. Keep up the good work, and keep doing what we’re doing. It will be over soon enough, hopefully.”

Trustee Gina Hackman provided a word of encouragement to parents working with their kids on eLearning.

“That can be a challenge sometimes, so I just want you to know it’s very much appreciated, and the end is near,” she said.

Board President Scott Shade also touted teachers and students for eLearning and staff for delivering meals.

“I have heard nothing but great things about the efforts that are taking place to help the students and the parents. That has been a learn while you go type of thing, and they have done a good job,” he said. “Serving the food is huge. There are a lot of hungry kids out there, and (delivering meals) is very important.”

During the meeting, trustees also unanimously approved the amended 2019-20 school calendar. Superintendent Tim Taylor said teachers are instructing virtually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and state-approved waiver days are Mondays and Fridays with the exception of April 10, 17 and 20, which were on the original calendar as snow makeup days.

The last instruction day is May 7, which Taylor said will put the corporation past the minimum of 160 days as required by the state.

“Our principals, teachers, parents and most importantly students seem to be adapting to this new delivery of instruction quite well,” Taylor said.

Since it was intended to only be temporary, not an everyday option, he said everyone is maximizing their time and effort.

“If nothing else, I think we’re providing a great deal of on-the-job training for helping us prepare next fall for the one-to-one rollout,” he said, as all students will take their Chromebooks home starting with the 2020-21 school year.

With the meal delivery, Taylor said students in the corporation receive a week’s worth of food on Tuesdays. That includes food prepared by Food Service Manager Sheryl Jackson and her staff and food donations from Rose Acre Farms and Brownstown Central Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Shed for You community building. Elementary counselor Jill Miller has coordinated the effort and has fellow staff members helping.

Graduation is still set for May 23, but it will be nontraditional with a prerecorded virtual ceremony and a celebratory parade.

The prerecorded virtual ceremony will be available on YouTube at 10 a.m. that day through a link provided on the corporation’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Planning is currently underway for the parade, which would be at 12:30 p.m. and include the presentation of diplomas.

Throughout all portions of the program, the Indiana State Department of Health guidelines for social distancing will be honored, Taylor said.

If the restrictions change in the coming weeks, however, Taylor said a traditional graduation could be possible.

“We’re keeping the door cracked on a traditional graduation,” he said. “We haven’t shut that door yet. We are keeping that open.”

Shade said he appreciates the efforts of Taylor, Assistant Superintendent Jade Peters and Principal Joe Sheffer working on graduation.

“As we all know, it’s a big event and it’s super important for these kids to be honored for their accomplishments, and we certainly want them to have a time they’ll never forget,” Shade said. “Unfortunately, the time is unpredictable what it’s going to be like May 23, but I’m appreciative of the efforts, and you’re going to make sure this is a special event.”

In terms of students turning in their Chromebooks and textbooks and picking up their personal items at school, Taylor said those plans are being discussed and will be shared on social media when they are finalized.

“We really appreciate the patience of our community at this point in time because we’re doing everything we can to be mindful of their convenience and keep them safe,” he said.

Peters said hourly employees initially were to work through May 7, but that has been extended to May 22, so they will continue to receive pandemic pay. The normal summer hours for custodians will start May 26.

Trustees also approved an option for certified staff evaluations for 2019-20, which received favorable recommendation from the three principals and Brownstown Central Classroom Teachers Association.

Evaluations will be based on last school year’s school letter grade and observations done before the last instruction day and not include student learning outcomes.

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