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DECATUR SCHOOLS

Watch now: Decatur school board moves forward with strategic plan

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DECATUR – Decatur Public Schools Superintendent Paul Fregeau revealed the priorities of Year 3 of the district's five-year strategic plan at the school board meeting on Tuesday.

The focus of the first year of the plan was student experience; year 2, student environments. Year 3, he said, is the whole student. The plan's overall goal is to “Establish a support network that will identify and address students’ physical, social/ emotional, and mental health needs to allow each student to reach their full potential.”

The district will continue its emphasis on the fine arts, establish an associate's degree program, and strengthen the counseling and career advisory programs. Among other plans are to continue the building consolidations that are in the facilities plan and consider a move to one high school. The district is putting more focus on diversity of staff, develop an aspiring leadership institute, provide equity training for staff, build on the mentoring program for first and second year staff, and increase tiered interventions for students.

Board member Kendall Briscoe said it was important, when discussing the possible change to one high school, that the public understand the district is not considering closing one of the high schools and ceasing to use that building. Both buildings would be in use, though one might change its focus and mission.

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"We're trying to remove the sense of 'this is how it's always been, this is how we've always done it,'" Fregeau said. "We want to look at changing our district into more strategic thinkers as a whole, and identify gaps in our system and how we can go about addressing those gaps." 

One of those gaps, he said, was instituting the Care Rooms to help students having difficulty during the day. Another was the restructuring of the alternative education program, which had been serving only fifth grade through high school and is now serving students from kindergarten through high school. 

Technology, which is especially important during remote learning, also provided an update at the board meeting.

The board approved the purchase of a Zoom video conferencing license for the district, and is offering help with internet and iPad issues with tutorials, a help icon on the iPads, and individual building emails to allow students to request technology assistance.

Decatur schools have been using Google Classroom for video conferencing with students, but the platform has some limitations that make it difficult to use in virtual learning. The district's existing Zoom account will be converted to a K-12 account. Zoom allows only authorized access by Decatur students and staff, includes a waiting room, and provides the ability to remove participants if necessary. The cost will be covered by the federal CARES Act.

The district experienced technology issues on Tuesday, with some students unable to log into their remote learning. The issues were resolved by noon and student attendance was not impacted due to the issues.

Four new student ambassadors were also sworn in: Jalyn Pearce and Caleb McKinney from Eisenhower High School; Shakaria Selvy and Daniel Flores from MacArthur High School. Student ambassadors sit in on school board meetings, ask questions and give feedback to the board from the students' perspective. 

The board also approved returning the deadline for physicals and immunizations to Oct. 15, the state's deadline. The district deadline had been Sept 15. 

The district plans to make an announcement about tentative plans for the second quarter on Sept. 18. 


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Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter

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