ASHLAND – The 2019-2020 school year for Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools has come to a close, in an manner unlike any other school year.

The Ashland-Greenwood Board of Education heard reports during its regular meeting Monday night from administrators and department heads on how the school year ended amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting was held via a teleconferencing platform.

Elementary Principal Teresa Bray noted that this time of the school year, they would normally be handing out report cards to their students.

“This year things are being done a little differently,” she said.

No actual grades were kept during the fourth quarter as elementary students attended school virtually through the district’s continuity of learning plan. Instead, teachers provided feedback to parents that included reports on the student’s progress and level of engagement, Bray said.

The district will not be holding summer school as usual, Bray said, but will provide services to 20 students who have individual reading plans.

Secondary Principal Brad Jacobsen said at the middle school/high school, the staff stands on two legs during the fourth quarter. One leg includes finishing up the school year, and the other planning for the next school year. But COVID-19 added a “third leg” to the process, he added, as they dealt with managing during the pandemic.

“We’ve all grown three legs and sometimes we’re not very balanced,” he said.

Jacobsen noted the success of the district’s food service program during the pandemic, which fed students even though the school cafeteria was closed.

“It’s a pretty cool process and service that’s offered to families,” he said.

Food Service Director Karee Nielsen told the school board that they started on March 19 feeding 54 students and by May 18 they had served 358 children in the community, which is 78 percent of the total who signed up for the program. In total, 14,269 meals have been served, she added.

“That’s a great opportunity for all our families to partake in,” she said.

The program will continue through June. The food service employees create bags that include a week’s worth of food for families to pick up on Mondays.

“Karee and her staff have been awesome to work with,” said Superintendent Jason Libal.

Nielsen said after the program ends, she and her staff will begin working on the kitchens.

During his report, Libal said it’s been a challenge to plan for next fall, as the situation changes continually. He and the other administrators will meet on June 1 to discuss the future, and they will extend their planning work through the summer months, he added.

With the opening of the school’s weight room and community youth softball and baseball practices on June 1, Libal said if the programs are successful it could help ensure students will return to their classrooms in the fall.

“It’s more about getting kids back in the building in a safe way so hopefully in the fall we’re back,” he said.

Libal said he is hopeful things are back to “as normal as possible” soon, because e-learning was difficult for students, teachers and administrators.

“To not start the year off in that mode would be beneficial for everyone,” he said.

In other action, the board approved a 2.8 percent pay raise for non-certificated (hourly) staff. Libal said the district is taking a conservative approach to the budget because of the pandemic and the chance that revenues will be lower.

“We felt like we need to be a bit conservative with everything that’s currently happening,” he said.

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