Alva Review-Courier -

Northwest Tech plans for distance learning

 

Marione Martin

Observing social distancing, Northwest Technology Center board members sit at separate tables for Thursday's meeting. Clockwise from left are Lary Weeks, Butch Edingfield, Superintendent Daren Slater, Stan Kline, Randy Reed and Terry Ryel (back to camera).

Although most of the focus has been on public school closings, the Northwest Technology Center (NWTC) campuses in Alva and Fairview have also been affected. Board members learned how NWTC is coping with the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during a special meeting Thursday. The meeting was moved to the multi-purpose room of the Alva facility to allow members to spread out for social distancing requirements.

Board members present were Stan Kline, Randy Reed, Terry Ryel, Lary Weeks and Butch Edingfield. Also at the meeting were Superintendent Daren Slater, Assistant Superintendent Colt Shaw, Assistant Superintendent Jeremy Eaton and Business Manager Gina Kendrick who kept the minutes.

The consent agenda approved by the board included minutes of the March 2 meeting and items to be declared surplus property so they may be disposed of by the district. Slater explained surplus items were from the Fairview campus and included computer supplies, monitors and printers.

Financial Report

Encumbrances from the general fund totaling $34,889.21, encumbrances from the building fund of $2,100 and change orders from the building fund for $856 were approved.

Slater reported ad valorem tax collections were at 81.69 percent, up a little from last year at the same time. He said district expenditures are reduced with no students on campus.

The district bought some software to allow IT personnel to log in remotely to a student's computer to solve computer issues. This will be helpful as the district moves to online learning. The school's connectivity through Pioneer Telephone was upgraded. An automotive curriculum to assist with online learning was purchased; it can be used next year as part of the regular classes.

Brenna Heaton was scheduled for professional development classes in Kansas City. Instead of face to face instruction, that has been moved to an online format so the district will not be paying for travel expenses.

Slater said change orders included a purchase order for the April election which was not held, student contests that had been canceled and substitute teachers who will not be needed. The spring semester includes several student contests requiring teachers to be gone with substitutes needed. Since those contests are canceled and there are no face to face classes, no substitute teachers are required.

Asked how many instructors would be teaching from the school building and how many from home, Slater said it was probably about 50-50. Some don't have internet service. Some teachers are comfortable with the technology while others are less experienced with it.

Contests

Slater asked the assistant superintendents to report on results of student contests.

For the Fairview campus, Shaw said about 15 students went to the district BPA contest and all placed in the top ten to qualify for state. One student qualified for nationals. "They represented Northwest Tech very well," he said. "Their demeanor and attitude there was excellent."

In the regional science fair held in Alva, he said of the five students entered all won their divisions. One won overall, and she qualified to go to the international science fair in Los Angeles with expenses paid. However, she won't be able to go because of cancellations.

HOSA is trying to do some contests virtually (online). They may go off the initial presentations they made when they qualified for state.

The skills contests are likely to be canceled also.

Eaton said three students from the Alva campus qualified at state for the national BPA contest which has been cancelled. Thirty-five students from the Alva campus were scheduled to compete at HOSA in health careers contests. The national contest is still scheduled for the end of June. Thirty-nine contests had a pre-qualifying test. HOSA will just use those results to determine who goes to nationals. "It's not ideal, but it's all they can do," he said. Other contests probably be online. "They're still working on how they're going to do that."

Eaton said NWTC had qualifiers in the skills contests like automotive, collision, electrical and welding, but "they just flat canceled that."

Distance-Virtual Learning

Supt. Slater said the last day of online classes for high school students (sophomores, juniors and seniors) will be May 8. Dates for adult students will not change, and their classes will end May 19.

A guide on how classes will be taught for students and parents was created and posted on the NWTC Facebook page and also mailed out. Slater asked Eaton and Shaw to talk about what distance learning will look like at each campus.

Eaton said the Alva campus will be using Google for Education and Google Meet with at least two interactive classes per week. Some items that would normally be used in classrooms will be checked out to students. He said the instructors all got together in a group video meeting on Thursday and took turns running the meeting to familiarize everyone with the program.

He reported Alva and Cherokee students all have Chromebooks through their high schools that they will be able to use for NWTC classes. Teachers will be in the building on Monday and Tuesday to finalize plans to be ready to launch classes by Wednesday.

Shaw said the Fairview campus will be using Canvas for online learning since most of them are familiar with that platform. Within Canvas they can do video conferencing like Zoom and Google Hangouts. The program will save the videos so those who can't make it for the scheduled class time can watch it later. Fairview teachers will be available by phone and email from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for student questions.

He said only one public school in the Fairview area is doing online learning with the others using packets so they are planning for three meetings per week.

Other Business

Slater said requests for upgrades of technology, facility and equipment were submitted by teachers the second week of March. Those will be evaluated before purchases are made. Uncertainty about the budget for the next couple of years will also be part of the evaluation.

A pre-bid meeting has been scheduled for the next building project with bid opening set for April 15. At that time, NWTC will see how many bids are received and decide whether to go ahead on the project or shelve it for next year.

The April auction of surplus items has been postponed. NWTC will likely set a date in the fall.

Board members voted to approve the FY 2020-2021 Technology Plan which is an update from last year. The Professional Development Plan for FY 2020-2021 was also approved. They approved an updated version of the district's hiring policy which gives the administration more flexibility.

The next board meeting will be May 4 at the Alva campus.

The NWTC Foundation golf tournament for May 18 is postponed to a later date, probably in the fall.

Faculty Hiring

The board voted to forego the executive session on the agenda for discussion of faculty. They voted to employ the following faculty members for the FY 2020-2021 school year.

Alva Campus:

Joshua Anderson, Collision Repair Instructor

Tami Frascht, Career Center Coordinator

L. Brenna Heaton, Biomedical Sciences Instructor

Karlea Irvin, Practical Nursing Instructor

Karen Koehn, Career Counselor

Andrea Long, Computer and Business Instructor

Kala Mead, Biomedical Sciences Instructor

Brooke Meyer, Health Careers Certification Instructor

Kylee Pfleider, Math Instructor

Ronald Rader, Automotive Technology Instructor

Jessica Schanbacher, Digital Design Instructor

Eric Sheik, Construction trades Instructor

Tara Thomas, Practical Nursing Director/Instructor

Fairview Campus:

Janette Blevins, Culinary Instructor

Debra Button, Health Careers Certification Instructor

Shawn Cusack, Biomedical Sciences Instructor

Kay Koehn, Career Center Coordinator

Stacy Lee, Digital Design Instructor

Amy McClure, Computer and Business Instructor

Michael "J.P." Parker, Welding Instructor

Jennifer Shaw, Career Counselor

Ashlee Smart, Math Instructor

 

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