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School board OKs remote teacher contracts

Students may be back in the classroom this fall, but for some classes students won’t see their teacher in person.

That’s because those teachers will be providing instruction remotely through video conferencing.

The Fort Dodge Community School District Board of Education on Wednesday approved contracts for a high school Spanish remote teacher and a seventh grade math remote teacher for the fall semester after the district was unable to fill those positions.

Superintendent Dr. Derrick Joel noted that having a remote teacher for students in the classroom is not ideal, but with the school year starting in less than a month, he believes it is the best option for students at this time.

Students in the classes affected will still go to class as normal, and there will be a classroom monitor to take attendance and supervise while the students learn from the teacher in a live video seminar.

“(Proximity Learning) will utilize our curriculum and our grading practices,” Joel said.

The company will also provide students any needed additional support outside of class, interact with families and participate in teacher-parent conferences, he said.

Joel said the district hopes to recruit permanent teachers for those two positions before the start of second semester.

The board approved a contract bid from a company called Proximity Learning, of Austin, Texas, for $65,759.90 for the seventh grade math teacher and $49,407.92 for the high school Spanish teacher.

The board also approved a $4,812.70 change order for the High School Area C HVAC Upgrade Project.

“It will have to do with some additional electrical work that will need to be done in that area,” explained Ryan Utley, district director of buildings and grounds.

In other business, the school board approved the purchase of seven additional lunch tables for the new Early Childhood Center set to open this fall.

“When we got into the space, we didn’t feel at the time the cafeteria was large enough to house enough students to run through lunch shifts in a reasonable time, so we decided to have TK and preschool go into their classrooms and eat their lunch that way,” Utley explained.

But once the renovation of the building was complete, they realized the cafeteria was much larger than they thought. The space will be able to fit up to 168 students in each lunch shift, creating a need for more tables.

Each lunch table is $2,252, for a total price of $15,764. The district will purchase the lunch tables from Premier Furniture and Equipment, of Waverly, which holds the state contract for lunch table purchases.

Joel also told the school board about meeting with the Webster County Health Department to discuss the return to learn plan.

“No decisions have been made at this point,” he said. “At this point, we’re waiting to hear from the Department of Education and Department of Public Health, but our ultimate goal is to have communication out within a week to our staff and our families.”

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