By Bill Spinks
Problems with Waxahachie High School’s hybrid learning system were addressed during Monday’s meeting of the Waxahachie ISD board of trustees. The district may soon be requiring students to choose between at-home and face-to-face learning.
"Hybrid learners" are students who receive instruction both online and face-to-face. These students include those involved in extracurricular activities such as athletics and band, as well as students whose studies involve hands-on training on campus, such as cosmetology and other CTE courses.
Dr. David Averett, assistant superintendent of secondary learning, listed issues with the hybrid model that have been identified over the first four weeks of school.
These problems include: campus security from students coming and going throughout the school day; students being where they are not supposed to be on campus; interruption of face-to-face classes; students coming to campus out of dress code; and consistency of student attendance.
"We know there are students who are doing this model perfectly and to the T," Averett said. "They’re coming to band in the morning and they’re leaving right at 10 o’clock … and they’re not running the building. It’s my understanding, however, that this is not the general consensus of how this is working."
Averett also said he was concerned about a large number of hybrid learners who received poor grades in their mid-period progress reports for their online classes. Averett suggested doing away with the hybrid model at the end of the semester.
Superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain agreed with Averett, saying the hybrid model is putting stress on teachers and is "on the do-not-resuscitate list." But Cain raised the ante, saying she is willing to end hybrid learning as soon as the end of the first six-week grading period, which is two weeks away.
Suggestions included ending the online option for students involved in extracurricular activities and CTE courses. Numerous administrators reported that students are constantly coming and going, and it’s often difficult to determine if they should be there or not. Another suggestion was "no pass, no hybrid," ending the privilege for failing students.
Cain said she will be meeting with secondary principals this week to begin discussions on what to do with the hybrid program.
Earlier in the meeting, Averett reported on online learning and said that new learning systems are in the pipeline to assist in online testing. In the meantime, grades will be carefully researched to identify where problems exist.
• Ana Rodriguez, a graduate of Waxahachie High School of Choice, was presented with her diploma by Cain, board president Dusty Autrey, board vice president Clay Schoolfield and Dr. Al Benskin, WISD director of alternative education services, near the start of Monday’s meeting.
• Local businesses were recognized as WISD partners — Citizens National Bank, the City of Waxahachie, ATV, KBEC Radio, Southwestern Assemblies of God University, the Waxahachie Daily Light, the Waxahachie Sun and the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce.
• WISD employees Debbie Nash, a teacher at Shackelford Elementary; Dana Scott, a coach at Waxahachie High School; and Melissa Bousquet, WISD nurse coordinator, were recognized by WISD administrators.
• Assistant superintendent for business and finance Ryan Kahlden gave a report on the district’s FIRST rating, which measures the district’s financial health, for the 2019-2020 school year. The district achieved a superior rating with a perfect 100 score.
• Approved consent agenda items included acceptance of reports, the acceptance of a tree from the Jon Wilson family to be planted at Max Simpson Elementary in his memory, declaration of a wrecked vehicle as surplus property, and establishment of a behavior threat assessment team, among other items. A motion to accept WISD’s asynchronous learning plan was considered and passed separately.
• The personnel report for the month was accepted.
• The board heard a report from Bat Security on the DIR-S system, which is a network to create communication between teachers, administrators and first responders in real time. The system allows schools to institute a lockdown within seconds if necessary and also allows for faster response. The district will be rolling out the DIR-S system later this fall, deputy superintendent Lee Auvenshine said.