Growing concern about grades

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The Union Parish School Board met recently for its regular session and approved several important resolutions.

The board voted to accept and approve the audit report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019, which was completed and presented by Woodard & Associates.

The board also voted to accept the high bid and grant approval to lease surface rights for Lot #27 at 564 School Board Road, Haile, LA on the Ouachita River to Scott Stone. This lease is effective October 12, 2020-December 31, 2027 for the sum of $600 per year.

During the Superintendent’s Report, Superintendent Kristy Auger-Fine reported that approximately 500 students had made the transition from virtual learners to the hybrid model. Thus far, the transition has been smooth and there have been no issues with numbers and maintaining the social distancing mandates.

Fine did express concern that as report cards are about to go out, there are far more failing grades than in previous years.

While some of these failing grades can be contributed to a difficult year with many changes and adaptations due to COVID-19, it has been noted that some virtual learners are not completing assignments or putting forth any effort toward learning.

“This is more of an issue at the high school level,” said Fine. “Parents need to understand that whether their child is a hybrid or virtual learner, participation and attendance is not an option but a mandate. Students will be promoted or retained based on the requirements of Bulletin 741 and Pupil Progression.”

While students and teachers have had to adapt to all the changes that COVID-19 has brought, all state assessments will be given this year. “Students in grades 3-12 will take LEAP 2025, LEAP 2025 EOCs and ACT. High school students will have to pass and/or meet the testing requirements to graduate. It is of utmost importance that our students are consistently working in all of their classes,” Fine emphasized.

Principal of Union Elementary, Rebecca Andrews did let board members and attendees know that every effort had been made to reach students, even by home visits in some cases. “We still have a handful that we cannot get in touch with. I understand parents are frustrated too but we have done just about everything we can do,” Andrews said.

Every effort is being made to ensure that virtual learners have everything they need in order to complete lessons and assignments. An estimated 35 percent of Union Parish students are still virtual only. “Our students’ performance and safety are of extreme importance to us. I strongly urge families to consider returning to the hybrid model so students can experience some face-to-face instruction,” Fine said. Safety procedures are still being implemented at all Union Parish facilities and will be strictly followed as directed by the Louisiana Department of Health and the CDC.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for December 14, at 6 p.m.