Board hears about instructional models

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Deputy Superintendent Sherri Cyra provided a summary of the work of the instructional model design team and the plans for the 2021-22 school year at the Board of Education meeting at the District Services Center on Monday, May 10.

Cyra noted a group of building and District staff have been meeting to establish plans for the next school year. Each level has reviewed drafted plans and offered feedback and revisions.

She said in-person and fully virtual options will again be available at all three levels but the District also wants to make sure the models are sustainable and that teachers can provide high-quality instruction. Another goal is to keep learning communities intact, noting each time model changes are allowed it results in disruptions to students and staff. As a result, model changes at all levels will only be offered after the first semester in 2021-22.

Middle school students will be served by staff at their attendance-area schools, but with seven elementary schools that is unlikely at that level. She reminded members at the high school level 95 percent of courses will be taught by MHS or CSCS teachers using the Wisconsin eSchool Network. She said concurrent instruction will not be offered to high school students.

Cyra noted concurrent learning was challenging but feasible this year when students were in cohorts with half in the building and the other half at home. It would be much more challenging if the vast majority of students are in the classroom, which the District expects to be the case for the 2021-22 school year, especially among middle andhigh school students, where vaccinations are ramping up. She added literacy and math will be prioritized for synchronous learning at the elementary level.

Cyra reviewed the communications plan, noting the District will reach out early and proactively so that families understand the design of each model. Families will receive information within the next week and will also be asked to select their child's model for 2021-22 before the end of this school year to help with planning and so staff know before summer break starts.

Families will have a longer window than they did this school year to complete the form and schools will engage families more than previously to ensure the District knows what each student is doing. The District will also use the results of a survey that families who withdrew their children this year took a couple of months ago to inform their decisions.

However, Cyra also noted variables such as what future Public Health Madison Dane County orders look like, the ongoing impact of the pandemic, and the impact on encore options mean the District won't know the impact on staffing for a while.

She also noted the plans and options being offered are only for the 2021-22 school year.

Members asked questions and offered feedback for approximately 20 minutes.