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Churchill school district releases information on final grades

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group
Trustees Kathryn Whitaker, left, and Matt Hyde visit a classroom during the fall semester. The school district has adopted a plan for awarding final grades for the second semester.
Steve Ranson / LVN

With one month of school remaining, the Churchill County School District is beginning to look at the final days for students and the Class of 2020.

Dr. Summer Stephens, superintendent of the Churchill County School District, told trustees at Wednesday’s meeting her staff and principals were looking at the awarding of final grades for the spring semester. Stephens also learned of the permanent closing of schools for the rest of the academic year during Gov. Steve Sisolak’s address to the state last week.

“We have a wide range of students who have done everything to a little,” she said.

On the following day, though, the school district decided to establish a policy for awarding grades for the second semester. Stephens said the Nevada Department of Education has instructed school districts to have a “do no harm” approach for the final quarter.

For grades K-5, grades and/or marks on the third quarter report card stand, and Stephens said this will ensure that staff provide feedback to the work being completed during the time of the closure.

“The teacher will mark the report cards with comments only for the fourth quarter regarding each student’s work toward skills/competencies and other learning expectations,” she said.

For the middle school, grades 6-8, she said the third quarter grade stands, but for the final quarter, tasks completed will receive teacher feedback to support learning.

“Only those tasks that help to improve a student’s grade will be calculated into a student’s final semester grade,” she said.

Likewise, for the high school grades 9-12, the third-quarter grade will stand.

“For the fourth quarter, tasks completed will receive teacher feedback to support learning (or those not completed will be marked with an “I” for Incomplete), and only those tasks that help to improve a student’s grade will be calculated into a student’s final semester grade,” she said.

Stephens said teachers will be monitoring grades for the seniors and if they are meeting the requirements for graduation.

Around the region, Stephens said Carson City is doing a pass/fail for the semester, while Humboldt County School District, which is similar in size to Churchill County, is looking at pass/fail for the fourth quarter. Pershing County will base the semester grade on 95% from the third quarter and 5% from the last quarter.

Other districts such as Lyon and Storey, said Stephens, are looking at the student’s grade at the time the governor initially closed the schools because of COVID-19.

“There are so many pieces we have to think about,” she said.

Stephens also said many universities are allowing students to enroll with pass/fail grades and no requirements to submit standardized test scores. She said all school districts and colleges are all facing similar situations.

“No one expected this,” she added.

During the closure, Stephens said 55 students have not responded to the school district’s numerous attempts to contact them. The superintended said she was disheartened by that.

Stephens said Churchill County High School Principal Scott Winter has been working on a few ideas for graduation. She said some people will be acceptable of the plans once they are finalized, while others will not. Stephens said the district is trying to find a way to honor the graduates in a special, unique way.

Winter outlined some of his ideas in a report to the school board.

“Grading is still being done, with the state’s ‘do no harm’ directive in place to ensure that grades are not punitive during this time,” he stated. “Students are being given an Incomplete for assignments not turned in, so that they and their parents who are on the parent portal may be notified without a negative impact to their grade (an incomplete does not calculate as a zero). It is a placeholder for the expectation of an assignment to be turned in.

“For the benefit of our student’s socio-emotional well-being, Nevada schools will not be giving second semester finals. The state has also waived most required testing this spring, including end-of-course and civics assessments.”

• Stephens informed trustees of school-district initiatives implemented during the closure. For Churchill  All-Stars, she said more than 185 nominations were submitted for people doing great things for the community.

“It’s awesome to celebrate people in our community,” she said.

Since the schools closed, Stephens said Churchill County School District has handed out 72,382 meals in 26 days (as of April 22). She lauded the employees in Food Services, Transportation and the instructional assistants for ensuring the meals were prepared, packaged and distributed at the pickup points.

Stephens thanked the Elks Club for their donation to the Angel Fund and the city of Fallon for helping connect 30 families to wireless internet. 

• Phyllys Dowd, director of Business Services, reviewed the five-year plan for the Capital Projects Fund and outlines some of the projects for the 2020-2021 school year. By using the opening fund balance and project revenue, she said the school district will have $3,361,669.

Projects for the schools include the following:

• Northside Early Learning Center: ADA handicap doors for entrance and shade cover for both playgrounds.

• Lahontan Elementary School: Nothing listed

• EC Best Elementary School: ADA handicap doors for entrance.

• Numa Elementary School: ADA handicap doors for entrance.

• Churchill County Middle School: ADA handicap doors for entrances, administration/library roof replacement, locker room flooring, pave track and install drainage and shade cover.

• Churchill County High School: ADA handicap doors for entrance, locker room flooring replacement and track repair and resurfacing.

• District projects: Chromebook replacements staff and server replacements, exterior and interior LED lighting, HVAC replacements, school bus replacements, white fleet replacement and radio system.

Dowd said the school district will have $44,388 for the Building and Sites Fund.