On Monday Night, the Delavan-Darien School Board held a meeting in the Phoenix Middle School cafeteria. The meeting opened to a few citizen comments, where members of the community voiced their concerns on everything from the Board’s financial decisions to the mental health effects of the district’s mask rules on its students.
This was followed by a Public Hearing Discussion regarding a DPI Waiver for Calculation for Parent Transportation. If the DPI grants this waiver to the district, it will cut payments made to families handling transport of students during the pandemic from around $700 to around $400. The district is seeking this to offset financial losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. After discussing the waiver, the Board decided to apply for it through the Department of Public Instruction.
The Board meeting closed with the District Administrator’s report from Dr. Jill Sorbie. Dr. Sorbie started her report by updating the board that there are now 16 students eligible for the CTE Incentive grant, bringing that number up by 12 students over the last year. She then commended Mary Burke for her work securing the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Compliance Grant, which will give the school $30,000 to go towards an after school tutoring program for the high school. Finally, Dr. Sorbie gave an update on the ongoing facilities project for the sports complex, noting that a delay on goal posts may cause a significant delay to the project.
The next meeting is set for September 13, 2021 at 6:00 PM.
Cheerleaders Concerned About Budget Cuts
As the Delavan-Darien School Board meeting opened on Monday night, some students raised their concerns regarding the high school’s cheer program. The student, going into her sophomore year, asked the board why the cheer program had to be cut from the budget when no other sport had the same issue. She addressed the low number of students participating during covid, stating that there were even less students participating in sports such as cross country or golf, but those sports had not suffered the same fate. It was mentioned that with the absence of the school’s cheer program, students still wanting to participate in the sport had enroll in an outside program, which many simply could not afford. Another student spoke in support of the cheer program after the first. The second student was not involved in the cheer program directly but was moved to tears at how this cut had affected her peers.
Opening plan for schools
As the Delavan-Darien School Board meeting progressed, District Administrator Jill Sorbie reviewed the district’s COVID-19 reopening plan. She stated that while they are using this plan, it is the same as neighboring school districts. When schools reopen, the students will not be required to wear a mask at this time. The Board did note that they will continue to monitor the situation as time goes on and may change this if deemed necessary.
District To Implement Mental Health First Aid Training
Midway through the Delavan-Darien School Board meeting on Monday night, Mary Burke reviewed the district’s plans to handle Social and Emotional Learning in its schools. The program aims to help students and adults develop fundamental emotional and social competencies. At its core, the program seeks to improve self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills, and social awareness. Burke presented data to the board stating that this SEL program had, on average, increased academic outcomes by 11%, while reducing risk of failure in students. The resources will be available to all students, with extra focus on students who fit into high-risk categories. It was mentioned that the first two days back for staff will focus on training for mental health first aid, so that they may better respond to students showing signs of mental illness and drug abuse. Other resources would include a public outreach professional to help families of students understand these issues, as well as student-selected representatives. Burke says that while this is starting at the high school level, there are plans in the works to expand this program to the middle school as well.