Saline Superintendent Graden Addresses the Community

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 04/09/2020 - 23:43

Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden spoke to the community Wednesday during a Facebook live video. It was Graden’s fourth conversation and the first since Gov. Whitmer announced that school classrooms would remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Below the video is a summary.

  • In a surprising revelation, Graden said he’s interim superintendent of Manchester Community Schools. Shrinking enrollment and decreasing revenue caused the school district to eliminate their athletic director and community education/preschool coordinator. Graden said he’ll be the superintendent until June 30. The district is in the process of hiring full-time, permanent superintendent. The Saline Board of Education will act on that agreement at the upcoming meeting.

  • Graden spoke about the district’s COVID-19 community resources guide.

  • Saline Area Schools have been preparing a distance learning program to ensure seniors can graduate and that other students can advance to the next grade - aligned with the Governor’s order.

  • Saline families who need food for their children can pick it up Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Saline High School on the bus loop on the east side of the building. Students do not need to be enrolled in the free and reduced meals program to participate. There is a form families are asked to complete. More info here.

  • District nurses are working on a procedure for picking up medications being stored in the school offices. People who are in urgent need of their child’s medication she reach out to district nurses Karan Hervyey or Kelly Whitley at [email protected] or [email protected] to arrange a transfer.

  • A lot of personal effects were left at the school. For now, unless there is an academic need or another unique situation, they will remain at school until the stay-at-home order is lifted. Contact your building principal if something is urgently needed.

  • Will there be grades for the third trimester? Graden said no. The district is working on a credit vs no-credit scenario for the third trimester work, which will be conducted at home with some interaction with teachers and classmates via Zoom and other means. 

  • What about phys ed? Will a phys ed student get credit? Graden said yes. Phys ed teachers are reaching out to students with clear guidance about what’s expected.

  • How about seniors who might fall short in credits needed to graduate? Graden said the district is going through the seniors in that situation to review status and get a sense of what they need to graduate. They’ll work with those families, probably by phone. The vast majority of seniors are in great shape. 

  • What about next week’s board meeting? Graden said it will be hosted remotely using Zoom. The agenda will be posted Monday morning. Attendees can see or hear but cannot chat or voice. For public comment, attendees will be made a panelist. 

  • What about students on IEPs? Graden said the special education situation is a challenge. There are a lot of conflicting guidance coming to school districts. Despite the chaos, the staff is committed to supporting the students and has gone above and beyond to provide what they can for their students. All IEPs will be honored to the extent that it’s possible. Supporting Saline Area Schools families is the district’s number one goal.

  • Could the district start earlier next year? Is now a time to move toward a balanced calendar? Graden said the district has not entertained starting early next fall. Nobody knows when groups can return to school. The district is committed to the Aug. 31 start date. There are advantages to a balanced calendar, but that issue is not on the district’s agenda at the moment.

  • What about sequential learning? If a student has the first section of a class now and the next section in the fall, the student needs to commit to the remote learning. Graden said teachers who lead those classes in the fall will be aware that students aren’t coming perhaps as prepared as they’ve been in the past, and they will adapt.

  • My child believes he has to do zero work and will pass. True? Graden said if it’s a senior who has completed their minimum requirements, the reality is they can graduate. But students should think of their best interests and remain engaged. A senior who doesn’t yet have the minimum requirements to graduate needs to complete the work.

  • How will incoming sixth graders be placed in math? Graden said the district is working on that now.

  • Without a formal commencement, can we have a drive-through commencement? Graden said he personally treasures commencement ceremonies. Honoring the contributions of that class is important. Graden has discussed the issue with Principal David Raft and they’re working on a multi-tiered scenario. It involves some version of a commencement ceremony, perhaps with digital alternatives or perhaps a mobile alternative. Another option is a later date with a larger group gathering. Its all predicated on what happens with COVID-19.

  • What about middle school trips and refunds? How about refunds for sports or community ed programs? Graden said community ed and pay-to-play information will be out by the end of the week or early next week. The district had begun expending funds to prepare for the season. Items were ordered. Salaries were paid. On the trips, each trip seems a bit different when it comes to refunds. The district is trying to get information out soon.

  • How much school work is expected of students? Internet reliability is a challenge. Graden said the reality is that students will be asked to do what they can. This shouldn’t be a source of stress and frustration. The district has a goal of asking for about 50 percent of the content it would typically seek from a student. Students should learn and be engaged and do enough to be prepared for next year.

  • How about the budget? Graden said the district has had no feedback from the state about the budget. There are federal stimulus dollars that will come into the district. Graden speculated that the district might see flat funding for next year. The impact to the district could come to the next year, when the federal dollars aren’t there to backfill the lost state revenue. The lack of economic activity will likely require sacrifices in the public sector at some point. 

  • When is the last day for seniors in distant learning? What about everyone else? Graden said the original end date stands. So seniors finish May 22. For everyone else it’s June 5.

  • What about sports uniforms and fundraising cards? Graden hopes there’s a window in mid to late May where the quarantine is lifted and some of these issues can be resolved.

  • Can the sixth grade Toronto trip move to September? Graden said the district has had the conversation but the intention is that it would not happen. The international border presents problems that make that option more difficult.

  • Can students access the high school track? Graden said no. There have been students at the school doing things that were not safe. So Hornet Stadium is off limits. It’s monitored by camera. Authorities will be called if people access the facilities. That may change in May.

  • How will the budget affect class size next year? Graden said the district was working diligently on this issue. By mid-June, the district hopes to have a good idea about enrollment. 

  • Will caps and gowns be delivered to SHS in May or can they be shipped to homes? Graden said caps and gowns are coming and have been earned by the seniors. The district will get them to students.

  • Can the bigger field trips move to the fall to potentially avoid this same fate next year? Graden said it was an interesting concept that he’d talk to administrators about.

  • What about Zoom and security? Graden said this has been thrust on to districts. The software is updated often. He said Zoom is working to become better suited for K-12 education. But it’s not a perfect solution. For families that don’t want to work on Zoom and sign the form, the district is willing to accommodate that. The district has been in touch with Zoom to discuss their concerns about security.

  • What about extended school year and Summer Camp for Kids? Graden said the district is looking at the programs and waiting for more information from the state. Programs, if offered, may look different. If it’s safe, the district will provide it.

  • What are you most proud of? Graden is proud of the way the district has responded. It really is a team effort. There are a lot of people helping - like Saline Area Social Service, like businesses and organizations who’ve stepped up to help families. Graden also commended staff who were prepping for some form of education before the Governor asked for it. Graden said the talent and engagement of the district’s staff is inspiring.

Tran Longmoore's picture
Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of TheSalinePost.com. He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 734-272-6294.

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