Marshall Middle School students who are looking forward to getting back into the school may want to circle Feb. 15 on their calendars – it’s the target for students in grades seven and eight to be given the opportunity to have in-person learning.
High schoolers won’t have to wait much longer after that, with an anticipated Feb. 22 return to in-person learning; the elementary school slated to reopen for instruction on Feb. 2 and the Early Learning Center is set to resume in-person instruction Jan. 19.
Superintendent Dan Grady laid out the framework for when Marshall’s older students would have the option to get back in the classroom at the Jan. 6 Marshall School Board Committee of the Whole meeting.
“It’s amazingly exciting and there’s an amazing electricity and excitement but there are many pieces to put together,” Grady said.
There are not many details on what the high school and middle school schedule will look like as administration is waiting for families to confirm whether their child will attend in-person or remote learning.
“It’s kind of a chicken or the egg situation,” said Principal Eugene Syvrud, who noted the schedules would take into account the number of students who will return to the building.
It was noted the schedule would not include any half-day options but could consist of a A and B days or offering in-person instruction Tuesday through Friday with Monday set aside as an all-remote learning day, similar to what the ELC will resume later this month.
Syvrud is working closely on the reopening plans with middle school Principal Paul Herrick since the two buildings share several staff. Herrick said the middle school staff is highly involved with creating the daily and weekly schedules.
“I feel very strongly about the direction we’re going in,” the middle school principal said. “It will be good for staff and students; there’s a lot of work left on it but it will be worked out.”
Grady said under the most recent Dane County guidelines, there is no maximum class size, but there is still a recommended minimum six-foot social distancing. This will likely create limitations in the number of students per classroom, he said. All students, like staff, will be required to wear face coverings. Grady said if a student struggles with wearing a face covering, accommodations may be made. Additionally, masking breaks are being put into the daily schedule and the elementary school is setting up times for hand washing breaks.
“We’re being intentional with mitigation,” Grady said. “Things are going very, very well.”
Syvrud added staff has been meeting frequently to make sure all safety measures are in place before the buildings reopen.
Looking at future operating referendums
District Business Manager Bob Chady said the district is at a point where it needs to plan for what’s to come and if it will need to put forth a referendum question in the next couple years.
Currently, the Marshall School District is in year two of a three-year operational referendum which was passed in April of 2019 allowing it to exceed the revenue limits by $875,000 on a recurring basis and an additional $375,000 per year for the 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years on a non-recurring basis. The additional funding would allow the district to recruit/retain quality staff, provide college/advanced placement/elective courses, update instructional resources, provide up-to-date technology, maintain reasonable class sizes and offer a variety of co-curricular programs.
Chady believes the district may need to again ask the electors to pass an operating referendum to exceed revenue limits. Based on the state regulations related to referendum questions, he feels the school board may want to consider asking to exceed revenue limits in the February or April 2022.
Board President Debbie Frigo said she appreciated having the topic brought up early so the board has an opportunity to formulate an approach to possibly needing to go to referendum “to keep the doors open.”