Schools release smartphone app
The San Juan School District has launched a new smart phone application for parents, students, and staff. The app will allow users to access school district news, announcements, and event calendars.
The app can be customized to receive important notifications from the district regarding specific schools. The app can be downloaded from smartphones.
At the December 9 school board meeting, Superintendent Ron Nielson explained the app can send out information about events, school lunch menus, safety notifications, snow days, and more.
Nielson explained that implementing one app will replace three other programs that are now redundant and result in cost savings for the district.
In other news, the school board received an update on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the district.
In the River Region – including all schools south of Blanding – the Navajo Nation lockdown has had a significant impact on the schools in the area.
Assistant Superintendent Christine Fitzgerald said schools in Montezuma Creek, Monument Valley, and Navajo Mountain had some good momentum before being moved to 100 percent distance learning.
Learning outcomes for the quarter, such as grades and students who need credit recovery, have been negatively impacted by increasing COVID cases and resulting closures.
Fitzgerald explains before the full shutdown, students would come into the schools occasionally to have direct contact with teachers. Fitzgerald says learning is hampered by students and families dealing with the emotional impact of losing a family member, as well as the financial impacts from lack of work.
While the students were previously assigned work on Chromebooks, they have moved to more paper packets to accommodate those who can no longer access the internet outside the school or charge their laptops.
In related news, the district LAN project is underway to bring filtered WiFi to homes in the River Region.
The district is working intently to finish as much of the project as possible by December 31 when CARES Act funding is set to expire. The district is working to receive an extension on using the funds.
In the meantime, District Education Technology Director Aaron Brewer reports that all the necessary tower and radio equipment have been purchased.
The district is focused on installing the largest towers and securing a maintenance contract.
COVID-19 also continues to impact schools in the Mountain Region, which encompasses schools in Blanding, Monticello, and La Sal.
Students in Utah who wish to participate in extracurricular activities must be tested at least every two weeks for the virus in order to participate. In the district’s first testing of more than 200 students, not a single positive case was returned.
Finally the district is dealing with some administration shake-ups.
Kyle Hosler resigned as Business Administrator for the district. The school board initiated a new administrator search, with an application deadline of January 15, 2021. The Business Administrator and Superintendent are employees of the school board, rather than the district, and have two-year contracts.
The Business Administrator is responsible for the entire business function of the district.
Hosler was Business Administrator for nearly six years and had six months remaining on his latest two-year contract. He has accepted employment at another organization.
Other administrative changes at the school district include Paul Murdock as the new director of Special Education for the district.
Murdock had served as principal at Albert R Lyman Middle School (ARL). He has been replaced by Ryan Palmer, who had served as the Vice Principal at ARL.
KC Olson returns as principal at Monticello High School. He served as Special Education Director since July.
Spencer Singer is the director of the ACE Project, a new program funded by a federal grant. Singer had served as principal at Monticello High School.