The Boulder Valley School Board heard an update on back-to-school plans on Tuesday, with classes resuming online on Wednesday.
âWe’re really excited for Day 1,â said Superintendent Rob Anderson. âOur teachers are doing amazing things to prepare for what is going to be a truly fantastic online experience.â
District leaders said teachers will focus on welcoming students and strengthening the community. They also asked students and parents for âa lot of patienceâ as they go online and log in in the event of blackouts or other issues.
âWe will continue to refine what we do to meet the needs of our families,â said Regional Superintendent Robbyn Fernandez.
The neighborhood has a family learning center which includes video tutorials to help families with technology challenges and other resources.
To prepare for the new school year, teachers participated in a week of professional development sessions focused on online learning. The district hired 76 new educators, who attended a virtual orientation.
On the tech side, CIO Andrew Moore said the district continues to work to connect families without internet access by providing Wi-Fi hotspots or helping families access options. connection at low or no cost.
About 1,500 âdistance education audio video systemsâ have recently been delivered to schools to improve the quality of distance education, he said. And while all teachers and students own Chromebooks, he said, delivery of the new Chromebooks has been delayed due to supply issues.
Most sites in the district that offer school day child care while students are learning online are still open for registration. To staff the sites, the district hired eight new staff and temporarily reassigned 67 staff, mostly para-educators.
The school board also heard an update on early student enrollment, which shows the district is well below plan. The district had expected a decline of about 200 students this school year, but preliminary enrollment figures show the district is approaching an expected decline of 1,000 students from last school year.
Enrollment, which typically increases in August when families enroll their children in school, declines instead as more families choose to home school or enroll in a private school. said CFO Bill Sutter.
The district tally last week recorded 558 fewer students than expected, including 277 fewer students than expected in kindergarten. Colleges had 129 fewer students than expected, while high school enrollment was about the same as expected. Boulder Universal, the district’s online school, is also experiencing strong growth, with approximately 1,000 students enrolled.
The state’s official enrollment count, used to determine per-student funding for each school district, is October 1.
Sutter said the money the district keeps in reserve to hire additional teachers after the school year begins will solve a significant portion of the funding gap that could result from declining enrollment. When there are declines in enrollment, the state also calculates the average of the declines over five years to reduce the budgetary impacts on school districts.