More than a quarter of SDR students will be learning virtually
Hodag Tracks sees huge enrollment increase
By Eileen Persike
Enrollment in the School District of Rhinelander’s virtual learning program increased a whopping 2,500% over last fall.
Early in August the district unveiled its back-to-school plan and offered parents the option of enrolling their students, at least for the first semester, in Hodag Tracks. Rachel Hoffman, district director of Teaching, Learning and Technology said she watched as virtual learning numbers ticked up from 25 full-time students to 658 by the sign up deadline, Aug. 14; roughly 28% of the district student body. That left two weeks to map out a plan.
“It was a busy two weeks, but things are coming along nicely,” Hoffman said.
Fifteen staff members were reassigned to virtual learning from their current positions within the district. Seven will work with the virtual elementary students, one per grade level and one special education teacher.
For grades 6-8, there will be subject matter instructors for math, science, English-language arts and social studies; all special education teachers will continue to work with the students they have in the past, including virtual students.
High school level, grades 9-12 will have dedicated math, science, English-language arts and social studies teachers for the virtual students and one-and-a-quarter special education teachers,
Gr. K-5 250 virtual out of 982 students
Gr. 6-8 178 virtual out of 544 students
Gr. 9-12 230 virtual out of 814 students
School begins for all students Tuesday, Sept. 2. The opening Level Two (yellow) plan calls for all elementary students to attend four days a week, learning remotely on Wednesdays. Middle and high school students will be divided into two groups, with the “green” group attending in person Monday and Tuesday and learning remotely Wednesday-Friday. The “gold” group will attend in-person classes Thursday and Friday, with remote learning Monday- Wednesday. The blended learning plan also allows the superintendent to change levels – for the entire district or individual buildings – to all in-school learning, except for the Hodag Tracks students, or move to fully remote learning as local health situations dictate.
Bus service contract amended
When Gov. Tony Evers ordered all schools to close last spring, school bus drivers around the country were out of work, and the School District of Rhinelander’s contracted provider, Bowen’s Bus Service, without a source of income. In April 2020, the school board and the bus company agreed to amend the contract, paying Bowen 80% of the regular daily transportation rate through the end of the school year. This fall students are currently attending school four days a week, but bus company owner Jeff Bowen asked the district for full payment. At a special meeting Aug. 26, the board agreed to pay Bowen 87% of the contracted costs for days when students are not in school.