JCSD E-Connection

Board updates, news, and events from the around the district

Week of April 6, 2020

Thank you for checking out the JCSD E-Connection! In this newsletter, you will find links to Johnston Board of Education items/decisions, news, and commendations from around the district, and important information for parents/guardians.

All attempts are made to be as accurate as possible at the time of publication. Questions, comments, or concerns can be emailed to the JCSD Communications department at jcsdcomm@jdragonmail.us.
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JCSD Online Learning Update

Johnston Fulfills State Requirements to Provide Voluntary Online Learning Through April 30, 2020

Last week, we assembled a Continuous Learning Task Force (CLTF) to support the online learning initiative in Johnston, similar to what the state Department of Education is doing. The task force is largely district and building instructional coaches, district learning coordinators, our district student well-being coordinator, and our preschool director. It's headed up by our Executive Director of Teaching & Learning, Dr. Nikki Roorda.

When the DE came out with their voluntary or required program options, we thought long and hard about what this looked like for all students, of all abilities, in our district. It is critical to remember how this will work for students who are served through something like an IEP, language support, or special education services. We also need to take into account [internet] accessibility, device access, parental involvement, etc. What works for one family may not work for another.

The CLTF has been working around the clock to build curriculum and content for all grades, all subjects, including school counselors, related arts, and social-emotional resources. As of Monday, April 6, we have been approved by our Board of Education to submit our plan to the DE for the voluntary option. Attached to this newsletter is the powerpoint presented to the board explaining our plan. The time missed and out of school due to COVID-19 closures have been waived by the Governor.

The well-being of our students and our teaching force are at the heart of this decision – we recognize there is a delicate balance between home life and work expectations. Our online Continuous Learning Plan, which will be implemented April 20, 2020, is designed to increase student engagement for all learners PK4 - 12, and will provide new learning experiences to students and offer multiple opportunities for students and teachers to engage with one another through learning and social/emotional connections.

We are being as flexible as possible (for both students and educators) in our approach to continuous learning. Building principals and instructional coaches have been working very hard to create plans that accommodate this unconventional time in people's lives.

Our CLTF and building principals will be reaching out to all staff in virtual meetings on Friday (April 10) with this district plan and the specific plans for their buildings. A number of our teachers have already connected with students from their classes. The JCSD Continuous Learning Plans will bolster those efforts to provide daily structure and new learning expectations for students grades PK4-12.

How will this be accessible by parents and students?

Our plans are built within Google sites and by next Friday (4/17), we will have areas on the district website and each school website that takes them directly to their schools' learning plans. We want to make this as easy as possible, trim down email notifications and traffic, and use platforms familiar to our audience for housing all this information. This second phase of online learning officially begins on Monday, April 20.

Grades vs Credit

At this point, and under the voluntary option, student participation is up to the individual and any work turned in is not graded, but teachers can provide feedback to them. We are awaiting more guidance to inform our decision on issuing grades or using the pass/fail option for students for this period of time. We have local control as a school district to determine what works best for our students. Our goal is to hold students harmless in this period of time and help ensure our seniors earn the credits they need to graduate.

Honoring Class of 2020 Graduates

Graduation is one of the biggest events of a student’s school career. Depending on the COVID-19 safe gathering guidelines, the traditional commencement ceremony and honoring of our graduates may look different than it has in the past. We are investigating different ways we can, at some point in the near future, provide the Class of 2020 with an exceptional commencement ceremony. Please look for additional information as time goes on. Senior parents, please watch your emails for a district message regarding complimentary "Class of 2020" yard signs coming to your inbox on Friday, April 10.

Tech Access

At this point, we have distributed iPads to students in the district, in an attempt to ensure that there is at least one [school-owned] device in a household for them to use if they don't have their own. We have also approved the purchase of wireless hotspots to provide to families without internet access. We've opened up wifi access at our schools, so vehicles can pull up along designated areas and access the internet from their cars.

District News & Announcements

Board Highlights from April 6, 2020

The full agenda and minutes of the April 6, 2020 board meeting can be viewed here.


Consideration of 2020-2021 Board Meeting Dates

Community Education/General Fund Realignment

Discussion of JEA and JESPA Master Agreements


Approval of Alternative Options for Senior Course Loads- Approved

Adopt and Certify FY 2020-2021 Certified Budget- Approved

Approval of Cross Country Course Improvements Project- Approved

Approval of JCSD 2020 Infrastructure Upgrades 8-9 Middle School & Summit Middle School Change Order- Approved

Approval of JCSD 2020 Infrastructure Upgrades Beaver Creek, Horizon, & Lawson Elementaries Change Orders- Approved

Publication of Notice of Hearing and Posting of the Notice to Bidders for Replacement of Boiler Equipment at Johnston Middle School- Approved

Approval of Resolution - Pandemic Response and Emergency Suspension of Policy- Approved


Superintendent Laura Kacer provided the board with an update on the district's COVID-19 planning and response. She outlined the COVID-19 team members, work being done by the Technology Department to bring families online, work being done by the Teaching & Learning team to establish the Continuous Learning Task Force, and next steps.


Due to COVID-19 precautions and restrictions, all in-person board meetings have been moved to conference line or virtual meetings. Access information is published with the agenda on the Friday before the meeting. Meetings are also livestreamed at https://team1sports.com/johnston/.


Persons are encouraged to send questions, comments and suggestions to our board members. Each board member can be reached by email: Justin Allen; Dr. Jeanie Kerber; Jennifer Chamberland; Dr. Alicia Clevenger; Katie Fiala; Steven Hopper; and Soneeta Mangra-Dutcher.

Johnston Community School District

JCSD Non-Discrimination Statement

It is the policy of the Johnston Community School District not to illegally discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, creed, age (for employment), marital status (for programs), sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status (for programs) in its educational programs and its employment practices.

There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination. If you have questions or a grievance related to this policy please contact the district’s Associate Superintendent, Dr. Bruce Amendt, 6510 NW 62nd Ave, Johnston, Iowa 50131, (515) 278-0470, bamendt@johnston.k12.ia.us.