School Board votes to continue with weekday Hybrid learning

By Dennis Rahm

There was lengthy discussion at the Tuesday night meeting of the Lake Chelan School Board regarding the possibility of local students returning to full time in-person learning this school year. At the end of the night, the board decided the best plan of action was to continue with the current Hybrid learning model that has students attending school in-person on a half-day basis Monday through Friday.

School Superintendent Barry DePaoli said the conversation on the topic was very respectful. He noted his intent, and that of the Board, was to listen and to understand. Because of an inability to cohort, there wasn’t much chance that the middle and high school students would be able to return full time to the classroom.

Full time in-classroom learning for the elementary grades could be possible, but not without concerns over classroom size, lunch accomodations and the likely prospect of needing to add additional classrooms and teachers to accommodate for social distancing.

A number of teachers voiced concerns when it was learned some grade school students would need to be moved from their classrooms and placed with a new teacher. Said DePaoli, “the number of teachers who spoke was a bit surprising and what they had to say was compelling”.

A motion by board member Kim Thorpe to return to full time in-person learning at Morgan Owings Elementary failed as the result of not receiving a second. Ken Brunner then made a motion to continue with the Hybrid learning model for the remainder of this school year and the motion was approved by a vote of 3-1. Thorp voted nay, while Brunner, Linda Foster and Augustin Benegas voted to approve.

DePaoli said the board felt a need to make a decision and stick with it. A recent school district survey revealed that about 75-percent of the parents who responded were in favor of students returning to the classroom on a full time basis. DePaoli said he is well aware that not everyone will be happy with the decision made by the board.

It was also announced at the Tuesday night meeting that Augustin Benegas was resigning from the school board.The District 2 position of Benegas encompasses the majority of downtown and the hospital region. The boundary follows the north side of the Chelan River from the Dan Gordon Bridge down to Chelan Falls and across the Columbia River and up McNeil Canyon Road. Letters of interest to fill the board position are being sought and those who want more information should contact the school district office at 509-682-3515.