FIRTH – The Firth School Board conducted its monthly meeting via Zoom last week with retirements and graduation plans on the agenda.
The meeting would start with the Pledge of Allegiance and followed shortly after by the announcement of retirements. In addition to the retirements, items on the agenda included future plans for live streaming the meetings on Facebook, recognition of students for their achievements and scholarships, testing score updates, and graduation proposals.
Starting with the retirements, Tina Tubbs was the first announced and has been an educator for more than 30 years and teaches third grade. Tubbs announced that she will not be returning in the fall and that she will miss being a part of the Firth school system.
The next retirement announcement was Susan Killpack. Killpack has been in the Firth School District for over 20 years and has been teaching sixth grade at Firth Middle School. Killpack provided a letter that was read during the meeting thanking the district for the opportunity and how she will miss everyone.
John Reeves was the final announcement for retirement during the meeting. Reeves has been working in the district for 26 years and last taught fifth grade at the middle school.
All three teachers will be finishing the school year but will not renew their contracts with the district for the next school year. Cassidy Dutton will also be stepping away from the district to pursue other career adventures but wanted to thank Firth for allowing her the opportunity to teach.
The next order of business was a discussion regarding livestreaming the meetings on Facebook. Kate Taylor asked the board members if this would be something they felt the board should do, and if so, did the board want to be the entity streaming it?
The discussion hit a few minor hiccups; the first being state law requirements regarding recording of a public meeting and length of time the records must be kept. It was proposed that the parent/teacher association may be interested in doing this, alleviating the board from responsibility, but board member Casey Park stated his position on the matter: If the board wants this handled, the board should be the ones to execute it. Brian Esplin also explained that in the past, uploading recordings can be time-consuming, as well as data intensive. If the board is required to keep the records for years, the amount of hard drive space needed will be increased. The board settled on revisiting the topic once more information is known around the legalities of record-keeping.
The next topic discussed was about the students’ progress this year on testing levels. Firth uses the Idaho-Ready (IReady) system for tracking the students’ progress in the core areas: science, math, and English. According to the results this year, the majority of students made progress that would amount to 1.5 years in a traditional learning environment in only six months.
The growth of the students proved to be exciting for the teachers as well as the students, but the students would not get the opportunity to take their ISATs due to COVID-19. To increase the learning potential of the students, teachers are taking continued education courses in efforts of better learning potential for the children. Firth will have the opportunity next school year to demonstrate what they have learned when they take the ISATs then.
Following the discussion about student performance, the board recognized students from Firth High School for scholastic achievement. Kaydee Park received the Rhodes Scholarship from Idaho State University. Ella Daniels and Aubrey Killpack both received the Kiwanis Scholarship, and Desmond Killian received the BYU-Idaho Scholarship. Keith Drake, principal of Firth High School, was proud to announce these achievements, and expressed how excited he is for their futures. Drake would then move on to addressing graduation with the board.
Drake pooled the students to get an idea of how many of them wanted a graduation, even if it meant postponing it into the summer. A staggering 90 percent came back with a desire for a formal graduation; Drake started to brainstorm different ways to make that a reality. He looked to the calendar for changes of stages presented by Gov. Brad Little.
Based on the plan, June 17 will be the start of stage four. In stage four, they will be able to congregate in larger groups than currently allowed. Because of this, Drake proposed using the football field for graduation and having the students in the stands with the families social distanced on the field so that all could enjoy a real graduation.
The school would have all access points open to prevent funneling of people through one entrance and exit, allowing an easier, less congested arrival and departure. Park asked about being able to shake the students’ hands and handing each of them their diplomas. Park was reminded that social distancing requirements would prevent allowing such things. Park wanted to make it known that if an option is available, he would be more than happy to be the one to do so. Park has served on the board for nearly 16 years.
The seniors will get a double graduation of sorts. On May 21, the school has arranged a drive-in-style slideshow for all to enjoy. The school typically does the slideshow during graduation but will be doing this in lieu of trying to arrange one with a later dated graduation. Drake did note that the district will need volunteers for the graduation, as teachers are not required to be there during that time.