The Fieldcrest Board of Education held an online emergency meeting Wednesday night over Zoom to approve a bid to repair the boiler at the Fieldcrest High School in Minonk and discuss grading changes.
The board approved a bid from John's Sales and Services of Oglesby in the amount of $46,973 among the 4 bids submitted. The work will include using the old burner but replacing most other parts which will save a few thousand dollars according to Ron Kreiser, the spokesman for the company. According to him the pipes are leaking and the boiler could stop working at any minute. Fieldcrest High School Principal William Lapp says each day he comes to the school he checks to see if the chimney has any smoke coming out of it. The lead time for repairing the boiler is 5 to 7 days.
The board also approved an HLS Emergency Board Resolution which allows the school to avoid bidding on a new boiler which will expedite the repair work. Superintendent Dr. Kari Rockwell said it is possible that the repair work could be partially covered by insurance.
The rest of the meeting centered on changing the grading scale at Fieldcrest. Fieldcrest teachers had a meeting with Mr. Lapp and are recommending that the school change the grading scale to correspond with the scale used by most other schools.
Dr. Rockwell said with the stress level imposed by the COVID-19 epidemic, many students are struggling to maintain their grades. Mr. Lapp said the teachers want to have a balance between teaching and giving support to the students who are struggling. He said there are over 200 classes with an F grade and 90% of those failing grades are in the 60 - 65 grade.
The consensus is that grades are being affected by the stress level and the students need more support. One suggested remedy is to no longer weight the semester final as 20% of the final grade. The other proposal is to change the current grading scale of 92-100 for A, 83-91 for B, 74-82 for C, 65-73 for D and 0-64 for F to 100-90-80-70-60. This would eliminate many of the failing grades in the 60-65 range and make the grading scale equivalent to most other schools.
Dr. Rockwell said while this change is being suggested because of the epidemic, she thinks the change should be permanent and not just for this semester so that Fieldcrest can be compared to other schools on the same grading level.
Board president Mykin Bernardi asked if this change would cause some students to slack off because of the more lenient grading scale. Mr. Lapp replied that some kids will probably take advantage of the changing grading scale but said he felt most kids will try harder so they can get their grades up to the next level.
Board member Elizabeth Palm said she is supportive of the change but also doesn't want to be passing students if they don't know the material. She said if this is to be a permanent change there needs to be a larger conversation on this issue.
Board member Joe Stasell said he feels we need to take the stress off the students. He said he would like to know what percentage of the students this grading scale change would affect.
Board members Kimberly McKay, Heather McKay, Melinda Tiraboschi and Jordan Meyer all said they support the change.
Dr. Rockwell said all students are dealing with the stress level whether they are from a low income or high income family and felt the grading change would help most students. She said the board will formally vote on the grading change at the next board meeting next week.