CAPS holds organizational meeting, discusses truancy

The Cadillac Area Public Schools Board of Education leadership positions stayed the same after the first meeting of 2021 was held Monday.

CADILLAC — The Cadillac Area Public Schools Board of Education leadership positions stayed the same after the first meeting of 2021 was held Monday.

During Monday's board meeting, the board voted to keep Dr. Beth Rzepka-Alto as its president, Steve Anderson as its vice president, Judy Coffey as its secretary and Eric Baker as its treasurer.

The board members also were appointed to their various board committees. Anderson was named chairman of the Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Committee with Baker and Nicole Schultz, while Scott Koenig was named the chairman of the Curriculum and ISD Committee with Judy Coffey and Schultz.

Baker was named the chairman of the Finance and Millage Committee with Rzepka-Alto and Engels, while Coffey was named chairwoman of the Personnel and Legislation Committee with Engles and Koenig. Finally, Anderson was named the chairman of the Policy Committee with Rzepka-Alt and Koenig. Baker also was named the Hearing Officer for the board.

Also during the meeting, the board had a brief discussion about truancy after Schultz asked CAPS Superintendent Jennifer Brown about it during the monthly update of the district’s Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan.

Brown said the district hasn't seen the number of missing students as other districts during the pandemic that has made twice-weekly communication mandatory. Brown said the 2021-2022 school year could be more difficult for schools and teachers having to address the learning gaps of students due to the pandemic. She said learning gaps will have "far-reaching" implications.

"It's hard to define truancy in a pandemic. We have a traditional definition of a student not attending school, but if they are a virtual student and not completing schoolwork by legal definition it may not be truant," she said. "Because of our system depending on two-way communication, we are defining non-participation in the academic program as an absence or extreme academic neglect in younger students."

Before the pandemic, Brown said the district has made it a priority to reduce chronic absenteeism by 10% by 2025. During the current school year, Brown said the goal is to stay connected with students via two-way communication or doing more home visits with students who can't be reached. She said the district also is working with families to ensure they have everything they need to ensure their children are successful academically. That includes internet connectivity or food.

"The staff has done a great job of tracking or communicating with students whether they are face-to-face or virtual. Even with our face-to-face students, we have to track two-way communication," she said. 

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