Local districts still formulating learning plans, submitting for review

When it comes to educational plans required for schools to get funding this year, Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District Superintendent Dave Cox said local districts are working to finish them or are submitting them for approval.

CADILLAC — When it comes to educational plans required for schools to get funding this year, Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District Superintendent Dave Cox said local districts are working to finish them or are submitting them for approval.

Cox said he formed a committee to help with the approval process, which will approve each district's plan before it is forwarded to the state. For now, that process is in a holding pattern as the districts are still working to compose the plans.

"We are really in a holding pattern or at least I am. We are waiting for districts to submit their plans. I believe they will all be different from each other based on the district's needs, but also very similar," Cox said. "We are supposed to have additional guidance from the state coming (on April 10) about assurances and budgeting questions, and how (districts) submit their plans."

Cox said once districts have their plans approved, they are required to put them on their websites so the public will be able to see them. With Good Friday and the Easter holiday this weekend, Cox said he anticipates it will be a few days before plans submitted or reviewed.

He also said any plans received will be reviewed on Monday by the committee, which will either be forwarded to the state or sent back to the district for minor tweaks.

"I provided a rubric so they understand what is being looked for so they can have those things checked off," Cox said. "Then we will move them on to the state superintendent and the treasury department."

On April 2, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said face-to-face instruction will not resume this spring. Neither will extracurricular activities including sports.

Districts have flexibility in how they create distance learning programs. Options include phone lessons, online classes, and mailing materials to homes. Schools relying on virtual learning should ensure that every student has access to a device that can connect to the internet.

Under Whitmer's order, schools must establish distance learning programs no later than April 28. Intermediate school districts and charter school authorizers must be ready to review and approve or reject plans starting Wednesday, April 15.

Traditional districts and charter schools whose “continuity of learning‘ plans are approved will get their full state funding. They also were given more flexibility to start the 2020-21 school year early, including by switching to a year-round balanced calendar.

About 12% of Michigan children, or 266,000, live in homes without internet access, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy’s Kids Count project. Access is lowest in rural areas. Locally, Cadillac Area Public Schools compiled data showing 20% lacked internet access while 40% were without a device. Pine River Area Schools showed 45% of its students have internet connectivity.

In those districts as well as others within the Wexford-Missaukee ISD, the final plans will likely include offering leaning plans for families with access to internet and technology, families with limited access and families with no access.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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