Dell Rapids Public School is nearing the 2020-2021 school year finish line! Being a school superintendent for 13 years, I can affirm this year’s closure feels much different than other years. Last summer, we created a multi-layered plan with the goal being to keep students on sight and learning in person. Although time has provided us 20/20 vision, we weren’t afforded that advantage last fall. We understood going in that our approach had as much chance of failure as it did success. We also understood that should things go wrong, a district occupying approximately 1200 individuals could adversely affect the health of an entire community.
If you followed our district this year, you were hopefully pleased by the many accomplishments that took place both in and out of the classroom. I’ve been asked how we managed to have such a successful year, despite the challenges Covid-19 presented. Although, as I mentioned above, our plan had multiple layers and was designed to keep healthy kids in the classroom, it ultimately came down to a school community where parents supported our mitigation plan and encouraged their students to do so as well. I can’t say any of us were perfect; we all needed reminders to pull our mask up from time to time, but the consistent student compliance aided our success coupled with a bit of luck.
As we do each spring, planning is well underway for the next school year. Priority areas will center around our academic goal to ensure all students are successful. ESSER money will allow additional intervention opportunities through staffing and resources at the elementary level, along with an increase in summer school offerings. I’m excited to announce our plan to implement extended targeted services to middle school students in reading and math. These services will run similar to our current elementary title program and be used to ensure our middle-level learners continue to receive targeted interventions when not performing at grade level.
We are also working to ensure our community’s youngest learners have opportunities to get to the starting line simultaneously. Kindergarten readiness is a broad and somewhat overwhelming term. South Dakota does not fund universal preschool, but our district is still committed to assisting parents, care providers, and early learning teachers. A Dell Rapids, Early Learning Taskforce, is being created to provide opportunities and resources for Kindergarten Readiness throughout our community. If you have a child that will be four years old on September 1, 2021, I encourage you to enroll them in the Waterford Upstart Program. This program has earned national recognition for its ability to assist parents in preparing preschool-aged students for school. (Waterford.org/upstart)
Again, thank you to all parents and community members for their patience and support this year. It has been a year of difficult decisions, often without a historical perspective to follow. Your loyalty to our district and unwavering support did not go unnoticed, and it truly makes Dell Rapids Public School unique.
Dr. Summer Schultz