EAST WENATCHEE — Technical issues could delay Eastmont School District’s first day of school by three days.
At the Eastmont School Board meeting on Monday Superintendent Garn Christensen asked for and received flexibility to push out the Aug. 26 start date if ongoing technical issues, including not being able to access school rosters and schedules, cannot be resolved in time.
“We work on calendars a year or two ahead, but we don’t plan for pandemics,” he said. “We have some concerns that some of our technology systems will not be ready to go by the 26th.”
Christensen said Eastmont initiated the computer information system change in January before the pandemic started.
A data transfer was underway, but ran into problems with pulling students out of the traditional program into the virtual academy.
“When I met with principals on Friday, we talked with some of our professional leaders. The overall thought — probably split half and half — was yes, move forward if we have the technology working,” he said. “Later that evening, our tech department was able to turn on access to the database, so people could see class rosters and information. Prior to that, we didn’t have it.”
Later, staff reported it was not working.
“We did find some connectivity issues. A couple schools could not get logged in. While we were on the phones, our tech department didn’t see anything wrong with the networks. Not sure if it was password problems. So they’ll send out some techs to deal with that,” he said. “We still have a lot of questions with staffing and schedules.”
The lack of access to the database also is affecting teacher training that is underway this week. Chromebooks for students and teacher desktop workstations also are expected to arrive in the next few days.
It’s possible the problems will be resolved in time, he said. If so, school will start Wednesday, Aug. 26. If that’s not possible, he recommended starting school on Monday, Aug. 31, and adding three days to the schedule at the end of June.
“We are trying to provide educational services as soon as possible. At the same time, a three-day delay is not the end of the world,” Christensen said. “What I’d like to do, with board authority, is delay the calendar if needed. We still have the rest of the week where a lot of progress could be made. The board has final authority on the calendar because it affects the whole community.”
If a calendar change is needed, the board could call a special meeting later this week or early next week to consider making it official, he said.
Board members said they would prefer school start on time, but understood the concerns.
Board member Whitney Smith noted that starting school before resolving the technical issues could make matters worse.
Parents are already confused, she said, so bringing them back with technical issues is only going to “exacerbate that.”
Christensen said Eastmont is not alone.
“There are other districts around the state that have done technology upgrades to try and prepare for distance learning. Many don’t have the technology on hand due to supply chain problems,” Christensen said.