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Bismarck superintendent proud of staff during pandemic
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Bismarck superintendent proud of staff during pandemic

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Bismarck School District teachers and staff members had the opportunity to get their first dose of the COVID-19 last week, exactly one year after the district had to shut its door due to the pandemic.

“Probably one (anniversary) that those of us who are employees here will never forget,” Superintendent Jason King said, “and what it was like coming in that first day and the place being empty here in March. Just kind of a heartbreaking thing.”

At the recent Board of Education meeting, King said he is proud of how hard the teachers and staff have worked to keep the doors open this year, something he thought would be impossible.

“We have not had to close,” he explained. “We've not had to shut down. We've had to do minimal modification of our schedule compared to what we've seen in other places.”

King also credited Bismarck’s technology department for helping the district be prepared for virtual learning.

“One of the things I'd say that is really a testament to the good work that they've done is, unlike a lot of a lot of places, we were not caught with our pants down, so to speak, of being able to have devices for kids when we had this influx of virtual and we have so many that were going that direction,” King said. “So we were able to put devices in their hands and it was good. When something happened that none of us really saw coming, we were able to pull it off and make that happen.”

During his update, Technology Director Ben Moss told the board that the district is now one-to-one with devices to students from pre-K to 12th grade.

“Every student has a device in their hands,” he added. “So great to see that. We added 100 devices to elementary this year to accomplish that.”

After approving the technology report, the board approved renewing the food management contract with OPAA. Lunch for students and non-students will go up 7 cents and breakfast for both will go up 4 cents.

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“It's been a good partnership,” King said. “It's also been good financially. We have come out a little bit every year on food service. So being able to give more options to the kids, more stuff that they like, while also coming out ahead. That's a tough combination to beat.”

The board approved the dates for summer school, which will be May 24 through June 15. The focus of the 16 days, King said, will be credit recovery at the secondary level.

The district will also offer a few online summer classes like personal finance and health. They will also be gauging interest in bringing back a driver’s education class.

During the administrators’ reports, Elementary Principal Katie Martinez said screening for kindergarten and pre-K went well.

“It was actually pretty crazy,” she said. “Over the course of two days, we screened 26 potential preschoolers and 30 kindergartners.”

There will be a wait list for preschool.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board members recognized the students of the month for February and March and the staff members of the quarter.

Thomas Rodgers and Olivia Scott were honored from the elementary school.

Rylie White-Steel and Shelby Smith were honored from the high school.

Elementary secretary Debbie Grundmann and art teacher Maribel Bohnenkamp were also honored.

Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at noverfelt@dailyjournalonline.com.

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