Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Thompson School Board discusses 2020 graduation, new turf at Max Marr Field

April 24, 2020 | Education

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

At a virtual meeting of the Thompson School District (TSD) Board of Education April 15, the board voted unanimously to make a temporary, one-year change to graduation requirements in light of the shutdown brought about by the pandemic.

The board decided to allow current seniors, those slated to graduate as part of the class of 2020, to graduate with 20 completed credit hours, down from the previously required 24. The decision to make the change was allowed as the Colorado Department of Education afforded each of the state’s school districts to make amendments to their graduation requirements in light of the statewide shutdown, as explained by TSD Chief Academic Officer, Dawne Huckaby.

The Board also discussed the potential of holding in-person graduation ceremonies for Berthoud High as well as Loveland, Mountain View and Thompson Valley July 18. The feasibility of a holding the ceremonies, it was decided, will be dependent upon state health situation and a final decision will be made at a later date, where a clearer picture of the medical situation is available.

Another subject of discussion was implementing a common bell schedule for the district’s four high schools. After a process where groups were created to discuss various processes, a survey of eighth through 11th graders was conducted to gauge their preferences.

The impetus for wanting to create an identical bell schedule for the four high schools is due to the fact that many students take courses at their home school, one or more of the other schools, local community college campuses and, beginning next school year, at the Thompson Careers Campus in central Loveland. TSD leadership argues having a homogenized bell schedule will minimize the loss of instructional time as students travel between multiple locations in the district.

Students were given two different options, both of which included block scheduling where students would have nearly 90 minutes per class on alternating days, with four classes every other day.

The decision was made to implement what was designated as “option two” whereby students will have all eight instructional periods lasting 46 minutes apiece on Mondays and then will have four 83-minute periods alternating Tuesdays through Fridays; e.g., classes one through four Tuesday and Thursday and classes five through eight Wednesday and Friday. This was the option supported by surveyed Berthoud students 66% to 34%.

The Board also discussed the prospect for installing synthetic turf, often called “field turf,” at Max Marr Field at Berthoud High. The Board had already decided to replace the track and lighting apparatus at Max Marr, with funds coming from the bond measure approved by voters in November 2018, as well as repair the natural turf and underground irrigation system this summer.

Todd Piccone, Chief Operations Officer for the TSD, explained that since construction crews will already be at the facility, this summer would be the ideal time to install synthetic turf. Piccone said that should a decision be made years down to the road to install synthetic turf, the process would likely cause damage to the track and therefore doing the entire project – installing new lighting, the track and synthetic turf – all at once makes a great deal of sense.

Piccone said the plan would be to use the same contractor that is doing a similar project at Ray Patterson Field in Loveland and the cost would be $750,000; $200,000 of which is already approved from the bond, $400,000 from the district’s contingency fund and $100,000 to $150,000 from the capital projects fund. Synthetic turf is more expensive than natural grass upfront but as it does not require watering, mowing and other maintenance, it is a long-term cost-saver.

The TSD also announced that, because the board meetings are being held virtually for the foreseeable future, public comments can be submitted via telephone. Anyone interested in making a public comment to the board is asked to call (970) 613-6776 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting (every other Wednesday) and record a comment that is not to exceed three minutes in length.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the TSD Board of Education will come April 29.

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