TWIN FALLS — School boards across the United States have had to face and handle the hardship of continually adjusting and implementing changes in how their students learn during the COVID-19 pandemic on top of dealing with their everyday responsibilities.
As a token of gratitude, the Twin Falls School District labels January as School Board Appreciation Month. While it is an occurrence every year, due to the added workload from COVID, this year certainly stands out as one of the busiest and most challenging the school board has had to face in recent memory.
The Twin Falls School Board consists of five elected volunteers and they are Jason Lloyd, Heidie Casdorph, Paul McClintock, who are all trustees, Vice-Chair Johnathan Lord, and Chairman Bryan Matsuoka. The board members spend countless hours participating in training, meetings, and listening to public input.
Throughout this past year, they have had to deal with numerous challenges and make many difficult decisions to serve this community. Now is the time where fellow staff, students, and residents to express their appreciation.
Superintendent Brady Dickinson said, "Obviously, the Coronavirus has had an impact on our schools, and so school board members have to really look at lots of different avenues and information that's available in order to make some pretty tough decisions."
The board has had to adapt and balance its normal operations, such as reviewing policies, addressing demands or needs in school, and budgeting. COVID has stacked even tougher tasks, especially in regards to determining what risk level the district operates.
Vice-Chair and board member, Johnathan Lord, said, "The effort to help teachers be prepared...they have to teach online to students and deliver content online in unique ways to meet the learners and the distribution of those resources to our students."
Having been on the frontlines of making these decisions and responding to criticism, board members are glad and appreciative of being recognized for their work.
"There have only been a few really bright lights this year in terms of being a board member. Those are recognizing our staff and our teachers, our staff and our representatives from the schools for their great work," said Lord.
Despite the praise and positive reception the board has been receiving this past couple of weeks, they still have their work cut out for them. Since the future of what COVID will be like is unpredictable, the board needs to remain vigilant now and in the coming months to make the right decisions.
Lord said, "Given the track record that we've had and the diligence that we've put in to really thinking about each decision and weighing all the options and then standing together unified once those decisions are made, I feel good."
The district encourages any resident who wishes to say thanks to reach out in whatever way seems best.