Annual reports were heard Wednesday during the USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden School Board meeting from the English Speakers of Other Languages program and Manhattan Virtual Academy.

District ESOL Coordinator Emily Cherms says something they have been working on is a program called bilingual book bags. She says the bags include native language books and bilingual dictionaries.

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The purpose is to help incorporate dual language support for students and explain why it is important to maintain native language. These bags are given to new families in the district who speak another language in their home.

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Staff even help parents access and use the district’s website, which has a translation service embedded.

Manhattan Virtual Academy Principal Brooke Blanck says currently, the full-time enrollment numbers have continued to increase since the time MVA was its own entity.

While MVA has students all over the state, the students in the USD 383 district who attend MVA also continues to grow.

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Along with full-time enrollment, MVA also provides two courses for Manhattan High School students. Part time enrollment was offered by MVA, however the funding for that was cut by the state in 2017. Blanck says they also provide higher level math classes for elementary and middle school students.

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In addition to the annual reports, school board members approved the purchase of a district projector and other technology, including iPads and Macintosh systems.

A late addition to the agenda was brought by Board President Jurdene Coleman regarding reading an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement at board meetings, something she previously brought up in January. Board members Curt Herrman, Darell Edie and Brandy Santos did not support having a vote on the matter during Wednesday’s meeting due to the late addition. It was added onto the agenda as a discussion item on a 4-3 vote with those members voting against.

Tensions became heated later in the meeting during discussions over guidelines aimed at increasing unity among board members.

While some of the language within the guidelines wasn’t favorable by some, board member Darell Edie felt the guidelines were telling him what to do and what not to do.
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Coleman responded saying Edie’s phrase of “cute little document” sounded condescending, to which he said “it was meant to be.” Edie maintained there were still some good guidelines in the document he agreed with. However, when Coleman told Edie it was not okay to speak that way to them, he responded with “why?”
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Board Member Karla Hagemeister was also not happy with Edie’s comments, saying they were trying to show the public they are and can be respectful of each other.

The discussion ended with no action on the guidelines.

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