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New District 91 superintendent talks about first weeks of school, plans for the future


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Idaho Falls School District 91 has a new superintendent this year. Doctor James Shank comes to Idaho Falls after being the superintendent for the Cassia County School District.

Dr. Shank says they've had a great first couple of weeks of school.

"We've had a great opening of the school year," Shank said. "It's just wonderful to see the kids back and all the smiling faces. And I just think there's a great vibe in all our schools right now."

Shank says he's excited about the school year, but also has plans to address low test scores and learning loss students have experienced during the pandemic.

"Learning loss is one of the things we're working on this year," Shank said. "There have been dollars that have been given to the school district from the federal government as well as the state. And so we're working on programs that will help students catch up with anything they've lost in advance."

When it comes specifically to test scores.

"We're using the high-reliability schools model, which we'll talk even more about in the future," Shank said. "But bringing all of those proven types of strategies into our schools, empowering our teachers to do great things so that our student performance can improve. So we're at where we're at, and we'll make plans and do programs and things that are necessary to get us in a place where we'd like to be."

The HRS model focuses on learning, caring for students, and eliminating barriers to success.

"Part of what schools do is have a safe, collaborative type of environment, and that's part of the framework of the high-reliability schools that we've talked about," Shank said. "But learning has to be our number one. That's what it is we have to be concerned with, along with safety."

Shank also says he's hopeful schools will stay in person during the whole school year, but says it's up to the community to help ensure students and staff get to have that.

"We don't want to send healthy kids home if we don't have to," Shank said. "And so pay attention to your distances, pay attention to that time frame, and then if you have the opportunity to vaccinate, we would certainly encourage that.

Shank also said the school district has had a low coronavirus rate so far, having "only four or five" cases out of some 10,400 students and hundreds of staff members.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Rachel Fabbi

Rachel Fabbi is a reporter, anchor and producer for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.


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