Board Briefs - February 16, 2021
The Board Briefs are highlights from the most recent Board of Education meetings. The purpose of the Board Briefs is to provide a timely summary to keep our staff, parents and public informed of the key items that were discussed or acted upon. More detailed information is available under the Board Agendas, Meetings and Minutes section of the District’s website. Official minutes are not posted until approval at the following meeting.
Key Discussion Items
Superintendent Mark Cross presented the proposed school district calendar for the 2021-22 school year. At this time the district is planning to have all students back in school full-time in the fall. Mr. Cross stated that the district will continue to carefully monitor health guidance and will be prepared to make any adjustments as necessary, but this is the calendar that is recommended at this time.
Mr. Cross reviewed the main elements of School Reimagined 3.0 Framework, the results of the recent parent survey and the key recommendations for the Board to consider. The main priority of the plan is combining the two cohorts of students into one group that is in person full days Monday through Thursday, while continuing to maintain each Friday as a remote learning day. The remote learning option will also continue for any families who prefer this option. Mr. Cross said that the proposed School Reimagined 3.0 framework as presented is strongly supported by our parents with 71.8 percent supporting a four-day in-person model, 15.1 percent supporting the current blended option, and 13.1 percent supporting full remote learning. Three key themes of concern were also discussed, including maintaining kindergarten as it is with four half days, the consideration of still offering a blended option and concerns with social distancing and what mitigation measures will be utilized when six feet of social distancing cannot be met. Mr. Cross made clear that based on the survey responses, parents need to know that six feet of social distancing cannot be ensured at all times. He stated that the district will continue to develop plans for this and he will continue to communicate openly with parents, while continuing to follow the state guidelines of social distancing as much as possible. He also stated that parents always have the full remote option available and they can choose that option at any time, but they cannot go back and forth between the two. The pros and cons of onsite, school-based testing were also discussed, and this will be investigated as well. After considerable discussion, it was agreed to maintain the current kindergarten schedule, to offer two options to parents: (1) four days of in-person and one day of remote instruction for the new model, or (2) full remote instruction for the remainder of the school year. The new plan will go into effect on March 22 and Mr. Cross and the leadership team will update the School Reimagined 3.0 Framework, which will be shared with parents within the next two weeks.
The move to a four day in-person school week will also include a significant adjustment to the bus routes that will streamline routes and limit the number of stops each day. Mr. Cross shared that these changes are important. If stops can be consolidated, this will allow for the use of larger buses and more space in most cases. Mr. Cross also shared that Cass 63 is the only elementary district in the area that provides "door to door" bus stops, and he strongly recommended a move away from this approach and toward more neighborhood stops at which a number of students board and depart from the bus. Not only could this be helpful in helping to mitigate the spread of COVID, but will also allow the district to achieve much greater efficiency with the bus routes. The administration will continue to develop this plan and will communicate with parents as we approach March 22.
Several changes to the 2021-22 school year registration process were discussed, including the requirement for proof of residency for each student each school year. This is a common practice in schools and will also be explained to parents when registration information is provided at a later date.
Mr. Cross also shared with the Board regarding several recent issues with the HVAC systems in the schools. The district's aging systems require ongoing maintenance and have been particularly problematic in the recent cold weather. Mr. Cross will review proposals and plans that were provided prior to his arrival, and this will be reviewed with the Board's architect. A proposal for several upgrades will be pursued with competitive bidding as a cost comparison to other recent work. Mr. Cross and the Facilities Committee will review this as needed and share the results with the Board later in the spring.
In Key Action Items, the Board of Education…
Approved the 2021-22 School Year Calendar.
Approved the School Reimagined 3.0 Return to Learn Framework.
Approved recommended policy updates, which were presented for first review at the January Board of Education meeting.
Approved the employment of Speech Pathologist Jessica Andujar for the 2021-22 school year. Ms. Andujar will replace Theresa Murphy, who is retiring at the end of the current school year after 19 years of service.
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