News from February 25, 2019 Board of Education meeting

News from February 25, 2019 Board of Education meeting

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The February 25, 2019 regular Board of Education meeting was held on-site at Jefferson School. Following the closed session, Principal Lisa Halverson and teachers welcomed the Board and shared a "Day in the Life" video highlighting the D64 community pre-school program as well as the Extended Day Kindergarten program.

Board members and Superintendent Laurie Heinz this month recognized and congratulated students and staff from across D64, including:

D64 Spelling Bee champion Charlie Warner (right) and Annabelle Izzi (left), who tied for second place, were congratulated by ELA Curriculum Specialist Meghan Keefer and Dr. Heinz.

Interscholastic sports teams from the middle schools are being recognized for the first time this year at Board meetings. Emerson's Wrestling team and coach Erich Marx were congratulated for their efforts during the recently concluded season.

50 medalists from the 2019 D64 Science Olympiad were congratulated by the Board, including the 2019 Gold Medal winners.

Silver medalists:

And Bronze medalists:

The Olympiad had a record high 471 students in grades 3-5 participate. The top three teams received awards for each event: aerodynamics, egg drop, mystery box, rubber band catapult, and structures.

Other highlights of the meeting include:

  • Board will interview Superintendent candidates March 4-5 - Board members met in closed session with consultants School Exec Connect to review a slate of candidates for the new Superintendent, and intend to select 6-7 candidates to be interviewed individually by the Board in closed sessions on March 4 and 5. In addition, School Exec Connect will conduct a lottery for the five parents and two community members to join at Stakeholder/Confidential Interview Committee from among those who applied online by the deadline and met the Board's criteria. The committee will interview two finalists on March 11 and 12, and provide written feedback to the Board, prior to the Board's extended interviews with the finalists on those evenings. Announcement of a new Superintendent may occur at the March 18 meeting, If the Board's selection process is completed. Read more about the Superintendent Search here.
  • Small drop expected in enrollment over next decade - According to a 10-year population and enrollment forecast presented by demographer Dr. Jerome McKibben, D64's total enrollment will increase by 100 students in the next five years, before declining by 137 students in the following years to 4,504 in 2028-29. The primary factors causing the decline are an increase in "empty nest" households, and the relatively low number of housing units owned by older residents turning over coupled with the flat rate of young families moving in. He projected that the rate, magnitude and price of existing home sales will become the increasingly dominant factor affecting the amount of population and enrollment change over the next decade. The report includes projections for each school, which will help determine space needs. The last study was conducted in fall 2013.
  • D64 projects more classroom sections may be needed in 2019-20 - As D64 prepares for the coming year, projections indicate that enrollment changes at a particular grade level in individual schools may create the need for more teachers as new sections are opened in keeping with the District's class size guidelines. The District requested authorization for as many as 3.5 classroom teachers and .5 in associated staff for "special" classes (art, music, physical education, and Spanish) would be required, if projections are realized. The District will seek authorization for enrollment-driven staffing at the March 18 meeting; actual hiring, however, does not occur until students are fully registered and class counts have been reverified. For Washington School, the Board also discussed varying ways projected enrollment increases could be accommodated; registration numbers will be watched carefully through the spring.
  • Other staff requested for 2019-20 - In addition to staff requested to keep pace with enrollment, the District also recommended the addition of special education resource teachers for Field and Roosevelt; an intervention coach to support Wilson program training; two speech language pathologists; and expanding an existing assistive technology specialist to a full-time position. The District also requested adding 2.5 differentiation coaches for English Language Arts to provide job-embedded coaching to grades K-5 teachers as the District adopts the workshop model. The ELA coaching posts would be for two years, and would be partially offset by removing outside consultants in this area from the budget. Board approval for these new positions will be requested at the March 18 meeting.
  • Long-range financial projections remain favorable - Incorporating these additional staffing requests for 2019-20 and based on current assumptions, the District's five-year financial projections indicate the operating fund balance will remain above the 120-day target through at least 2021-22, extending the Board's goal further into the future.
  • Summer 2019 flooring abatement projects approved - The Board approved asbestos abatement projects for Carpenter, Field and Franklin related to flooring work being undertaken in conjunction with office reconfiguration/secure vestibule work, and for Washington related to a flooring project for its Learning Resource Center renovation.
  • Special Education monthly reports continue - The Board reviewed the steps undertaken from January to February in the four key areas of staffing, professional development, consistency across the District, and creating a message of inclusion. It was noted that the Parents and Teachers Talking Together (PT3) group would be meeting February 26 with additional meetings scheduled through the spring. In addition, work is underway on planning for student participation at the Special Olympics in May.
  • D64 saves using federal E-Rate funding - D64 provided background on the three ways e-rate funding creates savings, in preparation for new contracts to be presented next month for internet service and other tech uses.

Holistic approach to safety and security addresses facilities, operations and social emotional learning

Also at the February 25, 2019 meeting, D64 summarized the steps completed since 2013 through a holistic approach to safety and security that encompasses not only physical security and safety procedures, but also efforts to enhance social emotional learning that can directly impact the well-being of students and staff.

Here are highlights from the full report:

  • Joined by security consultant Paul Timm, the District reported on the wide-ranging steps completed in response to Timm's 2013 physical security audit, such as communications equipment; electronic key entry systems; and signage, cameras and a visitor management system, among other upgrades.
  • Since 2016, secure entry vestibules have been added at three schools in conjunction with office and classroom renovations, with three more slated for this summer. In cooperation with local first responders and safety experts, crisis operations and training for staff have been bolstered.
  • Because school climate impacts students' perceptions of safety, their sense of connectedness to other students and adults, and their ability to support themselves and others, D64's holistic approach includes an expanded District-wide social emotional program that offers explicit skill instruction; environmental structures, such as common behavior expectations within each school; community-building practices to build supportive relationships, a positive school culture, and a nurturing climate; and data collection to monitor progress.
  • Additional staffing, procedure reviews, and updated training within the Student Services department along with family engagement across D64 through greater Health and Wellness resources, District-wide parent groups, and adult learning round out the efforts reported to the Board.

The Board also reviewed next steps on the horizon, including replacement of doors and door hardware, with other upgrades for coming years to be considered once new physical security audits now being performed by consultant Timm are reviewed.