BOE Meeting – Sept 21, 2021

Board of Education Meeting Minutes (SEEN)
September 21, 2021
Notes taken by Lisa Glazer

Note: Prior to meeting, there was a recognition for 20 employees with 25 years of service (each was able to select a book of their choice to be donated to one of the school libraries)

  1. 7:01 Roll Call
  2. 7:02 Approval of minutes for September 9 – passes unanimously
  3. 7:02 Acceptance of Tonight’s agenda – passes unanimously
  4. 7:03 Public Comment 1
    1. AnEm thanks all in attendance and reviews guidelines for public comment
    2. Mike DeAngeres (unsure of spelling): parent of 6th and 9th grader. Topic is quarantining. Expresses concern and what is being placed on children. Students are being forced into absence without proper evidence. No synchronistic teaching. Speaks from first hand experience. Notes stress for everyone involved. His son was quarantined but has not heard from the health department. Notes that the incident was from 9/13. Expresses that what is happening during quarantine is not learning. Suggests options: implement test to stay policy; synchronous teaching (canvas is not teaching).  Offers to do whatever he can to help.
  5. 7:13 Board Reports
    1. Property Committee (DK) 
      1. Legacy Capital Project Update (stay tuned for tonight’s presentation)
      2. Town of Wilton grant application (also on agenda for presentation and vote)
    2. Policy Advisory Committee (NL)
      1. Approved policies will go online within the next month
      2. Have been reviewing all of the policies
        1. Policy committee should complete the 9000 series of policies (note that this is a categorization system – not how many policies the district has) in the next few months.  When all policies have been reviewed, the review starts again.
      3. Reviewed flex zone information – had a discussion after the first real summer of implementation
        1. District will be reaching out to community members and realtors to share and clarify information about flex zones and the policy
        2. Averaging 19 students per class in K and 1st grade which is good news
        3. Also discussed increased written communication on website and interactive map about what flex zones mean and how the policy works
    3. Finance Advisory Committee (TK)
      1. Presented with report on audited financial statements (will hear more later)
      2. CARES act update – state funds that need to be accounted for that weren’t spent last year – need to be spent in this year’s budget.  Note that the agenda reflects that 3 new temporary positions are being created to put a focus on SEL
      3. Committee is suggesting to add to this year’s budget
    4. New York State School Boards Association (AnEm)
      1. AnEm and JB attended board leadership training recently
      2. The annual NYSSBA conference has been canceled for the 3 day in-person conference and will instead be a 1 day virtual conference
  6. 7:21 Student Rep Report
    1. The high school Time and Space Committee has been tracking reactions to the new schedule. People are generally excited to be back in person
    2. Homecoming is Friday, this week is spirit week
    3. Club meetings are happening in person again which has been great
  7. 7:23 Superintendent Report
    1. Offers thanks to Caroline Street for hosting
    2. COVID screening testing partnership updates (working with all districts in county and DOH)
      1. Saratoga County is leading the way in availability for diagnostic and screening testing availability to schools – likely to be first in the state to have the testing program up and running
      2. Staff has been screened (over 80% of staff is fully vaccinated)
      3. County average is up to 79% vaccinated of eligible population (12+)
      4. There is now a mandate for all school employees to be tested weekly (can opt out with vaccination)
      5. The next step is to move this to unvaccinated students with parental consent – screening tests will be administered by the county
      6. They will also be able to do the diagnostic PCR test in nurse’s office in schools for students who are symptomatic (results should be in within 24 hours)
    3. Updates on Stay-Open Plan
      1. 21 confirmed cases since the first day of school (9 elementary, 11 middle school, 1 high school)
        1. About 100 students are currently on mandatory quarantine
        2. About 10-12 students are being quarantined per positive case
      2. They are following state-wide contact tracing protocols
        1. Key indicators they are looking for: correct and consistent masking; distance; duration; vaccination status
        2. School district must report to county and then county determine who is quarantined and for how long – this means there is a gap
        3. Feedback loop will continue
        4. At this point, 1 positive case will not have the ability to quarantine an entire classroom
    4. Review on Academic Plan for Quarantined Students 
      1. Pivot Plan (temporary online learning for a full class or large group)
        1. Offers thanks to students, parents, teachers, admin for all the work that has gone into managing the pandemic
        2. If a class needs to pivot to online learning – there will be pre-reviewed procedures which will involve zoom meetings during regularly scheduled class times
        3. This would involve a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning (it will look different at each grade level)
        4. At MS and HS level – attendance will be taken and participation expected
      2. Individual Quarantine Plan
        1. Reiterated that they learned from last year that hybrid learning was not working as well as they had hoped
        2. Trying to figure out how to get better
        3. For now (they understand its not the best scenario)
          1. Accessing work on seesaw or canvas
          2. Students should be doing a live check-in with students who are on a quarantine greater than 3 days
          3. Attendance must be able to be taken
        4. Looking ahead for quarantine greater than 3 days – starting week of October 5
          1. Support will be structured on a set schedule for specific grades (still flushing out what it will look like)
          2. Grades K-5 will have 1 hr per day of ELA/Math instruction from a certified educator (through an outside company which only hires NYSED licensed teachers)
          3. Grades 6-12 will have 2 hours of instruction daily (only 2 subjects per day)
          4. When students return – students will use flex time to access their teachers as well as after school opportunities (M/W at Maple and T/Th at HS)
      3. Questions
        1. AMEL: How much tutoring will they get each day? 1-2 hours
        2. AMEL: Zooming in…what if 4 days more or 4 days less. No opportunity to Zoom in? LC: Not this year. Research doesn’t support hybrid learning as a best practice which ends up happening. 
        3. DK: Without access to the research to ask what or challenge what is the best approach, I would argue there is a difference between the hybrid model and the remote option we saw last year, which is forced quarantine. Talking out loud, but would think students who are forced into quarantine would potentially be more engaged with the opportunity to access and visualize their instructor. Have we thought about ways of opportunities to have educators record their lessons–even if just for those first 3 days? Thinking about their own children, facetiming classrooms and talking about lessons from instructors and comparing apples to apples. Has there been any discussion. LC: There is that capability now. Part of the tools teachers have is to record themselves.  DLH: [feedback] for some lessons this might work,but others do not because people might walk around. DK: Isn’t access to learn from their teacher better than nothing at all? Is there opportunity for improvement and allow students opportunities to help each other. 
        4. JB: Can you talk about the plans for communication? If I have a child in this situation, how do you change or engage in communication? Passing on information from buildings to tutoring, and the tutors will reach out. Will start with 6th graders this week and have the opportunity to think through and work out details of this. 
        5. AMEL: References her experience with fully virtual learning last year. Compares her kids’ experience with virtual learning and says maybe they just had a different experience than the research LC has referenced.  One hour for elementary and two hours at higher grade levels–one hour is dramatically less than what students receive in school. 
        6. (NOTE that these tutoring times are in line with the in home tutoring the district offered before the pandemic)
        7. AMEL: What about students who receive therapies? LC: Work with departments appropriately. Some practices from last year did work well, and can be adopted/adapted. 
        8. NL: Virtual school is very different from hybrid, and I want to acknowledge that. Many of the things and actions to be considered could be difficult to align within our equity initiatives. Recording lectures v. small group learning, so there are different issues to be thinking about, and there are ways that even recording lessons can support particular types of learning and become inequitable. Need to make sure decisions are in line with the Equity of Opportunity pathway
    5. MP: NYSSBA Convention moving to a virtual format. Board members are able to participate free of charge. Anything that had been put down for deposit is being reimbursed. 
  8. 8:00 Presentations

AnEM “gentle reminder we’re in school building and need to wear masks over nose and mouth. 

  1. Pathways Vision for High School: Michelle Tsao and HS Leadership Team
    1. Graduation Cohort Data from ‘18, ‘19, ‘20. 
      1. Different from what you see at District level because it is specifically for those enrolled in the building, not in the district. 
      2. Grayed-out categories have fewer than 8 students, and protects individual privacy. 
      3. In ‘18, ‘19, and ‘20, the average graduation rate was 93%. Made gains in state-defined categories in H/L and economically-disadvantaged, and areas for improvement with Black/AA and students with disabilities. 
      4. Preliminary 2021 data shows All Student August graduation rate was 94.2%, Advanced Regents was 65.7%, Students with Disabilities 78.3%, and Economically-Disadvantaged 80%. 
      5. Trending in right direction, but still see what should be improved upon. 
      6. Overall pleased with information. Has shown one of highest graduation rates to date for district. 
    2. Equity of Opportunity
      1. Schedule: allows ALL students to have access to teachers during the school day (as opposed to only after school)
      2. Student Support Teams – academic counselors and AP – Address academic and social emotional concerns
      3. Professional Development – cultural responsiveness
        1. 2 turnkey trainings were developed in collaboration with DEI consultant
          1. Diverse backgrounds
          2. Asset vs. Deficit Model
      4. Clubs
        1. NCBI club has been training students
        2. Best Buddies
        3. Rainbow
    3. Collaboration
      1. Professional Learning Teams created common formative assessments
      2. Schedule was a huge amount of collaboration
      3. Student Support Teams (SST)
      4. Academic Curriculum Renewals
    4. Community
      1. Building Safety – added shades and translucent film on windows
      2. SST’s – develop plans for individual students – begins with in building supports – then move to supports from beyond the school building as needed in collaboration with community resources
      3. Building Leadership Team – Grading for Equity book study
        1. Was open to all staff
        2. Currently have 120 staff members interested 
    5. Personalization
      1. Schedule: academic support/flex time – both for academic help but also for relationship building
      2. SST again
      3. Transition Program over the summer to bring students back into the building this fall
    6. Moving Forward this Year
      1. Assess efficacy of Academic Support / Flex time
      2. Academic and Behavioral Interventions (MTSS – Multi-Tiered System of Supports)
      3. Continued Equity and Inclusion Work (through book study)
      4. Meeting Social/Emotional needs of all students
      5. Continued curriculum renewal work 
    7. Questions
      1. AnEm – Cultural Responsiveness PD – how is it happening and when and is Critical Race Theory a part of it? MT: worked with Generation Ready Consultant and had multiple sessions with the admin that they could turn around and present to staff. Developed ideas of empathy and inclusivity and representation (not CRT)
      2. EB – Asked about the extra help time – is it teachers seeking students or students seeking teachers and how will they manage if teachers are in high demand.. Answer: it’s both. In terms of time management – they are just starting and will continue to be assessing.
  2. David L’Hommedieu, Assistant Superintendent for Information Technology  & Operational Innovation and members of our district safety and security team will provide  an  overview  of  ongoing  physical,  systemic  and  social emotional  safety initiatives across the district.
    1. Overview of Safety System – response teams, procedures, ongoing trainings, and situational awareness
    2. Lockdown drills are modified currently because of COVID – instead during “drill time” they will discuss the process 
    3. Review of different safety drills to be completed in each building
    4. Review of COVID protocols including masking, distancing, cleaning of high traffic surfaces, ventilation systems, vaccinations
    5. See Something Say Something Initiative
  3. Capital Project Update
    1. Bill McMordie, Principal Saratoga Project Management, Inc. and John Onderdonk Mosaic ASsociates, DPC – Update on Legacy Project.  Timeline provided – bidding for phase 1 will start soon.  Graphics shown of some proposed plans. Overview of what to expect over the next few years with a reminder that almost all major work needs to fit into the few summer months.
    2. Proposed roundabouts and new walkway in Wilton – Town of Wilton is asking the board to support the project which would include a new walking path in front of Dorothy Nolan ES and would increase safety, especially during the winter months.  Proposed project work would begin in Fall 2023 and last approximately 1 year.
  4. Independent Auditor’s Report James Amell, CPA, will present the Independent Auditor’s Reports prepared by Marvin and Company for the 2020-2021 School Year.  Overall the district is doing very well, especially when considering our size and the pandemic.
  1. Consent Agenda – all passed unanimously
  2. Agenda planning –
    1. AmEl asked about a process for sharing of quarantine numbers and getting the information on a more regular basis
    2. Discussion around the board getting more information from Dr. Patton about students in quarantine.  
    3. End result: Dr. Patton’s weekly emails to the board will now include current # of students in quarantine and how the proposed academic plans for quarantined students are going.

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