BOE Meeting – June 9, 2022

SSCSD Board of Education Meeting Notes (SEEN)
June 9, 2022
Notes by Lisa Glazer
View the meeting. Read the Meeting Agenda.

Note: Meeting was preceded by a public hearing on the code of conduct.

Trustees Present: Anjie Emeka (President), Erika Borman, John Ellis, Dean Kolligian, Tony Krackeler, Natalya Lakhtakia, Connie Woytowich

7:04pm 

  • Dr. Patton welcomes and announces 35 members of the team who are on the agenda tonight to receive tenure (they just completed a reception for those folks). 
  • Also notes many new probationary appointments that are on the agenda tonight. 
    • Notes specifically: 
      • Alexis Leuci who will be first full-time computer science teacher and will be at the high school. 
      • Maryellen Annese – returning to the district as an elementary teacher at Greenfield after a leave of absence.

7:10pm: Public Comment Period #1

  • Diedre Chuckrow – Her youngest child is a senior – both children attended K-12. Son was recently recognized for wrestling career. Realized that there are many students who never get recognized – who row for rowing association. 
  • Mark Crockett – Congrats to board members who won reelection. Mentions he has an outstanding FOIL request. Wants to revisit security in light of Uvalde. Understands that there was an independent security review. Wants to make some recommendations, many of which are already in place in our district.
  • Carmela Frias – Smoked meth when she was 15. Was addicted for many years and says her high school turned a blind eye. Eventually she ended up in juvie. Sent to alternative school. Held a high regard for accountability. She excelled there but was still getting high. Given this she is deeply saddened that there are students in our schools struggling in the same way. Kids need structure, discipline, and accountability. Heard recently from a father of a senior that there was hard drug use in the locker rooms and there are reports of it happening in locker rooms and bathrooms. Instead of talking to kids – get police involved and sending them to jail may be the best thing that can happen to them.
  • Charlie Samuels – Father of 9-year-old. Thanks everyone who won the election. Wants to address guns in schools and school shootings. His son mentioned recent shootings and the family had a talk. Discusses the national problem of access to guns. He hopes people recognize that this issue is about our country and not just about our schools.
  • Dora Lee Stanley – longtime resident – had four children graduate from the district. While she applauds the accomplishments of the tenured staff, it saddened her that there was no diversity amongst those receiving tenure. She noticed it and wanted to acknowledge it. She knows we can do better. She reads a letter written on March 2, 1993, to her daughter, Ebony. Dora mentions that what her daughter presented was about a lack of diversity in the staff, faculty, and curriculum. She is excited to hear that DEI programs are being presented – applauds that accomplishment.

7:27pm: Board Committee Reports

  • Policy Committee (NL) – code of conduct is up for first review. Acceptable use policy for technology is also up for first review.
  • Evaluation Committee (TK) – board members will get self-evaluation forms.
    • Anjie notes that this is the first time in a long time that the entire board is returning for another term and that it’s a great opportunity to grow together.

7:31pm: Student Representative Reports

  • Acknowledgements of end of year events
  • American Reading Company reps are visiting K-2 

7:33pm: Dr. Patton and Anjie Emeka both take a moment to thank the student reps Abigail and Lucas.

7:37pm: Superintendent’s Comments

  • Updates on some of the recent events in the district
    • Kindergarten Screening
    • Academic and Athletic awards to high schoolers
    • Junior Prom and Senior Gala
    • Senior give-back day coming up next Wednesday – students are excited
    • Recognition events coming up
      • Retiree recognition before June 21 meeting
      • Moving up ceremonies at all elementary schools and Maple Ave
      • Wednesday June 22nd – seniors visit their elementary schools
      • June 24th graduation at SPAC
  • Dr. Patton recognizes the new website and acknowledges Maura Manny’s work to put that out. Maura presents a few highlights.
    • They partnered with BOCES, did analysis of use, and surveyed the community.
    • Designed with website accessibility in mind (keeping in mind people with disabilities such as visual impairment)
    • Designed for our district specifically, rather than from a template
    • Website is mobile responsive (50% of traffic comes from mobile devices)
  • ENL is being expanded to Caroline and Geyser (in addition to Division)
    • This is about equity – kids will be better able to go to school closer to their home community.

7:48pm: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Presentation

  • Diedre Chuckrow and Rebecca Lynch begin the presentation 
  • Part of the DEI policy and regulation is that the committee reports out yearly to the board
  • Welcome sign – includes the 26 primary languages spoken by students in our district
  • DEI work aligns with the state framework adopted by NYSED
    • Welcoming and Affirming Environment
    • High Expectations
    • Inclusive Curriculum and Assessment
    • Ongoing professional learning
  • Welcoming and Affirming Subcommittee 
    • Ally Program
      • Student feedback highlighted how hard it is for students to find a person to talk to about experiences of discrimination. 
      • They have collaborated with Anna Nuñoz and students
      • The program will start in the high school and eventually moving K-12
      • They will work on definitions of an ally and training allies for initial roll out in 2022-2023 school year
    • Survey
      • There was a survey given in the 2020-2021 school year (but there was a low response rate).
      • Survey will be re-administered in the upcoming days
  • Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Learning Subcommittee
    • Goal: creating a welcoming environment that values all learners.
    • The committee looked at policies around instruction and instruction materials.
      • Ex: Material selection for libraries and for classrooms
      • Looked at 5 policies in all
    • How do we provide resources and time for professional learning for teachers and admin?
  • Family Engagement and Communications Subcommittee
    • More visibly welcoming environments
      • Best practices with inclusive signage
      • Led to the creation of “Everyone is Welcome in our schools” poster which will be at every school entrance
    • Raising awareness about DEI work and what it is in a positive light
      • Create a common understanding that this work benefits all students
      • There will be an end of year message going out
      • A video was also developed – played for board
        • Message is to create a sense of belonging for all students
        • Focus of video in many ways was around special education
  • Hiring and Retention Subcommittee
    • Goal 1: Increase recruitment outreach
      • Engaged downstate colleges and universities
      • Virtual job fairs including NY state teacher of color job fair
      • Represent diversity in order to attract diversity
      • Collaboration with communication committee about how we market ourselves
    • Goal 2: Review hiring process
      • Reviewed interview questions and protocols
      • Created and utilized a bias training video to ensure that there is less bias in hiring process and to keep thinking about 
      • Also looking at onboarding process – aiming for welcoming and affirming environment 
    • Now looking at retention as well 
      • Researching employee resource / affinity groups
      • Geared toward marginalized populations
      • Intent is to provide opportunities for employees to connect and feel welcomed
  • MS Student Subcommittee (presented by Amy Totino)
    • Focused on welcoming and affirming environment
    • Played a video with voices of a few of the student members
      • In the meetings kids feel heard 
      • Was nervous at first but now feels connected and comfortable
      • Including different sexualities, races, religions, and discuss how to make all people feel safe and belong
      • Group was really supportive and kind – opportunity to make the school better
      • Helping students accept each other. They’ve been important because of issues that have come up recently.
      • Wishes every single day could be like what it’s like in DEI club.
      • We need to do better as a community.
    • They meet a few times a month 
    • 8th grade members will present to staff at an upcoming superintendent’s conference day
  • High School Student Subcommittee (presented by 3 students)
    • Began work in the 2nd semester
    • Goal 1: Working on the Ally program with the Welcoming and Affirming Subcommittee
      • Ally needs to advocate for a students’ well being
      • Wanted to make sure the program is student-friendly
      • The program is still a work-in-progress but they will be continuing work over the summer
      • May include the NCBI club in the work
    • Goal 2: Increase communication between students, teachers, administrators
      • Have noticed a negative sense amongst students about admin but they think this is a false narrative and can be remedied 
      • Discussed brief but impactful ways that improving communication would help 
      • Also aiming for better connections between adults and students
    • They also discussed the need for greater empathy and level of understanding between all community members
  • Diedre closes the segment out by honoring all of the student voices and hoping we can listen to them! She also notes how joyful the experience has been.
  • Policy and Progress Monitoring Subcommittee:
    • Align goals in the committee with the DEI regulations – and they did it!
    • There are many more ideas out there that they are excited to tackle in the upcoming school year.
    • Ultimate responsibility was to present all of this material to the board
  • Questions:
    • CW: commends work and effort and loves the focus on kindness.
      • Question: name of survey, who developed, is it voluntary?
      • Answer: last year’s survey was a shorter version of a BOCES survey in relation to a culture and climate survey from ESSA (the committee pared it down from 100’s of questions to about 20). Some of the questions were revised for an elementary version. It was voluntary. Teachers chose to administer. This year they are looking for a larger sample size – it is mandatory at the secondary level, and it is still under discussion at the elementary level. They really want info from students about how welcomed they feel.
      • CW – She knows there is nothing negative but wonders for sake of “no drama” is it possible to let parents see the survey? 
      • Answer: could probably be shared.
      • CW – what would ally training be like?
      • Answer: NCBI (National Coalition Building Institute) gives training to student leaders to lead workshops for peers around prejudice reduction and other things. Hope is to have the ally training align with this. More work will be happening over the summer on how this will be implemented and developed. Patton notes that he has worked with NCBI since 1994 but the ally program is a novel idea program from the subcommittee work.
    • Anjie Emeka: notes how impressed she is with the high school students who presented tonight and thanks them for their hard work.
  • Dr. Patton echoes AE’s comments and as a member of the DEI committee, offers thanks for all the work of the committee members and for tonight’s presentation and notes the participation of students.

8:41pm: Legacy Project Update Presentation

  • Update on phases 1, 2, and 3 on the legacy project and updates begun (presented by Bill McMordie and John Onderdonk)

9:00pm: Modifications to the Consent Agenda – minor changes to some items

9:01pm: Motion to approve Consent Agenda – passes unanimously

9:04pm: Patton recognizes and congratulates Michele Whitley on her promotion from principal at Geyser to the Director of K-12 Humanities and Elementary Instruction

9:08pm: Agenda Planning

  • DK: would like to have a board workshop over the summer to talk about district safety, and also include members of the DERT team.
  • CW: says that we talked a lot tonight about ensuring systemic equity, and also wants to make sure that we are “ensuring systemic safety to ensure systemic learning”. 
  • Anjie notes she supports Dean’s request for a board workshop, but it is challenging to schedule additional meetings over the summer. EB asks if it can be in conjunction with an already scheduled meeting. Anjie will work on dates. Motion passes to add this to the future schedule, and they will attempt to hold it before the regular meeting on July 28 (it will be a closed workshop for the board members and DERT members, and not a public meeting). 
  • Anjie requests to have NYSIR come and reassess each building in the district. They will work on planning that. 

9:17pm: Board Member Comments

  • NL: thank you to the student reps and to the students on the DEIC. It is always amazing to learn from them and loved having them come and speak to the board as a whole. Students are our future and our present. 
  • Lucas (student rep): thank you for the opportunity to be one of the student reps
  • CW: Since the next meeting won’t be until after Fathers’ Day, she wants to wish a Happy Fathers’ Day to all the fathers, and “schools are the bedrock of our communities, but families are the true bedrock of our community”. 

9:20pm: Motion to enter executive session – passes unanimously 

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