Highlights of the SVSD School Board Meeting 5/6/21: District commits to Fall 2021 Program In-person 5 Days a Week

[Guest Post by Linda Grez]

The meeting took place in person (for the first time since Spring 2020) and on Zoom from the Mount Si High School Freshman building Common’s area. Health and safety measures included limiting and pre-registering spectators, health attestations, social distancing and spaced seating.  The tech included a Swivl device to capture the live presentations and discussions.  One Director (Carolyn Simpson) attended remotely only via Zoom.

Recognition: Dr. Manahan recognized District Nurses for their accomplishments and conscientious and compassionate care of students and staff.  Nurse Appreciation day is next Wednesday.  He also recognized Teacher Appreciation week, thanking them for all their work this year and their role modeling to our students.  He also recognized ‘heroic’ Food Service staff for their hard work this year redesigning the food distribution system for students (aided by the Transportation department), which started immediately after the schools closed before going remote.   

There was no live or Zoom Public Comment, but 15 written comments were received and will be included in the Minutes.

 The Consent Agenda was approved, which included a Personnel Action Report showing resignations, hiring and new open positions, the Payroll Vouchers and AP Voucher Registers, Gifts to the District (notably a $2,000 gift from Dave Clifford to the MSHS Football program), VEBA – 2021-2022 Memorandums re: Health Reimbursement Plans (various staff unions), Enrollment Reports showing continued lower enrollment (May full-time equivalent number was 6575.54 vs. projected number 7045), Declaration of Surplus Property, MSHS Coaching Stipends for Cheer and Dance.

A presentation on the Highly Capable Program (required by State law) described the screening, testing and learning options available to identified students.  The program provides enriched content for clustered students in first grade, a STREAM class at Snoqualmie Elementary School for grades 2-5 or clusters at other Elementary schools, Math Pathways differentiation and English Language Arts clusters in Middle Schools, and Honors and AP classes and Running Start College programs in High School.  Future plans include professional development for all teachers to better identify highly capable students in general ed classes and provide them with deeper learning opportunities.  Look for this in each school’s School Improvement Plan.  

 High School Career & Technical Education (CTE) Program Spring Update.  During remote and hybrid classes, CTE programs used online learning platforms, home kits and other activities to progress in their disciplines, including welding, culinary arts, ag/horticulture, audio/video technology, marketing, and sports medicine.  CTE enrollment is growing, and 2 FTE teachers will be added next year and hiring for 2 retiring teachers.  The new Performing Arts Center (PAC) will provide state-of-the-art opportunities for lighting, audio/video and theatre management learning, and they are looking for a Theatre Tech Manager, ideally combined with a PT teacher.  Future programs will include Project Management and potentially a nursing track to obtain a CNA license.

 Budget Update 

Despite a drop of 500 students in enrollment and other pandemic operational costs and losses, recent legislative, State, and Federal budget actions will provide funding to mitigate losses and offset budget shortfalls. Additional funding in the form of Transportation Emergency Funding (still a net loss of $1.04 million but will be protected for 2021-22 budget year up to $3.8 million), Enrollment Stabilization (revenue $2.869 million), Special Education supports and additional student year at TLC, Educational Tech contribution ($25 per student for broadband connectivity for 2022-23), Eliminating Lunch Co-pays for reduced-price lunches K-12, and State OSPI Learning Recovery funds to address learning recovery and gaps – amount TBD.   

Federal funds now total $5.770 million with the added third round of ESSER funds, estimated at $3.698 million, of which $720k must be spent on learning loss.  Spending rules apply to all ESSER funds.  ESSER 2 & 3 funds may be used for needs going forward to address learning loss and reopening plans.

A FEMA claim is not yet filed but there is expanded eligibility for reimbursement (up from 75%). 

Assistant Superintendent Ryan Stokes thanked our legislators for their support and community members who advocated for students.

Kindergarten Enrollment is rising; an indicator used to project staffing needs and budget for next year.  It is still below projections by 102 students.  Building capacity and staffing placement will provide data for staffing projections. (The District chose not to issue Reduction-in-force notices to staff which would have advised of possible layoffs for next year.  Other districts such as Issaquah are now reducing their RIF numbers). 

 Summary of Return to School Considerations.  See the previous Recap of the Work-study session on May 4th.  More of our students chose to return for hybrid/in-person classes for all school levels than at other school districts, making the spacing requirements a block to returning them all for more days and hours.  In addition, the District chose to minimize disruptions to student learning by not forcing class registration changes on students when they returned in February and March and minimizing changes to schedules.  Changing classes and teachers now would be very disruptive to hundreds of students. 

The next Steps included prioritizing students in greatest need to bring these small groups of students back asap full time (so far, elementary, middle and high school students have been identified and will be added as capacity allows). Provide regular updates to the board and the community.  Prepare for Full-time school five days a week starting Fall – 2021.  Focus on improving current Asynchronous time.  Focus on supporting student’s grade improvement. Focus on graduation and other end-of-year activities.  Focus on Summer and Fall strategies to address Learning Recovery, and Social-Emotional Learning supports. 

 Planning for the Fall return will overcome the current barriers by allowing the fresh scheduling of Fall 2021 classes with social distancing built-in, adjusting teaching and all other operational staffing and space needs accordingly and procuring furniture in advance as needed.

 Later in the meeting, the Board passed Resolution #866 – Fall 2021 Teaching and Learning Modality Plan, which concluded, “THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of the Snoqualmie Valley School District that the 2021-22 school year fully open to in-person learning barring regulatory prohibition. In addition, the Board wants to pursue changes that would be necessary for the District to allow for remote school opportunities in response to emergency issues.”

The Board also passed Resolution #865 – 2020-2021 Interfund Loan, which transfers funds for the purchase of the District’s first electric school bus, which the State Department of Ecology will reimburse. 

 Superintendent Contract

The Board approved a contract with new Superintendent Dr. Lance Gibbon starting July 1, 2021.  The contract document and full terms were not disclosed.

 Meeting adjourned at 6:59 pm. 

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