December 1, 2021
Posted on 12/03/2021
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School Board Meeting of December 1, 2021

View the agenda on the Electronic School Board webpage.

 Watch the School Board meeting on PWCS-TV.

The School Board Approved:

  • A resolution (PDF) approving participation in the proposed settlement of opioid-related claims against McKeeson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Janssen, and their related corporate entities, and direct Division Counsel to execute the documents necessary to effectuate participation in the settlements;
  • The award of a contract for Art Supplies - Warehouse Stock to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder for each line item as follows: one contract to Kurtz Bros for eight line items; one contract to Pyramid Paper Company, dba Pyramid School Products, for 78 line items; one contract to School Specialty, LLC for 22 line items; and one contract to S+S Worldwide for two line items;
  • The award of a contract for business-grade desktop computers, laptops, servers, peripherals, and accessories to the most qualified and highest rated offeror, Daly Computers, Inc.;
  • The award of a contract for the cooling tower replacement at Potomac High School to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, Edw. Kocharian & Company, Inc., in the total amount of $437,000;
  • The award of a contract for supplemental retirement plans - 403(b) and 457 to the most qualified and highest rated offeror, Lincoln Retirement Services Company, LLC;
  • Authorizing its Chairman At-Large to execute, in the name of the School Board, all documents necessary or convenient for the construction and/or operation of the additions at Reagan Middle School (six-classrooms) and Gainesville Middle School (11-classrooms), including Deed of Dedication, utility easements, and reservation of areas required by law;
  • February as “National Career and Technical Education Month”;
  • The Development Impact Statement (PDF) for the East Gate Apartments (PDF) rezoning that states the School Board is not opposed to the subject application;
  • October 2021 payrolls (PDF) in the amount of $66,833,348.86; and
  • The November 16, 2021 School Board meeting minutes (PDF).

Citizens addressed the School Board on the following topics:

  • Culturally responsive teaching and critical race theory
  • Effects on students from COVID-19
  • Mental health resources
  • Workloads for teachers
  • Town Hall on Culturally Responsive Instruction
  • Health mitigation practices
  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology having a regional governance board
  • Flex periods in high schools
  • Developing a recovery plan
  • SRO program

Student Representative Matters:

  • Benefits for students of in-person learning
  • Thank you to staff, teachers, custodians, and the School Board
  • Student input on revising the dress code
  • Planning a Division-wide student conference
  • Student representative’s Twitter account

Superintendent's Time:

  • As I shared during the last School Board meeting, I am providing an update on the impact of the national shortage of substitute teachers. After being made aware of concerns of teachers missing planning time to cover the classroom of a colleague, we have conducted a Division-wide analysis and found that in 10 percent of the cases where teachers were required to provide substitute coverage, they were not provided adequate planning time. Additionally, we found, particularly in the elementary school environment, teachers were losing planning time due to additional collaborative learning team meetings.
  • We are addressing these two concerns in the following manner: We are providing clear direction to our school leaders aligned with our existing regulations that allow for the assignment of duties during non-planning time; and we are also norming our practices Division-wide around collaborative learning teams and will direct that teacher planning time should not be required for collaborative learning teams more than twice per week.
  • Finally, in emergency situations where teachers must be utilized for substitute coverage and are not provided their planning time, they will be compensated for the lost planning time. I am hopeful these actions will help protect our teachers’ crucial planning time and our associate superintendents will continue to monitor to ensure that this is being done with fidelity.
  • We have heard from several parents who have shared their desire to volunteer to support schools and we value parent support. For clarification, under our existing regulations and health plan, volunteers are allowed in the building where the principal may deem needed or appropriate. For health safety reasons, and to reduce potential contact tracing, volunteers and visitors will not be allowed to eat in the cafeteria and in some cases where space does not permit additional people, volunteers may not be allowed in the cafeteria during mealtimes. Schools will be expected to keep accurate logs of visitors to allow for case investigation/contract tracing. Volunteers working for 15 hours or more per week will be required to comply with the vaccine resolution requirements. We recognize and appreciate our volunteers’ contributions to our students, staff, and our schools.
  • In an effort to provide a safe place for our staff, students, and community members to address concerns, in the summer of 2019, the School Board hired an ombudsman. Our ombudsman recently resigned, but I am delighted to share that we have hired a new ombudsman, Monique Bookstein, who will begin January 3. Ms. Bookstein has more than 13 years of experience serving in an ombudsman role, most recently with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I am excited about the experience that Ms. Bookstein will bring to this important role of facilitating discussions to resolve issues.
  • As mentioned previously, to guide our work for the next four years, we are developing our Vision 2025: Launching Thriving Futures Strategic Plan. Our Strategic Plan will serve as a common north star driving our work to support our students and staff in shaping our investments for the next four years.
  • By December 17, we will share the framework for the plan publicly, as well as direction for our employees, parents and guardians, and community members on how to provide feedback on the Strategic Plan. We have engaged more than 4,000 stakeholders in the development of this plan thus far, and I appreciate the support and input received on this important planning guide for our future. Please watch our website and your email inbox for more information on how you can provide feedback.
  • In a few minutes, Rita Goss, associate superintendent for teaching and learning, will provide an update on our gifted education, International Baccalaureate, advanced placement, and Cambridge Programme.
  • Before she begins, I would like to share some key takeaways. It should be no surprise that the pandemic has had a negative impact on these advanced academic programs. First, we experienced a decrease of more than 900 students who received gifted services between the 2018-19 and 2020-21 school years. We have also learned that both the frequency and quality of student participation in virtual gifted services were inconsistent. The virtual learning environment was also challenging for students in advanced courses.
  • Ms. Goss and members of the Teaching and Learning team will also share strategies to be used to help mitigate the impact the pandemic has had on the students participating in these programs.

Board Matters: