WSSD School Board, 13 Sept. 2021

The WSSD school board held its regularly scheduled meeting. The video is available on Youtube, and the agenda is available on BoardDocs.

Student and Superintendent Reports

The board received its first student report of the year, largely covering the start to the school year at each of the buildings from bubbles to lockers. The superintendent’s report had many pictures from the first day.

The superintendent had an update on the health and safety plan regarding travel. Vaccinated students traveling domestically should monitor for symptoms. Vaccinated students traveling internationally should be tested 3-5 days after travel. Unvaccinated students should stay home for 7 days after traveling and be tested 3-5 days after travel. These do not apply to staff or students traveling out of state for less than a 24 hour period.

The superintendent said that while there was no vaccine mandate, over 98% of staff are vaccinated. Unvaccinated staff are tested twice a week. The vaccination rates for students are disappointing, however. For younger children it is extremely low – single digits for some grades of middle school and rising to only 40% of 11th graders and 63% of seniors.

The superintendent spoke in depth about the district’s committees – Educational Affairs, Facilities, Finance and Policy. He said that these meetings, agendas and minutes are available to the public, but I’ve never found any evidence that information is readily accessible in easy format for district residents. He suggested that next year communication of this information should improve.

The board accepted a check for $11,000 from the Foundation for WSSD schools to start installation of solar panels on the panther pit.

Board Announcements

Due to board turnover, the president announced the current committee assignments – Education (Henry, Lentz, Voet), Finance/Facilities (same group – Kutys, Sullivan, Wachtman, Henry), and Policy (Witkowski-Smith, Lentz, Wachtman).

Focus Topic

The single focus topic was the recommended equity audit for the fall semester and the curriculum audit for the spring. These audits, and a communications audit, will form a basis for an upcoming strategic plan. The presentation gave an introduction to what is meant by equity as well as data demonstrating racial disparities that exist in the already available data. The curriculum audit will cover not only what the curriculum is, but how effectively that translates to classroom instruction.

The administration looked at three companies for each audit and chose Hanover Research for the equity audit for a cost of $48,500 and Curriculum Management Solutions for the curriculum audit for $43,500. The audits will involve community input, surveys, focus groups, data analysis and for the curriculum audit, site visits by the researchers. The funds are coming from federal ESSER/ARP funds.

Audience Comments

Audience comments expressed support and opposition to the audits, anti-vax misinformation and support for Ms. Caruso for the school board vacancy.

Regular Business

The board unanimously passed its regular business with only a few questions. The board then heard from Amy Caruso, the only candidate for the vacancy on the board and voted 7-0 to appoint her to the term ending in December.

In committee reports, Henry said the education affairs committee had largely already been covered. Lentz talked about the upcoming PSBA conference, which has gone online in October.

Categories: Government, WSSD