The highlight of the evening was learning, listening, and discussing related to Board policy JAA: Equal Educational Opportunities. In the work session, we heard from Dr. Erin Swenson and Dr. Eric Wright about gender identity, including topics like the “Genderbread Person,” the SIEO Model, some history of gender identity, and the health and well-being of transgender students. During the regular meeting we heard from several dozen speakers on this topic, the Board shared a statement, and Board members shared some individual comments. I appreciated the Board’s continued support of our approach to supporting all students, including transgender students, and look forward to upcoming discussions and work on clarifying policy to reflect this.
We had two spotlight groups this week. The third grade teachers from Winnona Park provided a great presentation about their trip to Equador as a team this summer and how that experience is informing their work in the school this year. We then heard from Renfroe students about their Culture of Caring and all of that great work they’ve been experiencing in that area.
When public comment concluded around 10:00 pm, we took a brief recess to stretch before jumping into the rest of the agenda.
During my comments, I shared that at the December meeting we will be presenting a report on barriers to participation, and reminded everyone that the process for naming the new school on Talley Street will begin in the spring.
Lillie Huddleston provided an update on the myriad initiatives and groups throughout the district addressing disproportionality, including those at Oakhurst, Westchester, Winnona Park, F.AVE, Renfroe, and central office. To assist in ensuring proper focus, we will be conducting an educational equity needs assessment over the course of this school year.
Dianne Thompson provided an update on the status of her work as our new Student Success Coordinator and the numerous items moving forward under her leadership. I especially liked a quote she shared: “A relationship without trust is like a car without gas, you can stay in it all you want, but it won’t go anywhere.” This focus on relationships (internal and external) and gathering student input is very encouraging. Community partners are stepping up to help the center serve students’ academic, career, and social/emotional needs.
The team from Perkins and Will Architects provided an update on the new upper elementary school at Talley Street. The plan is really coming together nicely. We’re still hoping to find another location for bus parking so that space could be used for additional green space, but for the time being we need to continue planning for the buses to remain at this location.
Noel Maloof gave an update on the work of the Wellness Team. The 25-members (and growing) of the team have had their first meeting and have scheduled meetings for the remainder of the year. They’ve also discussed areas they need to focus on and the need for prioritization of all of the work they are looking to tackle.
We discussed the three days missed due to the power outages following Hurricane Irma and decided that we are not going to try to make those days up. Due to the declaration of a state of emergency, making those days up is not required. We do not anticipate this decision having any significant impact on the academic progress of our students. Additionally, it allows those make-up days to still be available if needed due to winter weather or other needs.
After a discussion about Board member eligibility for benefits, I have been tasked with beginning work on a policy that would allow the Board to implement benefits. Our providers have confirmed their eligibility for dental, vision, and health insurance, with rates for the latter being set by the State (https://shbp.georgia.gov/board-member-rates). Next steps include looking into implications of the district paying any portion of such benefits versus the costs being born solely by the Board member receiving such.
During our discussion of future business, we discussed the need for calendaring certain items, like an update on our dyslexia initiatives, the next wellness update, etc. The administrative team is going to work to identify when these and other items will be coming up on future agendas so we can document those plans in this agenda item.
At 12:00 am we adjourned to executive session to discuss personnel and legal matters and finally adjourned the meeting at 1:31 am (10/11/17).
Who was there: All five Board members, Superintendent
What official actions were taken: Approval of consent agenda