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School Board Meeting Summary: Feb. 5, 2020

February 5, 2020
School Board Meeting

Introductory Comments

Superintendent Gustavo Balderas noted the legislative session is underway. He said the county’s 16 school districts, including 4J, work to offer preschool programs and that rule changes that state officials are considering could add restrictions to that effort.

Board chair Anne Marie Levis noted the earlier board meeting time and the goal to make the school board’s public meetings more convenient for residents to attend. Levis said the district’s budget committee held its first meeting with two new members and provided a thorough and helpful orientation. She lauded the increase in the district’s high school graduation rates but noted there’s more work to be done. She also praised the district’s work and improvements in shifting to an in-house school meal program. Levis noted while the federal government is seeking to roll back requirements for nutritious school meals, 4J is committed to serving fresh produce, buying locally made foods and cooking more foods from scratch where feasible.

Information Items (no board action is expected to be taken)

  • Received information about district policy and practice on religious holidays: Staff described the district’s current policy and practice to accommodate students’ religious practices while maintaining religious neutrality. Under Oregon law and district policy, students may miss class to observe a religious holiday and will be given the opportunity to make up tests and assignments without penalty. The law bars school districts from taking actions for a religious purpose. Some parents in the district have asked the school board to adopt a district policy barring schools and teachers from scheduling tests, homework, field trips and other events on certain Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious holidays. Board members directed staff to return with more information as they weigh ways to strengthen inclusive practices.
  • Received an update on Student Success Act planning: 4J will receive new revenue–estimated to be about 6% of the district’s annual general fund budget–each year starting in the 2020–21 school year from the Student Success Act, a new business tax that Oregon lawmakers approved in 2019. The funds must be targeted to increase academic achievement, close gaps between groups of students and meet students’ mental and behavioral health.

    The district is following a three-pronged planning process, rooted in extensive community outreach, to develop its plan to invest these new funds to best support student success with a focus on the needs of students who have been historically underserved. The district already has completed a needs assessment, which included identifying gaps in educating and serving students of color, students with disabilities and students navigating poverty, homelessness and other challenges.

    The current phase requires the district to further examine academic achievement and health data separated into student groups as well as conduct another round of community engagement to collect feedback about what investments community members prioritize to support student success. Staff presented the findings to date. (presentation slides)

  • Received an update on 4J Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan progress: The district collects data to monitor its progress in meeting the five goals in the 4J Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan: educational excellence with equitable access and outcomes; multiple pathways to success; communication and connections with community; diverse, world-class workforce; and sustainable stewardship. The data includes graduation and suspension rates, class sizes and staffing ratios, third grade reading assessment scores, and staff retention rates. The presentation included the most recent data on the key performance indicators for these goals. (presentation slides)

Board Actions

  • Approved legislative letter of testimony: The board voted unanimously to submit a formal letter to the Oregon Legislature stating its position on Senate Bill 1572. The bill would remove the authority of the State Board of Education to establish high school graduation requirements, including Essential Learning Skills assessment testing—a change the board supports, aligned with its annual board goals—and leave it up to local school districts to adopt their own graduation requirements—a change not currently endorsed by the board. (legislative testimony letter text)
  • Approved items on the consent agenda: In addition to approving minutes of previous meetings, the board approved a contract amendment with Coburg Community Charter School, approved the general contractor/construction manager for the new Edison Elementary School pending the successful completion of contract negotiations, and awarded contracts for a roofing project at Twin Oaks Elementary School, design of a new softball field at North Eugene High School, and asbestos removal at the former Silver Lea building prior to its demolition this summer. (summary sheet)

Items for Future Action (board action is expected at a later meeting)

  • Revisions to Lane Education Service District service plan: The education service district supports Lane County’s 16 school districts, including 4J. State law requires each education service district to adopt and regularly update a plan outlining how it will improve instruction and student learning, ensure equitable access to resources and make efficient use of available funding. This plan includes services for students with special needs, school improvement, technology and administrative and other support. The board received information about revisions to Lane ESD’s two-year plan and will consider approval of the plan revisions at a future meeting.

Public Input

Seventeen people provided public comment to the board, including comments regarding:

  • Essential skills graduation requirements
  • Student Success Act investments
  • Religious holidays
  • Standardized testing
  • Relocation of YG to Kelly Middle School
  • Efforts of the Assistance League of Eugene
  • 2020 Census “Complete Count” for Lane County
  • Cyberbullying and sexual exploitation prevention trainings
  • School psychologist staff salaries and workload
  • School board processes

Agenda and Materials

Feb. 5 agenda and materials
Feb. 5 board meeting recording

 


NOTE:  This is a quick summary of the topics and actions at a meeting of the school board. It is NOT the official minutes of the school board. Official minutes are posted after they are drafted by the minutes recorder, reviewed and approved by the board at a following meeting. Recordings of meetings are posted within two days after the meeting. 

School Board Meeting Schedule & Information

Summaries of Other School Board Meetings

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