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Board Meeting Summary: May 6, 2020

May 6, 2020
School Board Regular Meeting

On Wednesday, May 6, the school board held a regularly scheduled meeting.

In an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 and in compliance with Governor Kate Brown’s Stay Home, Save Lives Executive Order, the meeting was held virtually. The meeting was open to the public via live radio broadcast on KRVM 1280-AM and via the internet at www.4j.lane.edu/stream.

Regular Meeting

Introductory Comments

Superintendent Gustavo Balderas said the district may be looking at a $17.5 million state funding shortfall in the 2020–21 budget year. That represents more than 7 percent of the district’s proposed $238.5 million operating budget. Dr. Balderas said the “North Star” priorities he’s outlined as the district faces cost-cutting are to provide a full school year for students, maintain class sizes and avoid employee layoffs. He said that in the board meeting on May 20 he will discuss with the board some costs and cost-saving options, including the planned move of Corridor Elementary School to North Eugene High School.

Dr. Balderas said more needs to be done to increase internet access among students, and the district would like to work with the city and other public agencies to explore ways to close the “digital divide” in the local community. He said that while the coronavirus pandemic has put student assessments on hold, the board will receive more information about assessments at its next meeting. Dr. Balderas reminded the community that 4J’s facilities are closed for group events in line with the governor’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order.

Dr. Balderas noted the week of May 4 is National Teacher Appreciation Day and May 6 is National School Nurse Day, and he thanked 4J teachers, nurses and other licensed specialists for their work. He also congratulated Cydney Vandercar, assistant superintendent for administrative services, on being named the interim superintendent finalist, to be approved at this meeting.

Board chair Anne Marie Levis also thanked teachers and nurses for their work. She thanked the Eugene Education Foundation for its work to provide financial support to families in need during this difficult time.

Ms. Levis said she received 47 emails in support of Ms. Vandercar’s appointment and thanked every candidate who applied for consideration for the interim superintendent position. She noted that Ms. Vandercar will be only the second woman to serve as superintendent in the 166 years since the district was founded in 1854.

Item for Action

•  Appointed interim superintendent for the 2020–21 school year: The board voted unanimously to appoint Cydney Vandercar, currently assistant superintendent for administrative services, to lead the district next school year. The board will initiate a recruitment process for a permanent superintendent in the fall. Superintendent Gustavo Balderas is leaving the district in June to lead the Edmonds School District near Seattle.

Items for Information

•  Received an update on district response to COVID-19 and distance learning: Dr. Balderas noted the district is working on plans for school buildings to reopen in the fall, including possible modified schedules. In the meantime, district staff are hard at work finalizing graduation plans for the Class of 2020, and working through the changes to special education stemming from the pandemic.

The district has revised its attendance tracking during this period of distance learning. Teachers note every Friday whether a student has participated in distance learning during that week, and mark students absent if the student hasn’t engaged with the teacher in some form, whether completing a lesson, sending an email or answering a phone call. Schools will reach out to families if their student has not engaged that week. From April 20 to May 3, 93.4% of elementary students logged onto Seesaw, the distance learning platform for 4J’s K–5 students, which is near the average attendance rate when elementary school buildings were open.

The district has distributed about 7,100 tablets and laptops to students to aid in their distance learning. To date, the district has had 2,500 Zoom meetings spanning a total of 19,620 hours and involving 35,305 participants.

The district is continuing efforts to provide child care for essential workers and to distribute free grab-and-go no-cost breakfasts and lunches. The free meal distribution will continue through June 12, and the district is working on potential plans to provide the meals until at least June 29, when FOOD for Lane County will launch its annual summer food program for kids.

Received financial report for the third quarter of the 2020 fiscal year (Jan. 1–March 31): The report includes updated numbers for the district’s operating budget and Nutrition Services program.

Public Input

There was no in-person public comment period due to the meeting being held virtually. Public comment was submitted via email to board@4j.lane.edu. Numerous emailed comments were received, most of them expressing support for the board’s named superintendent finalist. The board reads, reviews and takes into consideration all comments submitted by email.

Agenda and Materials

May 6 agenda and materials
May 6 board meeting recording


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

School Board Meeting Schedule & Information

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