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Board Meeting Summary: Aug. 19, 2020

August 19, 2020
School Board Regular Meeting

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, the school board held a regularly scheduled meeting. In an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, 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. Public comment was received via email.

Regular Meeting

Agenda Review 

The board rejected a motion made by board member Gordon Lafer to move the Comments and Committtee Reports by Individual Board Members agenda item to the start of the meeting. Board chair Mary Walston, who sets the board’s meeting agendas, said she moved the agenda item back toward the end of the meeting, as it had long been scheduled in board meetings until a change in recent years, so the board could get to its major business earlier in its meetings. After discussion, the vote was 2–5, with board members Gordon Lafer and Martina Shabram voting yes.

Introductory Comments

Interim Superintent Cydney Vandercar opened the meeting by praising the hard work of district staff to plan for the new school year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges, the district continues to feed students, build and remodel schools, continuously sanitize buildings, plan for online teaching and learning, support 4J families facing hardships, and communicate with families and the larger community, among many other things, she said.

Superintendent Vandercar said the Oregon School Activities Association, the state’s governing body for high school varsity sports, is postponing the fall sports season until the end of the year in light of the pandemic, with some sports potentially starting compressed seasons in late December and others kicking off in mid-February.

Board chair Mary Walston discussed some changes she’s made in her new elected leadership role to run meetings more efficiently. She noted the board’s goal-setting retreat is set for Aug. 28. The big items the board would be discussing include the reopening of schools, 4J’s budget, the selection of permanent superintendent and school safety.

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

Received an update on the district plan for returning to learning: Superintendent Vandercar and district staff updated the board on the ongoing planning to resume K–12 education next month in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The district has announced a new online option for students, responding to feedback from parents and teachers, that enables students to stay connected with their current school and continue learning online from home after school buildings reopen and begin on-site learning.

To help schools make classroom assignments for the year and plan for staffing to support students in each of these options, all families are asked to select their option using an online response form by Aug. 26. In the first 24 hours, the district received more than 4,500 responses. About three-quarters of families selected the same school hybrid model in which students will start school online and then return to classrooms in alternating weeks once public health conditions allow buildings to reopen.

District work groups continue to put together the daily schedules for students at every level when they start school online on Sept. 14. District staff will present more detailed information about the daily schedules at the Sept. 2 board meeting.

The board’s questions and discussion centered around scheduling, childcare, mental health supports, attendance, and career and technical education (CTE) during online learning.

Received information on student safety review process framework: The board has committed to conducting a thorough review of the district’s current model of providing for safety in schools. Per the board’s earlier direction, the new model will not include sworn police officers stationed at schools. In developing a new model, the district plans to consult with students, parents, administrators, teachers, other school staff, subject matter experts, the 4J Equity Committee, and community organizations representing underserved demographic groups and protected classes.

The board will hold meetings and work sessions this fall to review data, learn about various facets of the school safety system and hear community input. Around the end of the year, the board will provide guidance to the superintendent for the development of an action plan that outlines changes to the school safety system. The draft action plan would be released for public review and comment in spring of 2021 with implementation of a finalized plan set to begin in fall of 2021.

Reviewed board committee assignments: Each year, the board chair assigns board members to various committees and associated bodies.

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

Considered revisions to the board policy on charter schools: The board considered changes to board policy related to public charter schools: First, student activities participation: The proposed policy revision adds language to mirror changes to state law, specifying that public charter school students may participate in certain extracurricular activities in their resident school district.

Second, regarding virtual public charter schools: Under state law, when 3% or more of the students who live in a school district are enrolled in one of Oregon’s 19 virtual charter schools, additional students may not enroll without the school district’s approval. The district is not required to give this approval. 4J resident student enrollment has not previously exceeded the 3% cap, but is now approaching it. 

When a school district declines such requests, it must provide in board policy the dates the district uses in calculating whether the 3 percent threshold has been exceeded. The board gave direction for the draft policy to be revised to consider enrollment monthly rather than quarterly or annually. The change will allow staff to act on more current data when when considering virtual charter enrollment requests. 

Virtual charter schools are different from the five charter schools located in Eugene School District 4J, which are not subject to the cap. 

Items for Action

• Approved items on the consent agenda: The board approved an agreement negotiated between the district and the local chapter of the Oregon School Employees Association to allow eligible classified employees to temporarily work from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The vote was unanimous.

Public Input

Public comment was submitted via email to board@4j.lane.edu. The board read, reviewed and took into consideration all comments submitted by email by 12 p.m. the day of the meeting.

Agenda and Materials

Aug. 19 agenda and materials
Aug. 19 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 typically posted within two days after the meeting. 

School Board Meeting Schedule & Information

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