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Board Meeting Summary: Sept. 16, 2020

Sept. 16, 2020
School Board Work Session & Regular Meeting

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, the school board held a work session and regular meeting.

The meetings were held virtually in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. The meeting was open to the public via live video on Zoom, audio stream at www.4j.lane.edu/stream, and radio broadcast on KRVM 1280-AM. Public comment was received via email.

Work Session

Assisted by a facilitator, the board discussed how to work more effectively as a policy-setting body to achieve its goals for the district. The board’s draft focus areas are COVID-19, navigating the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic to support the academic achievement and mental health needs of students; selecting the superintendent; reviewing student safety; and planning for the North Eugene region, including determining the future locations of Yujin Gakuen Japanese Immersion Elementary School and Kelly Middle School. The bulk of the discussion centered on the board’s role in these goals. A second work session will be held for further discussion.

Regular Meeting

Introductory Comments

Interim Superintendent Cydney Vandercar said she had talked with superintendents of other Lane County school districts earlier in the week. A superintendent in one district reported a large number of their students were evacuated or lost their homes in the McKenzie Fire. Another superintendent reported half of that district’s employees lost their homes to the wildfire. She noted 4J faced numerous challenges in the last year but the situation could be far worse.

The superintendent thanked district staff and others for their work to get ready for the start of online classes on Monday, Sept. 21.

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

Received an update on the district plan for returning to learning: Superintendent Vandercar noted air quality was slowly improving and said device distribution would resume soon after being delayed due to the smoky air. About 9,000 students still need to receive their devices ahead of the start of comprehensive distance learning on Monday, Sept. 21.

Ms. Vandercar said current student enrollment is about 500 students lower than last year’s enrollment. She noted that much of the decline was at the elementary level, particularly in kindergarten. She anticipated some more parents would enroll their kindergarteners either when comprehensive distance learning begins on Sept. 21 or when in-person hybrid learning launches on Jan. 5, at the earliest.

District staff outlined initial plans to set up internet hubs that will enable selected 4J students without internet at home to participate in online learning at specific school sites for up to two hours when public health conditions allow.

Staff also outlined initial work to partner with local childcare providers to offer needed childcare for families. The district will provide gym space at four school sites, to start, and the providers will have spaces to care for up to 160 children, potentially starting as early as Sept. 28.

Items for Action

Unanimously approved a request from the City of Eugene to support low-income rental housing property tax exemption: The City of Eugene program exempts qualifying low-income rental properties from paying property taxes for up to 20 years in an effort to provide more affordable housing in the community. This exemption only applies to the city property taxes unless other taxing districts, including school districts, give their written consent to forgo the property tax revenue generated from the rental properties that qualify for the program. The board has previously supported the program for many years. The vote was unanimous.

Renewed annual membership to the Oregon School Boards Association: The board voted unanimously to renew the district’s membership to the OSBA, its participation in the OSBA Legal Assistance Trust for the current fiscal year and its subscription to the association’s web hosting services. The district relies on OSBA for policy updates after legislative sessions, web hosting of 4J board policies, information and advice, and publications and training. The total cost of the renewals is $15,118; the estimated cost of the district taking on this work well exceeds that amount.

Adopted a board policy on student suicide prevention: A state law that took effect last year requires school districts to adopt a policy requiring a comprehensive plan on student suicide presentation for all K–12 students. The  approved board policy, among other things, would require the district to adopt a plan that outlines procedures to help identity suicidal students and provide them support to heal after a suicide attempt, and identify the school officials responsible for responding to reports of suicidal risk. The plan, once finalized, would be posted on the district’s website and printed copies would be available for public review. The vote was unanimous.

• Selected the superintendent search firm finalists invited for interviews: The board received proposals from executive search firms to guide the superintendent search and selection process. The board voted to invite the following executive search firms to interview: Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates; Ray & Associates; and McPherson & Jacobson. The vote was 5–2, with Mary Walston and Anne Marie Levis voting no. (Update: The board later added a fourth firm to be interviewed, Gary Ray & Associates.)

• Approved items on the consent agenda: The board approved various personnel actions and approved a one-year extension of the labor contract with the Eugene Education Association, the union that represents 4J’s teachers and licensed specialists, until June 30, 2021. The teacher contract extension agreement provides a cost of living increase of 1.75%, increases the district’s health insurance contribution by $30 per employee per month, and provides for future work to adjust athletics and teacher leadership stipends to address pay equity and other considerations. The vote was unanimous.

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

Discussed the appointment process for members of 4J’s budget committee: The budget committee, made up of the seven school board members and an equal number of community representatives appointed by the board, review the annual proposed budget submitted by the superintendent, consider changes and recommend adoption of the spending plan by the school board. There are three vacancies on the committee the board will fill this fall. Residents interested in serving on the committee should apply by Wednesday, October 14, at 5 p.m. The board will interview budget committee applicants in a work session on October 21 and vote to appoint three applicants to the committee on November 4.

Reviewed board goals for the 2020–21 school year: The board sets goals each year.

Reviewed board working agreements for the 2020–21 school year: The board annually reviews and approves working agreements. The agreements are the guidelines and expectations among and between the individual board members, the superintendent, and district staff. To support student success, members of the school board and the superintendent agree to function together with integrity and commitment as a leadership team.

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

Sept. 16 agenda and materials
Sept. 16 board work session recording
Sept. 16 board regular 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. Audio recordings of meetings are typically posted within two days after the meeting. 

School Board Meeting Schedule & Information

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