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Board Meeting Summary: Jan. 13, 2021

January 13, 2021
School Board Regular Meeting

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the school board held a regular meeting. The meeting was 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, and radio broadcast on KRVM 1280-AM.

Regular Meeting

Introductory Comments

Interim Superintendent Cydney Vandercar opened the meeting by reading a proclamation recognizing January as School Board Recognition Month and acknowledging the work of the Eugene School Board.

Superintendent Vandercar talked about preparations for the eventual resumption of on-site learning in a hybrid model, and said classroom assignments for students and teachers won’t be changing Feb. 1, the first day of the second semester for elementary schools, as originally planned. In response to feedback from teachers and families, and thanks to the hard work of technology staff, the district has found a way to make those changes shortly before on-site learning begins rather than at the start of the semester. She said the shift won’t be glitch-free and asked for patience from families when that time arrives.

Superintendent Vandercar discussed the recent decision by Gov. Kate Brown to change the state’s school building re-opening metrics from mandatory restrictions to advisory recommendations. She said 4J is continuing to plan for students’ return to in-person learning, including preparing for the vaccination of district staff; exploring childcare supports for the hybrid model; and installing air purifying devices in the district’s school buildings.

Board Chair Mary Walston welcomed the 4J community to 2021, and outlined the accomplishments of the past year and the work ahead in the new year. Last year, she said, the district met the challenge and shifted to distance learning when all Oregon school buildings were closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic; provided laptops and tablets to all students and internet access to those in need; undertook work to address underlying racial inequities in our system; offered free meals and wraparound support services to students; continued progress on bond-funded construction projects; kept the district on sound financial footing; and successfully transitioned to an interim superintendent and maintained strong leadership for the district. This year, Chair Walston said, the district will continue to meet these and new challenges, including returning students to on-site learning; closing the academic achievement gaps that may widen during comprehensive distance learning; supporting the health and wellness of students and staff; selecting a permanent superintendent; and addressing the financial challenges brought about by the pandemic.

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

Received an update on COVID-19 and comprehensive distance learning: District staff outlined the state’s change of the school building re-opening metrics from mandatory restrictions to advisory recommendations. The state is scheduled to release updated advisory metrics on Jan. 19. The district plans to start hybrid learning for the youngest students at a point when public health conditions allow. This would begin no earlier than Feb. 1, if public health conditions had improved. However, the COVID-19 case rate in Lane County is too high at this point to start hybrid on-site/online learning.

The district conducted a staff survey as it continues its planning for hybrid learning. The vast majority of the 1,500 part- and full-time employees who responded indicated they would get vaccinated once the COVID-19 vaccine is available. About 200 employees indicated they are in need of childcare when students return to school buildings in a hybrid model, and the district is exploring options for supports.

District staff provided a brief update on the planning to start hybrid learning at the elementary schools. Staff also reported that outdoor training and conditioning activities for high school sports will begin the week of Jan. 25.

The district is readying to provide COVID vaccinations for 4J staff when vaccines are available. The vaccinations are optional for staff. Depending on vaccine supplies, it’s anticipated it will take at least two or three weeks to get all staff inoculated with the first dose once the vaccination program has started. The district is developing prioritization to guide which 4J staff will receive the vaccine first. Over time, vaccine should be available for all employees, including substitutes, coaches, and staff on temporary leave.

Items for Action

Approved COVID-19 temporary paid leave program: The district will implement a paid leave bank of up to 10,000 hours that 4J employees could draw upon if they are: (1) subject to a quarantine or isolation order, (2) have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and have exhausted their sick leave, or (3) are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have no known exposures, or have been referred by a health care provider for a COVID-19 test or are awaiting test results, and have exhausted their sick leave. Eligible employees could receive up to 10 days of leave at their regular rate of pay with the ability to extend the term another 10 days with approval by the human resources director. Employees who draw from the bank are required to cooperate with human resources and district contract tracers. The plan expires on June 30 unless terminated or modified earlier. The estimated cost of the program is up to $200,000. The vote was unanimous.

Approved instructional hours for the 2020–21 school year: State education rules require school districts to provide a minimum number of instructional hours to students: 900 for grades K–8, 990 for grades 9–11, and 966 for high school seniors. With students learning online and in hybrid learning models during the coronavirus pandemic, the Oregon Department of Education is allowing school districts to include up to 90 hours of staff professional development and up to 90 hours of parent-teacher communication to meet the minimum instructional hours required under state rules. 4J is not currently utilizing the full 180 hours of allowances under current online learning schedules, but the board authorized the one-year allowances to provide flexibility in school schedule planning as the district plans for the eventual return of students to in-person learning. The vote was unanimous.

• Approved items on the consent agenda: The board unanimously approved the following:

Camas Ridge design: Local voters approved a bond measure in 2018 to fund capital improvements at every 4J school and replace three aging school buildings, including Camas Ridge Elementary School. The board approved the selection of Eugene-based PIVOT Architecture to design the new Camas Ridge building.

Equitable athletic facilities: Construction of the new softball field at North Eugene High School is nearly complete and work is beginning on several other equitable athletic facility improvements. The board approved the selection of Eugene-based Robertson Sherwood Architects as the architect and Corvallis-based GBC Construction as the construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) for a replacement softball field at Sheldon High School, additional softball amenities at Churchill High School and South Eugene High School, and locker room improvements at Sheldon and Churchill (locker room improvements were completed at South Eugene in 2018). The combined cost is anticipated to be $6–7 million and will be paid for with funds from the bond measure 4J voters approved in 2018.

Bleacher replacement: The wooden bleachers at Monroe and Kennedy middle schools are original to the schools and are beyond their useful life. They will be replaced with new bleachers that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and extend and retract automatically instead of manually, reducing the risk of back injuries to staff. The board approved awarding the bleacher replacement work to KCDA Purchasing Cooperative. The estimated cost is $167,112 and will be paid for with bond funds.

Outdoor School: The board authorized funds for a contract with Whole Earth Nature School to provide Outdoor School services this year for a majority of 4J elementary schools and some charter schools in the district. Some schools have chosen different providers for the 5th grade program.

Athletic coaching: The board approved an agreement with the Eugene Education Association (EEA) related to athletic coaching stipends.

Minutes: The board approved the official minutes of the Oct. 14, Nov. 18 and Dec. 2 board meetings.

Deed restriction: The board approved a minor amendment clarifying a deed restriction placed on a portion of the former Civic Stadium property. The property was owned by 4J from 1938 until its sale in 2015. It is now home to the new Civic Park fieldhouse and sports field.

Public Input

The board heard live public comment via Zoom. Four community members spoke about learning pathways, student video use in zoom, volunteer support during distance learning, and the importance of civics education. To request to speak to the school board, community members may complete an online request form by 12 p.m. on the Monday before the next regular board meeting.

Residents also submitted public comment 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

Jan. 13 agenda and materials
Jan. 13 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. Audio recordings of meetings are typically posted within two days after the meeting. 

School Board Meeting Schedule & Information

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