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Board Meeting Summary: May 19, 2021

May 19, 2021
School Board Regular Meeting

On Wednesday, May 19, the school board held a regular meeting. The meeting was open to the public via live video on Zoom, live audio stream, and radio broadcast on KRVM 1280-AM.

Regular Meeting

Introductory Comments

Following the previous day’s election, Interim Superintendent Cydney Vandercar opened the meeting by welcoming the two incoming board members, Laural O’Rourke and Maya Rabasa; congratulating vice chair Judy Newman on her re-election; and thanking outgoing board members Anne Marie Levis and Jim Torrey, who chose not to run for re-election, for their many years of service to the district.

Superintendent Vandercar offered brief introductions to agenda items that will be covered more fully during the meeting. She acknowledged the difficult situation for students and families at Kelly Middle School and Yujin Gakuen Japanese Immersion Elementary School after a problem with roof supports in a gym forced the emergency closure of their school building. She noted such a setback was especially hard given students had just returned to the building after more than a year physically apart due to the pandemic.

Superintendent Vandercar also encouraged families, staff and community members to share their thoughts and ideas about how best to use additional ESSER III federal funding the district is expected to receive to support students as the Eugene community recovers from the pandemic.

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

Received an update on the building housing Kelly Middle School and Yujin Gakuen Japanese Immersion Elementary School: Two roof trusses, or supports, are failing in one of the building’s three gymnasiums, known as the “inner gym.” The gym and its roof are structurally connected to the rest of the school building. Kelly and Yujin Gakuen students and staff were immediately returned to comprehensive distance learning in an abundance of caution when the problem was discovered, confirmed when the failing trusses were declared a safety hazard after further investigation.

Students will continue in a distance learning model with limited on-site supports at a different location for the last few weeks of the school year. The district has identified alternative sites so students can conduct state testing, pick up free meals and participate in upcoming summer programs in-person.

District staff provided a timeline of the discovery of the roof issue and detailed their response to date. A contractor will begin work next week to shore up the failing trusses so follow-up work then can safely proceed to make permanent repairs to the roof supports this summer. They said their top priority is to make the needed repairs so the district can safely reopen the building in the fall.

Received an update on design of the new Camas Ridge Elementary School building: District staff presented board members with an updated site diagram and preliminary floor plan for the new building. They noted several adjustments to the design based on community feedback. The adjustments include reducing the size of the parking lot, providing garden space and exploring options to relocate a covered outdoor learning space. The district will hold a virtual open house on Wednesday, May 26, so families, neighbors and other community members can review and comment on the design developed to date. Construction is scheduled to start in the summer of 2022, with an anticipated opening in fall of 2024. The project is being paid for with revenues from the bond measure that local voters approved in November 2018.

• Received an update on the All Students Belong initiative: The board continues its work to reorient 4J’s discipline and student safety practices so all students feel safe at school and ensure that practices do not disproportionately harm students of color, LBGTQ students, and students with disabilities, among others.

The district hired a consultant, SeeChange LLC, which is in the midst of an initial assessment of data and policies related to the issue. SeeChange recently reviewed the preliminary data on student discipline it has gathered so far with 4J’s Equity Committee. The committee provided feedback, and the discussion will continue at the committee’s next meeting. The consultant is also conducting surveys and small focus groups with students and staff to share their experiences and viewpoints.

The consultants will share their findings and recommendations with the board in August. The board then will convene a work group that will use the findings as a launching point to continue the dialogue and develop recommendations for reorienting 4J’s discipline and student safety practices.

• Received the financial report for the third quarter of the 2019–20 fiscal year (Jan. 1–March 31): The report includes updated numbers for the district’s operating budget and Nutrition Services program.

Received an update on COVID-19 and return to on-site learning: District staff reported that 4J has worked with healthcare partners to organize several COVID-19 vaccination clinics for 4J students, families and community members. The district has partnered with Cascade Health to offer clinics for 4J students held at South Eugene High School, and is working with Lane County Public Health to provide ongoing vaccine clinics every Wednesday afternoon at Churchill High School and every Friday afternoon at North Eugene High School. Advance appointments are available, or community members can drop in to get their shot.

The district will continue to provide free meals for 4J students and youth ages 18 and younger through the summer. The meals will be available Monday–Thursday, with a meal box available for pickup on Thursdays with meals to cover Fridays and weekends.

The district continues to plan for both virtual and in-person graduation celebrations for the Class of 2021. School districts have received additional guidance from the Oregon Department of Education related to outdoor graduation ceremonies. 4J is reviewing the guidance and will provide an update to graduating seniors and their families soon.

Items for Action

• Approved 2021–22 board guiding beliefs and values: The board approved updated guiding beliefs and values, which it reviews each year. The changes added descriptions of the board’s beliefs and values including the belief that all students deserve to be and feel safe and welcome at school, and a commitment to reducing the disparity of outcomes for historically underserved students. The vote was unanimous.

• Approved a request to co-op the wrestling programs at North Eugene and South Eugene high schools: The district is seeking approval from the Oregon School Activities Association to combine the wrestling programs at two 4J high schools this spring. The temporary arrangement allows the wrestlers in both programs, which are relatively small, to practice together but compete separately on behalf of their schools. The school board must approve the arrangement before OSAA will approve it. The board’s vote was unanimous.

Public Input

The board heard live public comment via Zoom. Four community members spoke about the board elections, the design of the new Camas Ridge Elementary School building, face coverings and hybrid learning. To request to speak to the school board, community members may complete an online request form by the Monday before the next regular board meeting. Community members also may send comments via email to board@4j.lane.edu.

Agenda and Materials

May 19 regular meeting materials
May 19 regular meeting audio 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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