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Board Meeting Summary: June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021
School Board Regular Meeting

On Wednesday, June 2, 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

Interim Superintendent Cydney Vandercar noted the budget committee had approved and forwarded for consideration by the school board the proposed budget for the 2021–22 school year. There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget during the meeting, and the board is scheduled to adopt it at its June 16 meeting.

Superintendent Vandercar noted that district staff are continuing work to repair the gym roof in the building that houses Kelly Middle School and Yujin Gakuen Japanese Immersion Elementary School, and are reviewing feedback received from the community on the design of the new Camas Ridge Elementary School building to be completed in 2024.

She noted the district’s annual ACE (A Champion in Education) Awards celebration, held virtually again this year due to the pandemic, would be live-streamed the following evening. She also outlined the schedule for this year’s in-person high school graduation ceremonies and thanked students, families and staff for their support of the 4J community this year, noting every act of caring and kindness was needed and appreciated.

Public Hearing

• Held a public hearing on the proposed 2021–22 budget: The district’s budget committee has approved and recommended for board adoption the budget for the 2021–22 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The statutorily required public hearing was held during the board meeting. No community members signed up to testify in the public hearing.

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

Received an update on the building housing Kelly Middle School and Yujin Gakuen 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. When the problem was discovered in May, Kelly and Yujin Gakuen students and staff were immediately returned to comprehensive distance learning as a precaution. After more investigation the failing trusses were confirmed to be a safety concern until addressed. 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.

A contractor has temporarily shored up the roof trusses so workers can thoroughly investigate the damage to the supports and determine options for either a permanent repair or replacement. The process will take several weeks. Students will be able to safely return to the school building in the fall, the district’s facilities team is confident. The inner gym itself will not be usable until construction work is completed, and will be secured so it can’t be accessed by students. As the building has three gyms, even with the gym’s closure, Kelly and YG students still will have access to separate gyms within the building. The district has identified alternative sites so students can pick up free meals and participate in upcoming summer programs in-person.

Received an update on COVID-19 and return to on-site learning: District staff noted that COVID-19 vaccine clinics will continue weekly at Churchill and North Eugene high schools through the end of the school year, with vaccines available to all community members by appointment or walk-in. Outside the COVID-19 vaccine, 4J is reporting the highest number of students on record required to be excluded from on-site school activities because their immunizations or immunization records are not up-to-date with the vaccines required in Oregon for school attendance—such as for measles, tetanus, pertussis, etc.— and they will need to get their vaccinations or records current to be able to return to school in the fall. The nurses at the school-based health centers at Churchill and North Eugene high schools can administer these vaccines and are available by appointment.

The Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority have issued a change in requirements regarding face coverings for schools and school-related activities. The changes allow school districts to opt to loosen some requirements at sports activities, outdoor events, and for fully vaccinated adults when students are not present. Individual school districts may continue to require masks in these circumstances.

After careful consideration, 4J has loosened some face covering requirements, under certain circumstances. 4J staff may now remove their face coverings when students are not present, including while indoors if they have been verified to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The district also has changed face mask requirements for athletics, following guidance from the Oregon School Activities Association that students and coaches no longer need to wear face coverings while practicing or competing outdoors, and those verified to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may remove face coverings while practicing or competing indoors.

Students and staff will continue wearing face masks during the school day, indoors and outdoors, rather than changing practices to remove masks during brief outdoor activities such as recess, as could be allowed. With school ending in two weeks, each cohort of students has just a few more school days on-site. The district is staying the course with face masks during outdoor activities to provide students and staff with consistency and predictability, and the least amount of disruption to learn and adapt to new protocols in the limited time remaining.

Health services staff noted that some other school districts in Oregon have seen a large number of students and staff members quarantined due to close contact with cases of COVID-19, but 4J has had relatively few COVID-positive cases and no known cases of 4J students being infected with COVID-19 while at school, with face masks and other health and safety measures in place to protect students and staff. However, the number of 4J students diagnosed with COVID-19 is on the rise, with cases arising outside of school—mostly through contacts at home or social events.

The district is providing summer programs and has received applications from more than 20 community organizations interested in providing a variety of additional learning and enrichment programs for 4J students this summer. Details about these summer programs will be going out to 4J students and families soon.

• Presented the interim superintendent’s job performance evaluation: The Eugene School Board commended the leadership of Superintendent Cydney Vandercar in its annual performance evaluation. The board’s evaluation of the interim superintendent focused on her overall performance and the four goal areas set with the board in fall 2020: maintain and communicate a balanced budget; keep school bond projects moving forward and on schedule; support 4J students, families and staff; and strengthen and expand the district’s equity work.

Board Chair Mary Walston noted, “Superintendent Cydney Vandercar has demonstrated exemplary leadership performance under exceptionally challenging circumstances. She has led the district with care and consideration for the needs of students, families, staff and community, and approaches this work with an insightful eye, listening ear, caring heart, cool head, and steady hand. The board commends her for her work.”

The board appointed Ms. Vandercar as interim superintendent a year ago, and in November extended that appointment through the 2021–22 school year.

Items for Action

• Approved consent calendar items: The board approved several items of routine business on the consent agenda: approved tuition rates and school meal prices for the 2021–22 school year; designated the executive officer, budget officer, auditor, and clerk and deputy clerks for the 2021–22 school year; approved personnel actions (resignations, retirements and hirings); renewed the contract with FuelEd, the online curriculum provider for Eugene Online Academy middle and high school classes, credit recovery classes, and other uses; and approved the official minutes for the Feb. 17 work session and regular meeting, March 31 work session, April 16 board retreat, and April 21 regular meeting. The vote was unanimous.

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

Considered discussing selection process for permanent superintendent: The board voted to hold a meeting later in the month to discuss the process of selecting a permanent superintendent. The vote was 6–1, with board member Gordon Lafer voting no. A motion by Lafer to postpone the discussion until July, after the two newly elected board members are sworn in, failed on a 2–5 vote, with Gordon Lafer and Martina Shabram voting yes. The incoming board members will be invited to the meeting in June.

Considered adoption of the 2021–22 budget: The district’s budget committee has approved and recommended for board adoption the budget for the 2021–22 fiscal year, which begins July 1. State law sets a June 30 legal deadline for budget adoption. For the coming fiscal year, 4J’s operating budget is proposed to increase to $260.6 million, a $22.1 million increase over the current year. The increase is primarily due to the use of reserve dollars to help balance the proposed budget. The district is projected to receive revenue from federal and state funds that will allow increased staffing at elementary and middle schools and provide more academic and social supports for 4J students as they return to a more normalized school year as the coronavirus pandemic recedes.

Considered school board calendar for 2021–22: Each year, the Eugene School District 4J Board of Directors sets the schedule for its regular board meetings and work sessions that run from July 1 through June 30. The board generally meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Special board meetings and board work sessions may also be scheduled during the year; board members typically set aside every Wednesday evening for that purpose.

Considered a draft resolution on community benefits bidding: The school board is considering a resolution directing district staff to develop a trial community benefits bidding process for certain major capital projects. In essence, the process would prioritize contractors that pay workers prevailing wages and provide significant local economic benefits. These benefits can include supporting local businesses such as those owned by women, people of color and service-disabled veterans, as well as providing learning opportunities for 4J students and the community. The draft resolution directs the superintendent to make rules for the pre-qualification of bidders who have shown they can deliver labor-related community benefits if awarded these projects, and implement community benefits bidding in a way that doesn’t jeopardize 4J’s obligations to its taxpayers to complete the selected projects on time and within budget. The board asked that district staff undertake additional research and work to strengthen the draft resolution and bring it back for more discussion at a future meeting.

Public Input

The board heard live public comment via Zoom. Eight community members spoke about equity, the Camas Ridge Elementary School rebuild, the emergency closure of the Kelly and YG school building, special education program staffing in high schools, and the Pledge of Allegiance. 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

June 2 regular meeting materials
June 2 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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