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Board Meeting Summary: October 6, 2021

October 6, 2021
School Board Work Session and Regular Meeting

On Wednesday, Oct. 6, the school board held a work session and regular meeting. Community members attended the meeting in person, and the session also was open to the public via live video on Zoom, live audio stream, and radio broadcast on KRVM 1280-AM and 98.7-FM.

Work Session

The board discussed the process to fill three vacancies on 4J’s budget committee this fall. Residents interested in serving on the committee should apply by Wednesday, October 13, at 5 p.m. Board members agreed that applicants would be provided with two supplemental questions, still to be determined, that they could respond to in writing or by recording an audio or video file. Each applicant then would have the opportunity to make a personal statement of up to three minutes before the board during its Oct. 20 work session. The board will make the appointments during its Nov. 3 meeting.

The 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. The board has previously supported making changes to the application process to draw a larger, more diverse pool of candidates.

Regular Meeting

Introductory Comments

Interim Superintendent Cydney Vandercar noted the district, like many others in the state and around the nation, are facing a precipitous labor shortage, particularly for bus drivers, custodians, educational assistants and food service workers. She said stress and burnout among 4J staff, who are working doubly hard to meet the shifting demands of educating students during an ongoing global pandemic, is at an all-time high.

She noted Oct. 18 is the deadline for 4J employees to comply with Gov. Brown’s order that all K–12 educators, staff and volunteers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Nearly 2,400 employees have been verified as completely vaccinated, and employees have filed 72 timely medical or religious exemptions that are under review. Employees who haven’t been verified or filed a timely objection will no longer be employed Oct. 18.

To provide staff some relief, Vandercar said she is proposing to make a Oct. 18 a no-school day for students to provide critically needed time for teachers and staff as well as transition time to address the loss of staffing due to the vaccine mandate deadline. Vandercar also is suspending teacher evaluations for the school year, except for temporary and probationary teachers or those on improvement plans. Mandatory professional development training also will be paused. She asked board members to not add to the workload for district staff with requests for information until 4J has managed its COVID-19 response. She also directed 4J’s leadership and other support staff to not to attend board meetings for the time being, specifically noting the poor position that staff is being put in when not treated with courtesy and respect.

Vandercar said the district is temporarily suspending some bus routes due to the bus driver shortage and will communicate that information to families once the routes are selected for suspension. To address the shortage, the district is proposing a 25 percent wage differential as well as three $500 bonuses for transportation workers. She encouraged people to attend the virtual job fair on Thursday to learn more about employment opportunities at the district.

Vandercar said the district continues not to make its buildings for rent to outside groups as it currently doesn’t have enough staff to deep-clean them before students’ return. She said the district wants to be a good community partner with the city of Eugene and youth sports groups, but it just doesn’t have the current capacity to share the buildings.

Board Chair Judy Newman expressed sincere appreciation for the hard work of all 4J staff during this school year. She noted last week’s training on the Oregon’s public meeting and records and rules to effectively run public meetings was productive. She noted several adjustments that board members would make so their meetings run smoothly.

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

Received an updated on the design for the new Camas Ridge Elementary School building: Vandercar presented board members with an update on the new school building design now that construction blueprints are ready to be prepared. A school design open house will be held in-person outdoors at Camas Ridge on Monday, October 11, from 5:30–6:30 p.m, to give families, neighbors and other community members a chance to see and share feedback on the near-final design. 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.

Items for Action

• Approved items on the consent agenda: The board approved a request for revenue from Lane Education Service District and an agreement with 4J’s labor union representing classified workers on increasing custodian wages. It also approved agreements with 4J’s labor unions representing teachers and classified workers on the implementation of Oregon’s statewide vaccine mandate for K–12 employees and the district’s temporary paid leave program for  employees who test positive or are awaiting test results, or are directed to quarantine, due to COVID-19. The vote was unanimous.

Extended recruitment period for executive search firms: The board voted unanimously to extend by another week the period that executive search firms can respond to 4J’s informal requests for proposal to assist the board with the search and recruitment of a permanent superintendent. The vote was unanimous.

• Approved revisions to the board policy on graduation requirements: The board approved an updated policy on graduation requirements to reflect changes in state law and to allow for the issuance of 4J honorary diploma certificates.

The updated policy reflects two recent changes in state law. The first change eliminates the Essential Skills proficiency graduation requirements for the next three academic years, through the 2023–24 school year. The second change requires students to earn four credits of language arts to graduate rather than four credits of English.

Finally, the updated policy allows the district, at the request of a parent, to bestow an honorary diploma certificate to a student who died before completing graduation requirements.  To be eligible for the honorary diploma, the student must have attended a 4J high school, completed the prior year and been enrolled in either 11th or 12th grade at the time of their death. Oregon law prohibits the school districts from issuing a high school diploma, modified diploma or extended diploma to a student who has not met the requirements for such a diploma. The vote was unanimous.

Approved contracting with a consultant related to the All Students Belong initiative: The board voted to authorize staff to finalize a contract with SeeChange, a Portland-based consulting firm, to complete the next steps in its All Students Belong school safety and student belonging initiative. The district contracted with SeeChange to conduct an initial assessment based on data and feedback from interviews and focus groups with 4J students and staff. The board plans to convene a working group to move the initiative forward, drawing on the findings from the initial assessment as a starting point and with SeeChange providing technical assistance. The vote was unanimous.

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

Approved revision to 2021–22 school calendar: The district proposes to revise the school calendar to change Monday, October 18, as a no-school day for students but a work day for 4J staff. The change would give 4J teachers and staff extra time to catch up given the demands of returning to full-time in person learning during the ongoing pandemic and the potential added work arising from the loss of staff. After October 18, the district may not employ staff members without documentation that they are fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exception. Friday, October 15, is a previously scheduled no-school day for students to provide work time for staff to engage in professional training and prepare progress reports. The vote was 6-1, with board member Martina Shabram voting no.

Considered resolution encouraging solidarity and support for student identities:  The Oregon Department of Education approved last month a resolution urging school districts and educators to let students and families of all genders, ethnicity and race know that they belong and are valued members of the school community. The board supported drafting its own resolution encouraging that solidarity and support for student and staff identities at 4J.

Discussed board working agreements: 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. The board is considering several proposed changes and will continue to discuss them at a future meeting.

Public Input

The board heard live public comment both in person and virtually via Zoom. Four people spoke about face coverings, vaccination mandates, classified workers’ wages, instruction on diversity and equity, and the new language arts curriculum adoption process. To request to speak to the school board, either in-person or virtually, 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

Oct. 6 work session and regular meeting materials
Oct. 6 work session audio recording
Oct. 6 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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