This is a summary of the business conducted at this week's WCSD's Regular Board of Trustees Meeting. You can also watch the previously recorded meeting here: YouTube Link
I. Board Nominations
2.01 Nomination for President of the Board
Trustee Mayberry nominated Trustee Taylor, and Trustee Church nominated Trustee Nicolet because "it is good to have change".
Trustee Mayberry noted he doesn’t disagree with Trustee Church, but he feels now is not the time for a change as President Taylor does such an amazing job and she has been through a Superintendent search in the past.
A concerning moment occurred when Mayberry took issue with the “plethora” of emails he received from his constituents characterizing President Taylor in a way he does not agree with from what he has seen during his short time on the Board. He goes on to talk about the great decorum with which President Taylor has conducted herself. BBME would like to interject here that this is fine, but to completely disregard and dispose of your constituents' concerns is what many are tired of seeing in elected officials.
Trustees Rodriguez, Nicolet, and Smith echoed Trustee Mayberry’s accolades for President Taylor, with Trustee Nicolet ultimately turning down the nomination for President.
Motion to approve President Taylor to remain President of the Board. Approve 6-1.
2.02 Board Nomination for Vice-President of the Board
Trustee Minetto nominated Trustee Nicolet. Trustee Church, with the hope of being able to get items on the agenda, nominated himself.
Motion to approve Trustee Nicolet as Vice President. Approved 6-1.
2.03 Board Nomination for Clerk of the Board
Trustee Rodriguez nominated Trustee Minetto.
Motion to approve Trustee Minetto as Clerk. Unanimously Approved.
II. Budget Items for Discussion, Presentation, and Possible Action
3.07 - 3.21 Overview of Capital Projects by CFMO Searcy
Mr. Searcy went from growth of the District from 1948 to present day. Very detailed explanation, so you should go to the YouTube of this meeting and tune in if this is an area in which you are interested. He always does a great job with his presentation providing detail and clarity. To review the information he provided you can also go to wscdbuilding.com
III. General Items for Discussion, Presentation, and Possible Action
4.01 and 4.02 Presentation and Update by The Bryan Group on the Search Process for a New Superintendent and on the Search Advisory Group (SAG)
Timeline - the Board hopes to have a candidate who overlaps with Superintendent McNeill. Bryan Group plans to have the long 3-4 hour interviews of prospective candidates for Trustees review during the March break.
The SAG application went out to staff and students this morning and will go to families tomorrow morning. The Bryan Group already received 100 responses!!! If you get a SAG application the deadline is Tuesday, January 18th. Fill out the application because all who apply will be kept informed as the process proceeds.
The Bryan Group needs direction from the Board on how wide to cast the net. They are looking for three options: a) traditional net successful educational leaders only or b) untraditional in another area but have a connection to education or c) no educational background just an amazing leader?
Motion the Board directs The Bryan Group to cast the widest possible net, but all candidates must have a nexus to education. Approved 6-1. (Interesting Trustee Mayberry really fought to only allow those candidates to have a nexus to K-12 public education - is he against private, religious and or military school educators?)
Motion - the level of education must have a Masters with Doctorate preferred. Unanimously approved.
Recruitment Plan - The Board has directed The Bryan Group to pay for the job post to be sent to targeted groups, as well as generic posting on sites.
Communication Plan - To keep the community up to date, The Bryan Group will establish a website with all the information regarding the search and how to contact The Bryan Group regarding any issues.
Compilation of Stakeholder Groups/SAG a wide net will again be cast, looking at many groups, such as parents, business related, teachers, students, admin., university related, government, community support services, native american partnership, religious, diverse groups... a press release will be put out so all in the community will have an opportunity to apply.
Thank goodness President Taylor and Trustee Nicolet voiced high concern at such an active and huge role for students. We at BBME greatly appreciate this concern. Students are great, but they are young and not skilled at what is needed to select a superintendent. For instance, students analyzing data. Per The Bryan Group, it is more for them to have an opportunity to learn and earn credit. The Bryan Group is being very stubborn on this issue.
Trustee Smith asked a great question regarding whether legal has approved student involvement. With students possibly handling confidential information, because of their age, they are not bound by contract, in this case a confidentiality contract.
4.03 Presentation and Possible action to approve the 2021 Capital Improvements
You can go to the Data Gallery website here, where you can click on any school to see what is going on with that school.
Motion the Board approves the Capital Funding Project. Unanimously approved.
4.04 Presentation on WCSD’s Available Seal and CTE Certification & Apprenticeship Opportunities
All statewide programs. WCSD offers five Seals: Biliteracy, STEM, STEAM, Financial Literacy and Civics. An official Seal will be affixed to the high school diploma and the Seal of Biliteracy will appear on students' official transcript with designation.
Career Technical Education - Certification Through Technical Education (CTE) & Apprenticeships get our students into the workforce pipeline. Great options and opportunities partnering students with business. Great programs.
4.05 WCSD Strategic Plan Reporting of Metrics from the 2020-21 School Year
The Academic Leadership Team (“ALT”) gave the Strategic Plan Reporting SY 2020-2021 which can be seen in the agenda materials.
We spoke to this under BBME Hot Topics; test scores show decreasing achievement in core curriculum (Math, English, and ELS) which may have been expected during COVID, but looking at the data gallery on the WCSD website we see poor test scores have been occurring well before COVID. The data we looked at goes back to 2015.
Dr. Parks speaks to the huge problem of recruiting teachers from business, industry,... (Hopefully they will look to ESSER (covid emergency education fund) money to offer competitive salaries instead of spending money on divisive equity and diversity training..)
Next the ALT addressed social emotional issues in that students must feel welcome, safe, and have a sense of belonging in school by providing equitable practices, strategies, and materials. Dr. LaMarca feels there is an inextricable link between a safe and welcoming school climate and academic learning. (How does Equity & Diversity (“E&D“), which we have seen being divisive by separating students by their skin color or as oppressors and oppressed, create a safe and welcoming school climate?)
Mark Green - Looked over the test scores in WCSD from 2015 to present and saw that the students who were at or above the standard range of 49, there were 21% in Math in the range of 53, there were 38% in English. If he had those odds for surgery he would scream for a second opinion. WCSD decided to spend ARP funding to hire an E&D specialist $380,000 on more E&D. Then he pointed out the inappropriateness of Trustee Mayberry speaking so poorly about emails from his constituents. He next requested the Board allow parents to go into the scheduled teacher training and see what is being taught and that the Board provide evidence that training on SEL and E&D improve academic outcome.
Maria Skolnick - pointed out how abysmal the test scores have been in the WCSD from 2015 forward prior to and during the pandemic. The WCSD continues to focus on racially divisive E&D training for our teachers instead of making sure they are proficient in the core courses they are teaching. Especially when the District can show NO data to prove that the E&D/SEL/Social Justice learning has decreased the learning gap.
Board Discussion & Vote:
President Taylor - did own the low test scores, she admits what was reported wasn't a great look, but at least the team did not hide it. She said there is hard research showing students who feel safe and welcome in school perform better. (Again, we all agree, but this is not the issue).
Trustee Nicolet - wants a "tidbit" (of proof) that what they are doing is making a difference. (We would love to know if she is speaking to E&D). The response from the ALT speaks of after school tutoring, intercession, summer school, and plans of how they have allocated some of the ESSER funding which they will go into during the next Board meeting.
Trustee Church - asked about ACT scores. The ALT did not report them, which makes us wonder what other hard test data was left out of this report. Trustee Church went on to point out some devastating numbers: ACT scores went from 18.2 down to 17.4, absenteeism pre-COVID 17% and now 50%, rampant drug abuse which causes decreased test scores, 15% college ready to 13%, ten years ago it was 89% college ready 11% not. He wants a committee on quality education. (We agree!)
Trustee Mayberry - weren’t we on an incline until COVID hit? The ALT said yes and responded only regarding graduation rates. And now they are going to reset targets and present them to the Board in May. Will go somewhere between the COVID years and prior years. We see how little Trustee Mayberry knows about the equity and diversity push (E&D) when he asked "what an E&D specialist is?"
In response and per E&D President, Dr. LaMarca, their main charge is to support schools with E&D. (Used the word to be defined as the definition). Their objective is too narrow achievement gaps between ethnic and racial groups, special education, socio-economic groups and support schools on practices that focus on narrowing those particular gaps. LaMarca claims they have significant gains on narrowing these gaps. (We will be requesting those documents.) Their folks provide professional learning (does that mean teaching the teachers?). Also, there have been state mandates on equity learning and cultural competency and on licensure on new teachers that require that training and they have been doing this FOR YEARS!!! NOTHING NEW!!! He went on to advise the District is broken down geographically into 5 areas. Before they only had 4 equity specialists it was difficult to support professional learning now we added one with ESSER money so we have 5 one for each district.
President Taylor - next board meeting they will break down how the millions of ESSER money will be spent to remedy some of the measurable outcomes. (Stay tuned! This will be important.)
Trustee Church tried to motion for a committee to research these metrics, but legal advised that it was outside the scope of the agenda.
Motion made by Clerk Minetto to accept the Strategic Plan Reporting of Metrics from the 2020-21 School Year. Approved 6-1.
4.06 Status and Possible Action on Current COVID Mitigation Measures
Superintendent McNeill said she wants to keep the school open. (yes!)
DHHS changes the isolation period, for those who test positive, from 10 days to 5 days. Students can return on day 6 as long as they are symptom free. Quarantine period has also changed from 10 days, with an option to test in 5 days. There is a problem getting tests but luckily you don’t have to test to get back into school.
The COVID meter is at VERY HIGH. They are continuing to offer vaccinations and it is necessary to have parental approval to get vaccinated.
Trustee Church asked if the masks the WCSD is using are effective against preventing COVID on an incoming basis. The response is they have sent the Board and Washoe County Health District articles on the effectiveness of masks to keep germs off of one another and as one layer used with additional protections like washing hands, social distancing…
There was talk about temporary distance learning due to the high volume of positive COVID cases within the community (and the nation), teaching staff, office facilities, bus drivers, nutrition services. Nothing conclusive was determined.
Mr. Birmingham - speaks to a device he is working on with NASA and Active Pure Co. that kills COVID and 22 different viruses. Just put it in a Philadelphia school.
Melanie Sutton - Follow the science, masks don’t work, vaccines don’t stop COVID, she is running and will represent the people.
Gabe Fredido - WCSD parent of 3 children. He specializes in FDA approval and offered his services and points out the Board is not following CDC guidelines. And asks when the Board will start considering the mental health and drug rates due to keeping students out of school.
Jeff Rushdon - Masks do not stop the transmission of the virus. New England Journal of Medicine in March 2020 said the masks do not stop the transmission. Fauci said the same thing. Unmasked states vs masked states show no difference yet we continue to disregard the negative effects on kids; learning disabilities, language development, social anxiety, cleanliness.. We ignore that science and follow propaganda science. We think we are being virtuous, but we are being cowardly.
Mr. Feelander - nurses can work in the hospital with COVID why are the schools doing exclusions? Parents are not allowed in the school. What is the difference between him and anyone who works in the schools? Florida is the example, it should be up to the parents if they want to mask their children. He stopped coming to the Board meetings because he and his son were receiving backlash from the school.
Board Discussion & Vote:
Trustee Church - we are not following CDC guidelines, we are following the Governor’s mandates. He speaks of no mask, but at least face shields. And if it is as bad as everyone says why are we all here, we should be home or in a gym and the schools should be closed.
Trustee Mayberry - speaks to the community sending him emails regarding inconsistencies between schools in the districts. Going to testing sites that don’t have the materials, at least post a sign to let people know.
Trustee Rodriguez - wants the schools to stay open. Many emails about staff working overtime without compensation.
Trustee Nicolet - thinks you can find a study to support whatever you want.
President Taylor - should be consistency between schools and wants to keep schools open. She feels masks help, the District is in line with the CDC guidelines, and it is her duty to do whatever she can to keep people safe.
Motion that the Superintendent Continue with the Current COVID Mitigation Measures. Approved 6-1.