Items for Presentation, Discussion, Information and/or Action:
To watch the YouTube of this meeting click here.
2.12 Agreement with the Children’s Cabinet to Implement Signs of Suicide Program at all WCSD Middle Schools for $249,000
Ms. Loudon WCSD Counselor - stated this program is in its 8th year. Parents must twice opt their child into this mental health program. This is a HIPPA protected program. No information is kept on Infinite Campus; it is in a separate locked area and is scrubbed.
John Eppolito - Protect Nevada’s Children. What are the “private boxes” for data storage? And if parents opt in, are they informed of what data is stored. The agenda material says this can take multiple days and involves 8,000 kids. He questions if they got parent permission each year from 8,000 parents. He and other public commenters question the training of those administering the tests?
Shannon Coley - we need a breakdown of how the $249,000 is being spent.
Ms. Loudon responds to Trustees questions on training and cost. The program is largely implemented through counselors. Screening is by licensed clinicians. The $249,000 is for counselors salaries. *It was great to have answers back to the questions asked by the community. This should become part of the board meeting.
Motion to approve agreement with the Children's Cabinet. Unanimously approved.
3.01 Approval of the Plan to Spend the Final ⅓ of the ESSER III $25,798,620
To learn more about ESSER and what it is and how it has been used by WCSD, click here.
ESSER I & II - mostly used to mitigate COVID effects on the most affected homeless students so money spent on re-engagement specialists, homeless liaisons, summer school, counselors, math instruction, and IT help.
ESSER III - focus on returning to school. Reducing class size, purchasing ppe, HVAC system, social emotional learning, but biggest amount spent on student learning. There is a remaining $11 million that the Board will vote on how to spend during this meeting.
Proposal for the remaining $11 million in ESSER III Funding $11,435,515 for Building Learning Facilitators (“BLFs”), summer school, tutoring, long term subs and PBS ready to learn program (K-5).
Trustee Church questions the expense of $6.5 million for BLFs and Leadership Pathway. It doesn't seem like the presenters ever answered his question on how the cost is broken down. They just said basically teachers need strong administrators and the District will soon need up to 70 administrators and these innovative pathways will result in well trained administrators. Trustee Smith and Nicolet agreed.
What we need to keep an eye on is the plan to purchase new textbooks for all grades.
They are working with the NV Dept of Ed who we know wants to push social justice. (Does need to be approved by the Board of Trustees.)
Principal Gifford of Shaw Middle School spoke about his use of the ESSER money. He loved that the school was allowed to decide what they needed to be successful. They partnered with the Indian Colony. Most effective was after school tutoring and the small ratio teacher to student studying led to 77% of students who failed one class last year had 0 failures this year. Success! Smaller class size, so when teachers can individually work with students, the students are successful. (Not a word about SEL or Equity helping students do better in core courses...which reinforces the need to focus on academics and not emotional learning or diversity and equity.)
Trustee Nicolete asked that by not using SBAC ,how can you prove your decisions worked?
Answer - He did look at SBACs and pass/fail rates and decided more individualized support worked the best. Smaller groups of students per teacher. The teacher calling the student to make sure he/she will be in school that day. Per Nicolet you “had a high touch approach.” **We are sensing a theme.
Roger Edwards - More money needs to go toward proven tutoring.
James Benthen - set budget goals to see if we achieve them or fail and more money to quality education.
Mike Crogan - he wants a peer tutoring program in WCSD, students can help younger students academically and can pick up on mental health concerns.
John Eppolito - Agreed more highly effective teachers in the classroom and that is where the money should be spent. Talks about the negative effects of screen time shown by COVID and studies and ties to drug addiction.
Shannon Coley - spoke w/teachers about ESSER money hearing BLFs do not work directly with students and just support the principal. What are their actual duties? Agreed there must be a pipeline for leadership. Nothing about SEL or Equity helping students do better in core courses. Equity and Diversity does not support teachers. *Teachers want an aid for every grade to work directly with students every day.
Trustee Church - WCSD, not Nevada, ACT scores place us 50th in the US, precovid only 15% college ready so 85% not ready, post covid 13% college ready with 87% not ready. He made an excellent point that we have to acknowledge where we are to move forward.
Motion to approve the plan to spend the final one-third of the American Rescue Plan ESSER III allocation to Washoe County School District for $25,798,620. Passes 6-1.
3.02 Information Only on Mental Wellness Supports Including Possible use of Telehealth
Since schools are considered community centers where families feel comfortable they want them to be a co-location where they can also get medical and psychiatric care. Located within their neighborhood so easier access for underprivileged families. A student would be handed an ipad where they would speak with a medical provider. Usually a parent is on the phone during the meeting. The argument for this approach is if students are healthy they will attend school more, which they believe will see increased graduation rates.
-1) Parent active informed consent is critical. 2) Staffing - would most likely be a school nurse, clinical aid or counselor for mental health who would be taking care of the students anyway. 3) Vendors providing the care would need space for a supply cabinet and maybe a separate room for privacy.
This agenda item is at the very early stages of information gathered. There was talk centered on asking for more information from possible vendors on what services and costs would be covered and what would not. Other districts that have implemented tele-health are Clark, Lyon and Carson, so WCSD can talk with them to see the best way to implement such a program.
There are many questions and concerns; cost, IT issues regarding cost and privacy, HIPAA violations, FERPA violations, privacy issues, sick students coming into the school for medical treatment, data collection, billing, copays .... (Surprisingly, no one brought up liability issues and the cost of insurance.The possibility of providing urgent care seems really risky.)
-There was some talk of this as the wave of the future that might be able to make money for the district with 60,000 students, but it will be hard earned.
The loose plan is to collect more information. They could not motion as the item on the agenda was for informational purposes only.
3.03 Possible Action Regarding High School Graduation Plans for the Class of 2022
Discussed using Lawlor vs High Schools to hold Graduations. Pros to using Lawlor is it is easier to control; traffic, crowd management, staffing, renting chairs and tents, inclement weather, more tickets for families (may now give 10/tickets per/family to the school which the principal will divide among families), And lots of talk that it is equitable to have all Graduations at Lawlor. It is not equitable for some schools to be able to have graduation at their schools when others cannot, like Wooster, because it is located in a busy area of Reno. Trustee Mayberry wholeheartedly confirms this notion of equity.
Motion - Accept Superintendent McNeill’s plan to move forward with conducting Graduation ceremonies w/in the parameters of Governor Sisolak’s directives. Unanimously Passed.
3.04 Review and Possible Action on Current COVID Mitigation Measures
The District's COVID information website -https://www.washoeschools.net/covid19
We are in the high range for cases. (No talk of deaths or hospitalizations.)
Attendance is better due to decreasing exclusion time and no longer testing.
There are community vaccinations opportunities for students, with parents approval, reusable cloth masks and the district has received the 100,000 KN95 masks requested, but are waiting for the approved rapid tests. See more information here.
There was a letter to the Governor from Superintendents asking questions about COVID, and they have not yet received a response.