Read Recaps from Board Meetings

  • 2/19/2019 Regular Meeting

    Posted by Sarah Dahlke on 3/1/2019 11:00:00 AM

    At the February 19, 2019 Regular Meeting of the Board of Education, the board began with recognitions of Jane Law, French Teacher at Harding Senior High School and is Minnesota’s French Teacher of the Year, as well as Be Vang, Mississippi Creative Arts Principal and has earned the Division Leadership Award from the Saint Paul Division of Minnesota Elementary School Principals Association for 2019.  The Board thanks them for their contributions and outstanding work.

    Next, Superintendent Gothard provided an update on classes which had been canceled for Wednesday, March 20th due to snow, and the rescheduling of the ACT test to March 12, 2019 due to the weather and wanting to ensure our students are able to travel to and focus on this important exam.  He went on to thank the Board of Education for their work in the District with students, families, and staff and to celebrate Minnesota Board of Education Week.  He shared a report on the State of the District event, and updates to Governor Walz’ budget, which has a focus on education.  He also provided a letter and photo of the original Central High School in 1883 located at 10th and Minnesota, which was sent from a resident in Stockton, CA.  He thanked them and appreciated this note.

    Next the Board approved the Resolution to Withdraw from Joint Powers Agreement relating to data-sharing and was entered into by Saint Paul Public Schools, the City of Saint Paul, Ramsey County, and ISD 916.   Although the District is withdrawing from this agreement, the Superintendent and Board believe there are ways to work together and looks forward to greater collaboration to benefit and support our students and community.  Discussion from the Board involved thanking those for their work, and the commitment to find ways to ensure our students have every support they need to be successful in likfe and the community.

    An update from the committees on School Start Times was presented, including Early Walkers and Transportation, Childcare, and Athletics.  Board discussion on transportation centered on adults at bus stops and neighborhood support, Safe Routes to Schools funding, and bus stop locations and safety. Within childcare, the Board discussed transportation to sites with after school care, such as Discovery Club and Rec Check, ALC and extended day learning options.

    The Board also noted that included in the HR transactions is the resignation of Roy Magnuson, teacher at Como Senior High School, who has moved onto the public information officer for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office.  His career of coaching, teaching, and mentoring has been special to this city, and the Board thanked him and all our teachers who mean so much to the District and their legacies that they leave at all our schools.

    A policy update included the third reading of Policy 505.00 – Bullying Prohibition, which the Board voted to approve, the first reading of new policies Policy 417.00 - Drug and Alcohol Testing for Drivers and Policy 416.00 - Drug and Alcohol Testing for All Employees, as well as the first reading of the updates to Policy 516.00 - Medications/Medical Procedures.   The bargaining units have been sent information on the drug and alcohol testing policies for feedback, and will work concurrently with the reading process; the Board also thanked administration for their work in creating these two policies which will benefit our students, staff, and community.

    SEAB presented an inspiring presentation on centering Ethnic Studies in SPPS, including recommendations to support this initiative.  This presentation sparked questions and statements from the Board, including the authentic engagement in the research from SEAB, data from the interviews of students and staff, the critical need to do better for ethnic studies in our district and making SPPS a champion of this work, how ethnic studies allows students to learn about themselves and each other, barriers to this work, student experiences and stories of ethnic studies in their schools, and the need to not only talk about it, but be it.

    Next, a presentation on the Early Childhood Family Education logo re-design was shown, including the options for the updated logo.   Board discussion centered on the correlation to the MNAFEE logo, clarity on the ECFE abbreviation in our designs, the process for the recommendation, colors, and potential design changes for the team to think about.  The final approval will be coming to the Board in an upcoming Board of Education meeting.

    Finally, the Board noted the Thinking College Early Fair, which was held Saturday, February 23, 2019 at Harding High School, NAAPID events throughout the District, and the latest news on the Network Learning Journey with the Bush Foundation which involved visiting different schools across the state and speaking with students and staff.

    One final motion involved rescheduling the October 8, 2019 Committee of the Board Meeting to October 15, 2019.

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  • 2/5/2019 Committee of the Board

    Posted by Sarah Dahlke on 3/1/2019 11:00:00 AM

    At the February 5, 2019 Committee of the Board meeting Superintendent Gothard thanked everyone for their work and communication during the weather delays and closures.  He also noted that the State of the District event was rescheduled to Wednesday, February 13th.  A draft resolution was presented to the Board for the District to withdraw from the Joint Powers Agreement with the City and County and provided more details for next steps.  He also shared the launch of SPPS achieves with a lapel pin as a symbol to show that we are organized for action to change our long-term student outcomes.

    Representatives from Wells Fargo and US Bank then provided updates on SPPS investments.  Wells Fargo provided details on the OPEB trust.   It is performing well given the current market environment.  Questions from the Board included the market averages and benchmarks and how we compare, the trade deficit with China and its impacts to SPPS, international investments within the portfolio, and the emerging markets.  US Bank then provided an update on the SPPS investments, which is a reserve account that is very safe and a US government security.  The overall summary and cash flows included in the report were noted. 

    The next presentation centered on Kindergarten Readiness.  The framework of how we teach literacy was reviewed, as well as the current PreK enrollment of 1,865.   The proficiency rate from Fall to Spring saw a dramatic increase with 19% proficiency in the Fall, 44% in the Winter, and 63% in the Spring.  PreK literacy growth was also shown for full-day, half-day, and program overall, as well as next steps.  The second portion of the presentation focused on Kindergarten with enrollment of 3,124.  Assessments were reviewed, as well as kindergarten proficiency rates based on FAST data and it’s correlation to SPPS Pre-K and Non-SPPS PreK.  Promising data on a deeper look into kindergarten FAST data disaggregated by demographics was shown, as well as next steps.  This presentation sparked questions from the Board involving context and comparisons for SPPS programs to others, identifying students in HeadStart, and comparison of numbers to other districts.  Discussion also addressed ways in which we involve families into the literacy goals and data from FAST, program data from our partner sites, including child cares, and matriculation data, which showed that 80% of half day students and 86% of full-day students continue to SPPS kindergarten.  Information was also provided for grant funded parent-child centers and outcomes for families and importance of ECFE.  Ways of teaching literacy, including phonics, were also a point of discussion, and strategies to address the individual students who may struggle with literacy and our plans to address those to help teachers and students to achieve.  Also, the role of the strategic plan and changes to early education that will be addressed were noted, as well as our work in supporting all three- and four-year olds across the city.  The board also noted that it is important to tie-in the work and results to the long-term objectives noted in the strategic plan and the accountability and direction.

    Next, the Permits Committee presented information on the community use of buildings and grounds.  Board questions centered on the net revenue, overtime expenses for engineers and custodians, the process for PTOs and PTAs, and site usage of 360 Colborne.  Directors also recapped their meeting with the City on shared facilities.  Questions also centered on the procedure for opening buildings for permitted events, and the role of building administration in events scheduled at their school.  The process and timeline for those requesting to have a use permit was reviewed.  It was also noted to include a negotiable disclaimer for those events that do not fall into categories 1-3, in place of category 4.  Data was also requested on the number of events that SPPS has hosted for the city and vice versa, and information on the shared maintenance of district and city properties were discussed.  Details on the logistics and team efforts to ensure we are adequately protecting our buildings and grounds were provided.  The Board also noted that a study on the community’s perception and views on the accessibility of our buildings would be beneficial.

    Next, three policies were presented to the Board.  Policy 416.00 and 417.00 on drug and alcohol testing were brought back before the Board to review.  Questions from the Board on this policy involved the definition of reasonable suspicion, review by and input from bargaining units, publicizing this policy to all staff, especially principals and administrators, and that this policy will give the district a means and process to be followed to address situations with employees where this need may arise.   It was also noted that this policy is for the safety of all students and staff, and to help employees who truly have a problem.  The Board approved the recommendation to move these two policies to the first reading. 

    The next policy involved the legislative changes to the uniform municipal contracting law.  Recently the statute for procurement requirements changed the threshold from $100,000 to $175,000.  If the Board wants to allow the increased limit of $175,000, no action is required because it will follow state statute.  The policy includes not only the reference to the state statute, but also the dollar value of the contracts that the Board reviews.  Discussion topics involved data on the number of contracts that fall between $100,000 and $175,000, and the vast majority of contracts fall under that threshold.  Questions were also asked the reasoning for the change. Board members requested information on what other municipalities and neighboring school districts are doing in terms of board approval for contracts, and at what dollar value they review.  The contract authority matrix was also highlighted, and will be brought before the Board to review.  The overall recommendation was to bring back information to gain a better sense of the process in other entities for further discussion. 

    The third policy brought to the Board was Policy 516.00 – Medications/Medical procedures.  Discussion on this policy revision focused on questions about the designee to administer medications, training, the role of nurses and staff in ensuring students receive their medications, protocols, emergency medicines, designees within Extended Day Learning and Discovery Club, and conversations with bargaining groups on their concerns and steps to ensure those administering medications are confident and comfortable.  Consent was also discussed, which is included in the medication process at the procedure level.  Procedures in smaller buildings were also discussed, as well as personalized care of each student, and the role of health assistants.  The Board approved the recommendation to move this policy to the three-reading process.

    Following the Committee of the Board meeting, the Board discussed follow-up information from the previous work session on board engagement.

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