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School Board Meeting Updates: May 14, 2021

Posted on May 14, 2021

During Thursday night’s meeting of the Issaquah School Board the following topics were presented, discussed, and voted on. Please be advised that this newsletter is not an official record or meeting minutes. Rather, it is a platform to help keep the community well informed of district happenings. To review official minutes from all board meetings, please visit our board meeting archive webpage.

Board Retreat Report-Out

The Board held a retreat/work session on April 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and shared a summary of this meeting. Key share outs included the importance of the upcoming levy in early 2022, the restoration of our reduction in force (RIF), and a conversation around the communication department improvements and the value this has on the community and the engagement thereof.

Resolution 1163 Program Restoration Parameters

Resolution 1163 was first brought before the Board on April 22 in response to program/service reductions presented by the Administration during the April 14 special board meeting. After discussion, the Board requested Resolution 1163 come back for further discussion during this meeting. President Weaver presented a number of questions the community brought to the Board that CFO Kuper explained in detail.

The Board then updated Resolution 1163 to tell the story of the district's finances including the passing of the 2020 Educational Programs & Operations levy funds to support counseling and mental health. This aligns with the School Boards belief in prioritizing resources that are closet to the student. Following this, the District incurred significant extra costs associated with responding to COVID. Costs included but were not limited to technology, food service, employee furloughs, PPE and staffing for hybrid classrooms.

These additional costs, in combination with an enrollment decline of 1180 students this year and an anticipated enrollment loss in the coming year made a RIF necessary. Furthermore, at the time, there was not a state budget released. The District was required to make decisions based on this timeline in order to stay in compliance with regulations as well as the statutory requirements of the collective bargaining agreement with our teachers union.

After much deliberation, amendments to the resolution as well as amended Resolution1163 were unanimously approved by the School Board.

Education Update

Superintendent Thiele updated the Board on education in the District including:

  • A shoutout to all our teachers as last week was National Teachers Week, as well as a shoutout to all our nurses as this past Wednesday was National School Nurses Day! Superintendent Thiele reiterated what a great job both do to support our students and community.
  • Sharing the announcement of a pilot to expand the K-3 in-person learning day by two hours, four days a week. This will begin on Thursday, May 20 at both Challenger and Cascade Ridge Elementary Schools. For additional details read yesterday's E-news.
  • Our secondary schools continue to offer sports and activities! They have been such an important and positive part of thousands of our student's wellness during this difficult time.

Liberty High School 2021 Graduation Requirements

Executive Director Hood, in light of the action taken by the State Board of Education (SBE), presented a request to waive local graduation requirements for the class of 2021 at Liberty High School. Per the SBE, local graduation requirements can be waived at local discretion prior to using state waivers as our local elective credit graduation requirements go beyond that of the requirements of the State of Washington.

Executive Director Hood further shared that any student utilizing a waiver must have been making a good faith effort. She also shared that all students must also be offered an opportunity to earn credit during the summer, that families can chose to not accept the waiver, and that there is a process of looking at each students records and how they correlation to their post high school plans.

There is a desire from the Board for a walk through about how we as a District apply the state board rules with fidelity across the system. A motion was made to table the document until the next meeting, it was seconded and approved.

EL-2 Treatment of People

Superintendent Thiele presented an overview of monitoring report EL-2 Treatment of People. Much of this report is about policies, procedures, and training so that we can properly address potential issues as they arise.

Superintendent Thiele went on to highlight that last year the Board had a question on how employees should approach the system if they have an issue. The three step process on how to report a concern about a teacher or an adult in the system is an attempt to answer that question. He continued by sharing the emphasis on culture competency and responsiveness, which has evolved into our equity work, as it relates to the professional development staff have participated in to help refine their practices. Finally, Superintendent Thiele mentioned the utilization of surveys as a way to gather data from our students, staff, parents and community. The entire presentation by Superintendent Thiele and his discussion with the School Board can be viewed on YouTube.

A motion was made, and the majority of the board voted to approve the monitoring report, EL-2 Treatment of People as presented. Superintendent Thiele and the Board also recognized that there is a lot of work to do as we improve our systems in collecting data to analyze and utilize this to improve practices.

First Read of proposed change to GP-5

President Weaver shared that at the retreat the Board discussed adding a line to GP-5 the Chief Governance Officer's Role. The Board conducted a first read with the proposed revisions and will bring it to the May 27 meeting where board action is anticipated.

Legislative Matters

Director Gallinger and Director Maraldo shared an overview of the legislative discussions they have engaged in as well as the language that Washington State School Directors' Association (WSSDA) put together. They would like our board to support this position around what remote instruction looks like, what learning modalities will be fully funded in the coming year, and funding importance as it relates to regionalized adjustments.

The request put simply is that districts want to be innovative and thoughtful in meeting student learning needs without being penalized when this falls outside of basic education requirements. A motion to support the WSSDA proposal from Lake Washington School District was made and passed unanimously.

Works in Progress

Superintendent Thiele provided a brief status report on various projects and activities in the District which included:

  • Development of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) throughout the District continues alongside inclusive practices thanks to Dr. Lindsay Myatich and Callie Greenfield.
  • Executive Director Turney is actively coordinating efforts to support vaccinating our 12-to-15-year-old students for COVID. We can confirm that we are partnering with Costco as shared in this afternoons E-news that went to all middle and high school families. Register your student for the POP-UP clinic that will be at Issaquah High School this coming week.
  • Development of the new ISD website is taking off with a soft launch over winter break and a full release in early January of 2022. Departments across the District are all diving into the work.
  • Comprehensive high school graduations will occur at Lumens Field. With a tight timeline, things will look different than they have in years past including shortened speeches and no food.
  • We are looking toward fall with more and more certainty around in-person learning fulltime while keeping our eyes open to what remote options might also need to be provided.
  • Special Education staffing has been added at Washington Network for Innovative Careers (WANIC) to provide better supports throughout the learning environment.
  • Staffing changes are active with interviews currently occurring for BLMS and Echo Glen as well as the announcement that Jodi Bongard will be retiring.

District Communications

As a friendly reminder, the Issaquah School District will send official District communication using only the channels listed below:

Other Facebook accounts or groups, websites, or media channels are not operated or endorsed by the District.

You can view recordings of this and other past board meetings on the ISD YouTube channel. You can also see future meetings on this channel or via Zoom. Check the District website for more information on attending meetings, giving public comments, or reading the minutes of past meetings.