Sept. 26, 2020 — In its regular board meeting on Sept. 16 and a special meeting on Sept. 23, the Siuslaw School District Board of Directors discussed policies for students, staff and the board itself.
For the regular meeting, all board members except Guy Rosinbaum were in attendance, and Rosinbaum and John Barnett were absent for the special meeting.
First, the school board went over policies related to communicable diseases.
According to Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak, “Recent events in our communities prompted revisions to rules prescribed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) affecting school attendance by staff and students to protect public health. As a result, OHA added COVID-19 to the restrictable disease list and established criteria for returning staff and students to school, in addition to other revisions made to existing rules including changes in definitions and other parts of previous rules.”
Director Suzanne Mann-Heintz, who serves on the district’s policy committee, said, “These rules about COVID have already come into effect. The policy committee felt like it was important to get these policies changed to go to align with the state rules as soon as possible.”
The changes went into effect in August. The board approved “GBEB and GBEB-AR — Communicable Diseases – Staff” and “JHCC and JHCC-AR — Communicable Diseases – Students” after a first reading.
For students, JHCC-AR now reads: “A student will not attend school while in a communicable stage of a restrictable disease or when an administrator has reason to suspect that any susceptible student has or has been exposed to any disease for which the student is required to be excluded in accordance with law, and per administrative regulation JHCC-AR. If the disease is a reportable disease, the administrator will report the occurrence to the local health department. The administrator will also take whatever reasonable steps it considers necessary to organize and operate its programs in a way which both furthers the education and protects the health of students and others.”
Following this, Grzeskowiak did first readings of policy updates to “GBN/JBA – Sexual Harassment;” “GBN/JBA-AR 1 – Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedure;” and “GBN/JBA-AR 2 – Federal Law (Title IX) Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedure.” These are all available to read at the 2020-2021 Board Meeting Information link at www.siuslaw.k12.or.us/school-board--169.
After these readings, Grzeskowiak read “JBB - Educational Equity.”
The policy is modeled after the Oregon School Boards Association’s recommendations which states, “The district is committed to the success of every student in each of our schools. For that success to occur, the district is committed to equity by recognizing institutional barriers and creating access and opportunities that benefit each student. … Educational equity is based on the principles of fairness and justice in allocating resources, opportunity, treatment and creating success for each student.”
Grzeskowiak also presented the first reading of his Division 22 Report regarding the district's standing “with respect to all standards for public elementary and secondary schools.”
This, and the other first readings of the night, will move to the Oct. 14 meeting for second reading and approval.
Members of the school board then reviewed the Board Governance Handbook. This was a continuation of special meeting from August, when they went over the handbook with OSBA Board Development Specialist Vince Adams.
The board first talked about its goals for 2020-21.
“The basic norms that I think the board has outlined here are consistent with what we've done in the past,” said Grzeskowiak.
“That’s a good beginning,” said Board Chair Bob Sneddon, “because this is basically an agreement between all of us directors. We're all stating that this is our driving force and everything else behind it is just how we're going to conduct ourselves.”
They discussed aligning practices to better match with school board policy, with Director Dennis King requesting that any changes are very clear.
After going over the document, the board voted to adopt the rest of the handbook, though they elected to further discuss the board’s goals at the next week’s meeting.
At the special meeting the following Wednesday, the board considered the draft of the 2020-21 board goals. The first part of the discussion involved separating the board goals from the superintendent’s goals.
Director Paul Burns said, “After having the presentation from OSBA, I really do think that they should be separate, as well. The board of directors’ goals should be kind of district wide, and the superintendent should be really specific to the job that Superintendent Grzeskowiak is doing. I see them as really two different things.”
“Different but somewhat related,” Sneddon clarified, “because obviously we're looking to accomplish those (board goals) with the assistance of the superintendent and the rest of the entity.”
About the board goals, Sneddon said, “Our goal setting process is actually not that complex. … It's basically a continuation of goals that we have had. And Mr. Grzeskowiak has said a few times that our goals are not something that we come up with individually every year — these are ongoing goals for 2 to 5 years that we look out to, to measure progress on these.”
According to Grzeskowiak, “The board goals tend to be broad and aspirational. And then we get more focused as we go from the superintendent level to the building level and then to the departmental or grade level.”
He said the board previously worked on goals centered around third-grade reading, eighth-grade math, attendance, four-year graduation rates and the five-year completer rate.
The directors moved to adopt the board goals, with superintendent goals to be inserted once approved in October.
Grzeskowiak said he would be getting the school board a copy of his goals prior to the next meeting. He also asked for any requests from the directors so he can include them.
As part of his report, he talked about the goal process in place in the district for building administrators.
“Typically, they have one to two specific academic improvement goals and then one personal professional development,” Grzeskowiak said. “That's right in line with the teachers, who have one to two academic improvement performance goals and one personal professional development.”
Director Dianna Pimlott, who is also the director of Pharmacy Services for PeaceHealth Peace Harbor with experience in administration, talked about the importance of professional development goals for Grzeskowiak as he works on his goals.
“Normally, what I would expect to see is that the superintendent would contribute to his goals, and typically base and bring them to the board for discussion and approval,” she said. “Typically, those additional goals would be related to professional development and might even be based on his performance in the last evaluation, and kind of pulling from that in terms of areas of improvement.”
The board did have two suggestions for the superintendent, with Mann-Heintz requesting that Grzeskowiak’s goals reflect the “very different experience for students and teachers” under the COVID-19 pandemic.
Similarly, Burns said, “I'd really appreciate Andy's goals to be focused on bringing in the kind of the stuff that's occurred over the last year and really focus on some opportunities to make some improvements on the district.”
In addition, at the Sept. 16 meeting, the board reviewed the Student/Parent Handbook.
Grzeskowiak said, “We're beginning the year in comprehensive distance learning. As the health metrics update and change, we'll make a transition into some limited in person instruction, then into hybrid mode and, hopefully, eventually into a regular return to campus. Really, what we've had to do with our student handbooks is, in essence, note that what we're doing now is the new normal.”
He said the updated handbook reflect expectations for attendance and grading
“Regulations may change as we go along, but again, we've got an expectation that says, ‘You know, what we're doing now is the new normal. So, checking in, completing your attendance and completing your work is the expectation. Your Google Meets window is your classroom for now. … We're still doing teaching and learning. We're just doing it remotely for now.”
For more information, visit siuslaw.k12.or.us.