Friday, June 12, 2015

Board Meeting Recap - Budget, Teacher Contracts and more...

Budget approval time and teacher contract negotiations in an election year make for some very interesting conversations…

Below are the highlights of this month's working session and committee meetings.

+Budget Discussion
+Teacher Contract
+Homework Committee Report
+Unique Learning Opportunities
+Classroom Technology Initiative

Budget Discussion

The primary issue the Board members are weighing right now is how much to raise taxes.  All of the other issues about programs and expenses have been agreed to - it comes down to funding.

The Board has agreed that a tax increase is needed and has narrowed the range to roughly somewhere between 2.0% and 2.5%.  The difference in total revenues to the district between these two tax rates is about $350,000.  The difference to individual taxpayers is about $40.  The driving issue in this debate is how best to utilize reserves.  For more details on the discussions leading up to this meeting see the May 2015 Board Recap.

The Board members shared their individual thoughts and philosophies during this working session (prior to the formal vote this coming Monday). All Board meetings are video taped and you can listen to their comments on the district website.  Scroll to the times below to listen to each member.

  • Gregg Lindner: 1:08
  • Jeff Hellrung: 1:19
  • Keith Knauss: 1:26
  • Kathy Do: 1:28
  • Robert Sage: 1:33
  • Steve Simonson: 1:39
  • Carolyn Daniels: 1:41

The Board will be voting on the final budget at the next Board meeting on Monday, June 15th, in the district office.  The public comment period at the beginning of the meeting will provide the public their last chance to weigh in on budget concerns prior to the vote.

Teacher Contract

Vic Dupuis provided an update on contract talks and shared some of his own perspectives.

He began by trying to decouple the budget decisions from the teacher contract.  He told the public that the proposed budget, regardless of the eventual approved tax increase, will allow the district to fund a fair contract for the teachers.  He went on to respond to specific points of the ongoing public debate about the contract.  In his final statements he assured the public that , from his point of view as a member of the Board and one of the people in the negotiating room, all parties are bargaining in good faith.

Go to the meeting video minute 29 - 37 to listen to his comments

Homework Committee

District homework practices have been a point of interest for the last few years.  Last year a committee of educators and administrators was formed to review and develop a statement of beliefs and guidelines as related to homework in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District.

Review their report

This year, a broad based committee of parents, Board members, administrators, and educators picked up on that work to determine best practices when assigning and assessing homework.

Research was conducted, surveys were sent, and focus groups were held with all constituents.  The committee spent months evaluating the information resulting in 5 recommendations.

The next step in this process is to develop action plans around each recommendation for next school year and to revise homework guidelines as needed.

Review the presentation and recommendations

Unique Learning Opportunities

Presentations were made to the Board by high school teachers for some very unique learning opportunities.  The science department would like to organize a trip to the Galapagos Islands and the music department would like to take the band to another Bowl game.  Both of these opportunities are self funded.

Details of the proposals can be found in Board Docs

Classroom Technology Initiative

The final review of the Learning Management System proof of concept pilot has been concluded and recommendations for next year have been agreed to and funded.

  • One next step in the process is to expand the use of the LMS - 70 more teachers will be trained this summer.  

  • The other next step is to evaluate and finalize a model for student devices.  Teachers involved in this year's pilot agree that students should have greater access to devices. The district will pilot a 1:1 Chromebook initiative next year, involving one team at the middle school and a few select teachers in the high school.

Review the details in the memo to the Board

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