Monday, November 9, 2015

Board Recap Test 2

This Month’s Board Meetings - October 2015

This month we had about 8 hours of public meetings, so the recap is a bit longer than usual - so much going on!

Highlights from Committee Meetings, Work Session and Regular Board Meeting

  • 1:1 Chromebook Project Update
  • Keystone and Project Based Assessment Plan
  • Strategic Planning
  • Update on Middle School Project
  • Transportation Presentation
  • Policy Update - Concussion Management
  • UE Student Performance
  • Keith Knauss Resignation
  • Hillendale Class Size

1:1 Chromebook Project Update
The district continues to evaluate emerging technologies that can improve student performance.  We envision a learning environment for secondary students that is supported by the use of a state-of-the-art Learning Management System (Canvas) students access through Chromebooks inside and outside of the classroom.

We are piloting this program right now and the Board received an update that is very promising.  A thorough review of the pilot and recommendations for 2016-2017 will be presented to the Board in early 2016.

Did You Know: The high school now has a Cyber Cafe (outside of the library) where students work (often collaboratively) while accessing the school wifi.  Snacks are also available.  Students can bring their own devices and access the school’s guest network.  And a new student run help desk is underway!

Keystone and Project Based Assessment Plan

The Keystone exams are replacing PSSA tests.  This is a State requirement and the transition from PSSAs to Keystones began a few years ago.  

One difference between the two tests is that passing the Keystone exam is required for graduation.   This graduation requirement takes full effect beginning with the class of 2017.  
The Administration has developed a plan to support students who have not passed the exam.  Supports for these students includes several options for additional instruction and/or an optional project.

The Keystone requirement is satisfied in one of 4 ways
  • Either Pass all 3 Keystone Exams (multiple attempts allowed)
  • Complete the project base assessment
  • Have have an IEP-based waiver
  • Obtain a waiver from the Superintendent

Strategic Planning

The Board is considering launching a strategic plan initiative.  UCF strives to offer a world-class education and has made great strides, but in a rapidly changing world it is more important than ever that the District remain focused on adapting to change and leveraging new methods for “Unlocking the Potential in All of Us”.

Currently district goals are set annually.  Looking at a longer term can help improve outcomes by aligning the staff and funds around a long term plan that is tied to our mission, vision, and values.

Longwood Gardens recently went through the process of creating a long term strategic plan and representatives from Longwood Gardens gave the Board a presentation, highlighting the benefits realized and effort involved in the process.

Among the benefits Longwood Gardens has seen are:
  • Increased Innovation, creativity, empowerment, and buy-in at all levels of the staff and community
  • Continuity and consistency
  • Positive impact on staff has impact on public.  Public understanding of the details/process of the organization.

Update on Middle School Project

Rick Hostetler was very direct.  The project is not without its challenges and has been a frustrating process.  The contractors are probably a week behind, but that will most likely be made up.  Rick is cautiously optimistic that this phase will be done sometime in December.

Transportation Presentation

Marie Wickersham and her team presented “Who we are -  What we do - and What does it cost”

The key takeaway was that Transportation is on track with the cost projections done in 2011, confirming the Board decision made at that time to continue providing in-house bus services.  The Board members appreciated Marie and her team’s efforts to operate at a competitive cost with superior service.

Policy Update - Concussion Management

The Concussion management policy came out of the work of the Wellness Committee.  The policy formerly dealt only with “return to play”.  The focus of these changes is “return to learn”.

UE Student Performance
Unionville Elementary students performed at the regular Board Meeting on October 26

Use this link to go to the UCF “U” Tube site and scroll to minute 7:45 to listen to our students singing their school song.  Scroll to minute 9:25 to listen to them sing Brave - be you, be brave, be heard and together we can stop bullying.

This Board has taken special interest on the issue of bullying and they were delighted to see how anti-bullying awareness seeps into all areas of the curriculum.

Keith Knauss Resignation
The Board acted to accept Keith’s resignation, and by law we have 30 days to fill the vacancy.
Next steps:
  • Oct 27: communicate vacancy
  • Nov 6: cut-off date for receiving applications
  • Nov 9: public interviews at Board Work Session
  • Nov 16: elections at Regular Board Meeting

Board member comments about Keith can be found by scrolling to minute 21:30 of the video

Hillendale Class Size
Hillendale parents came out in large numbers (about 22 or 23 to each meeting) to both the Work Session and regular Board Meeting.  Several parents stood up to express their concerns about the current 3rd grade class sizes at Hillendale.  The speakers provided studies supporting the benefits of small class sizes.  Specifically these parents are asking for short term relief (add an additional language arts instructor) and a long term change in class size guidelines.

There was much discussion during the meeting amongst the Board during the week between the Work Session and the regular Board Meeting.  Board President, Vic Dupuis, provided an update.
  • The Board will take up this discussion at the November Work Session.  
  • The Board has asked the Administration to review the situation and consider the parents’ request.
  • Four members of the Board have formally requested the process be expedited so that if an additional teacher is required they can be brought onboard quickly.

This was a very interesting conversation for parents who want to understand more about the class size issue, scroll to minute 47:15 of the video on “U” Tube

That’s about it.  The meeting ended around 9:00.  Scroll to minute 1:53 and you’ll see the back of my head - it looks like I was the last person standing (sitting in this case) in the audience.