Notes from the August 23 Board of Education Meeting

by Lori Morrow

The Board of Education Meeting began at approximately 7:30 PM on Thursday, August 23 at the Sasscer Building in Upper Marlboro.

Report of the Chair:

  • BOE Member Mary Kingston Roche has resigned from the Board of Education
  • PGCPS is hosting the Back-to-School Block Party at the Bowie Baysox Stadium on August 25th
  • For Public Comment, members of the public should register 4 days prior to the meeting.

Report of the CEO:

Discussed 5 focus areas, updated policies, and the Back-to-School portion of the webpage to get everyone ready for the first day.

Public Comment:

–Michele Clark, Teacher Retention and Turnover

–Susanne Johnson, Resources for Immersion Schools

–Theresa Mitchell Dudley, PGCEA, Teacher Retention

–Linda Tucker, Fingerprinting Requirements for Athletics Volunteers

Discussion Item:

Dr. Goldson introduction of the Discussion Item, First Day of School Planning & Preparations:

–All 17 cases of employees involved in the Internal Audit compensation findings have been returned to previous pay levels and steps are being taken to review future pay increases related to change in responsibilities.

–Dr. Goldson also discussed the restructuring of the Area Office Structure for better leveling and monitoring.  In addition, positions formerly working in the Ombudsman office will be placed in Area Offices as “Area Office Resolution Specialists” to allow more timely resolution of parent concerns.

Associate Superintendent Dr. David Curry: Principal Support & Training this summer:

–Principal meeting was held on Aug 8 to present updates for Administrative Procedures related to Attendance (5113) and Grading & Reporting (5121), grade change authorization and grad standards module.  Additional principal meeting was held on Aug 21 to answer questions and concerns about policies. There was also a meeting specifically for Elementary/K-8 Principals to review Health & Wellness 0116 and recess procedures. Principals were directed to include the information in handbooks and review the information with staff.

Chief Accountability Officer, Dr. Douglas Strader:

–Discussed the plans to report key performance indicators quarterly to stakeholders.

Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Kara Libby:

–Discussed updates about curriculum documents and resources that will be available to teachers. Materials have been disseminated so that teachers will be able to begin instruction on day one.

Chief Information Offier, Mr. Youssef Antar:

–Discussed $3M technology upgrades; increase of the one-to-one intitiative (up to 18 schools); and automated graduation standards/grade change modules.

Chief of Human Resources, Mr. Howard Burnett:

–Teachers: Hired 976 teachers this summer and have 55 vacancies. We have a pool of 3000 substitute teachers. Substitutes who will be filling vacant positions have been able to attend training/planning days with teachers so that they will be able to teach on the first day.

–Bus drivers: 69 vacancies with over 1000 bus drivers. Substitute drivers and doubled routes will be used to cover the vacancies. 36 drivers are currently in training with another 15 who have been recently hired.

–Nurses: Hired 19 nurses since July 1 but still have 32 vacancies.  Will use contract nurses from 8 agencies to fill vacancies and schools all have emergency care plans in place.

–Administrative Leave: Human Resources and Labor Relations looked at cases of individuals who are currently on leave.  Staff with minor infractions who were found not to pose threat to staff, students or the organization will be able to remain in the work location. Individuals with cases pending with Child Protective Services are not able to remain in their work locations.

Interim CEO Dr. Monica Goldson:

–Capital Improvement: Discussed projects at Tulip Grove ES (Renovation completed), Francis T. Evans ES (Pod conversion, 1 out of 3 completed. Expect completion at end of November), and Hollywood ES (Pod conversion with delays).

–District Heights ES Update: Mold reappeared in the elementary school this summer. Dr. Goldson requested external evaluation and ultimately made the decision that students will be bussed to Forestville HS for this school year so that systemic repairs can be made. $2.5M was already in the FY2019 budget to replace the air conditioning system.

Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Wesley Watts:

–Discussed updates about water quality program and air testing. At least one filtered water station will be installed in all schools by the end of October. Over the last two years, PGCPS has tested 4606 classrooms for Radon and have taken remediation actions for classrooms that tested positive.

— Transportation: May experience some delays because of remaining bus driver vacancies. Administration is engaging with the union leadership and looking for ways to improve transportation operations. Bus information has been added into the Schoolmax Family Portal. Will be launching a new mobile app, “Here Comes the Bus”, that allows people to track busses in real-time.

Chief of Special Education and Student Services, Dr. Gwendolyn Mason:

–Immunizations: 6000 families were notified in June that children would not be eligible without proper immunizations. Discussed communication efforts and clinics in collaboration with community health partners to work towards 98% immunization goal.

Conclusion from Interim CEO Dr. Monica Goldson:

Questions on the Discussion Item:

BOE Member Edward Burroughs III:

–Discussed policies related to attendance and efforts to reduce truancy.

–Clarified the revised structure for Instructional Directors that requires experience at the level they will be working with.

–Clarified weather that exacerbated mold situation at District Heights this summer and necessitated urgency this summer.

Student BOE Member Amanya Paige:

–Requested additional information about list of schools with water stations

–Clarified information about enrolling in the Here Comes the Bus App (forthcoming via mail postcard)

–Requested list of the 18 schools with the one-to-one technology

BOE Member K. Alexander Wallace:

–Clarification on staff vacancies and substitute teacher certifications

–Discussion about teacher compensation and establishment of the Compensation Restoration Task Force working with labor partners, BOE members, staff and county government to look for solutions towards increasing compensation for staff. Task Force will begin in mid-September and will include an external evaluator. “We will need an extensive amount of money”, Dr. Goldson and will require community support.

–Discussed community meeting that was held at District Heights earlier in the evening.

BOE Member Sonya Williams:

–Clarification about Literacy & Numeracy Snapshots. Information was shared with principals and is posted to the website.

–Discussion about nurse staffing and plans for schools that do not have nurses. Temporary nurses are available from agencies and there are nurse managers that can fill in if necessary. Also discussed being transparent with families at schools that do not have nurses and reviews of medical profiles/student needs to put plans in place at each school.

–Clarification on staff that are out on administrative leave. 60 staff members were able to return to work locations after the review this summer.

–Clarification on District Heights ES. There will be a bell time adjustment to accommodate transportation.  There will be an evaluation of what other facility work may be possible to complete while the school is vacant.

BOE Vice Chair Carolyn Boston:

–Discussed staffing and substitutes

–Clarification on radon air testing and remediation for the 11 classrooms that required additional power air handling

–Discussion about immunizations and clarification that families get a grace period of 20 days at the beginning of school before being excluded due to lack of immunizations.

BOE Member Lupi Quinteros-Grady:

–Clarification about Area Office Resolution Specialists and how they will work with area staff to resolve parent concerns quicker

–Discussion from Diversity Officer Nora Morales about communicating requirements with families that do not speak English

–Clarification about timeline for Hollywood ES completion. It is a phase project that will not be completed until next summer.

–Clarification about the Transportation app and efforts to ensure principals are also staying informed. Help desk will be staffed with 25 staff members at the beginning of the year to help with questions and concerns.

BOE Member Raaheela Ahmed:

–Comments about Dr. Goldson’s leadership and action in the past three weeks

–Asked what changes families will feel on day one. CEO responded with clarification that parents will be treated as partners and emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability. Discussed efforts to improve instruction and student achievement.

–Clarification on the use of Raptor badges for parents on the first day. CEO clarified that use of the Raptor system will be relaxed on the first day/first week so that parents can escort students to classrooms. Beyond the initial period, everyone will need to bring an ID to be scanned through the Raptor system.

BOE Member Donna Wiseman:

–Clarification about the Instructional Director for Charters and unique needs for those schools. Administration reviewed charter school evaluations over the summers and has been provided to BOE office. Evaluations will also be made public. It should assist in providing better background when charters come up for renewal.

–Question about the timing for new teachers getting their school assignments. In the hiring sessions this summer, principals were able select candidates on the spot since credentials had already been reviewed.

BOE Member Curtis Valentine:

–Added comments about compensation and the need to find a new revenue source. Discussed the context for comparing teacher compensation in DC public schools.

–Comments about transportation and discussed efforts to improve the transportation process at the beginning of the school year, especially for youngest students. Discussed training efforts for bus drivers.  All Pre-K/K students will be given neon vests again this year to help drivers identify those students and prevent them being left without an adult. Principals will also have a web-based platform to access data from the bus-tracking app.

BOE Member Sonya Williams (round 2):

–Follow-up comments about compensation restoration. Estimate is that bringing all staff up to the correct step levels would cost $80M. Comparatively, the county funding for this year was $74M total.

–Discussion about substitute teachers and certification/degree needs.

BOE Edward Burroughs III (round 2):

–Question about the status of the lights at Oxon Hill HS. The bid came in above the budgeted cost by $250,000 so they are re-advertising for the bid. They are scheduling it to occur after football season.

BOE Member Lupi Quinteros-Grady (round 2):

–Question about Arts Integration. Schools are added “based on the willingness of the staff in the building”.

–Comments about the needs for nurses and suggestion to review the administrative procedure and explore innovative ways to meet needs since the nurse shortage is a national issue.

BOE Member Curtis Valentine (round 2):

–Question about the status of the plan to put a turf field at Potomac HS. There are not enough funds to cover both turf fields at Oxon Hill & Potomoc, including the lights. A grant from the Redskins will help with the projects. The cost for Potomac is $2.1M because of additional factors at the site.

Discussion and vote for the Consent Agenda and Budget Consent Agenda. All items were approved:

–Award of the NAVIANCE contract will provide this program to all schools.  It was tested successfully at a limited number of sites last year.  The program assists students and counselors in preparing their college/career path.  One highlight is that it provides an efficient, electronic method for students to send transcripts to colleges.

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