• Emily Berry

Summer break is no vacation: June 27 Meeting Preview

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

This post first appeared on my original site June 26, 2017

Shorewood's School Board has had a few quiet weeks without regular meetings -- its most recent gathering was a "retreat" with its coherent governance consultants June 14.  We should see anything the board informally discussed pop up later in official proposals from board members or administrators over the next few meetings. 

I have to apologize in advance -- I will miss at least the first few hours of this meeting, maybe the whole thing -- my daughter's Little League team has a big game Tuesday night starting at 7 p.m.. I'm going to take advantage of the fact that I don't serve on the board but am a bystander, and choose to go cheer her on rather than sit through the board meeting that will start at the same time.  However, I promise to watch the video and sit through whatever I miss, and follow up with a post about all of it. (If you aren't addicted to board meetings like me, you  might not realize that the board meetings are all recorded and posted online).

I do hate to miss this one, because the agenda is PACKED. Let's take a look, shall we?

Here's a link to the agenda and related documents.

First, an update on the district's "Mental health strategies" from Jeff Cyganiak, Director of Special Education and Pupil Services. This is an area the district leadership has talked a lot about. Yes, there has been some great work by the student/faculty-led work by REDgen, and some research into "best practices," but I am eager to hear what  actual initiatives or changes will be made as a result of the research the school district leadership has done.

It does seem like Mr. Cyganiak has done what was called for in the 2016-2017 plan. For example, Board members visited another district last year with mental health services offered on-site at the high school. I think this could be great for Shorewood, but it is not enough to really say we're really meeting the needs of our students. At the update for summit attendees held this spring, Jeff Cyganiak talked about the idea of the co-located service model, but that doesn't address the needs of kids at the elementary or intermediate schools, nor does it address the needs of kids who for a variety of reasons aren't going to use an on-site therapist.

I'm looking for Mr. Cyganiak to outline a detailed strategy for promoting mental health at every grade level and addressing the needs of kids who are struggling at any grade level. That would deliver on our stated mission to "Support the Whole Child."

Next will come two operations updates: one on the "Learning Environment" from Mr. Cyganiak, and one on Facilities from Business Manager Patrick Miller. As of this posting, there was no document linked to the Learning Environment update, but here is the compliance update for Facilities. I was struck by the hedging around whether all work orders and maintenance (p.s. folks, the word is PREVENTIVE, not "preventative."):

Here'an excerpt: 

We will know we are compliant when:

  • The District passes all required annual inspections and construction inspections in accordance with applicable federal, state and local codes.

  • The District completes 50% of scheduled maintenance in the CMMS within 7 days, and 90% of scheduled maintenance in the CMMS within 60 days.

  • 95% of critical building systems receive preventative maintenance at prescribed levels. 

  • Safety inspections are conducted annually in every District facility. 100% of recommendations from safety inspections are reviewed and prioritized for action based on safety, security and funding, and included on the 5 year capital maintenance plan.

Monitoring Summary: The District has complied, with all required Federal, State and Local code inspections. All necessary corrective actions have been addressed through immediate action or planned progress monitoring through the appropriate agency. The building and grounds department is up to date and in compliance with all recorded scheduled “preventative maintenance.” For the fiscal year 2017: 81% of the entered work orders have been completed/closed, 13% are in progress, and 38% are new orders pending assignment, 80% of work orders indicating safety issues have been completed/closed, 20% are in progress.

There's not a 1:1 match between what's called for in compliance and what's actually reported, so I'm curious to see whether the board members push back on that. What does "pending assignment" mean, exactly? In my business, that means "not complete." Just saying.

Under the Superintendent's "Consent Agenda" are a few items that are pretty significant  -- approval of salary increases and a couple of significant new positions, along with establishing the way we measure "academic mastery." These items are not subject to discussion unless a board member specifically requests they be removed from the consent agenda and voted on individually.

There is a lot there.

1) Support staff (aka non-teacher, non-administrators, including administrative assistants, aides, building and grounds employees) are set to receive a 2.83% raise next year, which equals an average of 30 cents more per hour. If for some reason this was a problem or the board did not want to accept the recommendation, there would be little time to discuss -- these are contracts set to start July 1.

2) Salaried administrators, meanwhile, would receive a  2.85% raise under the Superintendent's proposal.

3) Also under the consent agenda, the general fees for students at each school are outlined here.

4) Here's one that seems like it  sure should merit discussion: how we define "academic mastery." This proposed criteria outlines "passage presentations" that would happen in 6th, 8th and 11th grades, and how they would be scored, then how the scores would be reported on an aggregate basis to the board.

5) Approval of contracts for new teachers and support staff at every school, including (!) a new position of "Authentic Learning Coordinator" for Nate Schultz, a 6th grade teacher at Lake Bluff who lost out on the Lake Bluff principal position in the first set of candidates, despite his admission that all he ever wanted in his career was to be principal of Lake Bluff. I am very curious about that new position and hope it's not just a consolation prize, but makes use of his skills and expertise. He will be working with Curriculum Director Tim Joynt.

AND (drumroll please!!!) a Dean of Students at SIS (cue trumpets). After hearing some pretty alarming descriptions of the environment for kids at SIS last year, I am beyond pleased to see the board took parents' recommendation to hire a Dean of Students to handle behavioral and social issues so that Principal Mike Joynt can concentrate on the many other demanding aspects of his job. SIS had a Dean of Students at one time and will return to that model. The recommendation summary said there were 70 applicants for this job, so we should have been able to hire the cream of the crop.

Also included are:

  • a new half-day Junior Kindergarten teacher at Atwater,

  • a new K5 teacher at Lake Bluff,

  • a new/old French teacher at SHS. It looks like Mr. Schmidt is moving to be full-time in Social Studies at SHS, allowing for Lisa McFarland, who taught at SHS as a long-term sub prior to leaving for Greendale two years ago.

  • Two new SHS Special Ed teachers

  • a new SHS Student Support Secretary

Last but not least, under the board consent agenda, is approval of Superintendent Bryan Davis' contract for the school year -- no discussion expected there, but always worth noting.

Lots to see and talk about! If it goes late, I'll see you there -- otherwise, look for my coverage later in the week after I watch the video.

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Emily Berry

Shorewood, WI 53211

emily@berryschoolsblog.com