Regular Meeting of the Governing Board – January 24th, 2023
3. District Reports
3A. Gifted Services Report
The January 24th Deer Valley Unified School District Governing Board Meeting kicked off with a district report on Gifted Services presented by Dr. Gayle Galligan and Dr. Aimee Sulit. Dr. Sulit covered the definitions of what it means to be gifted and explained that the State of Arizona identifies Gifted Services as “an integral part of the regular school day.”
Arizona is one of the few states that requires public school districts to provide Gifted Services. The State identifies students performing at or above the 97th percentile as gifted. DVUSD has expanded this programming, offering services to students who perform at the 95th percentile (moving to the 94th percentile next year) and 80th percentile at Title I schools.
Dr. Sulit discussed the differences between bright and gifted children and the common traits of gifted learners. To best meet the needs of these learners, Deer Valley Unified School District focuses on the critical elements of Gifted Programming: flexible grouping, differentiation, continuous progress, intellectual peer interaction, continuity, and providing teachers with specialized education.
DVUSD currently serves more than 5,000 students with Gifted Programming at 41 schools. The district has over 20 unique, Gifted high school courses, three high-gifted Renaissance programs, three Bright Beginnings Kindergarten programs, and one Gifted Pre-K academy. In the coming school year, DVUSD will add Hillcrest Middle School as a campus offering a highly-gifted Renaissance program.
Learn more about Gifted Programming in this Gifted Services presentation:
Board Member Comments/Questions
Ordway: What is the amount the State compensates the district for our gifted students?
Answer: The exact amount will be provided in the next board update, but it’s not nearly as much as we’d want to support this programming.
Paperman: Can you explain how Gifted students are identified?
Answer: We provide state testing three times a year – the State requires that services are provided to students performing at or above the 97th percentile, but DVUSD measures at the 95th percentile (94th next year). Students, parents, and teachers can recommend testing.
Fisher: At what point do they start to identify the gifted versus trouble?
Answer: The younger students are identified, the better. DVUSD tries to identify students sometime between Kindergarten and 2nd grade. We don’t want students sitting in classrooms unengaged.
Fisher: Clarifies that she meant, historically, when did they start identifying gifted children in education versus just calling them troublemakers?
Answer: In DVUSD, gifted services have been available for at least 35 years. At that time, it was limited to K-6 with some AP courses at the high school level, but opportunities and programming have significantly increased since then.
4. Call to the Public
The public comments start around 24:00 in the video. Many speakers were present to give their opinions on DVUSD’s Standards-Based Grading (SBG) system.
5. Consent Agenda
All consent agenda items were approved unanimously, with no discussion.
6A. Approve Employee Professional Development (Out of State)
The motion passes unanimously.
6B. Approve Addenda Pre-Approvals
The motion passes unanimously.
These items were previewed by the board for consideration at a future meeting. They could ask questions and request additional information to help inform their decisions.
7A. Governing Board Policy KB – Parental Involvement in Education
This policy Was originally previewed at the final board meeting of 2022. At the January 10th, 2023 meeting, the policy was denied to give the new board members an opportunity to learn more about the policy and make recommended changes if deemed necessary.
The board did review this policy and chose to reject the version submitted by ASBA. With cooperation from the district and its legal team, the teams developed a new version of Policy KB for review.
Board Member Comments/Questions
Carver: Thank you for the time spent rewording this. If understood correctly, on page one, when it starts off with purpose, that’s been struck out. The proposal was originally to be included, but we’re striking that, correct?
Answer: That is correct. The attorney felt the “purpose” section was redundant information. In some cases, it made sense to keep – Three areas refer to sex education, for example, but we kept those even though they might be redundant.
Fisher: So if it’s red with red, it’s what we wanted to be removed. If it’s black with black, it’s what ASBA wanted to Change?
Answer: If it is in red, it was a change made to the previous policy KB or a change we made. On page two, we changed D to E and E to F. Those would not have been ASBA changes; those are our changes. However, on the first page, the area in red under purpose was struck out. If it is in black, it was in policy KB.
Fisher: So, was it redundant or contradicting?
Fisher: So, on page one, the top is redundant. Were the definitions added by the district, ASBA, or an attorney?
Answer: Those were ASBA-recommended changes, but it’s because it is in the statute. You can find it in 15-102 and read it in the associated house bills.
Fisher: On page 2, C and D… Were those added by us or ASBA?
Answer: They were added by ASBA, but because they are part of the new statute.
Fisher: And the small blurb on the top of page three?
Answer: DVUSD added that with the guidance of the attorney.
Fisher: Page five, number 19, and the following redactions?
Answer: DVUSD added/redacted with the guidance of the attorney. However, you will notice where the strikeout is, the very next page has added similar information to what was struck out. The goal was to make the policy text flow logically and have headings that make sense to our community members.
Fisher: So the words you have written, this is the breakdown of references?
Answer: Correct, they were also in the previous policy KB.
Fisher: So the optional information redactions, those were ASBA?
Fisher: We removed the “superintendent” and “shall,” and the “request for information is denied” from the guidance?
Answer: Going back to page six, we moved that information to that area – procedures for requesting parental rights information.
Fisher: Just want it to be clear that certain parts are not being removed for the public – those are important. Concerned about removing the info on page one because it sets our parents and community on a fishing expedition, even if it is redundant. When you’re a parent trying to look at something, the policy is valid with or without the top portion but makes it easier for the public to understand. One of the big concerns she’s received is that our community is often confused by the regulation and who has adopted it. Only the policy is adopted by the board; the regulation is not.
7B. Preview: K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Resource Materials Adoption Recommendation
The district is considering a new K-12 Social Studies curriculum to be used from 2023 to 2029. Our current 4th-12th grade curriculum has been in place since 2015, and the extended license expires end of May. The K-3 curriculum was licensed in 2005 and is still in use – the core materials do not meet the State standards that were updated in 2018. Educators and staff have been creating additional materials to meet the standards. Approving this curriculum will provide our students with the latest Social Studies materials and meet the current State standards.
The process for this adoption began at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. A request for committee volunteers was widely published on 8/31 – 9/1 on various communication channels. There were 135 applications consisting of 87 parents and 48 teachers/admin. The final committee was made up of 20 parents/community members and 26 teachers/admin. A lottery was used to determine the parents/community committee members, and teachers were chosen by grade level and region.
Members participated in all four meetings. The first meeting was to understand the vision and purpose, review the rubric, and answer any clarifying questions. The second meeting consisted of evaluating all the materials provided by potential vendors – extra time was taken to review all the materials and narrow down the options to semi-finalists. At the third meeting, vendors gave presentations and choices to narrow down finalists for public review.
The public review was opened for feedback from November 4th, 2022, through January 2nd, 2023, and was widely publicized on various communication channels. During the public review, 127 evaluation forms were submitted – 116 from teachers/admins, 11 from parents, and zero from the general community stakeholders. The fourth and final meeting allowed the committee members to review the data and comments from the public review period and to make a grade-band decision for recommendation to the board.
At this time, McGraw Hill is recommended as the core vendor for all K-12 social studies curricula, with Arizona Council on Economic Education (ACEE) providing supplementary materials. Over the next seven years, these materials are expected to impact 243,551 students and 7105 teachers. This curriculum adoption will come with a full suite of professional development and investment in partnership with DVUSD over the next seven years from McGraw Hill and ACEE.
The total estimated cost for implementation is $3.386M and falls within the budgeted amount for curricular adoptions this school year.
To learn more about the curriculum process and chosen materials, review the entire presentation:
Board Member Comments/Questions:
Carver: Thanks to the curriculum team for doing an amazing job and including as much of the community as possible. He says he remembers sitting in the audience when Inspiration Mountain adopted its mascot and colors, and there were 800 responses. Carver would like to see the same excitement for the curriculum because a lot of hard work went into it.
He says that now that everyone has done all the work, parents who didn’t get to participate or review the materials are now sending concerns – Carver believes that in today’s environment, whatever curriculum we adopt, regardless of the subject, we should choose sources that are going to phrase things in a manner that will be inclusive and take everyone’s viewpoint into account.
To illustrate his concern, he uses the AP U.S. History book’s section on COVID as an example. “It says specifically that you chose to not wear a mask; you were showing off your independence and basically your freedom. But by the same token, if you wore a mask, you were doing it for the common good.” Carver’s concern is that this language implies that if you didn’t wear a mask, you were selfish. He says that it was a big enough concern that a community member sent that and about six other examples to him. He thinks that we need to hold our suppliers more accountable – “the book is pretty thick, and they could have taken an extra few sentences to word it more carefully. You’re talking about everything from BLM to George Floyd to President Trump in these books, and I think they should take the time to make them less controversial.”
You’re talking about everything from BLM to George Floyd to President Trump in these books, and I think they should take the time to make them less controversial.– Paul Carver
Carver says that we’re in an environment where no matter what you say, you’re going to piss off half the crowd. He believes that we need to do our best as the center of the community to make sure we’re not adopting a curriculum that could possibly offend and make people wonder what the position of the school is with our thoughts on these things. “That’s not what social studies is; history is a fact,” says Carver. “It shouldn’t be slanted.” He again thanks the curriculum team for doing an amazing job but wants to share that these are things we should keep in the back of our minds.
Fisher: Fisher says that she usually gets all the emails, but it would seem that everyone sent their concerns to Carver. She watched the video of the committee being chosen and is thankful because otherwise, she’d really have parents contacting her. Fisher says that we need to get the community awake, to get them active in all types of things. These are their kids.
Fisher: Do we get printed materials, or do we print the materials?
Answer: Yes, we will be able to print materials so that students can focus on individual pages and not have the entire book in front of them. Teachers can also cut it down and customize it for the needs of their students.
Fisher: What type of customization?
Answer: Mostly for things like reading Lexile level.
Paperman: We’re going to have Social Studies K-12 on the schedule; there will be a time for social studies, so will the teachers have a chance to use this for interdisciplinary units?
Answer: As noted in the presentation, this resource does have children writing linked into current literature, features math/economics, etc. It’s an amazing resource that is interdisciplinary. We already encourage our ELA teachers to overlap into different subject areas, including Social Studies. This allows them to also tie into ELA, science, etc. They all benefit from each other. The ACEE curriculum also does build economics and financial literacy at all grade levels.
7C. K-12 Music Curriculum Resource Materials Adoption Recommendation
Similar to the Social Studies curriculum, DVUSD’s music curriculum is outdated. This curriculum was adopted last in the 2007-2008 school year. The new materials will bring DVUSD up to current standards and opportunities to use music-focused technology in the classroom.
The review timeline and committee involvement are similar to the Social Studies curriculum. However, the review period resulted in significantly fewer evaluation forms being submitted, 35 total. 29 teachers/admins, five parents, and one community member submitted a review.
At this time, Quaver music is recommended for K-6 general music and Music First for 5-12 adoption. This curriculum will impact 25,000 students and 132 teachers over the next seven years.
The estimated cost for implementation is $921,450 and falls within the amount budgeted for curricular adoption for this school year.
Fisher: Thanks to the curriculum team, and she reminds everyone how important music is.
8A. Standards-Based Grading (SBG)
Paperman submitted this topic for discussion with the intent that standards-based grading is on the next agenda for the board to provide direction for administration regarding grading and/or systems.
Paperman: Believes there is a lot of concern from the community about SBG. She was under the impression that the last board advised the district to stop standards-based grading. (Note: Paperman was on the last board. There was no decision to stop SBG, only to change the grade symbol from a number back to a letter-based grade.) She says that the only thing that happened was that the language was changed. Now that there is a new board, she’d like to hear their thoughts about SBG and if it would be beneficial to bring this back to the table.
Simacek: As a new board member, she has gone back and watched the previous meetings about SBG. She feels they were very informative; however, in the past, she was approaching SBG more as a parent. Now, she’s looking at it from the perspective of a board member representing students, parents, and teachers. She would feel more comfortable discussing this after having the opportunity to go and visit more schools. She’d like the opportunity to talk to the admin and teachers and find out more information. Says that it was nice to hear from the teachers tonight. Her initial concern with SBG was the workload it put on teachers. She would like to go out and talk to the community and get a better understanding, maybe seeing it in practice in the classroom. She understands it from a parent’s perspective and her personal experience with it but would like to make informed decisions as a board member.
Ordway: Do we have more recent data for the grading and achievements?
Answer: We plan to bring to the board the survey data that has occurred for admin, teachers, and parents at the 16 phase-one and phase-two schools – the surveys will be closing at the end of the month. We’ll also have an updated listing of grades of our students and how they did in the first semester – that will be available early in February. We’ve had a very good turnout in the surveys from all the stakeholder groups and would appreciate having the opportunity to share that with the board.
Ordway: Ordway says that we’ve heard from the same parents/teachers on SBG, and nothing has changed for them. She has also heard from many teachers that were against SBG, but their opinion has now changed. She would like to know if there is a way to capture that to ensure that the parents that spoke tonight are actually the pulse of the entire community. At first glance, the data shows that we had two schools that went from C ratings to A ratings, and they absolutely embraced a standards-based mindset. Ordway also agrees that we should give the two new board members an opportunity to go out and experience SBG and talk with the community.
Ordway says that when we have a discussion item that you say is an action item, and we’re going to vote on it, that is putting the cart before the horse. If we want to vote on it, she’d like the board to make sure that the time and money that has been, and still is, being put into it is not wasted. Changing a grading system at the middle or end of a semester is also a concern.
Ultimately, Ordway wants to make sure we have a clear picture before voting on any of this. Based on the public comments she heard tonight, she believes that part of the problem is that some teachers who are resistant to SBG have not been implementing whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing in a timely fashion.
Simacek: Says she looks forward to reviewing the data and surveys that will be provided on February 14th. She has personally talked with some teachers that are nervous to share their experiences, so she hopes that the surveys will give a more clear picture of what is happening in the district.
She has received several emails in the last few days from teachers in the district that have found that SBG works very well for them. She believes this is a two-sided issue, and being able to talk to and visit with the community and review data will be helpful in discussions and the decision-making process.
Carver: Carver says he appreciates the opportunity to bring this subject back up. He sat in the audience last year with it was discussed and believes that the community agreed with the standards-based mindset but that the grading system was broken. He says, “We eliminated 49 points of failure down to 18 points of failure, but sometimes the sad fact of reality is that sometimes you don’t succeed.” Carver believes that for clarity, the board needs to revisit this.
sometimes the sad fact of reality is that sometimes you don’t succeed.– Paul Carver
After receiving several requests, he will be in the district visiting schools to experience SBG. He says that he doesn’t claim to know everything, but he’ll do his best to educate himself on every nuance that the board has to deal with. We have to make the best choices possible for the students. Carver says the fact of the matter is, if we were to vote right now, he’s received 20 messages from people who don’t like it and only two people who do. He believes that the district has done a disservice in the execution of SBG, and the confusion of the last board meeting, where everyone thought it wasn’t moving forward, is adding to the angst of parents. He’d like to review for clarity and transparency and requests that the board does a study session to review.
Fisher: She was invited to attend a Professional Learning Community (PLC) event for one of the schools, but unfortunately, she contracted COVID. Says that she wishes she hadn’t gotten COVID because she would have liked to see SBG from a different perspective. She says that other than the few that like it and support it, she’s received an overwhelming amount of stress from teachers and parents about SBG. Fisher also believed that the previous board voted to pause the implementation, but what they were voting on clearly became convoluted. She claims to have received feedback from teachers that SBG is still going full-steam ahead and that teachers are saying they will retire if implemented in their schools. She has also been in contact with Michelle Udall at the Department of Education, who is also second-guessing whether or not SBG is a good idea. She will continue to contact Mrs. Udall to get more data, opinions, thoughts, and understanding from her.
Fisher appreciates that the district has done a survey; however, she continues to get emails about staff not wanting to be identified in the surveys. She says this fear is there, whether it is founded or unfounded (Mrs. Fisher claims to know that this is unfounded, but on May 8th, 2022, posted publicly to her Facebook page that the district was, in fact, using IP addresses to determine who was responding to surveys). She believes the solution to the problem is to have an actual study session, bringing stakeholders to the table to discuss SBG. She doesn’t want another presentation from the district. Fisher says that even staff who is afraid need to step forward, “the board has to approve any termination; that doesn’t mean that your life can’t be made hell, but staying silent does not fix anything.”
Fisher says that the board needs to make good decisions, whether completely stopping it everywhere, keeping the mindset, or stopping the grading. She does not personally support kids getting 50% for not turning anything in, saying, “that’s everyone gets a trophy.” In her personal experience, she struggled but chose to do well because otherwise, she’d have to face her father.
that’s everyone gets a trophy.– Kim Fisher
Fisher agrees to support a study session but that a decision needs to be made sooner than later because we need consistency and certainty.
Paperman: Believes that there has been so much confusion the board needs to unify all DVUSD schools to be on one grading system. Right now, we have different schools with different grading systems, and it’s confusing. Teachers must collaborate, work together, look at the same data, and use this time to identify strengths and weaknesses. She believes we need to look at the assessments to make sure they’re aligned with the data. Her daughter personally suffered with SBG using a number system and then struggled to move to college, going back to a percentage-based grading system.
She agrees with Fisher that teachers aren’t going to be honest on a survey and suggests that the Deer Valley Education Association (DVEA) do its own survey for transparency and to compare the data.
Fisher: Fisher knows that DVEA does surveys but suggests that the board develop its own survey solution. She wants something consistent that teachers, parents, and admin feel comfortable with being honest while participating. Fisher would like this topic to be a uniting tool, not a dividing tool.
Paperman: Says that the board can discuss and determine how they want to collect the data at a study session.
8B. Specialized Legal Counsel
Referencing policies BDG and/or BDH, the Deer Valley Unified School District governing board is considering whether or not to have an attorney available exclusively for the board to ask questions when needed. If put up for consideration and passed, the board would have legal counsel separate from the district legal counsel, and the only involvement by the district admin would be billing.
Simacek: Would like to know why? She’s under the understanding that DVUSD has a fantastic legal department and attorneys that are available when the board needs them. She doesn’t understand why the board would need to allocate additional funding to an outside attorney when the current lawyers representing the district are some of the best in the state. She’s requesting actual reasoning as to why the board would need independent legal counsel.
Carver: Carver apologizes and admits that he didn’t read up on the policies referenced before the meeting. He can understand the need for the policy if it’s listed because they’re only exercising the need for the board as stated in the policy. His concern about it, however, is that he doesn’t like to spend taxpayer money. He would like to understand the cost vs. benefit and what the responsibility of the current legal counsel has to the different aspects of the district. He wants clarification on how the current attorneys compartmentalize those different aspects and whether or not they would be protected by attorney-client privilege within the different departments of the district.
*Paperman continues to ask board members if they have questions, and Ordway interrupts.
Ordway: Were we going to get answers to Mr. Carver’s questions?
Simacek: Would really to know the why. Why would we need something like this?
Finch: He can’t answer specific questions because what the board is asking for is a separate attorney for the board, aside from the district attorney. He assumes there would be rules around it that would be contained to the board – how it would be set up, who has access, how it’s accessed, is there a limit, etc.
Ordway: Mr. Carver, your question is, what do they currently do, correct?
Carver: Does the current representation compartmentalize? Are they able to keep it separate, to individuals or groups, or is it like “I’ve got something juicy I want to talk to you about concerning Sheila” or something?
Finch: Historically, the President is the one who calls an attorney. It would be between the President and the attorney and you if the President tells you. Our attorneys are specialists; we have one for special needs, district law, etc. In asking other districts if they had this, there was one in Scottsdale and PHXU years ago, but nobody currently uses this. The general idea is to separate and compartmentalize. However, all district attorneys all over the state are paid to represent the district first and foremost.
Ordway: Says that previously, there were questions that a board member wanted to ask counsel about the Superintendent at the time. Confidentiality is confidentiality. No lawyer will put their livelihood on the line because they don’t like you. Imagining going down this road, in her opinion, a frivolous one, whatever this attorney says to the board is then going to be checked by another attorney for the district, so there is going to be a double bill. More money there.
Ordway wonders what the reason would be for it. If anyone on the board would have an issue personally with a firm, that’s their individual problem. It’s not about an individual. It’s about the district. She reminds the board that the DVUSD attorneys are impeccable; they’re not going to put their reputation on the line because they don’t like someone.
Paperman: She thinks there has been an issue with the district for a long time. The way it’s supposed to work is that the public elects the board, and the superintendent reports to the board. Paperman says that it has been the opposite in DVUSD, that the board works for the Superintendent. She believes the board cannot fulfill its responsibility if that’s occurring. Her opinion is that the board needs its own attorney instead of sharing one with the Superintendent and ASBA to determine how to change that dynamic. The purpose would be to seek guidance if there were concerns about the Superintendent’s performance or policy adoption if the board and district did not agree on the wording.
Fisher: Fisher says that there’s a lot to go with this. It is in policy that the board can contact an attorney, exclusively as the board president. We don’t want invidiously contacting the attorney because it starts billing – unless there was a special circumstance and someone else was appointed.
She says, to answer an implication, this isn’t about an issue with a specific attorney or individual; everyone knows she has a problem with Rob Haws – she’ll deal with it, and the district will still use him. But she reviews everything he does because she doesn’t trust him.
Everyone knows I have a problem with Rob Haws. I’ll deal with it, and the district will still use him. But I review everything he does because I don’t trust him.– Kim Fisher
As for the why, says that she’s seeking to form a productive board. The board has had issues with being productive. That’s documented over the last few years. Some members are listened to, and some aren’t. She’s looked at different opinions – the advice they would have given five or six years ago is not the same advice they’ve given in the last few years. Yes, their job is to work for and protect the district. Any attorney the board has that’s still their job.
Fisher agrees that as far as confidentiality, that is true. This is for when there is support or questions needed; it’s not always about the Superintendent. Maybe it’s about what the board is doing and how they’re doing it. She says that if the board did have a conversation about an open meeting situation, it is not confidential. The very first person they’re going to call is Dr. Finch, and they will develop their guidance from his opinion. They’ll stay within the law but will do what he wants.
As Paperman has expressed, she spoke with board members who did this before; it was to ensure that the advice was in the best interest of everyone, not just the district or board.
Fisher says that if we were to move forward with something of this nature, we’d need to set a limit. It would take money away from the current attorney, not something else. It wouldn’t need to be double-reviewed. It would be a max limit of a set amount for certain circumstances. The board would need a majority to contact the special attorney.
Fisher agrees with having one and thinks it should be a limited scope.
Ordway: Going back to the situation that was referred to previously, it was resolved by the district lawyers.
She addresses a point made by Mrs. Paperman, “I don’t recall working for anyone because you get paid for that. I’m here for the children. I spend my time in this district to make sure every decision I make allows me to sleep at night because I know I made the best decision for the children.” Ordway goes on to say that the premise that the rationale for this was to form a productive board was great wording. She believes this is frivolous unless we’re looking to hire a lawyer specifically and specialized for this board, so they can hold a hammer over someone’s head, go for it. There are a bevy of lawyers, who are approved that the board can reach out to and get an opinion from if needed. Ordway openly wonders how the board expects to get a board majority to determine whether they can ask a question or not, as that would have to be done in an open forum due to open meeting law.
“There is no point here other than a power play, and I’m not interested in that.”
There is no point here other than a power play, and I’m not interested in that.– Ann Ordway
Carver: After reviewing policy BDG, the fourth paragraph says the Superintendent AND the board. He does not believe this policy allows the board to have a separate attorney without any contact by the district, so it ends the conversation.
Fisher: Instructs Carver to read the next policy, BDH.
Carver: Reads policy aloud. Says he still doesn’t see where it says we can hire an attorney without giving access to the people we’re trying to give access to.
Fisher: It says right there that we can have counsel for special situations, and the superintendent is financially responsible.
Carver: “I don’t see it, but if you see it…”
Fisher: Says that’s how the board was able to do it with the last one, and this is the policy we used to do it. Fisher says, “honestly, apparently, some board members don’t want a functional board. God forbid we get together and have a conversation in public. That’s the purpose of this. We don’t talk. Some board members plan gotchas. Don’t make assumptions about what this is about. It shows exactly why we need this type of thing. If you want to talk about open meeting law, that’s exactly what caused the review – it was a misuse of advice given by district attorneys.”
Ordway: “So, are we looking for an attorney or a counselor?”
Fisher: “An attorney. To provide advice in situations, the board deems necessary.”
Simacek: Addresses the fact there has been mention of the last four years and the board not being functional or whatever. She believes the last four years are a time you can’t compare anything to. We have covid, our schools shut down, and online learning, and the board faced so many challenges and could not make one side happy by supporting the other. It’s not comparable. Going back to Mrs. Ordway’s complaint, if we were to file a complaint, the other side would have to reply… so you would have a double billing.
“I did this for the students, and to me, this is a complete waste of time when we have so many things going on right now in our community that our students need us for.”
“I did this for the students, and to me, this is a complete waste of time when we have so many things going on right now in our community that our students need us for.”– Stephanie Simacek
Fisher: “You do understand we wouldn’t file complaints, correct?”
Simacek: She explains that if you were to file a question to a board attorney, that is filed, and the other side would have to come back with an answer. That’s two different sides working to answer the same question. She’s not comfortable doubling that cost.
Fisher: Says we’re not going to pay…
Simacek: You don’t seek advice and get it for free.
Fisher: Agrees with Simacek and explains that when the board is seeking advice, they answer the questions. There isn’t another side. Fisher understands the reason for this separate counsel and supports it.
Simacek: Says that this does not seem typical, so her question goes back to why? If the answer is that the board hasn’t been functional for the last four years, she believes that was unprecedented. Simacek says that we’ve been making so much progress over the last year, and the board is currently divided over an attorney right now. They have attorneys available to them, so she doesn’t see why the board needs to spend more money to get advice.
Fisher: Fisher believes the current attorneys are beholden to the superintendent. She says that for everyone one question the board has, the Superintendent uses those attorneys for all kinds of things not related to the board.
Paperman: Paperman tries to use an example of taking her broken computer to a place 5 minutes away that couldn’t fix it and wanting a second opinion on the board policy preventing it from being fixed. (This was hard to follow, but she clarified later in her board report – she was having problems with her district-issued computer and wanted to take it to the IS&T department to get fixed. That department wouldn’t prioritize her because it is in board policy that there is a process. Paperman doesn’t like that process, so wanted a legal review of the policy by an outside source).
Ordway: “So Mrs. Fisher and Paperman, you just said our attorneys do things the way the superintendent says… If any of our attorneys are listening right now, they might be thinking twice about representing us. At this moment I’m going to miss the rest of the meeting because I was supposed to be home a half hour ago. I’m against this because we have a bevy of qualified attorneys.”
*Mrs. Ordway had to leave after this line of discussion.
8C. Discussion – Governing Board Retreat
President Paperman would like to have a board retreat as soon as possible. The board discusses dates and times for this retreat to take place and asks members to request specific topics of discussion if needed.
Simacek: Can you clarify what a board retreat is?
Fisher: Fisher explains that a board retreat is for team building, learning, practicing tools, etc.. No actual decisions can be made, but it’s for learning together. Says that when she was President with the previous Superintendent, they did a personality test to see where everyone fell. It’s to discuss topics that might be concerning regarding the processes. This is just to get the board talking and working together functionally.
Simacek: “I think we should wait for Ann to plan this.”
*The board continued to plan dates for a retreat.
9A. Board Reports
Simacek – Got a chance to go to the Barry Goldwater sophomore interests presentations. Talked with the students and was impressed with how they put themselves out there. The confidence was impressive.
Got a chance to go to Esperanza and met with the nurse there. Had a conversation about the family’s needs, and she expressed the kids need shoes. Families need laundry detergent, soaps, and those types of things. Would like to use the nurses as a resource to do some sort of drive for the needed items. Would like to get all our Title I schools, if they want, in drives. Could get our students involved.
Had the opportunity to meet with the district cabinet last week – it was amazing. Noticed in every meeting she had we have amazing district staff working very hard on a very small amount of resources. Learning what they’ve done and the limited resources they did it with is amazing. It speaks volumes how long our staff has been here – 20-30+ years in some instances.
Noticed through conversations with leaders that everyone works so well with each other. Things flow really well between departments. This speaks volumes to our superintendent in his leadership.
Read the district report if you haven’t; we’re a leader in the state in so many areas.
Finally, learned that “clowder” is a group of cats, and learned this because of our district spelling bee! The spelling bee was wonderful; it went on for over 3 hours. Students should be proud of themselves!
Carver: It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Attended a lot of the same things as Simacek. He visited with 30 students at the BGHS event. Ran into students who taught themselves musical instruments, athletes who had been injured and documented their recoveries – and students who were doing projects for their peers, one who was creating a hotline for at-risk use contemplating suicide. Spent time with Dr. Stolic to learn about her and, what she does, and how she interacts with the students and staff.
Listened to the interfaith council meeting that Dr. Finch holds.
MLK day, he spent the day at OCJ Foster kids volunteering. They specialize in developing care packages for foster children at locations across the state. They have basic hygiene gear and other important items. They put over 320 kids together.
He visited with the cabinet; they should be commended. They do a lot with little. Very blessed individuals. Appreciates them. Wishes the world was a different place that they could give them all the tools they need.
The spelling bee was amazing. Fifty children started and went 18 rounds before it got down to the winner.
Met with an economic group this morning, and they wanted to know how they can help. Had great conversation.
Got to participate with a CTE organization today. They were doing an amazing job.
Fisher: Ditto to some of that. Was at BGHS. Surprised by the diversity of the projects. They picked things that were truly passionate about. Excited to take her bulldog to the football game.
CTE has her heart for a reason, believes that college and career readiness is important and that we need career readiness as well. CTE is so important to industry. This is her 2nd time in the CTE advisory.
“I have received a lot of emails; they’re insane; if I haven’t answered your email, I will.” She’s been very busy. Don’t know if she missed it, but had requested some of the PNL statements on enterprise departments. Any department that raises funds.
Got an email from someone concerned about how our ratios are calculated – she’s somewhat aware but thinks it would be good for the board and the public to know. We don’t have 19 students in class, so how is that calculated?
One email was from a parent who is concerned about lunchtime visits. Knows that some schools don’t allow volunteers at all. This parent was concerned that people who aren’t the parent were allowed at lunchtime. Is there a consistent anything across the district on this topic? What does that look like? There are people who like her and people who hate her, and she doesn’t want anyone that hates me sitting next to her kid.
Received a correspondence between Dr. Finch and a member of a different community – he brought up some good points. What is the cost of our marketing, and do we take caution not to send our stuff to surrounding districts? It’s not always possible, and sometimes, she gets marketing from other districts. Would like to know what we’re spending on advertising on flyers/mailers. We have our own print shop, and they do work for us and other districts. They’re highly profitable.
The board received an email from Mrs. Finch – won’t go into detail about it; it’s a waste of her time. Will give background materials to the entire board. Not going into full scope; it doesn’t matter. We have a practice of gaslighting. She thinks it’s wonderful that the new board members met with the cabinet members. But she’s had two years of hearing that every cabinet member hates her and doesn’t want to talk to her. She doesn’t believe it; she knows some cabinet members quite well and doesn’t believe they’d ever say that.
Was concerned that what has happened over the years; one of the statements was about her testimony and why she does this. Because she had a past. She has zero shame in saying that, yes, she had a teacher she caught drinking, and he said, ‘don’t tell,’ and her response was, ‘give me a good grade.’ If it makes anyone feel better, she’s an accountant; not only did she have to pass that class, but many more. Hopes that no one in this district feels that no student is beyond salvage. None of our students are a lost cause because of something they did. They all have the potential to grow up and be awesome.
Hopes that we no longer participate in gas lighting. Take a moment to think about what that is. Says that’s how suicides happen.
Paperman: Thank you for the presentations and hard work the cabinet has put on. The awards were also great.
She’s looking for transparency and support of the teachers and staff. Has some disagreements with Dr. Finch, she went through a not-great experience when she had to deal with her computer, and it took 13 days to get it fixed, and there is no reason for that. Could not even get into board docs to review the previous meeting. This was the reasoning for an outside consultation to review policies – she couldn’t take her district-issued computer to IS&T and get priority service because of board policy. There are other things she’s questioning that she’d like to have a consultation with a separate attorney.
Thank you to community members for sending emails and concerns. Not able to answer all the emails, but reads as many as possible. Parents, thank you for standing up for your students on SBG; it’s been confusing since it started. We’re going to have to make major decisions.
Need to stop the division and attacking each other. Brings up Mrs. Finch’s emails and that we need to stop this. Let’s move forward and work positively instead of attacking each other.
9B. Superintendent Report
Finch: If you have emails that come to you or the board, forward them, and we can put them in a Friday update to make sure we’re consistent. That’s pretty common to email the whole board these days.
Student advisory council summit is coming. Found out from the winner of the spelling bee that English is his second language!
No news on AEL yet; the legislature is still playing with it. The drop dead date is Feb 28 – if it’s not fixed, it will be a $1.4B problem for public education – $47M for DVUSD.
Next week we have the presidents of the PTOs event. The next board meeting is three weeks from now, on Valentine’s day.