District Presents First Pass at Proposed 2021-22 School Budget
- Written by Sammy Silberberg
- Hits: 1187
Hopeful that the 2021-22 school year will return to normal, the Scarsdale Schools held their first budget study session for the proposed 2021-22 school budget on Monday, February 8, 2021 via Zoom. Though the budget assumes kids will be back in school, the district is also including contingency funds for two remote teachers and technology and PPE in case COVID continues to affect the educational program.
During the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey reviewed the 2021-2022 draft budget, budget drivers, debt service costs, transportation expenses, employee benefit costs, and athletic expenditures.
This preliminary budget calls for a 2.54% budget increase over 2020-21, for a budget of $166,827,755. This would mean a 2.15% increase in the tax levy, translating to a 1.93% increase for Scarsdale residents and a 6.28% increase for those in the Mamaroneck strip.
Mattey listed outlined what this budget will fund:
• Maintaining high-quality teaching and learning consistent with the Strategic Plan
• Advancing in-district instructional opportunities for students with disabilities
• Continuing a comprehensive approach to Safety, Security and Emergency Management
• Elevating district cleaning protocols in all elementary schools
• Improving and upgrading facilities
The proposal includes additional staffing including:
1 full time special education co-teacher for elementary school
1 full-time special education teacher for the Learning Resource Center at the high school
1 .4 speech teacher for the high school
1 .2 secretarial position for the middle school Psychologist
5 full time cleaners, one for each of the elementary schools.
Though no one knows at this point if remote learning will still be necessary, this draft budget includes $800,000 in funds from the fund balance to pay for 2 full time remote teachers, $330,000 for unanticipated non-recurring costs associated with COVID 19 such as expenses for technology, PPE or other equipment along with $250,000 to fund a summer enrichment program for elementary school students.
Summer Enrichment Program: Administrators are currently trying to gauge community interest in the enrichment program as they consider what the next steps should be. The goal of the program will be to enrich students’ literacy and mathematics development, and it will be open to all students who completed kindergarten through fifth grade. It will be staffed by Scarsdale teachers. Students who do not attend will not miss essential content, as the program will feature project-based learning activities that will engage students with skills and concepts they have already learned. They discussed the possibility of coordinating the program with the summer camp offered by the Village so that students could attend both the enrichment program and the Rec Day Camp.
Because the development of the program is based on community interest, Board member Ron Schulhof asked what the minimum number of students would be necessary for the program to run. Dr. Edgar McIntosh, the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, stated that although exact figures have yet to be determined, the administration estimates that around 15% of students will be interested in the Enrichment Program and that this figure will make the project feasible.
Next, the Board reviewed the primary budget drivers for the proposed 2021-2022 budget.
The total impact of these changes is $3.816 million and includes:
• Contractual salary increases for all employees - $2.1677 million
• The District’s self-funded medical insurance budget increase due to plan experience and employee contributions - $922,000
• Covid-19 contingency funded from prior year surplus - $800,000
• Transfer to school lunch fund to cover losses - $175,000
• Contractual increases and improvements to security - $169,000
• Plan operation and maintenance for HVAC and electrical maintenance and snow removal equipment - $161,000
• Debt service - $151,000
• Transfer to Capital Fund ($379,000)
• Tax Certiorari decrease ($350,000)
Board member Amber Yusef later asked for details about increased security costs and Mattey said the District plans to update its process for an automated lockdown by integrating all of its systems with the process for alerting the police and the fire departments of the situation.
Fund Balance: As of June 30, 2020, the district fund balance was $26,664,738 which is projected to decrease to $23,035,349 by June 30, 2021. The unassigned fund balance will drop to $4,666,306 which is 2.8% of the draft budget. Customarily, the district retains 4% in the unassigned fund balance for unanticipated expenses.
Next, the Board reviewed several individual pieces of the budget, including transportation, debt service and lease purchases, employee benefits, and interscholastic athletics.
Transportation expenses account for approximately 3% of the Draft Budget. In the 2020-2021 budget, the actual cost was $4.173 million, and this year’s budget projects the cost at $4.544 million. This accounts for the continuation of all current policies, 63 bus drivers, and the planned purchase of 1 large bus, 2 mini-busses, and 1 van. This figure also accounts for contractual salary increases.
Debt Service and Lease Purchasing accounts for 6% of the budget. In 2020-2021, the actual cost for this expense was $7.281 million, and the proposed cost in this budget is a 2% increase, resulting in a $7.491 million expense. This includes a continuation of the District’s technology lease purchasing plans, computer lease payments, and copier replacement plans.
Employee Benefits comprises 22% of the proposed budget. This expense was $36.805 million in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and it is projected to increase to $37.241 million for the 2021-2022 year. This includes employee insurance costs, New York State retirement system costs, and other insurance expenses.
On a percentage basis, one of the largest increases in the proposed budget is for athletics, which totaled $1.858 million for 2020-21, and is projected to go up to $2.171 million for 2021-22. This represents a budget-to-budget increase of 9.42% to fund supplies, uniforms, sports entry fees, certification expenses, equipment, and equipment reconditioning.
The primary reason for the increase is to fund athletic training supervision and coaching. Director of Physical Education, Health & Athletics, Ray Pappalardi explained that it has become a standard best-practice to have an athletic trainer on standby to help with any potential injuries during events. The district currently has one full-time athletic trainer, and there were gaps in coverage during sports practices and competitions. For example, Mr. Pappalardi stated that oftentimes during football season, one athletic trainer must be with the team at an away game and it would benefit the District to have an additional trainer on staff to circle around to home team fields. In addition to football, other higher-risk teams would benefit from an offsite trainer during events and competitions.
Following the presentation, the Board posed questions about the STAR Rebate Program which may be changed by the state along with the decrease in the unassigned fund balance which could pose risks down the line. They asked for the cost for additional furniture and equipment to bring third through fifth graders back to school were in the budget and learned that this expense has not been planned for as yet. These funds will have to come out of the fund balance, which will decrease. However, these expenses may be offset by state aid which may come in but is not counted in this proposed budget.
The next budget meeting will be held on March 1 and will include a Draft Budget plan update and department budget presentations. The third budget meeting will be held on March 8 and the Budget Forum and Review will take place on March 22. Finally, the Board of Education will adopt the budget on April 12 and the final vote will take place on May 18.
Nominating Committee Seeks Candidates for Scarsdale Board of Education
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1141
The School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) is seeking to identify potential candidates to serve on the Scarsdale Board of Education. The SBNC held its first meeting of the 2021 season on January 24th and is now engaged in active outreach to build a robust candidate pool.
Over the next several weeks, SBNC members will recruit and review candidates in order to nominate two candidates for the nonpartisan slate in the next school board election. The school board election and budget vote are slated for Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Of the two school board members who will complete three-year terms this year, only one of them is eligible for renomination. Board President Pam Fuehrer will complete two terms this year and Board Vice President will complete one term and is eligible for nomination.
The SBNC invites all Scarsdale School District residents to propose names of qualified individuals to serve on the Scarsdale Board of Education by email to email@example.com. A candidate must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, a qualified voter, and a resident of the Scarsdale School District for at least one year prior to the May 18th school board election date. Nikki Hahn, SBNC Chair, stated: “The non-partisan SBNC process is critical to the excellence of our Board of Education and our schools. This year we will be proposing two candidates for the Board, and we hope service-minded residents will embrace this opportunity to help shape the educational policies that profoundly affect the children of our community.”
Interested candidates should complete a biographical information form and submit it via email to the SBNC Chair, Nikki Hahn, at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible, but no later than 11:59pm on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. Application form is available on the SBNC website at www.scarsdalesbnc.com. Please see the “Join the School Board” tab or contact the SBNC Chair for further information.
Nikki Hahn, Chair
Kerry Hayes, Vice Chair
Paulin Honors Heathcote as a Blue Ribbon School
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1464
Among news of COVID testing, quarantines and remote learning, comes something to celebrate. Heathcote Elementary School was named a 2020 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. On Friday January 15, educators and parents gathered outside the school to receive a proclamation noting this achievement from the office of State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.
Above see a photo of school administrators and PTA leaders celebrating this honor. From left to right, find, PTA President-Elect Carrie Parker, Assistant Principal Katherine de la Garza, Principal Maria Stiles, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, PTA Prresident Jessice Rosenberg and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Edgar McIntosh.
Heathcote was among four Westchester Schools who were honored in 2020, including Byram Hills High School, Dobbs Ferry High School and Dows Lane Elementary School in Irvington.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes outstanding public and non-public schools, celebrating school excellence, turnaround stories, and closing subgroup achievement gaps. The program recognizes public schools including charter schools, magnet/choice schools, Title I schools, and non-public schools including parochial and independent schools. They are urban, suburban, and rural, large and small, traditional and innovative, and serve students of every social, economic, and ethnic background.
Why Heathcote Elementary School? According to the Blue Ribbon website, "Heathcote School was a model of the modern campus-style that was coming into vogue when McCall's magazine gave it national coverage in 1955. It was built as a translation of educational theory into architecture, based on a humanist approach. Constructed on a rolling hilltop of twenty-two acres, Heathcote dramatizes an indoor/outdoor relationship. Heathcote's unique features begin with a one-level structure that provides grade-specific classroom clusters with a little-schoolhouse atmosphere."
"Programs such as Peer Mediation, STEAM-Maker Space, Circle of Friends, and Citizens of the Week, foster our students' abilities to independently, think, question, and reflect. Heathcote strives to create a nurturing and safe learning environment where all students are free to take risks. We endeavor to promote an understanding and respect for diversity.
Heathcote has a very active parent body that supports such programs as Learning to Look, Artist in Residency, School Play, and After-School Programs. Our students make use of the natural beauty and opportunity offered by our grounds to enrich their academic pursuits. Grades K-5 participates in our gardening program, which enriches our math, science, and social studies curriculum with hands-on garden to table experiences. Love of learning inspires Heathcote's ultimate goal of creating a community of lifelong learners, who are independent, critical thinkers with a social conscience."
Westport Elementary and Middle Schools to Reopen to Full Time Learning
- Written by Stacie M. Waldman
- Hits: 2769
Westport Connecticut is like Scarsdale in many ways. It is a train-ride away from Manhattan, it is socially progressive, wealthy and has a similar number of kids in the public school system. Like Scarsdale, Westport places a huge emphasis on public education.
Beginning next week, K-8 students in Westport will return to full in-person learning, with the high school to follow.
The decision was made by Westport’s relatively new School Superintendent Thomas Scarice, who took the reins in July 2020 and vowed to safely and effectively fully open schools as soon as possible in the 20-21 school year.
Westport Public Schools began the 2020 school year in a hybrid learning model, similar to Scarsdale’s model. At the K-5 level, children were broken into two cohorts, A and B. These cohorts attended school in-person daily in the morning or the afternoon, switching schedules each quarter, with every other Wednesday scheduled for at-home learning. Anyone who had to quarantine due to exposure at school or on the bus, at the elementary level, missed two full weeks of in-person teaching as there was no at-home live teaching option, just self (or parent) guided learning.
Middle School and High School students were separated into cohorts a well, attending school twice a week for full in-person days. At home learning days were on Zoom with their teachers and classes. Wednesdays were live-Zoom half days. Quarantined kids could easily switch to remote learning.
Surveys were sent out to parents prior to the start of school and twice since then, asking parents to commit to distance learning or a hybrid model (and now distance learning or in-person, full time). Full distance learning will remain an option for all Westport Public School students during the 2020-21 school year.
When he announced the move to full- time school, Scarice wrote a lengthy position letter to all members of the school district. He cited, “four months of experience in preventing virus transmission in our buildings” as well as success of surrounding districts that have returned to full-time, in-person learning. He had given administrators a deadline of January 8th to submit tentative plans for reopening. Many internal discussions were held and the superintendent decided that schools could and would open with a stringent set of guidelines and a plan to rethink them if necessary.
Knowing that this would come with controversy, especially because vaccinations were just starting, Mr. Scarice outlined the reasons for his decision.
First and foremost, he stated, “…our primary mission is to serve and develop our students…we are also obligated to balance our public health responsibilities with perhaps less obvious risks that have impacted our children as a result of the reduction of on-site schooling.” He goes on to criticize the lack of news about the academic, social, emotional and psychological impact that COVID-19 has had on school-age children. Scarice believes we are just beginning to see the negative impact COVID has had on children. He argues that, “…it is time to move these two obligations a bit more into balance.”
At the elementary level, students will return to full on-site schooling (if their parents choose this option) on Monday, February 1. They will continue to be required to wear well-fitting masks properly at all times except when eating. Wednesdays will be on-site half days to be able to offer help to teachers with the new teaching environment in the afternoons. Lunch and snack will be in the classrooms although some students may be moved to other areas of the school for spacing purposes. Students will maintain social distancing to the greatest extent possible and all desks will have plexiglass barriers.
Middle Schools (of which there are two) will also begin full on-site schooling February 1. In February, Wednesdays will have half-day distance learning to give teachers time to transition with the goal of having middle school students back full time, five days a week beginning March 1. Lunch will be in the cafeteria and the school has set up tables with large plexiglass dividers in order to minimize interaction.
The high school will continue to operate under the hybrid model until further notice, but the plan is for full on-site learning as well in the coming weeks.
Mr. Scarice acknowledges the risks of the full re-opening. Increased numbers of students and staff may have to quarantine if they are in close contact with a positive case. School closures may occur due to staffing issues. Buses will be more crowded and drop-off and pick up will be busier. Furthermore, and importantly, he expects to see a 5-10% increase in people choosing the full distance learning option as has been evidenced by other schools opening up.
The superintendent closed his letter by saying “I am confident that through our resilience we will continue to maintain high levels of safety for staff and students,” noting that adjustments may need to be made along the way.
Responses have been very mixed in Westport. One parent said, “Hooray! I have been disheartened to see that if you’re a child, you can’t go to school but you can go bowling, out to dinner or on vacation to Vail.” Other parents are horrified that teachers are expected to teach to full classrooms prior to being vaccinated.
Following his announcement, recent headlines included a report released by the CDC that found that the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the schools is minimal when mitigation factors are in place like masks and social distancing. Margaret A. Honein, the lead author of the JAMA/CDC report, said, “…the data has really accumulated,” something they didn’t have at the start of the school year. The researchers said they were far more concerned about indoor sports and other extracurricular activities that do not allow for distancing and mask use than the controlled environment of a school setting.
Furthermore, this week the CDC urged schools to reopen with precautions in place and a New York Times article documented a rash of child and teen suicides in a Las Vegas school district.
Read Mr. Scarice’s letter below:
Welcome to 2021
As we complete our second week since returning from the winter break I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and to provide updates to the school community.
In the short time since our return, we have experienced the tragic loss of a beloved member of the student body, Staples senior Timari Rivera, and an historic and unspeakable act of violence on our nation’s capital, all while we continue to confront educating our students in a pandemic.
This school year has been a physical, emotional and psychological test of our collective endurance. We close out the first half of the school year at the end of this month. In the midst of the uncertainty and episodic chaos, I hold a very optimistic perspective for the second half of the school year.
As I shared with the parent community on December 22, 2020, I recommended a cautious approach to our school reopening this year. However, based on four months of our experience in preventing virus transmission in our buildings, and the similar success of peer districts in our region who have been fully reopened, along with the reopening of Coleytown Middle School, I began conversations to intended increase access to on-site schooling for the second half of the school year. These discussions included a full reopening of on-site schooling for all K-8 students and increased access for on-site schooling at Staples.
As a refresher, I asked the administration from each of the three levels to have plans ready for my review by January 8. I received those plans and held numerous discussions this week to determine the most appropriate approach. More specific plans are ready to be shared. Yet, this week was critical in conducting internal discussions.
We have remained on the course I illustrated for the school community on December 22. There is a great deal of work that has been done, and continues to be done, to safely welcome our students back for additional on-site schooling. However, we remain on the timeline shared on December 22.
I will share the overall next steps in this communication, while each building principal will share the details as it relates to their school and their students in the coming days.
Those who serve our students, namely our faculty and support staff, are the reason for our success. Our collective support of these professionals is critical to the success we have enjoyed for decades. Yet, as a system, our primary mission is to serve and develop our students. In the course of this work, challenges emerge in an ordinary year. In a pandemic the challenges grow exponentially.
As a community, we are faced with obvious public health obligations to ensure that we are responsibly doing our part as a school system to minimize virus transmission. However, we are also obligated to balance our public health responsibilities with the perhaps less obvious risks that have impacted our children as a result of the reduction of on-site schooling.
The academic, social/emotional, and psychological impact on our students is not captured each evening on the news in cases per 100,000, or in positive test rates. Yet, the impact is real, consequential, and warrants mitigation.
It is time to move to bring these two obligations a bit more into balance.
In October, the district partnered with the Tri State Consortium and conducted focus groups with almost 250 teachers, students and parents to identify critical problems for us to solve this year as a result of delivering a pandemic education. Many of the problems that were identified can be addressed, in part, through greater access to additional on-site schooling. The lack of connections with peers and adults, the academic struggles, and the ongoing challenge of engaging students can all be tempered with additional on-site schooling. This move will not eliminate these problems, nor will it eliminate the profound social/emotional and psychological issues that have emerged for some children, but it will ease the effects on the children we serve.
The benefits full on-site schooling are so important, particularly after long periods of remote and hybrid instruction this year and last year, that bringing our responsibilities to public health and our students into balance is warranted.
With less pandemic experience in the fall, I was less inclined to increase the levels of on-site schooling, particularly at the elementary level which provided an “everyday” model. A move to a “pandemic classroom” was not warranted given the uncertainty of the coming months in the fall. That said, given our experience since then, and the experience of our peers in the region, along with the significant benefits of full on-site schooling, in my judgement it is time to begin this transition.
The Transition Process
The transition to full time on-site schooling will begin with a full asynchronous remote day for all elementary students on Wednesday January 27 in order to provide teachers the time needed to accommodate their classrooms for full enrollment. A special two day transition schedule (January 28 and 29) will be shared next week by the elementary principals to their school communities which will illustrate how they will gradually welcome back their entire student body, with the first full K-5 day of on-site schooling scheduled for the first day of the second half of the school year, Monday February 1.
From that point forward, elementary students will engage in full school days, with changes made to arrival/dismissal, bus seating assignments, lunch, and recess. The principals will communicate this information, and more, to their families in the coming days.
Given the need for our elementary faculty to deliver their instruction in a pandemic setting, and all of the professional challenges associated with this, like most districts in our region, Wednesdays will remain an on-site half day for students. Afternoons will be reserved for teachers to work with colleagues as they continue to solve instructional problems unlike any they have experienced in their careers as a result of COVID-19.
Lunch will be served in homerooms and efforts will be made to “dedensify” the classrooms where appropriate when serving lunch by accessing other areas of the school building. There will be no cohort switch on January 25.
A parent survey is forthcoming which will gather information on any changes in distance learning requests from parents and transportation intentions (i.e bus or bring your child to school).
The distance learning option will remain for students and this program will be largely unchanged, providing consistency for this population of students. More information about the distance learning option will be provided by the elementary principals in communication to their families.
The middle schools will also transition to full time on-site schooling on the first day of the third quarter, February 1. The middle schools will transition the first phase during the month of February and the second phase on March 1. Phase 1 will have all students return in person for full day instruction on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, while maintaining the existing Distance Learning half-day schedule on Wednesdays (February 3, 10 and 24 only). Phase 2 will commence on March 1 with students attending school in person all five days; eliminating the
Distance Learning Wednesday
The middle school principals will communicate directly with their families in the coming weeks. In short, the current daily schedule will continue to be implemented to make the transition easier for our students. Additional mitigation measures will be implemented where appropriate.
A parent survey is forthcoming which will gather information on any changes in distance learning requests from parents and transportation intentions (i.e bus or bring your child to school). Distance learners at the middle school level will continue to have access to live streaming.
Like the elementary and middle school levels, the Staples team has also developed plans for an increase in on-site schooling for students. However, given our tragic loss last week and the impact on the school of working with students to process the events at the nation’s capital, for good reasons, the Staples plans are a week or so behind schedule. In full candor, my expectation last week was that the Staples team would fasten their attention to the work of supporting students and staff as a result of a heartbreaking loss to the school community.
That said, it is expected that these plans will be reviewed and considered for implementation in the coming weeks. The perhaps less obvious effects of the pandemic (social/emotional, psychological) have hit our high school population particularly hard and we have an obligation to respond. I am confident that we will.
The Unintended Consequences
Along with perhaps lessening the negative academic, social/emotional and psychological effects of the pandemic on our students, there will be some unintended consequences. With more students on site it is very likely that we will see increased numbers of students and staff recommended to quarantine in light of being considered a close contact to a positive case.
Additionally, it is also likely that in some instances, a full, temporary school closure might be warranted in response to a positive case that includes many close contacts. Staffing our schools has been a challenge and that challenge has the potential to grow during full on-site schooling.
We expect an increase in the number of distance learners as this has been the case with our regional peers. Districts in the region that have successfully transitioned to full on-site schooling have reported a 5%-10% increase in distance learners at the outset of implementing full on-site schooling.
Finally, our buses will likely see more students on board. Vigilance in mask wearing on our buses, and in all settings will be critical to our continued success.
As I shared on December 22, given the performance of public schools across the state, and here in Westport, I am confident that our resilience will continue to maintain high levels of safety for staff and students. It is clear that with continued vigilance in mask wearing, schools can remain resilient while serving more on-site learners safely. Of course, for this school year all parents will be afforded the right to distance learning for their child.
Communication throughout the system will be essential to making appropriate changes as necessary. We will continue to monitor our performance and the effectiveness of our safety measures. In response, we reserve the right to make programmatic adjustments along the way.
You can expect building principals to follow up with families in the coming days as we prepare for this change in learning models.
Superintendent of Schools
Writer Stacie M. Waldman is a mother of two and a former Westchester resident who now lives in Westport, CT.
Letter to the School Board and Administration: In the Midst of Mayhem, Planning for Better School Days
- Written by Diane Greenwald
- Hits: 1364
This letter was written by Scarsdale resident and parent Diane Greenwald:
It’s been nearly a year of school disruption, but with the vaccination comes a glimmer of hope for more normalcy. I admit it’s hard to imagine, but we should still plan for better days ahead. Scarsdale School District should be carefully assessing pandemic-related issues, anticipating that our teachers will need resources to face future challenges. The teachers’ contract is open for negotiation and it’s budget season, so we have an opportunity right now to ensure that funds are available to pay teachers for summer work and make professional development available and mandatory for all faculty.
Like many parents, I wonder how covid-19 has impacted student learning and child/teen development. So much has been derailed, but likely not in clear-cut ways. Scarsdale faculty members have described themselves as first year teachers this year, facing unprecedented re-working of their teaching techniques. We see evidence of their very hard work and we are a grateful community. We are also realistic. While students are resilient, there is sure to be a cost for the significant reduction of school hours, the elimination of most extra-curricular activities, and the reliance on virtual learning platforms and more self-directed assignments. And we are not yet out of the woods.
I am hopeful that the District will soon explain how vaccination rates will change protocols, ideally in dialogue with local public health experts. But even if the District is able to increase in-person learning later this the spring, it will not make up for the lost experiences. Students will come into new grades next year in different places -- different from each other and also different from ever before. I am hopeful that our insightful faculty can help us set our expectations because next year, teachers may feel like first year teachers all over again. The Administration must plan for this inevitable situation.
Last September, we were all reminded that teachers have a 10-month contract, which impacted the District’s ability to start school ready for students. Teachers currently require school-time hours on Wednesdays for planning and the District used most of September for a staggered ramp up. This is unsustainable.
Last July, Scarsdale entered into an unusual one-year contract with the STA. With the teacher contract available for re-negotiation and the budget cycle begun, the Board has an opportunity to consider our needs anew. They can look at funding more planning time for teachers that won’t impact instructional time, like over the summer, when faculty can collaborate and share the challenges and successes of the previous three semesters. The faculty may need time to adjust subject learning that spirals from grade to grade and to discuss impacts to socio-emotional development, with coordination across grades.
Basically, the questions are: how will Scarsdale be ready to meet each child where they are and is there support among taxpayers for investment into school planning work? I encourage the Board to reach out to parents now to understand priorities, and help the administration align community expectations with available resources. Scarsdale commissioned a report from an outside consultant who conducted focus groups and took a survey. Though it was a tight scope, there are some high-level suggestions for improvements, particularly around transparency and communications. How is the report being addressed and are focus groups needed again?
Even with significant stresses on our schools right now, I hope the District will focus forward as well. We all have fatigue but infused with hope, honest reckonings might inspire understanding, buy-in, and positive outcomes for our children attending this leading school system.