4-20-20 Board of Education Meeting Minutes

(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

BUCHANAN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS, BERRIEN COUNTY, MICHIGAN

                                                                                                                                                  

APRIL 20, 2020                 REGULAR MEETING                        VIRTUAL MEETING

CALL TO ORDER PRESIDENT: Dennis Wentworth opened the virtual meeting at 6:01 pm
ROLL CALL VIRTUALLY PRESENT: C. Lee, H. Burnett, R. Writer, S. Tobler, J. DeVlaminck, K. Laesch and D. Wentworth.

 

ABSENT:   None

  OTHERS VIRTUALLY PRESENT : Timothy Donahue, Stacey Denison, Michael Dunn, Shelby Beasley, Brian Pruett, Stacey DeMaio, Mark Frey, Lonnie Hoover, Phil Place and Mark Kurland.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA

 

MOTION by J. DeVlaminck, SECONDED BY Member K. Laesch the agenda for the board meeting of April 20, 2020 be adopted as written.

 

ROLL CALL VOTE:  C. Lee, H. Burnett, R. Writer, S. Tobler, J. DeVlaminck, K. Laesch and D. Wentworth

NAYS:  None     MOTION ADOPTED

RECOGNITION OF VISITORS

 

Mr. Wentworth welcomed everyone from leadership who joined and anyone else who had joined by phone. Visitors could join by phone by calling; 1-845-693-0667, PIN: 810 297 511#.
INFORMATION/REPORTS & NEW BUSINESS None

 

SUPERINTENDENT/

DEPARTMENT REPORTS

Mr. Donahue sent thanks to leadership and teachers for their amazing collaboration during these unprecedented times. Mr. Donahue also informed the Board that he would be sending the annual notice on his employment contract at the conclusion of this meeting.
ADOPTION OF CONSENT AGENDA

 

MOTION by R. Writer, SECONDED by S. Tobler, The Board of Education approves the consent agenda for the regular board meeting of April 20, 2020 be adopted as written:

 

1.        Minutes:

3-16-2020 Regular Meeting

 

2.        Warrants:

Expenditure Reports & Payroll – March 2020

 

ROLL CALL VOTE:  C. Lee, H. Burnett, R. Writer, S. Tobler, J. DeVlaminck, K. Laesch and D. Wentworth

NAYS:  None     MOTION ADOPTED

 

BUCHANAN VIRTUAL ACADEMY GRADUATION CERTIFICATION MOTION by J. DeVlaminck, SECONDED by R. Writer, upon satisfactory completion of district requirements for High School graduation, the Board of Education hereby approves:

 

Buchanan Virtual Academy Student:

–       Micaela Brewster

–       Natalie Cray

–       Jasmine Maldonado

–       Ashleigh Roberts

–       Jasmine Smith

–       Ruth Wilson

 

Buchanan Step Up

–       Nicholas Haney

 

To be certified for graduation.

 

ROLL CALL VOTE:  C. Lee, H. Burnett, R. Writer, S. Tobler, J. DeVlaminck, K. Laesch and D. Wentworth

NAYS:  None     MOTION ADOPTED

RESOLUTION TO GRANT EMERGENCY POWERS TO THE SUPERINTENDENT MOTION by J. DeVlaminck, SECONDED by R. Writer, the Buchanan Board of Education approves the resolution to grant emergency powers to the superintendent:

 

Whereas on March 13, 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-5 requiring the closure of all Michigan public and private schools for educational purposes as a safeguard against the further spread of COVID-19; and Whereas on March 23, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order 2020-21 to temporarily suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life; and

Whereas Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits all public gatherings of any number of people who are not part of a single household; and

Whereas Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits school districts from conducting operations that require employees to leave their homes except to the extent to conduct the minimum basic operations of a school district, including processing transactions and facilitating the ability of employees to work remotely; and

Whereas Buchanan Community Schools Superintendent Timothy Donahue is responsible for determining

which staff members are necessary to conduct minimum basic operations and inform such workers of that designation in accordance with Executive Order 2020-21; and

Whereas on April 2, 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-35 requiring, among other things, the continued closure of all Michigan public and private school buildings for educational purposes as a safeguard against the further spread of COVID-19 and requiring each public school to develop a plan for continued instruction through alternative means, to be implemented by no later than April 28, 2020; and

Whereas, Executive Order 2020-35 also temporarily suspends numerous provisions of the Revised School Code and the State School Aid Act and, therefore, changes the legal requirements relating to certain Board policies, including but not limited to, attendance, curriculum, graduation requirements, assessments, teacher and administrator evaluations, assessments, school calendar, and grading; and

Whereas, the Board intends to comply with Executive Order 2020-35 and, accordingly, temporarily suspend or alter affected policies and otherwise take required actions consistent with the Order; and

Whereas the Board of Education finds that the current state of emergency requires that the Superintendent be granted greater flexibility to respond quickly and appropriately to the evolving crisis, including ensuring compliance with Executive Orders 2020-21 and 2020-35; and

Whereas under board Bylaw 0131.1, the operation of any section or sections of Board policies not established by law or contract may be suspended temporarily by a majority vote of Board members at a public meeting held in compliance with law and Board policy;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Buchanan Community Schools Board of Education grants to the Superintendent the following temporary powers to address the COVID-19 emergency:

Authority to temporarily waive such Board policies or provisions of Board policies as the Superintendent shall deem necessary to comply with Executive Order 2020-21, Executive Order 2020-35 and with guidance from appropriate health or governmental authorities or necessary for other effective response.

Authority to take any lawful actions necessary to comply with Executive Order 2020-35, to ensure the continuation of public education, to provide for the health and safety of students and employees, or to respond to direction from appropriate health and government authorities. Such actions may include, but are not limited to: adjustments to the curriculum and the provision of alternative educational program options; adjustments to the calendar; adjustments to employee work schedules and assignments; adjustments to the delivery of school-provided meals; limitations on access to property owned or controlled by the Buchanan Community Schools; hiring of providers and/or partnering with other districts or ISDs; applying to any governmental body for financial or other aid as may be available; and applying to any governmental body for waiver of regulations or requirements, compliance with which is affected by the COVID-19 emergency.

Authority to enter into contracts without board approval for any dollar amount necessary for the purchase of materials, equipment, supplies or services for sanitation, cleaning, technology or other needs directly related to the COVID-19 emergency situation, provided such action is consistent with all applicable state and federal

laws. NOW, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Superintendent is directed to keep the Board of Education informed of any actions taken under this emergency authority as soon as is practicable in light of the circumstances.

NOW, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the temporary powers authorized by this Resolution are in effect for the duration identified in Executive Order 2020-21 and Executive Order 2020-35 and any subsequent extension of that order, unless otherwise rescinded or extended by the Board upon majority vote.

NOW, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that execution of this Resolution is conclusive evidence of the Board of Education’s approval of this action and of the authority granted herein.

Mr. Wentworth added that this was a recommendation by Thrun Law Firm to keep things flowing and to allow the superintendent work around policy in this time of need.

Mr. Donahue added that any policy/issue would be brought to the board to insure safe operations of our students, staff, and buildings during the final months of the school year.

 

ROLL CALL VOTE:  C. Lee, H. Burnett, R. Writer, S. Tobler, J. DeVlaminck, K. Laesch and D. Wentworth

NAYS:  None     MOTION ADOPTED

RESOLUTION TO APPROVE THE BUCHANAN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS’ CONTINUITY OF LEARNING PLAN/COVID-19 RESPONSE

 

MOTION by D. Wentworth, SECONDED by R. Writer, The Buchanan Board of Education approves the resolution for Buchanan Community Schools continuity of learning plan / COVID-19 response:

Whereas on March 13, 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-5 requiring the closure of all Michigan public and private schools for educational purposes as a safeguard against the further spread of COVID-19; and

Whereas Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits school districts from conducting operations that require employees to leave their homes except to the extent to conduct the minimum basic operations of a school district, including processing transactions and facilitating the ability of employees to work remotely; and

Whereas on April 2, 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-35 requiring, among other things, the continued closure of all Michigan public and private school buildings for educational purposes as a safeguard against the further spread of COVID-19 and requiring each public school to develop a plan for continued instruction through alternative means, to be implemented by no later than April 28, 2020; and

Whereas, the Board intends to comply with Executive Order 2020-35 and, accordingly, has developed a Continuity of Learning Plan and COVID-19 Response; and

Whereas the Board of Education recognizes its important role in the Buchanan community to continue to serve our students and families with learning activities, social and emotional supports, and food services in the midst of this health emergency; and

Whereas the Board of Education appreciates the efforts of its leadership team and all district employees who have risen to the challenge of working in unique and innovative ways to ensure continued services to our students, their families, our staff, and all community stakeholders;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Buchanan Community Schools Board of Education approves the BCS Continuity of Learning Plan and COVID-19 Response, and further directs that it be published and disseminated as required in Executive Order 2020-35; and

NOW, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all district employees are entrusted to provide, and appreciated for, their full efforts to implement all elements of the Plan while it is in full effect for the safety and benefit of our students, district families, and ourselves.

Adopted and approved this 20th day of April, 2020.

Mr. Wentworth extended congratulations to the leadership team for getting this approved by BRESA.

Mr. Donahue sent compliments to teachers and principals who put this together relatively quickly. Its development was started April 3rd and it was rolling right away. He thanked staff and teachers for getting materials for the students through June.

Questions/Answers

What are the greatest challenges you are facing with implementing the plan?

Mrs. DeMaio replied that she is not sure that there are any challenges yet since this is all new in the process.

Do you feel like teachers are able to connect with students and establish a learning routine?

Mrs. DeMaio answered that they are trying to reel them back in from all the misinformation previously and get the students back engaged and that this work is going to be counting. Mr. Pruett added that Mrs. DeMaio has been getting information out a few times a week to parents and students. He has also received good communication as a parent from other Buchanan schools as well.

For seniors, if they were at 60% or above, what do they need to do?

Mrs. DeMaio responded that seniors will receive the grade that they had as of March 11th or they can keep working to improve their grades. College and online classes must continue being taken.

Is there a way to track those who don’t have access to e-learning?

Mrs. Beasley replied that teachers are keeping track of who they are in contact with. Teachers are keeping in touch with building administrators if they are not hearing from certain students so administration can try and reach out to those who are out of touch. Buchanan Middle School has at least 80% contact. Mrs. Denison added that she is proud of the Ottawa staff; they have been at 88% contact. She and the counselor are reaching out to families who have not connected with teachers.

Do all educators at home have internet for getting material out? What is the view on how the staff are trying to balance their own reality at home?

Mrs. DeMaio stated that it can be trying to teachers who are also parents. They did a wellness check for their staff. They tried to figure out what teachers needed at home. She informed teaching staff to do the best they can with the resources they have. Different departments are coming into the building different days to do what they can.

Has the staff been having technology questions?

Mr. Place responded that they are trying to be available as much as possible. They have routed their school phones to home to help teachers/students with devices. Coordinating schedules has been tricky, but they are doing their best to be available.

Have we thought about putting internet on buses and putting the buses out in the district?

Mr. Place stated that hot spots are unobtainable at the moment. This was the quickest way to get internet access to students in need. The internet access at buildings is available 24/7. If they are using student devices, the district issued devices will connect right away when at a Buchanan building parking lot. Dr. Burnett added to be careful about telling students to go at any hour.

What is the thought process of going to pass/fail or letter grade and pass/fail? Mrs. DeMaio replied that it is pass or incomplete. No one will be failing this semester. The incomplete is for students that are not making contact. They did this because some students do not have access to internet and it was not fair to students who don’t have the resources. This levels the field for all students so nobody was trying to increase their GPA while others couldn’t. Seniors are getting grades as of March 11, whatever grade they had is what they get. They can work to improve those grades. Mr. Pruett added that a majority of the schools across the state went with this as well.

 

Mr. DeVlaminck expressed his concern for students next year and getting them onboard so they are ready for the next school year.

 

Mrs. Writer spoke about students involved in Hurricane Katrina years ago being resilient and she is confident our staff and students can be the same.

 

ROLL CALL VOTE:  C. Lee, H. Burnett, R. Writer, S. Tobler, J. DeVlaminck, K. Laesch and D. Wentworth

NAYS:  None     MOTION ADOPTED

COMMUNITY DIALOGUE CITIZENS CONCERNS None
QUESTIONS & COMMENTS FROM BOARD MEMBERS Mrs. Laesch requested a special meeting per policy 0164.2.

 

Mrs. Writer stated this has been an interesting experience. There was a lot of beneficial dialogue and thanked the staff administrators and others involved listening to this board meeting. Stay healthy and safe.

NEXT BOARD MEETING Monday, May 18th, 7pm @ Buchanan High School
ADJOURNMENT 6:42 pm
Updated: June 1, 2020 — 11:55 AM