The meeting was called to order as usual with the Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call, and approval of the Agenda. Next was the approval of the minutes of the previous meeting (March 3- Regular). The Board received a presentation from Director of Technology Jamie Sonneville on the current state of the Technology Department. She was introduced by Superintendent Susan Hasenauer, who commented on the swift and dedicated action of the Technology Department when the school closure occurred last year. Director Sonneville stated that the Technology Department is currently supporting 5000 devices throughout the district. She reviewed the 1:1 device initiative and how that allowed the Newark District to be prepared for virtual instruction on “day one of the closure”, putting them ahead of other Districts across the country that had to scramble to create programming. She noted that damage to student devices continues to be a concern and do result in costs to the District. Margo Lacure, Assistant Principal at Kelley School, shared with the Board the Read Across America Week Program that the building has recently engaged in. She noted that this year the focus was on diversity and representation, building reading stamina through tracking minutes. The week was infused with fun activities such as virtual Mystery Readers and theme days. Remote learners were also encouraged and able to participate. The goals for next year include making Read Across America Week more culturally responsive to address student experiences, as well as including creative ways to include parents and community members. There was no communication from the previous evening. There was no Public Comment received for this meeting. The Board then received a presentation from Superintendent Hasenauer on the District Plan to increase in-person learning for students. After careful consideration of all current safety recommendations and review of the capacity of the District buildings and teaching staff, the following plan has been determined:
- All High School & Middle School hybrid students will attend in-person learning 4 days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday); asynchronous learning will continue on Wednesdays
- No changes for students in full-time remote model
- No changes for students in Elementary School
It was impressed upon the Board that all recommendations that the District has followed to date (6-foot distancing, mask usage, screening, cohorting) will continue to be maintained. The availability of vaccinations for all teachers is one of the tools that will allow for this change to occur, as well as Individualized Professional Development for teachers as they request it. The District has decided to make this change effective April 19th. The Board then received an update to the Budget Development by Assistant Superintendent for Business Ed Gnau. He noted the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan as likely positively impacting the District and its potential budget. These monetary issues are swiftly changing and Gnau stressed that new information will likely make the Budget more clear within the next couple of weeks. Currently, the District has a total reserve fund of $7,445,850 across multiple sectors. There was no Public Comment received for this period. The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Newark Board of Education is scheduled for April 7th at 7:00.
By Casey Carpenter