November 16 Update to the School Board

Planning for Winter Weather

While we can’t predict snow or flooding, we do a number of things to plan for possible weather closure days. When considering a school delay or cancellation due to weather, safety is always the first consideration. We will soon be reminding staff and families how we determine to delay or cancel school during winter weather events and we encourage parents to have a back-up plan for childcare in the event of school cancellation due to weather.

Depending on developing weather systems, early morning road conditions, and in consultation with area agencies, I make every effort to make a decision to delay or cancel school in the early evening or by 5:30 am. Once that decision is made, we notify staff and families through our phone notification process.

This year’s school calendar has two possible weather make up days built into first semester (December 22 and January 25), two more days before spring break (February 19 and March 16), and five days at the end of the school year calendar. We are crossing our fingers for mild weather this winter.

Danielle Black Recognized as Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom- Teacher of the Year

I am happy to share that Danielle Black, a teacher at Mountain View Elementary was recognized as the 2017 Teacher of the Year by Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom. Mrs. Black was chosen for her work in helping her students integrate and understand how their food, forestry products and fiber are produced. This award is an incorporation of agriculture across curricula. Mrs. Black’s work will be featured on Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom’s website, and in a blog, allowing her work inspire other teachers.

Board Training

I would like to thank board members for the two full days of board development they participated in last month as part of a year-long pilot program sponsored by Chalkboard Project.  It was beneficial to work with the Medford School District board, and to learn from governance trainers and an equity coach.

The aim of the pilot project is to help school boards leverage their impact on student success, implement equitable practices and policies to better impact the success of students of color, and to increase the diversity of school board members.

Oregon is one of 24 states that does not require any training for school board members. Corvallis and Medford were fortunate to be selected to participate in the pilot.

Government Finance Officers Association Conference

I had the opportunity to join Finance Director Olivia Meyers Buch in an initial training conference to learn more about aligning our board goals and actions with our budget. The Smarter School Budgeting framework and GFOA’s best practices in school budgeting guidelines are centered on the concept of academic and finance collaboration to best align resources for desired student outcomes.

The framework represents the culmination of a multi-year effort lead by GFOA, with input from numerous school district officials and other experts in education finance, to develop guidelines for better budgeting, tailored specifically for school district. I am looking to forward implementing elements of this budgeting philosophy this winter.

Facilities Planning Update

The board will hear a presentation from Facilities and Transportation Director Kim Patten on November 16 with an update. This has been a long planning process and I appreciate all of our committee members and staff who have spent many hours to get us closer to a final draft, which is planned to be completed at the committee’s November 28 meeting. I look forward to presenting the final draft to the board on December 7 and I’d like to thank board members for agreeing to an additional work session on December 18. That meeting is designed for the sole purpose of allowing time for more in depth discussion of the draft plan.

Look for the Good Initiative

All CSD elementary schools are participating in a two-week “gratitude campaign” that began this month. This effort was inspired by the Look for the Good Project first brought to the attention of the district by John Friedlander during the public comment period of the January 17, 2017, school board meeting.

The idea behind this program is that positive thoughts and actions helps kids respond to conflict with creativity and compassion and can decrease bullying and nurture a more inclusive school community.

During November, orange “Gratitude Spots” on hallway floors will be displayed to remind students and staff to think about what makes them feel thankful. Each morning, students will be asked to write a gratitude to be added to a “Gratitude Wall” to be displayed in the school. In addition, students will be encouraged to exchange orange “kindness cards” which say “You Matter” to fellow students. Students will also be involved in writing letters of gratitude to someone who matters to them.

Foundation Receives Kindergarten Readiness and Family Engagement Grant

The Corvallis Public Schools Foundation is one of 49 awardees to receive an Equitable Education grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust, and will receive $144,000 over the next three years to increase kindergarten readiness through summer programming and family engagement in our district.

The project will entail close collaboration between the Foundation, the Teaching and Learning Department, kindergarten teams across the district, and parent/teacher organizations.  Among other things, funds will enable the district to offer Kindergarten Academy programming for kindergartners each August as well as twice-a-year parent/teacher home visits.  Funds will also support strategies for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion of parent/teacher organizations.