Tonight’s meeting was largely routine, with the following discussions of note:
- The Board passed a resolution reconsidering parts of the legislation passed in June that extended the time for JROTC instructors to attain the necessary credentials to allow them to supervise the P.E. Independent Study program created by the Board in 2009. The June resolution specified that any instructors hired into the program would have to have a P.E. credential, but failed to account for several candidates already in the hiring pipeline. Tonight’s action allows us to hire these new candidates (provided they can be funded with private money and enroll within a P.E. internship program within six months of their hire date, among other requirements).
- The Board heard reports from our District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) and the committee appointed to oversee the Quality Teaching and Education Act (QTEA, otherwise known as “Prop A” or the district’s parcel tax passed in June 2008). The DELAC presenters chiefly recommended that principals receive more training in administering English Learner Advisory Committees (ELACs) at their sites, and that the district provide more funding to the School/Family Partnership office, which administers the parent engagement policy passed by the Board in 2009. The QTEA Oversight Committee was established in the 2008 ballot initiative that initiated the parcel tax, but was not fully appointed until 2010. Committee members expressed some doubts about the district’s decision to reduce spending on some stipends for hard-to-fill areas and hard-to-staff schools during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, but acknowledged that they were not involved in those decisions because the oversight committee had not yet been convened. Going forward, committee members pledged to make reports to the Board twice a year, providing expenditure reports and evaluating the effectiveness of the initiative in the stated goals of retaining and recruiting quality teachers for the school district.
- The Board voted to terminate two defined-contribution retirement programs established for district paraprofessionals several decades ago, citing a failure of those programs to meet the needs of our employees. Instead, new employees and existing employees under the age of 55 will be enrolled in Social Security, which will provide them with a more secure income source in retirement. Paraprofessionals who are older than 55 (who may need to retire before they can accumulate the 40 quarters of Social Security participation required for lifetime benefits) will be offered the option of a 403(b) account. Administration and union officials alike expressed relief that this difficult situation for employees has been largely resolved through this negotiated settlement (except, it should be noted, for those employees with less than four hours a day of work, who are excluded from the above settlement and will no longer have a defined-contribution retirement plan as part of their district employment).
- The Board discussed, and ultimately approved, several large contracts for Swun Math destined for the Superintendent’s Zone (Revere, Carver and Bret Harte). I haven’t seen a lesson yet, but the program gets strong reviews, and math is a major focus this year district-wide. The Curriculum and Program Committee will examine Swun Math and other math curricula in use in the district at the September meeting (date TBA).