School Board Meeting 12/12/2022

These are the notes that I took during the meeting. To verify details, see the meeting video when it is posted, and the official minutes. I captured text from the slides that were shown on the monitors in the room and included it in my notes.

Here are what I consider the high points of the meeting:

  • The board praised and approved the work of Dr. Diaz and the high school language arts teachers on a revised language-arts curriculum for 11th and 12th grades.
  • Board members strongly affirmed a schedule of salary increases for Dr. Martin while emphatically protesting the process (last-minute notification to board members of significant alterations in the details). Katy Isic called out Tim Morris for failing to address the changes a week ago, instead delaying so that board members were sent changes the day of the meeting, when they had inadequate time to review them. Tim had no response.
  • In the public comments, former board member Mary Anne Timmer expressed appreciation for returning and outgoing board members and also delivered a serious call for enactment of ethics standards that could help prevent a repeat of this year’s election-season behavior by incumbent Tim Morris, who (along with two other winning candidates for school board) endorsed, and was endorsed and promoted by, a partisan-political candidate for state rep who has subsequently boasted that she changed the outcomes of the school-board elections in Caledonia and Byron Center. The specific complaint against Tim Morris was that he used his school-board-member title in endorsing that partisan candidate.
  • Board members and Dr. Martin expressed deep appreciation to outgoing board members Kyle Clement and Julie Asper.

  1. Call to order
  2. Pledge
  3. Roll: All current members were present. (Of the newly elected members, John Brandow was present; Jennifer Nichols was not.)
  4. Consent Agenda
    1. Nov 21, 2022, minutes—approved
    2. Dec 2022 personnel report—approved
    3. Nov 2022 payables—approved
  1. Reports and information

A. English Language Arts

Dr. Camela Diaz, director of secondary education asks the people who completed the work to stand. Seven or eight teachers stand. (Seven of them were all sitting in the next-to-back row.) Applause.

  • All curricular resources are reviewed, piloted, and adopted following a district-established rotating timeline spanning 5 to 7 years.
  • In the spring of 2022, the English Language Arts department embarked on the journey to review, pilot, and eventually adopt a new curricular resource for 9th – 12th grade English courses.
  • The resources selected for pilot were Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Into Literature and McGraw Hill’s Study Sync. Current teachers began reviewing and utilizing the pilot resource in late spring 2022. Piloting continued in fall 2022, limited to 9th and 10th grades.

Focus on curriculum standards

  • Intensive review of materials – student mastery, alignment, consistency, sustainability, supports for MLL/SE students.
  • After spending time reviewing and utilizing the materials with their students, it became clear that bringing greater clarity, alignment, and consistency for covering standards was needed.
  • A decision was made to step back and take a deep dive into the ELA Standards, build out scope and sequence documents as well as curriculum maps, to establish a solid foundation for students’ needs.

I.e., they decided to adapt current curriculum rather than adopt new curriculum. Curriculum maps.

Goals:

  • To develop a stronger ELA program for our students by building intentional vertical and horizontal alignment within the department.
  • Direct tie to developed pathways.
  • Commitment to common assessments across 9–12 by spring, 2023 to gauge student mastery and progress

Needed to move teachers around within the building to cluster them in content areas for better conversation and collaboration between teachers in the same subject area.

  • Addressing student engagement at the 11th and 12th grade levels, the department created new course offerings for students focusing on teaching the standards through a more refined interest based option using writing or literature.
  • The writing-based courses include: Research Writing, Creative Writing, Practical Communications, and Journalism, while the reading-based courses include: Creative Nonfiction Literature, World Literature, Contemporary Literature, and Performative Literature. Students will choose one of the courses in each category both years.
  • AP English 11 and 12 continue to be offered for those who want that.

Resource Evaluation

Multi-step Process

  • Many resources are available that have been utilized in the past and continue to support student learning of the standards.
  • Desire to update resources with current literature.
  • Use of common-sense media ratings to confirm age appropriateness of materials.
  • Scope and sequence documents to confirm each text ensures the standard(s) can/will be met (example: 10th Grade Scope and Sequence). [see screen-shots of two documents]
  • CHS ELA Instructional Material Evaluation Rubric.

Strategic Plan Link

Teaching and Learning – Goal C

  • This decision and resulting investment by the high school ELA department directly addresses our Teaching and Learning goals in the district Strategic Plan.
  • Goal C speaks to Curriculum & Program Alignment and states: Develop curriculum maps for all content areas in all grades, including standards, pacing, resources, assessments, enrichment, and intervention supports by 2024.
  • This has occurred in our ELA department and will be used as an example for other content areas as we continue this work across all departments.

Alternative Assignments

Board Policy 2240

2240 – CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

Excerpt: The Board recognizes that a course of study or certain instructional materials may contain content and/or activities that some parents find objectionable. If after careful, personal review of the program lessons and/or materials, a parent indicates to the school that either content or activities that conflict with his/her religious beliefs or value system, the school will honor a written request for his/her child to be excused from particular classes for specified reasons. The student, however, will not be excused from participating in the course or activities mandated by the State and will be provided alternative learning activities during times of parent requested absences.

  • As with all curriculum, if a parent has concerns with content, we have a process consistent with policy which will allow students to still demonstrate mastery of the standards through an alternative assignment.

Final slide: Special thanks to the Caledonia High School English Language Arts Department for their tireless efforts toward building a stronger, well aligned high school ELA curriculum for our students.

Marcy: attended the curriculum cmte meeting, was impressed and excited.

Dr. Martin: thanks to those who did it.

Marcy: you have set a high bar for other departments!

B. Safety and Security,  deferred to later in the evening.

  1. Discussion items

A. Neola Policy

Second reading for all the policies except the first one, 5200 for attendance; for that one, the only change is “or verbal” for how parents can report students’ absence.

Now: policy on late arrival.

Policy 04441, compensation for board members: $30 per meeting, but they can opt to receive, decline, or receive and donate back to the district.

Rates for housing and mills remain.

List of other policy sections that are all unchanged from the first reading at the last board meeting.

B. 2023 Treasury prequalification bond application.

Miss Devries: the first step went well, so now the next step, then submit to the department of the treasury, then next month vote to proceed.

Jason: are we approving the bond language today?

Devries: yes. that’s part of it.

Tim: weren’t we going to hire a firm to help us review the proposal?

Dr. M.: yes, we had them take a quick look, but we couldn’t do a full-scale change by the time the company came on board because we had already met with treasury. But those changes are reflected in what you see.

C. Superintendent contract update.

Marcy: In the wake of his “highly effective” rating. Marcy asks Finance Cmte to speak. (Brief apparent confusion as to who would speak for finance?).

Tim:  We had a contract extension last year through 2027. With this we agreed on increases from Jan 2023 through the end of June 2027.

Marcy: questions?

Brittany: Didn’t have an opportunity to review today. Would respectfully request more information. What was sent today was significantly different from what they saw before.

Tim went over the new terms (I didn’t get everything because he was reading it out—this info would be easy to grasp visually in a table, but I couldn’t follow it all as it was read).

2023 4% sal increase

Jan 2023 3% longevity

Jan 2023 annuity rate increase

2023-2024, 4% salary increase, 1% annuity increase, 4% something

Starting 2024, 4% salary increase, . . . annuity

2025 6 % longevity, etc.

Marcy: Dr. M has been with us since 2018 with one bump to base salary. No consistency to his compensation. So board members discussed what they would like to see. This is, to your (Brittany’s) point, different than what you initially saw six weeks ago.

Kyle: We’re not tying his contract to the association; but this is about 5% per year; while the association has 4 to 6 percent. Structuring it this way maximizes his pension: doing the increases the right way. Hopefully Dr. M will stay for the next 20 years, but this is a good way to make a good retirement possible for him. Then when we hire the new superintendent, back it down to leave room to compensate the new superintendent for longevity.

Julie: There has been a lot of discussion, a lot of attention to structuring it correctly (Kyle’s expertise); and it was all vetted out with the finance committee and with Dr. Martin. I think it’s fair.

Kyle: If you use the word “retention bonus” it doesn’t count toward a pension; if you say “longevity” it does count. So you have to be really careful with the wording.

Jason: Where does this leave us for total compensation?

Julie: This comes out about the same as what we were originally saying, just moving things around for best results.

Katie: You did both versions?

Kyle: I talked with them off and on, but some of the work was done by others

Katie: You think the move of some from longevity to annuity was good?

Kyle: Dr. Martin thought it better for his family; and it’s a little better for the district for tax reasons.

Tim: I would have preferred to see a larger retention bonus at the end rather than a high longevity rate; so I think we made some progress on trade-offs. We’ve had some disagreements; but we have landed on something.

Julie: he has proven himself over the last five years, so we offered him a choice between retention bonus and longevity; Dr. M. chose longevity.

Brittany: has Dr. Martin had adequate time to review it, seeing that it came out today?

Dr. Martin: Yes, I am comfortable with the time that I had to review it.

  1. Board and superintendent reports

A. Curriculum and Learning Cmte.

Jason reported. Jan 10 2023 is next meeting.

B. Finance and Operations Cmte.

Tim reported. Looking to change to new bank, local, with lower fees, and experience with municipalities and schools. In discussion of Dr. Martin’s salary: chair [i.e., Tim] was concerned that the language could be a conflict of interest if it mirrors the language for teacher contracts.

C. Board reports:

Brittany: Treating students with kindness, dignity, and respect. Much appreciation to teachers. Board in new year will need to keep up the kindness, dignity, and respect

D. Superintendent report

Dr. Martin: Looked at funding. Looked bad at first, but we’re pretty close to other districts across Kent County. Attendance: only 6 districts saw an increase in FTE. For 14 our of 20 schools, a decrease. Cal increased. We don’t have tracking of home-school and private-school numbers; they aren’t required to report. Good news in athletics, robot competition. Also: 17 seniors were academic all-state.

  1. PUBLIC COMMENT

Mary Anne Timmer

30-year resident, kids went to Cal Schools.

Ongoing support to remaining 4 members;  thanks to the four of them.

Thanks to Julie for six years—I asked her to run—she has done a fabulous job

Dr. Martin, thanks for leading our district through much diversity, making decisions good for the district.

Thank the wonderful teachers, administrators, support staff: all who make Cal a destination district. We all establish relationships. As a parent, I was never turned away. As a parent, I always had a voice.

Lastly: I suggest you consider drafting a code of ethics for the school board, for the trustees, to make sure that in the future school board members do not endorse political candidates. No place for partisan politics in public education. Public education teaches all children, not just the ones that represent the values, or political affiliation, or religious beliefs, of a particular school board trustee. We welcome everyone, it’s what we’ve always done.

I ran, didn’t win, so congratulations to those who did.

Wendy Tanner

What others have said about the teachers: Three daughters.

When we renew the landscaping contract, maybe go with a different company; the one we’re using now opposed millage requests in the past. (Clarified afterward: she was talking about Bykerk, which had a big sign up in front of their office opposing a millage.)

  1. Action items

A. 2023 Board Meeting Schedule. Adopted as proposed.  Tim: keep the same time for cmte meetings? Marcy: will be up to people on those cmtes when they are assigned, but the administrators like 7:30 AM

B. Neola Policy: adopt 5200 as presented.

C. 2023 Treasury Prequalification Bond Application. Approval moved by Tim, seconded by Kyle. Unanimous yes.

D. Superintendent Contract Update. Jason strongly affirms Dr. Martin and good compensation for Dr. Martin but objects to the last-minute changes. Not good. Dr. Martin is great, and we want to take good care of him, but the timing was inappropriate.

Katie: agrees.

Marcy: it was hard for everyone.

Katie: Voting no, because Tim didn’t want to participate in the discussion last week and then delayed getting his proposal out until today.

Julie Asper to Katie: I tried to include you.

Katie to Julie: You were great, you tried to mediate, no complaints about you. But Tim . . .  Passed with one no vote (Katie).

Back to 5B: Safety and Security

Mr. Kingsbury and Mr. Russell.

Dr. M.: Mr. Russell had to arrive late, was meeting with another district.

Mr. K.: Thanks Deputy Stewart, our SRO. We’ll also have to retired deputies who are armed and work at our secondary schools. Mr. Russell, Secure Educational Consultants.

Mr. Kingsbury presents:

Emergency preparedness

  • Prevention/Mitigation
    • Identify threats and hazards
    • Assess the risk (physical/cultural/environmental)
  • Preparedness
    • EOP
    • Training
  • Response
    • Actions taken during an emergency
  • Recovery
    • Actions taken to return to “normal” after an emergency
  • Limitations
    • “Schools should state in their EOP that emergency response plans imply no guarantee of a perfect incident management system. As personnel and resources may be overwhelmed, staff members can only endeavor to make every reasonable effort to manage the situation, with the resources and information available at the time.” —Michigan State Police

Training

Secure Education Consultants

  • All staff training August 2022
  • Bus driver training September 2022

District/Building Level Training

  • Crisis Teams
  • MERT Teams
  • Drills
  • Behavioral Assessment-MSP

Legislation

  • Sec. 97b – Comprehensive school safety and security assessments. Districts, including non-publics are eligible for $2,000 to per building.
    • Completed —by Secure Education Consultants
  • Sec. 97c – Provides school safety grants to districts and non-public schools at roughly $100 per pupil for districts. Doesn’t take effect until October 1, however MDE has indicated expenditures made prior to October 1 in this school year are eligible costs.
    • Waiting for funding
    • Connector between North and South Campus

Mr. Russell presents:

SEC works with over half the school districts in Michigan. His own background is secret service agent. Has three kids who went through Cal schools. Oldest daughter graduated 2019, will be a teacher. District leadership is fantastic. Dr. Martin, Mr. Kingsbury (unlike leaders in some districts) have always been great about asking for help. Two assessors assessed all the schools; Jason Bird and Russell himself. Looked at physical security, but also processes and procedures.

DISTRICT ASSESSMENT PROCESS

  • Review Policies and Procedures
  • Examine Facilities
  • Interview and Observe
  • Recommend and Review
  • Adapt and Improve

Russell has responded to four school shootings this year.

Will talk more in closed session about recommendations. But for the public: this is my own kids’ district, so this is personal for me, and I was happy with the work that was already being done.

  1. Board Member Recognition

Maarcy: Disappointed to see you go. Welcome to the Asper family (attending toninght). Brett, Jenny, Drake, Erin (Aaron?). Kyle’s family was smart enough to stay home.

Thanks to both Kyle and Julie. We have faced serious challenges. Over the most recent several years, some people have seemed to really focus in on the negatives. We have felt it, our staff has felt it. Thanks for sticking it out, even if you have been threatened or called bad names. Thank you for your commitment, even when things were so difficult. Best wishes. We hope you will stay involved and will support the bond going forward. Thank you for operating with dignity and integrity through all of this.

Dr. M.: parting gifts. Thanks to Julie for your calm, sage advice at times, for being a supporter and encourager, and also a therapist at times, when I needed it. You will be sorely missed. You tried to keep a positive disposition despite the challenges. Mr. Clement, thank you to you too. You have always pushed me to see what we can do to be the very best in everything. You didn’t mince words. You spoke your mind. Hearing a different voice, and honest, dependable voice, will be sorely missed.

Gifts to both. You should like them—we put a lot of thought into these.

Marcy: yes, Michelle is very good at this!

Julie: I wrote something down. Big thank you to fellow board members, current and past, over the last six years. Esp. to Marcy, our constant and steadfast leader, whom I admire. I still don[t know how your heart fits in your body. I have learned so much. Hats off to Dr. Martin for amazing vision and leadership. Thanks to staff and admin. In awe, many times, of the sacrifices you have made. I am at peace: always did best to make informed decisions for the best for our students. Etc.

Kyle: My wife and kids would have loved to be here. We have an 18-month, 4-year-old, and 6–year-old, so they stayed home. Thanks to everyone involved. One of the many blessings from serving in this role: there’s no place I’d rather my kids be in school than in Cal. Disagreements at times, but we work well overall. The new board members will make great additions.

Tim: I met two friends six years ago: seeing you leave is surreal. The community will never know how much brainpower and time you have put in. It has been a pleasure serving with you. Thank you.

  1. Closed session.

No action planned after closed session.

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