Hello everyone! Welcome to February’s meeting summary. I plan on providing a follow-up summary of each board meeting to try and help provide transparency for my decisions while on the board. All of the views, opinions and decisions in these summaries are my own. Here is the summary.
February 14th was our second board meeting and was overall much smoother than the first. This meeting we had a few people get up to address the board, which I appreciated. We need to keep the community actively engaged with the school. We then voted to approve the Superintendents consent agenda. The things in this agenda are supposed to be items that are regularly voted on and generally non-controversial. Most of the consent agenda is usually resignations and hiring of new personnel. The topics pulled out of this month’s consent agenda were, the acceptance of donations, changes to the substitute pay, MOU with Dayton Children’s, and a resolution to purchase property. This last month we had 32 donations to the AFROTC program. That is amazing! They truly do some awesome work and I am very glad we have started that program this year. Between last meeting and this one, several nearby school districts increased their substitute pay. I realized that in order to help keep our subs and possibly bring in more subs to help our teachers we needed to raise the sub pay to keep pace with the market. I suggested the increase to the superintendent and he agreed it was a good idea. The board unanimously agreed, which is great news for our substitute teachers! The resolution to purchase property was also passed.
At Warner Middle School there is a building known as the “Tin Gym” that we currently use to conduct bus maintenance and store other equipment. The building has to be removed for construction on the new Warner Middle and so we have to find a new location to perform the needs the Tin Gym provides. A study was conducted and found that building a new building on the property with Warner would cost over $1 Million and would also require a multiple year rental of property while the new building is being constructed. The cost of the rental would be around $100k per year. The purchase of new property for $400k with an existing building that could immediately meet the needs was decided to be the best option and have the lowest long term cost. The new property will require a multi-year project to further improve the space and I will keep an eye on those costs to ensure this remains the cheapest option. The board also voted to sell and unused property/vacant lot to help offset the costs.
The MOU with Dayton Children’s was a big item of discussion. This MOU was to establish a partnership between XCS and Dayton Children’s to house a small and limited clinic in the new Warner campus. Generally my own personal opinion is that a school is a school and should only offer what is necessary to teach students. I don’t think it should be the school’s job to have to provide other services to the students/families/community. With that being said, I feel our situation here in Xenia is different. We have a community that needs our help. Our kids and families need resources that our city is just unable to offer and the school has an opportunity to step in and help. We have chronic absenteeism, there are 80-90 school nurse visits every day, and around 15% of our students don’t graduate. I am a believer in trying new ideas to see if we can make changes. There were lots of questions asked about this MOU and what exactly it would entail. By the end of the discussion I felt comfortable in how I voted. I made sure it was understood that I want to see data on our success metrics (absenteeism, academic performance, recurring clinic visits) for the past 5 years as our starting point and then in 3 years I want to see how those metrics have changed. The grant that will fund this program will end in 3 years and before we pay any money into continuing I want to be able to make sure it is beneficial. I also will see the list of what exactly will be treated and what won’t be treated at this mini-clinic. I also felt comfortable because there is an option for either party to end the MOU for almost any reason. In the end the board voted unanimously to approve the MOU.
There was a great presentation of the XCS curriculum. I was very pleased with all of the information that was provided and the incredible amount of work that has been put into the curriculum in the last 18 months. The curriculum was one of my worries during the campaign and just starting my own children into school. Many of my concerns were put to rest with this presentation. I also want to note that CRT has been and continues to be a major issue for a lot of people. During the campaign I met many people that were very concerned and I reassured them that CRT, in whole or just ideas, was not being taught in XCS. I was glad to see that during the presentation and looking at all of the materials I still did not see any major signs of it. During the campaign I never said it was being taught here, but I did promise that if elected I would ensure that it won’t be and I do intend to keep that promise. I think our curriculum specialist is doing a fantastic job.
The other major topic from the regular meeting was the discussion on masks. I am pleased that between last meeting and this one the Superintendent decided to go to optional masking. I believe that the information a few of us board members were able to provide the Superintendent as well as the changes in CDC policies helped him make this decision without the board being required to vote on it. The goal is always to work with the Superintendent rather than vote and force an issue. Since the issue was basically taken care of, continuing the discussion from January’s meeting was no longer necessary. Before closing the discussion one of the other board members motioned that we require a meeting, discussion, and vote by the board before any future mask mandates are put in place. Personally I really like this motion. I think it will make the decision more thoughtful and give the community a voice on what happens. The board voted to table the motion to the next meeting because we needed an opinion from our legal team to make sure something like this would not risk getting XCS in trouble. I have since gotten confirmation from legal that the motion is valid and okay, therefore I expect a vote at the March meeting.
We did get a report on the bullying issue this month. The committee to address it has had some productive meetings and are coming up with some great ideas. This isn’t something that can be solved overnight, but I am working to do everything I can to make sure our schools are safe and welcoming. There was also some good information about the school finances. I encourage everyone to look at the annual report that just came out, there is a lot in there.
Overall I thought this was a good meeting and I feel like I am starting to get my feet under me. My next step is to work on creating a sound strategic plan for XCS with the other board members.
Please send me any comments, concerns, feedback, or questions you may have. I serve you and I am here to represent you to the best of my abilities.