Summary of the Board of Education Meeting on September 15, 2021
The September 15, 2021 meeting of the Board of Education began with the following announcements out of Closed Session:
- The Board took action on one worker’s compensation claim.
Next, Superintendent Nelson provided a brief report to the Board of Education, including:
- Superintendent honored and recognized the start of Hispanic Heritage Month which started today. National Hispanic Heritage Month traditionally honors the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latinx Americans as we celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries. Superintendent encouraged the Fresno Unified Family to take time this month to dig deeper into Hispanic and Latinx history and heritage.
- Superintendent focused the rest of his remarks on our current efforts battling the COVID-19 pandemic and its increased strain on our district. This pandemic has thrown us all for a loop time and time again, and unfortunately, we can be certain that it will continue to throw us for more loops before it is gone from our daily lives. With the continued uncertainty, our team has never stopped working to bring as much clarity, guidance, and leadership to our entire system. It hasn’t been perfect, and it won’t be perfect. Superintendent recognized that many staff are working so hard just to keep the day to day operations running. Superintendent reminds staff that we see you, we love you, we are thankful for you hanging on, and we are working so hard to lighten the load.
- Superintendent updated on some of the work that has been happening behind the scenes to support our students, staff, and families recently. First, we’ve worked incredibly hard to step up to the plate as stand-in health care professionals as we’ve been tasked from the federal, state and local levels with so many layers of mitigation to keep our staff and students safe in-person. From surveillance testing, to contact tracing, to quarantining and isolation, to vaccinations and more, we’ve tapped all resources we can find to step into these spaces where we are not, and never will be, the health experts. Currently, we’ve been focused on the following:
- Working to find an agreement with our nurses to implement COVID safety practices such as modified quarantine, contact tracing, quarantine tracking, and more,
- Rapidly interviewing, hiring, and training folks to ensure our sites each have a health professional on their campuses,
- Training and equipping our volunteer school sites and volunteers to implement modified quarantine through administering our short supply of rapid tests at over 50 of our school sites,
- Finalizing an agreement and starting a pilot with CBO partners through the Immigrant and Refugee Coalition to provide 40 staff to help conduct contact tracing at our secondary sites, where contact tracing is even more complex with students moving from class to class throughout the day,
- Working with partners at Fresno City College and Fresno State University to potentially help support our testing needs with nursing students,
- Working with the state and California Department of Public Health on expanding our testing capacity through partnerships,
- Working to increase our supply and access of COVID-19 rapid tests,
- Working with CBOs, medical providers, and the county health department to bring more free vaccination and testing clinics to our school sites,
- Working to find support, human capacity, and resources to implement the vaccination or weekly testing mandate for our employees by October 15th,
- Gathering and verifying proof of vaccination from our fully vaccinated staff members,
- Developing, implementing, and improving our public-facing COVID-19 dashboard,
- Working on streamlined processes to ensure teachers are aware of quarantined students to provide instruction,
- In addition to PPE being available for all staff to order from the warehouse at any time, usually through your Office manager, Facilities has sent out additional PPE kits to every school site starting last week and continuing through this week – no orders needed
- Working on seating chart plans with sites and teachers to minimize mixing and increase the speed of effective contact tracing
- Working to increase the capacity of our COVID-19 Action Team to support sites contact tracing needs and modified quarantine support
- Partnering with our health providers and CBOs to bring even more vaccination and testing clinics to our sites to promote youth and staff vaccination,
- And much more – all in addition to the increased safety practices already implemented through ventilation, sanitizing, masking, decreased class sizes, etc.
- Second, we’ve been battling a substitute shortage along with all other school districts. We have not seen a huge rise in absences or quarantines of our staff members, but rather we have seen a large decrease in the number of active substitutes taking jobs every day to support those vacancies. To help increase our substitute pools and increase the activity of our substitutes we’ve been doing the following:
- We’ve launched and continued a large substitute hiring campaign for all classifications through television commercials, billboard, online, and social media,
- Our local media partners have done several stories to help us get the word out for the need for substitutes in all classifications,
- We’ve assigned all management staff, classified and certificated, to school sites to provide support in any areas needed as requested,
- All certificated staff who are not currently in classrooms have been working to cover unfilled vacancies in classrooms every day,
- All Climate and Culture site staff have been moved back to the classroom at eLearn Academy as we continue to increase staffing to accommodate the large influx of student enrollments,
- We negotiated and finalized an agreement with FASTA to increase our daily pay rate for substitute teachers to a total of $208.04 – the daily rate is now $163.04 plus an additional $45 per day to be prepared for potential simultaneous teaching
- Human Resources has provided a direct call/text line AND opened their doors for walk-ins every weekday from 1pm-3pm to support all applicant questions and to help them through the application process
- Human Resources and departments across the district have personally called substitutes, retirees, and previous applicants to ask them to return and help our daily staffing needs,
- Provided an additional $200 in materials and supplies for teachers,
- Deployed all Parent University staff to school site support while CBO partners continue implementing parent learning cohorts,
- And much, much more.
- Superintendent shared these updates to be transparent with our entire Fresno Unified family on the work we are doing to address the very real needs in our system today. Superintendent acknowledged that we as district leadership can be hesitant to share things we are working on before they are 100% implemented for fear of things not panning out the way we plan or hope. What Superintendent mentioned might not all pan out exactly how we hope, but he wants to share with our teams, nonetheless.
Next, the Board of Education took the following action on the below consent agenda items:
- Approved Personnel List
- Adopted Findings of Fact and Recommendations of District Administrative Board
- Approved Minutes from Prior Meeting
- Adopted Resolution Proclaiming the Month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
- Adopted Resolution Recognizing September 15, 2021 through October 15, 2021 as Hispanic Heritage Month
- Approved Independent Contractor Services Agreement with Lion and Fox, LLC
- Approved Independent Contractor Services Agreement with United We Lead Foundation
- Approved Fresno County Cradle to Career Partnership
- Approved 2021/22 Classified Hourly, Classified Food Services, Classified Operations, Confidential, Fresno Teachers Association (FTA) – Trades, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Crafts, Supervisory, Fresno Area Substitute Teachers Association (FASTA), Certificated and Classified Management, Nurses and Speech Language Pathologists, Teachers and Librarians, Teachers on Special Assignment, Designated Teachers, Career Technical Ed/Vocational Ed Teachers, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Instructors, Lori Ann Infant Center, Child Development Center and Pace Teachers, Adult Education, PreKindergarten Teachers, and Classified Y-Rated Salary Schedules, and Prior Years Classified and Operations Y-Rated Salary Schedules
Next, the Board of Education discussed the below conference/discussion agenda items:
- Presented and Discussed Redistricting of Trustee Areas within Fresno Unified School District
- Presented and Discussed Stakeholder Input on Potential Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Investments
- Held a Public Hearing and Adopted Resolution in the Matter of Sufficiency of Instructional Materials
Finally, the Board of Education received the following Information and Reports:
- Received the Fresno Teachers Association – Social Workers Unit Initial Proposal to Fresno Unified School District
- Received the Fresno Unified School District Initial Proposal to the Fresno Teachers Association – Social Workers Unit
- Received Constituent Services Quarterly Reporting
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Education will be Wednesday, October 13, 2021. Complete minutes and agendas are available online at board.fresnounified.org.