CSD District Dispatch

News from CSD: May 14, 2021

The City Schools of Decatur District Dispatch is our monthly district newsletter. It provides parents, students, staff, and community members with the latest news from the district. To view a mobile-friendly version of this newsletter, please visit https://www.smore.com/0mrje.

Table of Contents

  • A Message From Dr. Fehrman
  • May 11 Board Meeting Highlights
  • Extra Mile Award Nomination
  • Wilson Center Updates
  • News From Our Partners

A Message From Dr. Fehrman

Greetings!


Yesterday, the CDC updated their guidance on wearing masks for fully vaccinated individuals. While this updated guidance marks a momentous achievement in our nation as we battle this novel and devastating virus, we must continue our vigilant efforts to do all we can as individuals to protect all of those around us. I will share my final decision regarding CSD’s mask policy in my weekly Friday Follow-up later today.

Launchpad for Learning Camp
I am so excited to share an amazing opportunity for our students coming this summer. In July, CSD will offer the Launchpad for Learning Camp. This camp is focused on setting the stage for our students so they will be able to start school on August 3 ready to learn! This amazing opportunity would not be possible without the support and collaboration of the Decatur Education Foundation and the City of Decatur. I want to thank Gail Rothman from DEF and Claire Miller from COD for partnering with us on this innovative project that will be a great benefit to our students.


Launchpad for Learning Camp is an opportunity for students to build the foundation for success in the upcoming school year by getting a preview of the school day, including school expectations and essential content. The best way to ensure all our students are successful is to accelerate their learning by previewing core content and providing early access to learning the expectations for their school.


Schools will send additional information to parents on how they can sign their children up for Launchpad for Learning in the upcoming days. Below are more details about the camp so you can decide if you want to sign your child up.


Dates:

Cohort A: July 12 - 15

Cohort B: July 19 - 22


Grades: K - 8*


Student Hours: 9:00am - 12:00pm


Location: At your child’s assigned school


Cost: $115 per child. Full scholarships are available to families as needed.


Student to teacher ratio: 15 students to 1 teacher


If you already know you want to sign up, you can submit your information here.


* I am hopeful we will have an option for 9th graders as well, and we are still working on details for a 9th-grade option that will fit better with what our freshmen need.

May 11 Board Meeting Highlights

The recording for the May 11 Board Meeting can be found here.


Board Meeting Spotlights

Clairemont Elementary

Clairemont Elementary is an EL Education credentialed school. In the EL Education model, leadership is a collaborative, dynamic effort toward a common vision for teaching and learning. EL Education’s Core Practice 35 outlines the steps to promoting shared leadership. In addition to creating the conditions for the entire Crew to learn, Clairemont Administrators create collaborative conditions for all staff to lead. By creating high-functioning, data-informed, impact-oriented school teams, the Clairemont Crew builds their personal and collective capacity to drive improvement across the school. We are proud to share a glimpse of the many magnificent initiatives being led by our dynamic staff. Click here to see their video.


Decatur Career Academy

The Decatur Career Academy (DCA) serves 933 students in 11 pathways in the current school year. There is an emphasis on technical and employability skills throughout classroom instruction. Students are encouraged to participate in pathways for three years to achieve pathway completion. Programs available via the DCA include Work-Based Learning, Dual Enrollment, and the IB Career Programme. Click here to see their video.


Budget

The Board approved the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, which includes a step increase for all eligible employees, at the May 11 meeting. The Board also approved a tentative millage rate of 21.00. Please visit https://www.csdecatur.net/finance to obtain the most up-to-date information on the budget.


The Board will also host three Taxpayer Bill of Rights public hearings in June. The dates and times are as follows:


June 8 - 8:00 a.m. - 1st Public Hearing: Taxpayer Bill of Rights

June 8 - 6:15 p.m. - 2nd Public Hearing: Taxpayer Bill of Rights

June 22 - 6:00 p.m. - 3rd Public Hearing: Taxpayer Bill of Rights

June 22 - 6:15 p.m. - Special Board Meeting - Final Adoption of the Property Tax Millage Rate for FY2022

Extra Mile Award Nomination

CSD Extra Mile Award

Hey students! Do you know a teacher or other employee who has gone the extra mile this year? Nominate them for the Extra Mile Award! The Extra Mile Award is an annual award that allows students to show their appreciation for the teachers or staff they feel go above and beyond what is expected of them.


Students (not parents) at any grade level can write an essay describing how their teacher (or staff member) goes the extra mile (parents can help younger children write the essay). The essays should be detailed and describe how the teacher or staff member goes above and beyond.


Submit your nominations using this link: https://forms.gle/SehMw6njfL9we3MZ9. The deadline for submissions is May 26.


Thank you to Decatur Education Foundation for sponsoring this award!


Questions? Contact cburnett@csdecatur.net or 404-371-3601

Wilson Center Updates

Staff Support

Thank you to CSD’s Cooperating Teachers!

Cooperating Teachers are teacher volunteers who offer their time and talents to mentor and serve as role models for college students in their final years of their Teacher Preparation program. In addition to having a heart for mentoring and supporting the teaching profession, Cooperating Teachers are good listeners, good communicators, patient, prepared, and organized. They are experts in their grade levels or content areas and are passionate about teaching.


Thanks to all their hard work with this year’s cohort, CSD hiring managers were able to offer positions to five (5) student-teachers who will be joining the staff at Clairemont, FAVE, Renfroe Middle, and Decatur High! In addition, six (6) other student-teachers in this year’s cohort will join our Substitute Teacher pool. CONGRATULATIONS to our newest teachers and to the teacher leaders who played a huge role in their success.


Congratulations to Our Retirees!

City Schools of Decatur has nine staff members retiring at the end of this 2020-2021 school year. This year's retirees have served the children of CSD for a combined total of 180 years! No doubt our fellow staff members and students are better for the impact these dedicated people have made on their lives. We wish all our retirees well. They will be missed!


Susan Boutier - DHS Teacher

Ellen Carpenter - ECLC Teacher

Laura Deming - Oakhurst Counselor

Suzanne Hawkins - Oakhurst Media Specialist

Kathy Harber - Oakhurst Teacher

Carl McLaughlin - FAVE Paraprofessional

Bill Roberts - DHS Graduation Coach

Jackie Theisen - FAVE Teacher

Kira Wilsterman - Oakhurst Teacher

Curriculum and Instruction

Puberty Informational Session

DeKalb Board of Public Health will host a session on May 26 at 1:00 p.m. to inform all 5th and 6th-grade students about the changes they can expect in their bodies during puberty.

The topics of discussion with a brief description below:

1. What is the definition of Puberty: What puberty is and what it means to transition through this phase of adolescence.

2. Puberty Our Body Changes: Changes the body undergoes, including internal change, the emotional and outward physical change of boys and girls during puberty.

3. Hygiene: Personal hygiene and good grooming, menstrual hygiene, and vaginal hygiene.

4. Becoming Me! Youth will gain knowledge of how good personal hygiene helps to develop positive self-esteem. They will also learn the essential characteristics of positive self-esteem, the difference between self-esteem and self-worth, and the relationship between these terms. They will also learn that poor hygiene habits can also affect your self-esteem.


Students may submit anonymous questions on this form before the session. All students will meet together. There will be an opportunity for questions during the session as well.


Please join this webinar by clicking this link: https://csdecatur.zoom.us/j/91077886560?pwd=UnRnWVo1UnIzQWRGa1gyR1R2dmFNQT09.

Decatur Virtual Academy
Decatur Virtual Academy will open its virtual doors in August, breaking down more barriers for our students and providing multiple pathways to achieve their post-secondary goals. The format of the virtual program will evolve beyond what we are currently offering in virtual learning.


As a general overview, Decatur Virtual Academy will:

  • Partner with a pre-existing K-12 virtual platform to allow teachers to focus on student relationships rather than building online modules and lessons.

  • CSD staff will facilitate most courses.

  • Utilize existing resources and support staff.

  • Create in-person social and learning opportunities.

  • Allow students to participate in CSD activities.

  • Fully engage in CSD equity work and create a reflective and inclusive learning environment.

  • Build a robust option for students to achieve individualized learning goals.

  • Expect a responsible adult in the home to act as a learning coach.


K-5

  • Requires significant involvement from an adult in the home.

  • Daily lessons, meetings, and/or check-ins with the teacher.

  • Opportunities to meet and build community with other students.


6-12

  • Individualized, customized curriculum, allowing older students to pursue enrichment or potential post-secondary interests.

  • Students work (mostly) independently through modules/content at their own pace and at a time of day that works for them.

  • The teacher is available for questions, support, and help.


Thank you to the Advisory Team for their time and effort in creating this plan.

  • April Biagioni

  • Erin Grady

  • Jennifer Hallan

  • Frances Holt

  • Vanessa Layne

  • Eston Melton

  • Derrick Peavy

  • JoAnn Pinkney Wilcox

  • Juliana Souki

  • Sean Tiernan

  • Willie Washington

  • Aliza Wingo


This initiative aligns with the Georgia Department of Education’s personalized learning initiative by providing a tailored school experience to match every student’s passion, potential, and postsecondary pursuits.


Summer Virtual Learning Boost-Registration closing soon!

All K-12 students will have access to a virtual personalized learning pathway to boost their understanding of content and skills and get a jump start to prepare for the next grade level. These activities will be personalized virtual learning activities for students that connect to grade-level standards. Students will be expected to engage in the learning at least an hour a week. If your child would like to participate, please complete this form by THIS Sunday, May 16 to participate.

Equity and Student Support

Asian American Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. AAPI individuals have deep connections to all facets of American history and have made, and are making, history as trailblazers, leaders, storytellers, and artists, both nationally and around the world.


The Equity website provides many valuable free resources for parents, caretakers, and educators who want to celebrate the rich history and learn more about the untold civil rights stories of the AAPI community.


Race In America Lecture Series

On Saturday, May 8, 2021, the Decatur High School Library and the DHS Asian Culture Club, in partnership with The Gay Johnson McDougall Center for Global Diversity and Inclusion at Agnes Scott and the DeKalb County Public Libraries, sponsored a Virtual “Race in America” Lecture and Panel discussion. During the event, Dr. Sohyun An of Kennesaw State University presented an overview of Asian American history and civil rights activism. Raymond Partolan, an activist and community leader, who focuses on social justice, educational equity, and immigration, also led a discussion of the roots of anti-Asian hate and violence in our nation, how modern-day anti-Asian hate and violence have affected our community (including the most recent Atlanta spa shootings), and the need for immediate action by those who wish to be allies. The event was conceptualized and planned by Ifeude Hill, Decatur High School’s Media Specialist and Project Director for the Decatur High School American Library Association Truth Racial Healing & Transformation Great Stories Club (Pilot). The event was also supported by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.


Here is a link to the overview Google slide presentation.

Here is a link to the video presentation.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is mental health awareness month. Positive mental health is essential to everyone’s health and well-being. CSD is committed to supporting the holistic development and wellness of our students and staff. We prioritize social-emotional learning, behavioral support, and crisis prevention and intervention.


Take time this month to invest in your mental health and well-being. Common actions such as eating healthy, taking a walk, or calling a friend can help promote a positive mental state. It is also important to reach out to a mental health professional when experiencing significant life stressors or exposure to traumatic events. The Equity and Student Support department offers resources through our counselors, social workers, behavior specialist, school psychologists, and the Decatur Student Center.

Newly Renovated Decatur Student Center at DHS

We celebrated the grand re-opening of the Decatur Student Center on Tuesday, May 5. After years of planning and collaboration, the Decatur Student Center is ready to welcome students into a beautiful space designed just for them. DEF Board member Lauren Pelissier redesigned the newly renovated space with input from DHS students. Students have also created murals and designed the clothing closet. The newly renovated space is warm and inviting and honors the memory of DHS graduate Joe Bodine’15 whose family spearheaded the DSC initiative after he tragically lost his life to addiction in 2016. The Decatur Student Center offers a range of wraparound supports, including housing the lost and found and clothing, group and individual counseling, and support for career and post-secondary planning.


Thank you to the Decatur Education Foundation and to Joe Bodine’s family for helping us create this beautiful space for our students! See the pictures below or visit the DEF Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DecaturEducationFoundation to view more pictures of the center.

National Center for Safe Supportive Schools

City Schools of Decatur has been selected for participation in the 2021-2023 Safe Supportive Schools Learning Collaborative (NCS3). Safe Supportive Schools promote well-being and equity for all school staff and students by implementing comprehensive school mental health systems with policies and practices that are trauma-informed and culturally responsive. We will be partnering with national and regional leaders with collective expertise in comprehensive school mental health systems, cultural responsiveness, equity, and trauma-responsive schools. Over the next two years, Renfroe Middle School and Decatur High School teachers, Decatur Student Center staff, and other district mental health team members will receive training and technical assistance designed to improve school climate and foster mental health and well-being. The work of the NCS3 aligns with the goals and objectives of the District Improvement Plan and accelerates us toward our goal of ensuring that every student is safe, seen, and successful. The NCS3 also highlights and strengthens community partnerships, and our district implementation team includes representatives from the Decatur Education Foundation, Decatur Prevention Initiative, and Voices for Georgia’s Children. Click here for more information about the NCS3.

Information Services

Returning CSD-owned Chromebooks and Hotspots

In anticipation of supporting full-day, five-days-a-week in-person instruction for most students in August, we are requiring families to return CSD-owned Chromebooks to your current CSD school. We are pursuing expanding access to take-home equipment going into next year. Students participating in summer enrichment programs should also return equipment; if the program has an at-home component, we will work on re-provisioning equipment at that time.


Also, please be sure to return your CSD-owned hotspots to the Wilson Center or your school. Verizon has recalled those hotspots due to a heating concern, which you can read more about on the CSD website. We received replacement hotspots from the GaDOE this week, and hotspots will be available for students to check out for next school year.


Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The FCC has begun accepting signups for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which offers a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service and/or a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.” Go to https://getemergencybroadband.org for more information. Signups began Wednesday, and the website was down most of the day, so please be patient as the FCC adds resources to improve the site’s reliability.


A household is eligible for this program if any member of the household meets one of these eligibility requirements:

  • Receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;

  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;

  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or

  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating telecom provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.


This program is not permanent: the program “will end when the fund runs out of money or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner. Participating households will need to opt-in to continue receiving broadband services from their provider after the program ends.”


City-Schools Fiber Network
For a couple of years, the City of Decatur and CSD have collaborated on the construction of a fiber-optic network to serve city government and school facilities. NCI, the selected vendor, completed underground boring on May 5, after 335 days and through 62,850 feet of Decatur. 75% of the actual fiber has been installed. The project is on schedule to complete this month, and CSD anticipates converting to the new network this summer. We are grateful to the city commission, city manager Andrea Arnold, assistant city manager Teresa Taylor, NCI, and the entire city-schools fiber team for this successful partnership.


Information Services Department Advisory Council

We are reconstituting the Information Services Advisory Council! The Information Services Department provides technology leadership, equipment, and support to CSD. We are stewards of enterprise systems that support staff and student safety, equitable access, efficiency, and innovation. The IS Advisory Council provides input on strategic planning and prioritization, identifies possible program evaluation measures, and acts as a conduit to provide feedback to the department. It is not a governance or decision-making body. The IS Advisory Council consists of staff, parents, students, and community members. For more information or to express interest, please complete this form.

State and Federal Programs

ATTENTION Parents! Your input is invaluable to us! We ask you to please take a few minutes to provide your feedback on the following documents/plans. You may click on the document titles below to view the documents and the feedback forms. If you have any questions, please contact Willie Washington at wwashington@csdecatur.net.


Annual CSD Comprehensive LEA Implementation Plan for 2021-2022

The Comprehensive Local Education Agency Implementation Plan (CLIP) is a comprehensive district plan based upon multiple data sources regarding district goals for the year and how resources will be coordinated to meet the identified needs of the district. This document must be reviewed and revised annually and submitted annually to the Georgia Department of Education for approval. The CSD CLIP is composed of 5 documents.

CSD ARP ESSER (CARES III Budget)

A school district may use ARP ESSER funds for a wide variety of activities related to educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators.

  • Address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students.

  • Activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of services such as to stabilize the workforce and avoid layoffs.

  • At least 20 percent of the funds must be used to measure and address the academic impact of lost instructional time on all students through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive after-school programs, or extended school year programs.

  • ARP ESSER Budget Feedback Form

Research and Analytics

Paying Fees in the Parent Portal after June 2, 2021

Infinite Campus is switching payment processors on June 2, 2021, for online payment functions in the Campus/Parent Portal. This change will have minimal impact on families. However, any payment methods you’ve set up for your credit cards or eCheck accounts will be deleted to ensure the security and confidentiality of your data. After June 1, you will be asked to re-enter your payment method into the Parent Portal.


Any Recurring Payments you may have set up will also need to be updated. The online payments will work the same as they always have. After June 2, please follow the instructions below to update your accounts in the parent portal.


Adding Payment Methods

Adding Recurring Payments

Operations

We are upgrading our bus routing software with BusPlanner Routing System. This new software will allow our Transportation Department to update accurate time information and make adjustments as needed. Some of the latest upgrades include:

  • It shows whether drivers follow runs as planned.

  • Allows staff to edit a run path as needed.

  • Provides bus stop comparisons.

  • Updates stop times to match GPS events based on selected criteria.

  • Integrates with Infinite Campus Geocode.

  • Works with our Blackboard communication system: Live feed from the core routing system.

  • Centralized communication to track internal and external requests.

  • KPI Dashboard: Superior optimization tools and KPI analytical tools.

  • Provides financial instruments for analysis of annual route costs.

  • Bell Time Analyzer


This software is already in place in many other Metro-Area school districts, including Gwinnett County and Buford City Schools.


Additionally, we are changing our student tracking system to Here Comes the Bus. This new software will give real-time data and constant communication with the following upgrades:


  • Live GPS- Live and Historical Tracking, Mapping, and Reporting.

  • Communication- Real-time Alerts via SMS Text Messages, Email or Computer Popup Message with a link to Map Location.

  • Scan Device- Students scan when entering and exiting the bus using RFID readers.

  • Student Tracking- Internal / External, G module will allow the District to review the ridership information in real-time and historically.

  • Parents can track students and know that their student is boarding/exiting at the correct location – based on the routing data.


Stay tuned for more information about these exciting changes!

News From Our Partners

Decatur Education Foundation

Now’s the Time to Step Up for Teachers!

Take a break from the mayhem of May and show your teachers how much you appreciate their hard work with a Step Up for Teachers tribute. Just go to www.stepupforteachers.com, make a $25 donation and leave your tribute. We'll notify the honored teacher or CSD staff member and deliver a "We Step Up for Teachers" yard sign to your door in the coming weeks. The Step Up campaign supports our teachers in the classroom through Teacher Innovation Grants. Let's show them some love! If you’d like to leave a tribute but can’t give a gift at this time, you can send your tributes to info@decatureducationfoundation.org.


Decatur Education Foundation to Award 20 Scholarships to DHS Class of 2021 Seniors

Thanks to the generous donors in our community, DEF awards more than $70,000 annually in scholarships to 20 hard-working high school seniors. A socially distanced awards event will take place next Monday, May 17, in the DHS courtyard to honor these ambitious students. To see a full list of this year’s scholarship recipients, please visit www.decatureducationfoundation.org/2021scholarships.

City of Decatur

Decatur Strategic Plan Draft Recommendations

After 15 months of community conversation both in-person and online, draft recommendations for Decatur's 2020 Strategic Plan has taken shape. Each week you will have the opportunity to review and review and evaluate them. This week's focus is Housing. Visit https://decatur2030.mysocialpinpoint.com/decatur-strategic-plan/activities/ to share your input. The pop-up survey will close on May 14.


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