The Central Bucks Board Note
June 2020 ~ Vol. 2, No. 9
Virtual School Board Meetings
Meetings of the Central Bucks School District Board of School Directors will be conducted remotely and recorded for public review while the governor's stay at home order is in effect. Meeting agendas and minutes are published online via BoardDocs here. Audio recordings of the meeting will be posted to the district’s website at www.cbsd.org/boardmtg within 24 hours of its conclusion. Please look for meeting notices on the district's website prior to the meeting date; a link will be published within the notice so that public comment may be submitted to the board in advance.
Athletic Health and Safety Plan Approved
District athletic director Danielle Turner presented the board with a detailed outline of the COVID-19 Athletic Health and Safety plan. Later approved by the board, the plan is a necessary step toward the phased resuming of the district's high school fall athletic programming.
Ms. Turner explained that the plan integrates information gathered from expert resources, and has been reviewed by both the school district physician, Dr. Louis Marino, and Bucks County Director of Health Dr. David Damsker. The plan employs a phased approach that coincides with the commonwealth’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania plan. This will enable the district to respond quickly and make any necessary adjustments in the event that the virus’ trajectory changes.
In addition to detailed procedures for the phased integration of activities, the plan includes procedures for coaches and athletes, as well as detailed instructions for the maintenance of facilities, use of athletic equipment, travel, screening of student athletes, and what will be done if a student athlete falls ill.
Read more on the district's website.
2020-2021 Planning Family Survey Results Reviewed
The district's communications administrator, Angela Linch, shared the results of the survey distributed on June 12 to gather feedback from families to inform the district's planning efforts for the coming school year. The survey was distributed via email, posted on the district's website and shared on social media. Families were invited to take the survey for each individual student and responses were largely evenly distributed among schools at all levels.
Asked about their overall feeling about their child returning to school in the fall, 49% reported that they would be comfortable doing so based on whatever safeguards the district has in place. Selecting their top three priorities for a return to in-person instruction, 59%, 48%, and 47% respectively selected training for staff in CDC protocols for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, regular, supervised hand-washing, and daily temperature screenings for students and staff.
Those who responded were more divided on the topic of masking, with 64% reporting comfort with their child masking during the school day and 36% indicating that they were not comfortable with masking. When open-ended responses were reviewed, many families made mention of and outlined their concerns on the topic of masking, both for and against.
Ms. Linch shared that the district explained in the survey that CBSD is looking forward to returning to school in a traditional in-person format, but if that isn’t possible, asked parents and guardians to indicate which of two delivery models they would most support; 84% chose a hybrid model with some combination of in-person and online learning, while the remaining 16% selected a 100% online model. Since both of these models include some form of online instruction, survey-takers were asked whether or not childcare would present a hardship, and 55% indicated that it would not, 25% shared that while it would be difficult, they would manage, and 20% said yes – childcare would be a issue for their family. Along the same lines, families were also asked about internet access, and 3% indicated that they do not have access to internet service that is adequate to support online learning.
Families were asked to share their plans for use of district transportation, with the knowledge that social distancing would be employed on buses; 51% indicated that they would use busing for their children, 42% said they would not, and 7% reported that their child will walk to school. The final question posed the idea of a potential two-week earlier start to the school year, to potentially offset a school closure like the one ordered in March of 2020, and slightly more than half were opposed. Later open-ended feedback that touched on the topic of opposing an earlier start was focused largely on the lack of air conditioning in some schools, as well as any potential impact this might have on faculty and family plans, as well as student athletics and activities.
Ms. Linch shared of those who responded, more than 4,000 survey takers elected to share open ended feedback as they concluded the survey. Families took time to share additional details, focused primarily on areas they want the district to place emphasis on in planning. Before giving more detail, she mentioned that a great many shared messages of thanks and support for teachers, principals, and others, for both the efforts undertaken during the past few months, and for the work that is being done now to plan for a safe opening of schools. All open-ended feedback was shared in its entirety with district administration.
This written feedback was focused primarily in four main areas:
- Concerns about online and distance learning programs.
- Thoughts on the topic of masking school, both students and staff.
- The district's plans to continue to mitigate the spread of the virus, and enforce protocols and recommendations from healthcare professionals, state and local authorities.
- Feedback on the impact of the school closure, especially as it pertains to social and emotional wellness, and the desire to return to in-person instruction.
The complete presentation is available for review on the district's website.
Health and Safety Plan Progress Shared
Assistant superintendents Dr. Nadine Garvin, Dr. Abram Lucabaugh, and Dr. Alexis McGloin provided an update on the planning efforts for the fall, with a focus on the health and safety template that represents the first step as required by the commonwealth for a return to in-person instruction.
While the district's ultimate scenario of choice is to return to a traditional brick and mortar instructional environment, the district is planning for other potential scenarios, including fully online and a hybrid that represents some combination of online and in-person instruction.
Planning teams that include administrators, teachers, parents, community members, and other members of district staff are meeting as committees and subgroups, both separately and collaboratively on areas of overlap. Each is examining individual areas of the Pennsylvania Department of Education's (PDE) health and safety template, responding to and considering questions in each of four areas:
- Cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and ventilation.
- Social distancing and other safety protocols.
- Monitoring of student and staff health.
- Other considerations for students and staff.
The final plan will be subjected to review and approval by the board of school directors and submitted to PDE, as well as published on the district's website. In addition to this, the district will also appoint a "pandemic coordinator."
The committees are also actively planning for educational programming in the fall even though the necessary PDE template for this purpose is not yet available. Discussions are centered around instructional goals for the district's educational programming efforts including tools and strategies, clear expectations for attendance, issues of equity, considerations for special needs and gifted support students, and more. All of this planning is done through the lens of each potential scenario for the fall.
In addition, efforts must be made to accommodate those who are unable to or uncomfortable with returning amidst the continued threat of COVID-19, and so a robust high quality online learning model will be designed and ready to deploy. This model is also important as the district prepares detailed plans for a "worst-case" scenario, in which the school year is underway, but a wide-spread school closure becomes necessary.
Planning efforts may be monitored on the district's website at www.cbsd.org/2020-21.
Board Approves 2020-21 Operating Budget with No Tax Increase
Mr. Loftus explained that a major factor in the district's ability to keep millage flat from 2019-20 levels comes as a result of federal funding received through the Cares Act. This funding was provided to the district in the form of two grants, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief grant, which provided CBSD with funding in the amount of $926,077; and the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency School Health and Safety grant, which provided $1,344,715. It's notable that these are expected to be one-time funds.
The final budget was balanced at $336,668,586. This represents a 1.6% decrease from last year's expenditure levels. Mr. Loftus explained that overall, this budget will allow the district to meet its educational goals, including the delivery of instruction in a safe manner, expanding the 1:1 instructional technology initiative to place a device in each student's hands, and implementing a social and emotional wellness curriculum. The district is also committed to financial goals aimed at executing initiatives to offset the pressures brought about by the economic recession, the necessity to fund capital projects, avoiding borrowing in the future, and controlling healthcare costs as much as possible.
Listen to the most recent school board meeting in its entirety, and view presentations delivered during the meeting.
Central Bucks School District
The members of the Central Bucks School District's Board of School Directors each represent one of nine regions in the district. Each region includes one or more municipality. While each region elects one school director, members represent the interests of the district as a whole once elected.
Meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month except for February, July, August, October, November and December. In February, the board will meet on the first and fourth Tuesdays. In July and August, the board meets on the fourth Tuesday only. In October, the board will meet on the third and fifth Tuesdays. In November, the board meets on the second Tuesday only. In December, the board meets on the first Tuesday only. Meetings are being held virtually at this time, look for meeting notices on the district's website, which will include a link for submitting public comment.
Correspondence for the Board of School Directors should be sent to Stephanie Radcliffe, Secretary to the Board, at email@example.com.
The "Central Bucks Board Note," is an e-newsletter designed to provide Central Bucks School District constituents with an overview of the work of their Board of School Directors.
Please share any feedback with Angela Linch, communications and public relations administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 267-893-2073.