BoardNotes: January 2021
Highlights from the Caroline Board of Education Meeting
Swearing-In of Newly Appointed Board Members
INDIVIDUAL ACTION ITEMS
Primary Internet Services Provider (eRate)
The Board voted to award a contract to Comcast Business Communications, LLC, in the amount of $25,430.40 annually ($127,152.00 total for five-year contract) for the provision of primary business/enterprise class internet access services to CCPS offices and schools. The term of the contract is July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2026.
This award provides for current and additional bandwidth needed to supplement existing internet services to CCPS offices and schools over CCPS’ WAN. CCPS intends to seek E-Rate reimbursement for all E-Rate eligible products and services provided under this contract. The funds associated with this project are provided for in the unrestricted operating budget.
The bid process and procedures complied with Board policy and applicable state laws and regulations.
Board Member Reports
Note: Board Member Rick Barton teleconferenced into the meeting for the closed session and early items on the open meeting agenda, but was unable to remain for the entire meeting due to illness.
Ms. Wayman stated that she does not take her appointment lightly, appreciates the opportunity to serve, and intends to "do my best for the children of Caroline County." Mr. Newcomb said he knows she will be a great asset to the Board and continue to be an asset to Caroline County.
Ms. DiGiacomo shared that she participated in an NCHS Zoom class with Ms. Butler's students who were working to create videos. She also participated in volunteer efforts such as an NCHS staff food drive to benefit the Ridgely Food Bank and helping with the delivery of the Caroline County Commissioner's food donations to families. In addition, she attended the Leo Club virtual meeting as the Lions Club liaison. Mr. Newcomb applauded Ms. DiGiacomo for setting the example of active engagement and volunteerism, even during COVID. Ms. Dill agreed that these activities send a positive message to staff.
Mr. Newcomb reported that he attended a Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) virtual Legislative Committee meeting. Based on what he gathered, he is hopeful that school systems will be held harmless regarding 2020 enrollment numbers being used to determine 2021-2022 state funding. He also shared that prior to the opening of session, approximately 800 bills had been pre-filed, with 220 of them identified as possibly impacting education.
- Academic Achievement: Negative Impact of Covid-19 on Grades - Discussion included questions regarding student accountability, student cameras while on Zoom and strategies for alternatives, social-emotional care and mental health services, student attendance and mastery of standards, and outreach to students.
- Recovery Plan Phases - Discussion included a review of each phase, and explanation of the small number of students in the building in Phase 1, and the decision-making process to move between phases.
- Eastern Shore of Maryland Education Coalition (ESMEC) Blended Virtual Program
Student Representative Reports
Student representatives Zachary O'Brian from North Caroline High School and Gillian Cheezum from Colonel Richardson High School virtually provided reports on activities from schools in their respective ends of the county.
Gilliam Cheezum, Colonel Richardson High School Representative
Student Representative Reports
Zachary O'Brien, North Caroline High School Representative
Holiday Card Artwork
Resolution for Community Development Block Grant
Assistant Superintendent Milton Nagel added that the Caroline County Commissioners, after allowing for public comment, unanimously approved the application.
- Rural Broadband as it relates to students' accessibility to technology
- Sustained state funding as outlined in the Maryland Blueprint for Education
- Holding school systems harmless on student enrollment and future funding
- Funding for construction projects, especially in small districts
- Local control
CARES Funding Report
The largest line item was funding for a third bus run which enabled CCPS to transport more students to school when in Phase 4 of the Recovery Plan. Mr. Nagel also cited the need to buy refrigerated trailers to handle the logistics of feeding students.
Mr. Nagel shared that this offer by county government was not the norm in all districts, and the good relationship between the county and school system was appreciated during these unusual times.
Indoor Air Quality Report
Mr. Nagel introduced a report on indoor air quality in schools. Supervisor of School Construction & Maintenance Chuck Petrick, Supervisor of Plant Operations Brett Morton, and Phill Haun with Haun Environmental Consulting presented a report detailing ongoing indoor air quality measures, processes and procedures for ensuring proper air quality, and the occurrence and resolution of mold. They also shared CCPS statistics as they relate to the complexity of maintaining proper air quality control.
Discussion included questions about the energy management system, process and procedures for reporting issues, and the need to ensure reporting mechanisms are in place and shared with staff.
Supervisor of Human Resources Debbie Siachos provided a report on the current status of telework for CCPS employees. The report covered the rationale and considerations for having staff in-person unless approved for telework, statistics as they relate to having staff at work, and considerations for moving forward.
Discussion included questions regarding approval for temporary telework, giving employees the option to telework, the difference between instruction in the past year and this year, the inequity of teleworking options, mental health considerations for both working options, decisions of surrounding school systems, and current COVID metrics.
Dr. Saelens also discussed the upcoming Staff Engagement Survey that will be distributed at the end of January.
- Michele Curler on the topic of seniors and athletics
- Carey Nepert on the topic of return to in-person learning