The Latest from Camas School District
Board Highlights (just the facts)
Our Board members Corey McEnry, Tracey Malone, Doug Quinn, Connie Hennessey, and Erika Cox talked about the challenge of supporting our students remotely, the desire to increase in-person learning opportunities while aligning to public health guidance, and their appreciation for the work of our staff.
Corey McEnry talked about the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) which occurred last Monday. The meeting focused on our district's progression toward slowly and methodically reopening and offering more in-person opportunities for our students. He noted concerns some CAC members expressed related to their personal decisions to stay in full remote learning when our district returns to in-person instruction. One concern was a fear that their students would receive diminished instruction, or would be left out or singled out.
"I want to say we absolutely hear you, and it is our mission to make sure that doesn't happen," commented McEnry. He indicated it is their intent that every student is looked after, and that as a system, we personalize our educational experiences as much as possible. "We honor and respect the reasons why families choose to remain in remote," he added.
Tracey Malone talked about the wide range of information the Board is consistently consuming. "I appreciate that we, as a board, have different fingers and feelers in the community. We all are connecting with parents and families, and people we know in addition to the emails we receive." She indicated they are working through an incredible amount of research, articles, opinions, and feelings related to reopening schools. "It is a lot of information to process," said Malone. "We are doing our best to get kids back into our in-person learning," she added.
Doug Quinn shared that he and Malone recently attended a capital facilities meeting and expressed his excitement about the progress on the fieldhouse and field work at Camas High School and especially the Garver Theater. "It has been long in coming. We're bringing some art and music back into the community soon."
Board President Connie Hennessey recognized the multiple issues our district is working through in addition to our COVID-19 response including our equity work, implementing Universally Designed Learning, and developing priorities alongside our budget committee. "We have a lot of balls in the air, in addition to COVID-19," commented Hennessey. "I appreciate the work everyone is doing; keep it up!"
Erika Cox expressed her appreciation for the CAC, indicating it is a significant commitment for its volunteers and that collectively they provide invaluable insight for our district. Adding to McEnry's comments about the meeting, she said, "We have a wide array of student choice, and it will always be family choice. We will accommodate and make sure that learning experiences are what families come to expect from the district."
Local levies are an essential revenue stream for our district and are approved by voters for a set number of years. Local levies account for 15-20% of our overall budget. In 2017, our community approved two levies, a programs & operations levy and a capital technology levy, which will expire at the end of 2021. Our School Board adopted resolutions to put replacement levies on the February 9, 2021, ballot for the community for 2022, 2023, and 2024. Our school district has long benefited from strong community support. That support has enabled us to build the district we have today. In addition to local levies, voters have also approved local bonds that have built the excellent schools and facilities we have in our district. Because of the way we’ve scheduled our bond payments, taxpayers will see a reduction in their overall tax rate for 2021 from $5.57 in 2020 to $4.77 per $1,000 of assessed value. Approval of the ballot measures will continue the overall projected new rate of $4.77 out over three years.
Student Engagement Update - Kindergarten
Director of Elementary Education Doug Hood shared with the board that the first day of in-person kindergarten was a success. Approximately 80% of our 410 kindergarten families chose to come to school for small group instruction starting November 9. Students are attending morning on Mondays and Tuesdays for Cohort A and Thursday/Fridays for Cohort B.
Hood shared that one kindergartener told him he'd like to be at school because "you're less boring than home." Two other students reported to Hood they want to sleep at school and wondered if we could provide sleeping bags.
Upcoming Town Hall
As with previous town hall meetings, we’re asking our community to engage in a Thoughtexchange conversation to help us prepare. Thank you in advance for taking the time to share your thoughts about our current remote learning delivery model and the transition to more in-person learning time for our district. We are 50+ days into our school year. We continue to use remote as our primary delivery model for learning while increasing the number of small-group, in-person learning experiences.
As we look ahead, please share your thoughts, questions, concerns, and ideas, and engage in this conversation through Thoughtexchange. This conversation will close Saturday at midnight. Please also take the time to review and rate the thoughts of your neighbors. Thoughtexchange Link: https://bit.ly/ReopenThoughtexchange
We will use the content from the Thoughtexchange conversation to plan the content for our Town Hall meeting on November 16, 2020, at 6 PM. Please join us! Zoom Link https://bit.ly/TownHallNov16
Mill Town Pride
Our Camas School District security staff member Julie Bailey is responsible for monitoring our buildings and fields during after-school hours from 5:00 to 9:30 PM Monday - Friday. She is doing an outstanding job of working with our community and making sure they are following the DOH guidelines. Julie approaches our community in a positive and friendly manner and takes the time to educate them when they are not following the guidelines. She goes above and beyond the call of duty during these unprecedented times. We are very lucky to have her watching over our facilities/fields.
In our district, we currently serve 201 students who speak a first language other than English. Their experiences in Camas School District and our community will support them in becoming bilingual – or in some cases, trilingual! These students also bring a wealth of different experiences that help all of our students connect to the larger world – to see “windows” into that world. Our English Language Learner team supports our students learning English by working with them directly and in collaboration with their classroom teachers.
Today, we’d like to recognize one member of our team, Aurora Canales, who is making an incredible difference in building connections between our Spanish-speaking families and our schools. Spanish is the most frequently spoken language after English in Camas School District. She is warm and inviting, and genuinely loves connecting with students and families, and making sure they feel included in our learning community. She helps with translating school-and-home conversations, making sure families have the resources they need, and know how to access them, and during remote learning, she has made home visits to help problem-solve technology issues and other barriers to learning.
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The Annual Stuff the Bus
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Odyssey-Discovery Fundraiser With Service
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