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Superintendent's Update - February 11, 2022

BOARD OF EDUCATION AGENDA CALENDAR

The agenda calendar is tentative until posted formally the Friday before each meeting. The calendar can be found HERE.

BUDGET ASSUMPTIONS

In the world of school finance, we develop the allocation of fiscal resources through a process called budget assumptions. The concept is easy, although the practice is more challenging. As the name alludes, the process begins with things we assume. That includes our expected revenues for next year. From that point, we make assumptions about what expenses will carry over into the following year. Most of those two things happen fairly automatically.

The real work of developing a budget is aligning new expenditures with priorities and reducing allocations in other areas to balance the bottom line. As we look to the development of our 2022-23 school year budget, we will begin with largely fixed expenditures (mostly staffing and operations) and next to our established priority areas. Things like professional development also receive funding to support priority work. In the end, our organization operates with a budget of over a quarter billion dollars.

Budget assumptions will appear on the next several agendas for our Board of Education. CSEA has provided valuable input for priorities supporting our classified employees. There is still time to hear from anyone with thoughts about budget priorities. Teachers can share individual thoughts or work through their association. Parents can write directly or work through their principals as advocates.

LEARNING FROM OUR STUDENTS

Students in the Youth Community Service (YCS) LEARN Commission joined the Board meeting on February 8 to share a compelling message about their experiences and the experiences of their peers with microaggressions in the school environment.

Microaggressions are brief, subtle and commonplace interactions and behaviors, intentional or unintentional, that communicate some sort of bias to individuals based on their group membership. Most often, microaggressions are not being perpetrated by uncaring and heartless individuals, but occur at the subconscious level by well-meaning and caring people. Unintentional or not, the negative impact on students is real, resulting in a hostile and unwelcoming classroom environment.

We acknowledged the call from our youth to create opportunities for sustained dialogue and training on the topic of microaggressions for both students and staff. We look forward to working with students, parents, and staff to identify more opportunities to engage in healthy dialogue and training in this important area. Below are some actions we have already started with more to come:

  • All middle school faculty participated in an online training through the Kirwan Institute on unconscious bias, a common factor in microaggressions.
  • Greene Middle School completed a 3-part training that expanded the conversation on bias and microaggressions to understanding how they show up in the classroom and strategies to address them.
  • The 21-Day Equity Challenge, planned to launch on March 1, features a week-long exploration of Bias and Microaggressions specific to the educational environment. Activities at all grade levels will be provided in addition to the community and teacher sections.
  • High school students will participate in a Racial Equity Training with consultant, Dr. Lori Watson on February 25 and April 22.
  • District and site leaders participate in a 9-part series, Becoming and Antiracist Educator, that explores topics such as bias, microaggressions, and other attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that impact the school environment.
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs conducts trainings for the parent community. One popular session is Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: How to Raise a JEDI Warrior,which explores themes with parents on engaging children in the discussion of social justice where bias and microaggression are themes.
  • School principals may request customized professional learning related to equity literacy form the Office of Equity and Student Affairs.

We recognize that more work is still needed to ensure that all students feel valued and have a sense of belonging in the school community and we are taking steps to do just that.

The Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs will be meeting with the YCS LEARN Commission and use the voices of our youth to continue to hone the System-Wide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT).

In the meantime, we encourage PAUSD educators, parents and students to be aware of the impact of microaggressions and join our mission to ensure that we deliver on our Promise that "all students shall experience an environment characterized by high expectations, acceptance, respect, and support to become invested in the pursuit of learning and excellence without fear of threat, humiliation, danger or disregard (PAUSD Promise)."

EARLY LITERACY

Immersive learning is what we do best at Greendell School. This provides high-quality instruction and social-emotional learning for our youngest learners. The PreSchool Family Fours class explores community roles through play. Our young readers and writers recently wrote letters, delivered, opened, and read their mail. Students explored their ideas around postal carriers and more! After this practice, the Fours class had the opportunity to take a walking field trip to mail their valentines.

Engaging learners through play is powerful and impactful in building a lifetime love of learning. We are making the foundation of literacy for real-life purposes, and our youngest learners are communicating their thoughts in writing. Principal Shannon Coleman shared, "Literacy is woven into the curriculum in all classes at Greendell, beginning with our infant-toddler classes to Young Fives. It starts with families reading to their babies and grows to our students participating in imaginative play like our post office." With parent partnerships, we grow literacy practices in our students and transform lives.