District goals promote student wellness and more

Meloche reviews talks with the special needs community

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche opened the Aug. 9 board of education meeting with an update following sessions with 21 families of students with special needs and an individualized education plan (IEP).

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Over the last few months, the families met with the superintendent and board members to give feedback on what could be improved within the school community..

Families were asked the same five questions about how long they’ve been in the district, what programs they receive, their experiences in accessing those  programs and suggestions and comments for the district they wanted to share. Meloche noted families were African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latinos, those of mixed race and White, and that 11 of the 19 schools were represented.

Though there was a lot of positive feedback for programs in place and an overall acknowledgement of challenges created by the pandemic, suggestions for improvement were focused on increasing communication between the district and families. Meloche highlighted a request for more inclusive activities with  students in special classes and education of staff on anxiety and supporting kids.

“The word anxiety is used a lot in schools, and I think something that we can spend more time with,” he said.

Following the meetings, Meloche said the district would continue discussions with the office of special education and curriculum and instruction, building principals,  the Special Ed Parent Advisory Group and the Special Ed PTA to develop goals and related activities for the coming years.

Also during the meeting, the board approved and released its district goals action plan, which can be found on the meeting’s agenda under action item 21.1. 

For the new school year, the district is focused on three goals: student wellness, developing purpose and passion and connecting beyond the classroom. Each of these were detailed with action items that specify sub-goals and ways to achieve them. 

Student wellness covers a variety of topics and includes promoting student voices and supporting populations with special needs, working more closely with the Latino communities to address their needs (from the district’s equity study), and coming up with a recommendation for school start and end times. The community had previously called for more input from families in the middle and elementary schools.

Under purpose and passion, goals include analyzing the curriculum and its effectiveness, hiring and retaining a diverse workforce with a minimum of 20 percent of diverse hires, improving communication between the board of education and the public by adding quarterly town hall meetings and creating a sustainability plan.

For the third goal, sub-items included finalizing the elementary-school redistricting plan by February and increasing educational opportunities for different student pathways such as STEAM and Career and Technical Education.

“(Creating these district goals) took months of work,” said Board President Ben Ovadia. “ … This isn’t all what we’ll be doing; we’ll be doing 100 times this, but these are things that we feel – after a lot of deliberation back and forth and good work by the board and everyone who was part of this – are a good go forward.”

In other news:

  • Danyelle Edwards was appointed the new principal for Malberg Early Education Center.
  • Gina Winters was selected as a new board member to replace Kimberly Friddell.
  • Approved revised school calendars for the 2023-’24 school year to include Eid, Three Kings Day (otherwise known as Epiphany) and Diwali. Meloche noted that if these holidays are not seen on the calendar, it means they fall on a weekend.
  • More information on the Health and P.E. update will be provided at the Aug. 30 committee meeting. The current curriculum can be found in the Rubicon Atlas on the district website.

The next board meeting will be on Aug. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lewis Administration Building.

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