CDA Schools Board Meeting and Bathroom Policy Workshop Recap
The CDA School District board of trustees met for their usual meeting this past Monday; they met again on Tuesday to discuss proposed bathroom policy. The hot-topic points will be called out below with the rest of the highlights at the bottom of the post.
A major push back to the school district’s need of $25 million per year forever (recently changed to only 2 years), was the community citing that low and/or stagnant test scores have not been raised even though the school district keeps receiving more and more money every couple of years through the levies.
The Director of Federal Programs and Assessment, Heather Somers, confirmed on Monday that indeed the test scores are low and stagnant – although they are higher than state average.
Trustee Bjerke was not impressed with the scores, stating that even if we threw out the years after C0vid chalking it up to learning loss, the numbers pre-C0vid show that students were not doing that great with the testing then, either.
(For comparison, the district received $15 million per year from the community in 2016 and 2017, $16 million per year in 2018 and 2019, and $20 million per year in 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.)
The response from the director when the trustee called out the dismal numbers was yes, they’re not the greatest, but they are better than state average.
Curriculum Committee Recommendations
An Elementary ELA (English Learning Arts) Adoption Committee has met several times over the past few months to research and gather information to make a recommendation on the best English curriculum for our elementary students. The curriculum is audited every 6-ish years so this search falls in line with that timeframe.
The ELA Adoption Committee met for 8-ish hours over the past few months (not including the time spent listening to curriculum presentations) and the curriculum that they chose to recommend is:
The committee, along with the Curriculum Coordinator Katie Graupman, recommend that the Board approve these materials at the May board meeting but only purchase them if the levy passes.
Trustee Bjerke was not impressed by this Benchmark curriculum; after receiving her board packet she did a cursory search on the Benchmark website and found CRT, formerly known as Critical Race Theory but now being touted as Culturally Responsive Teaching, dripping throughout. (More will be discussed on this Culturally Responsive Teaching at a later date.)
When Bjerke voiced her displeasure the only reply she received was well, this is the curriculum that the committee recommends.
No mention of whether or not this Benchmark curriculum will be illegal under the new Idaho law (effective 7/1/21) banning any critical race theory tenants from being purchased or taught in the Idaho education system.
Another committee, the middle school Science Adoption Committee, recommended McGraw-Hill curriculum for their middle school science classes. No one on the Board was able to dig into this curriculum website before the meeting so no comments were made. This recommendation, like the ELA recommendation, asks that the Board approve these materials at the May board meeting but only purchase them if the levy passes.
Both the Benchmark Advance and McGraw-Hill curriculums will be put out for community review by the end of this week for the next 30 days. To review the curriculums, they will be at the CDA Library, 702 E Front Ave (instead of at the administrative office). Note: there will not be a digital version of the curriculum to look over, it is only physical copies of the curriculum available.
The school board met in a special workshop on Tuesday to discuss draft policy in light of the recent passing of SB1100, referring to the protection of privacy and safety of students in public schools. With the guidance of the district’s attorney and Idaho State Board of Education Deputy Director & Government Affairs, the board made their way through a blending of the two versions of draft policy to come into agreement for one version, included below.
Review/comments are due by 5:00 p.m. on May 1, 2023. To download a version of the draft policy to print, download here.
To make official comments about the policy, please fill out the online form. Your comments will be included in the May board packet and will be available for public viewing (so be nice in your feedback 😉).
It is confirmed that the state will go back to Average Daily Attendance for funding purposes starting in fiscal year 2024. As you remember, during C0vid no students were “attending” school so the state changed the funding model to an Enrollment-based funding model. There were more students enrolled than attending daily, so although there are over 10,000 students enrolled in the CDA School District, the current average daily attendance is only 9,428.
Looking at the FY24 financial summary, it looks like even with the Average Daily Attendance model being used for funding the school district will still be funded MORE than they were for FY23, but less than they would have been if they were still under the Enrollment method.
Also, according to the finance director, the $6,359 that was promised to each teacher/counselor as a “raise” by the Governor for FY24, is not the whole picture. The state calculates how much they fund for each support unit (teacher) and then, through the recent promises by the Governor, plan to give $6,359 more salary per support unit. Unfortunately, the school district employs MANY more staff than just the ones that the state funds so even though the state will be paying the school district an additional $1.5 million to cover the Governor’s promise next year, the school district actually needs about $4 million to give everyone that $6,359 raise. So instead, the school district is forced to take that $1.5 million and divide it up amongst all.
One more thing, the school district is using the classified employees (the office staff, assistants, nutrition services, etc.) as a reason for the levy, stating that these employees need a raise to $15/hr. The state will be increasing that funding almost $14k per staff member in addition to what they are currently being paid before.
If you would like to download the financials slide deck to view every page, click here. If you have more questions about the financials Finance Director Shannon Johnston said she’s available if anyone would like to sit down with her.