Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting: September 3, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

This remote Committee meeting, held  immediately after the Student Achievement Committee,  opened with an update on the District’s financial health in light of additional expenses and drops in revenue. The meeting did not, however, address the Board’s continued spending of large sums of money for contracts to favored businesses despite stating months ago that it was only going to spend money on essential programs. The Facilities Safety Report presented by the new Chief of Operations stands in contrast to the just released Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report that found both errors were made during the process and lies to the public about the safety of students and staff during in-school construction work and asbestos abatement. To date, no one has been held accountable. Any doubts about who the Board actually represents evaporated when, without prior announcement, representatives from a company vying for a tax-free KOZ contract, along with the City’s Commerce Director, were allowed to present a lengthy presentation that contradicted many statements in its August presentation. 

[The posted agendas for both committees can be found here.  Slide presentations and descriptions of upcoming Action Items for both committees can be accessed through links on this agenda.]

Minutes for the Joint Committee meeting of August 13, 2020 were approved.

Lee Huang chaired the Finance and Facilities meeting; Committee members Letitia Egea-Hinton and Joyce Wilkerson attended.  Board members Angela McIver, Julia Danzy, Mallory Fiz Lopez and Maria McColgan also attended. (Note: McColgan and Egea-Hinton left the meeting just before the Facilities Update.)

Click here to read the rest of the report.

Student Achievement and Support Committee Meeting September 3, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

The crucial question raised again at the Board of Education’s Joint Committee Meeting:  Will all buildings be safe for children to return to by the District’s targeted November reopening date? Hite administration officials reported on the ongoing preparation, including deep cleaning, preparing the HVAC ventilation system to be at full capacity, and making sure all windows can open.

[Slide presentations and descriptions of upcoming Action Items for both committees can be accessed through links on this agenda.]

Minutes for the Joint Committee meeting of August 13, 2020 were approved.

Dr. Angela McIver chaired the first part of this remote meeting.  Committee members Mallory Fix Lopez, Maria McColgan and Julia Danzy attended. Board members  President Joyce Wilkerson, Leticia Egea-Hinton and Lee Huang also attended. 

Learning Implementation Pathway Update:  Alicia Prince, Acting Chief of Facilities Management and Capital Programs. This covered the readiness of buildings, staff, and school operational readiness information to date. McIver stated that the District is still planning to move to hybrid model on November 17, as long as the health guidelines so indicate. The information presented by Prince  (pp 9-18) seemed to indicate that the District has no serious impediments and is almost set to return to in-school use. Coded colors show status of readiness:  Green (on track), Yellow (slightly off track) and Red (needs focus). Only Staff Coverage (academic and cleaning) was listed as Yellow. Building Readiness (slide p15) is listed as Green, but of 224 buildings in process of becoming Covid-ready, none has achieved full readiness.  Board members asked for specifics about some of the glossed-over deficiencies. Noting that 72% of students have been issued Chromebooks, Egea-Hinton asked  about the 28% who have not. Prince said the District is reaching out to them. Egea-Hinton also questioned the low levels of progress on Hand Sanitizing Stations (11% completed), Partitions (0% completed)  and Air Ventilator Capacity tests (25 completed, 199 in progress) and whether the remaining jobs will be completed and on schedule. Prince again referred to expected completion dates on the slides:  She reported that 85,726 students have received computers, 40,255 students have not.  [The Reopening Readiness Report, including School by School Operational Readiness Checklists,and future updates can be found here.]

Click here to read the rest of the report.

Board of Education Joint Committee Meeting: August 13, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

Technical Problems Galore

The Board held its first in-person Committee meeting at 440 since its Joint Committee Meeting on April 23, 2020.  Seven of the eight Board members attended in person, but public viewing and participation continued remotely. The public could view via TV or live-stream, but could testify only by phone. The August 13, 2020 Committee meeting is listed as a remote meeting on the District website. The meeting was held in the large 2nd-floor auditorium.The Board members’ desks were configured in 3 rows of 3 desks per row, following  social-distancing guidelines. Staff and presenters sat off-camera until called up. President Wilkerson did not explain why the Board was abandoning the Zoom format, as the rate of new COVID cases have not significantly decreased in the city.

Click here to read the rest of the report.

Joint Committee Meeting: June 11, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

All members of the Board were present for this remote combined meeting of the Student Achievement and Support Committee and the Finance and Facilities Committee: President Joyce Wilkerson, Vice President Leticia Egia-Hinton, Angela McIver, Julia Danzy, Mallory Fix Lopez, Maria McColgan, Lee Huang, Ameen Akbar. Board and District staff can be seen on screen during the remote meeting. Dr. Hite was present at the opening of the meeting and during the School Safety Update presentation. Several Board members and Dr. Hite made statements about the recent protests after the murder of George Floyd. 

 Student Board Representatives Doha Ibrahim and Imere Williams gave their final report. They spoke about finding  “safe spaces” in schools,  including clubs and classrooms. They took pride in being part of the successful campaign to have the Free Library drop late fees. Doha and Imere suggested sending notices of the Student Town Halls to all students in the school rather than having the principal select student leaders. This would give them a wider sampling of student voices and concerns. Doha also raised the possibility of virtual meetings. 

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