Joint Committee Meeting: October 8, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

At the combined meetings of the Student Achievement and Support Committee and the Finance and Facilities Committee, several Board members questioned the accuracy of reopening information District staff has presented. Their repeated follow-up questions to 440 staff struck a different tone than that of previous meetings.  It remains to be seen whether Board members will stand firm in their pursuit of in-depth answers and standards necessary for safety or continue to accept the vague answers given by the Hite administration. 

Board members Angela McGiver, Leticia Etea-Hinton, Julia Danzy, and Lee Huang attended both meetings in their entirety; Maria McColgan joined late. President Joyce Wilkerson appeared at the beginning of the first meeting, but was not seen for the remainder of the session, although she could be heard at times. The Board should display the images of all those in attendance. If that is not possible–if they are connected by phone or their camera is disabled–their names should be on screen for as long as they are actually present. The public has a right to know who is present and who is not. (The Board website page indicates that Ameen Akbar has not yet taken on a committee assignment.)

Click here to read what transpired at each committee meeting.

Board Protects Charter Status Quo

by Diane Payne

Policy Committee Meeting, September 10, 2020

The Board’s Policy Committee scheduled a special meeting just one week after its regular quarterly meeting. The Board did not explain on September 3 why it was having a separate meeting on September 10 or why the three policies on this agenda could not have been discussed the week before.  Members of the public who signed up to speak could only guess about the Board’s intentions about revising or deleting Policy 141, the Renaissance Charter Initiative.  By the meeting’s end, however, it became clear that the purpose of the meeting was to assure charter operators that their interests would be protected. 

Continue reading here.

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.