Dexter Board of Education Bulletin: May 24 School Board Meeting

The May 24th Board of Education meeting was held both in person in the Bates Boardroom and streamed online via Zoom to allow the opportunity for all community members to participate during the pandemic.

Superintendent Update
Dr. Timmis began his update with a rundown of upcoming DHS senior events: Honors Night is scheduled for Wednesday, June 2nd and Commencement on Friday, June 4th, both at Al Ritt Field. The graduation ceremony will be broken into two sessions (6:00-7:30 p.m. & 8:15-9:30 p.m.) to allow all senior family members to attend with some spacing. Commencement rain date is Sunday, June 6th.

Work on the DHS tennis court renovation project has begun, but the Board will need to adjust the project’s budget as water has been found at the bottom of every post and this drainage issue will require mitigation.

COVID positive cases continue to decline, both in our District and county-wide. As of May 12, DCS had a cumulative total of 91 student and 20 staff positive cases this year. The week of May 17th, there were only 3 more positive cases among students (0 for staff), and 1 class was required to quarantine.
Washtenaw County has seen a drop over the past several weeks from 57 on April 16th to only 8.7 positive cases per 100,000 people as of May 21st. The county infection rate is holding around the 0.75% range. In the past two weeks, the county has seen a total of 429 new cases, down from over 2000 in a similar two-week period in April. According to the MDHHS data, we are at 60 positive cases per 1,000,000 (high risk), with a 2.6% positivity rate (low risk). On the CDC guidance chart, in most areas we register at moderate to low risk.

Board President Update
Board President Dr. Julie Schumaker had nothing to report.

Student Representatives Update
Student Representative Anna Shehab relayed that there were two DHS senior events this past weekend.
The Senior Celebration in lieu of prom was held Saturday, May 22nd at Al Ritt Field, and a Senior Car Parade organized by DHS parents took place on Sunday, May 23rd. Shehab shared that Dexter’s graduating seniors really appreciated all the effort put into these two events. DCS seniors’ last day of school is Friday, May 28th, Honors Night is June 2nd and Commencement is June 4th. She also noted that student athletes continue to be tested weekly for COVID unless they are fully vaccinated. Students are also excited for the upcoming vaccination clinic for 12- to 15-year-old students being held on Tuesday, May 25th.

Finally, Shehab reported that AP testing is ongoing.

Aidan Naughton shared that DHS Homeroom students can begin picking up yearbooks at lunchtime starting on Tuesday, May 25th. Also, for any DHS students interested in joining the Link Crew, there will be an informational Zoom meeting on Wednesday, May 26th at 11:00 a.m.

Public Participation
Robert Bowden spoke.

Consent Items
The meeting’s consent items were approved unanimously and included hiring a new paraprofessional, Luis Orellana, acknowledging the retirement of Anchor Media Specialist Alice Hinterman, receiving the April budget report and the temporary appointment of Trustees Mara Greatorex, Jennifer Kangas and Daryl Kipke as BOE President for the single purpose of signing diplomas for their graduating students.

Action Items
● The Board approved of the 2021-2022 DCS School Calendar, recently ratified by the Dexter Education Association (DEA).

● The Board passed a resolution designating Trustee Jennifer Kangas as its representative to serve on the 2021 electoral body and to support Theresa Saunders on the ballot at the June 7, 2021 election meeting.

● The Board passed a resolution indicating support for the proposed WISD 2021-2022 budget.

● The Board voted to adopt the revised Board Norms and Social Media Guidelines. Trustee Kangas shared that Trustees discussed these two documents in detail at the April 28th board workshop, and all agreed on the importance of the Board being open and available to the public. Both documents were unanimously approved.

New Phonics Curriculum Presentation
Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Mollie Sharrar presented a proposal for a new K-4 phonics program for the 2021-2022 school year. Elementary Principals Ryan Bruder (Beacon), Craig McCalla (Anchor) and Katie See (Wylie) were present to support this proposal for their buildings. Sharrar began her remarks with an overview of the District’s Reading Action Plan through which staff are currently gathering data from K-4 students to determine future instructional needs. The plan includes summer reading opportunities, a coaching model for the next school year and the hiring of a Literacy Liaison to work closely with families and students on early literacy.

Recent NWEA assessment data shows that Dexter has fewer students scoring in the ‘high’ to ‘high average’ range and more in the ‘low’ to ‘low average’ range than we have previously seen, due to the lack of consistent face-to-face instruction during the pandemic. Students are showing less growth in foundational reading skills; historically springtime is when students put fall learning into practice, but that growth cycle was not present for many K-4 students this year.

As a result, the District is proposing a new instructional program to help students attain foundational reading skills. After looking at several options, Sharrar and the elementary principals decided on Reading Horizons, a program which focuses on phonetic and decoding skills, then transferring those skills to connected texts. The Reading Horizons program includes classroom kits, software and two full days of staff professional development (as well as virtual PD), for a one-time cost of $75,900. The Reading Horizons phonics program proposal will come back for a Board vote at the June 14th meeting.

Board Calendar
The Board discussed potential meeting dates for the 2021-2022 school year and an upcoming Board Workshop. Voting on this calendar will occur at the June 14th meeting. A Board Workshop has been scheduled for June 14th at 5:30pm to discuss Student Growth and Achievement Goals Second

Opportunity for Public Participation
Community member Kevin Creech asked the District to publish a written back-to-school plan for September 2021. Dr. Timmis responded that the final 2021-2022 District Calendar was approved earlier in the meeting and is now available to families. As previously announced, Dexter’s plan is for students to attend school in person five days/week this fall.The District will continue to offer virtual instruction for those families who prefer it.

Committee Updates
Vice President Mara Greatorex reported that the Policy Committee met on May 18th and discussed updates to several policies to be presented for Board review at a June meeting. The next Policy Committee meeting is set for June 15th.

Greatorex also noted that the Educational Foundation of Dexter has begun accepting nominations for Dread Strong Staff Appreciation Awards. Community members are encouraged to show their appreciation to the DCS staff with a Dread Strong Staff Appreciation Award by making a donation in their honor to the Educational Foundation of Dexter. The deadline to nominate a staff member is June 7th.

Board Comments
Trustee Bruderly gave a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to staff, parents, students and all those anxious to be done with this school year. She said staff have worked so hard in the classroom, distributing lunches, etc., and everyone is exhausted, but she wanted to share how impressed she is with how the school year has gone.

Information Items
Board packet information items included the May 10th Board Bulletin, draft minutes from the May 18th Policy Committee meeting and notice that Lisa Melvin in the Business Office received her MSBO Certification as a Pupil Accounting Specialist.

After cancelling the unnecessary virtual meeting, the regular session meeting was adjourned.

For the full meeting video, please visit HERE

Upcoming Board Calendar
● Wednesday, May 26 – 8:00 a.m. – Finance Committee – Bates
● Monday, June 14 – 5:
● Monday, June 14 – 7:00 p.m. – Board Meeting – Bates
● Tuesday, June 15 – 10:00 a.m. – Policy Committee – Bates

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