Dexter Board of Education Bulletin: Jan. 10 School Board Meeting

The Board of Education tested out a new 360-degree Owl smart camera at their Monday, January 10th meeting in an effort to record BOE meetings with more clarity. Trustees Brian Arnold and Dick Lundy were absent this evening. The agenda was approved as presented.

FIRST OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
Three parents spoke about volleyball coach Paula Palmer Burns. Ms. Palmer Burns also commented on her experience as coach.

SUPERINTENDENT UPDATE
Superintendent Chris Timmis relayed that districts were given updated COVID-19 quarantine guidance on Friday, January 7th by the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD). The 10-day quarantine period for K-12 students has been reduced to 5 days, which will help DCS keep students in school.
Timmis shared that DHS attendance has held around 76-81% for the past 5 days, stating that usually attendance is 94-95% per day and even during a flu outbreak it holds around 90%. In addition, lack of adequate staffing led to the decision to close school last Friday, January 7th. He reiterated that the District is doing everything possible in order to keep students safe and in school.

BOARD PRESIDENT UPDATE
Board President Mara Greatorex thanked the community members who spoke earlier and noted that the only staff member evaluated by the Board is Dr. Timmis. She also expressed her appreciation for DCS staff and administration, as well as the community, for working together to keep students in school.

STUDENT REPRESENTATIVES UPDATE
Aidan Naughton reported that students at Wylie Elementary are taking the NWEA this week. Griffin Patel shared that a student advisory board has been finalized at DHS, with 3 student representatives from each grade level to provide feedback to administration. At Creekside Intermediate, the DHS Debate team recently visited several 6th grade classes during a debate unit, and Mill Creek is preparing for the upcoming change of administration when Jami Bronson retires and Ken Koenig takes the helm as Interim Principal.

CONSENT ITEMS
The evening’s consent agenda was unanimously approved, including the hiring of Jenni Davis (DHS Special Education), Michelle Sherman (DEEC General Education Social Worker), and Adrian Edwards (School Counselor/District 504 Coordinator).

In addition, the Board packet contained a letter of retirement from Mill Creek Principal Jami Bronson, which Trustee Melanie Szawara said could not be approved without comment. Szawara stated Bronson has put her heart and soul into this community, and she (Szawara) is sad her students won’t have the opportunity to have Bronson as their principal. Board President Greatorex also recognized Bronson as an outstanding educator and administrator, saying her two students loved having her as their principal.

Both Trustees wished Bronson the best in her retirement.

ACTION ITEMS
Policy First Reading – Temporary COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing, and Face Covering On November 5, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration

published Emergency Temporary Standards on employee vaccination, testing, and face coverings (“ETS”). As of last week, districts were notified via OSHA’s website that OSHA will provide employers with sufficient time to come into compliance while the mandate is litigated. OSHA shared they will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10th and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9th as long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.

The proposed policy is provided by DCS attorneys in order to be in compliance. While policy proposals are usually reviewed first by the Board’s policy committee, because this is time-sensitive, it is coming directly to Board this evening for first reading (all board policies require two readings, per policy). It is anticipated that the policy may not be needed, but it is unknown when a ruling will happen, and DCS attorneys wrote the policy in order to keep the District in compliance.

Trustee Elise Bruderly moved that the BOE approve the attached policy 8407 (Temporary COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing, and Face Covering) for first reading as presented
with option 2 under item C: COVID-19 Employee Mandate (option 2: Each employee shall (1) be fully vaccinated, or (2) comply with the COVID-19 test and face covering requirements in Sections I and J below).

Dr. Timmis shared the vaccination rate among staff is high, but not near 100%. Violations of OSHA’s ruling could be $2000 per person if the District can’t show a good faith effort to comply. To be in compliance, the administration started collecting vaccination records last week and this, coupled with the proposed temporary policy, demonstrates our good faith effort.

Elise Bruderly requested an amendment be made to strike the third sentence under letter H of the policy, which requires staff not to return to work without written permission of the Superintendent or his designee because this places an undue burden on the District, when the goal is to reduce workload in terms of employee health. Others agreed, and Dr. Timmis said he would consult the attorneys about removing that sentence. The amended motion was unanimously approved, and the policy will return at the 1/24/22 meeting for second reading.

MASB Training

The Michigan Association of School Board’s (MASB) Winter Institute will take place live online February 25-27. The Board unanimously approved the authorization of registration fees (including travel costs if applicable) for any interested board members to attend the Winter Institute and/or take up to six CBA classes there or through MSBA between now and June 30, 2022.

Schools of Choice – Fall 2022

Since 2014, the Board of Education has made available a limited number of schools of choice spots for non-resident students to attend Dexter Schools. After a short discussion, trustees unanimously approved for Fall 2022 at least one schools of choice spot in each grade from young 5 through 8, at least one virtual spot, at least one spot in Dexter Early Middle College, and at least thirty spots in the Dexter High School IB Program – ten each in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.

DISCUSSION ITEMS
Policy 0144.1 Board Member Compensation
Historically, the Board of Education has held an organizational meeting in January (when new board member terms begin) and a business meeting in July (when annual legal and other record-keeping actions are taken in alignment with the fiscal year). With trustee turnover over the last several years, the Board decided to consolidate those tasks to all occur at the July meeting, so that new trustees would be able to participate more effectively in the election of officers and committee assignments. That policy change happened in February 2020.At the July 2020 meeting, board compensation was left off the agenda, so that was acted upon at the January 2021 meeting as it had been in years past. In preparation for this evening’s meeting, the administration reviewed existing policy 0144.1 (compensation) to see if this task can and/or should be moved to the July business meeting with the other annual tasks. Staff discovered the policy does not match long-standing board practice. The evening’s Board packet contained copies of the policy and actions taken on compensation over the past several years for reference.Per board bylaws, Trustees had to take action to follow or suspend the existing policy this evening, but it was placed on the discussion agenda because it was a complicated item. The policy currently states Board members receive $30/meeting not to exceed 52 meetings (including committee meetings), which is not consistent with the past Board practice of $840 annual compensation per trustee since at least 2006. Trustee Bruderly moved to suspend the bylaw, explaining this is the first they are seeing the discrepancy and they should hold off deciding until historical information is reviewed. President Greatorex agreed, and it was unanimously approved to suspend the bylaw for policy committee review.

SECOND OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
Two DHS volleyball players spoke in support of Coach Burns.
A DHS parent spoke for the second time this evening, expressing concern that his daughter (a senior) has not taken final exams since she was a sophomore.

BOARD COMMENTS
Trustee Bruderly thanked the administration for their work to ensure school remains in session. She appreciates the extra work being done by all staff.

Tags from the story
More from Special to Discover Communities

St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea cancer program celebrates 10 years

CHELSEA – The cancer program at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea recently celebrated...
Read More