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February 26, 2021


  • Schools will open to 5 days a week starting April 5th barring all procedures followed up until that point, listed below.
  • My personal action items based on the board's discussion are listed below. 
  • Long discussion about opening schools, concerns, masks, etc. at the bottom.
  • Presentation on full day kindergarten for all elementary schools. Includes recommendations plus cost.
  • A Board Handbook has been created to help guide current and future board members in their decision making.

Overview of the Meeting Discussion

The CDA School board met last night for a special meeting to review information about a new Board Handbook, to hear the benefits around having full-day kindergarten in all schools instead of just a select few, and to consider changing the schools to a 5-day in-person schedule. I’m giving you a bullet pointed overview of the meeting; if you’re not in the CDA school district please know that your own boards are discussing similar topics. I'm listing out the topics in the same order as discussed, so apologies if you find the order wonky. :)

After watching the CDA School Board special meeting I realized there's a few things we can do to ramp up the optics of our demand to get our kids back in schools, no masks, and have our parental rights given back to US: the parents.

  1. Sign the Unmask CDA petition (if you haven't done so already). There's 365 signatures so far and I want to get that number HIGH, above 1000 if we can, to show them our priorities to get our kids back in school normally.
  2. Email the CDA School Board of Trustees and tell them what you think about their reopening plan (5 days a week starting April 5, fully masked and socially distanced).
  3. Email the Panhandle Health Board of Trustees and tell them that we want them to lift the mask restrictions, ESPECIALLY with the cases, positivity rates, and 7-day averages dropping like flies.
  4. Vote NO to the school levy on March 9th. This is IMPERATIVE. We need to get it through their thick skulls that we have been obviously paying too much money to have our children NOT be in schools. Not to mention the progressive curriculum that's been slowly transitioning into our schools as well as about 100 other things that this money has been used for instead of where it should be going. <<<<<<-----------Today is the last day to request an absentee ballot if you need to do so! Also, early voting is NOW open. Go to the Elections office on 3rd St in CDA to vote before March 9th.


Meeting Topics

Board Handbook
The Board has been discussing the desire to have a board procedural handbook for many years now and Lynne Towne spearheaded the project to make those wishes come true. The handbook, still in its infancy, will help guide the board in its decision making for all current and future board members. This will be slightly revised and added to a future consent agenda to be finalized.
Full-Day Kindergarten
There has been full-day kindergarten in some schools and a tuition-based full-day kindergarten test program in others, but up until this point there hasn’t been an option available in every school. Presentations were given during the meeting that discusses the impact of changing the district to a full-time kindergarten model. Note: Trustee Casey Morrisroe was not in attendance so the below presentation was informational only. They will put this on the agenda as an action item at a regular board meeting.

  1. Background – Dr. Kate Orozco (Asst. Superintendent, Elementary & Instruction)
    1. Current free full-day kindergarten programs: Borah, Bryan, Fernan, Winton, Northwest Expedition.
    2. Current full-day tuition-based programs: Hayden Meadows, Atlas, Dalton, Ramsey, Skyway, Sorensen.
    3. Support for free full-day K – Academic, social, emotional prep for 1st grade.
    4. Concerns for free full-day K – Budgets and resources impacted. Title funds currently being used will not be an option anymore (per Idaho law) if the program becomes implemented district wide. They will have to use funds from another budgeting bucket (K-3 Literacy Funds). Will need more funds to build out more new K classrooms, resources for teachers, more teachers, etc. Also, school administrators are concerned about out-of-district children enrolling in these programs.
  2. Social/Emotional Impact – Andi West (Mental Health Coordinator)
    1. Anticipated improvements for kinders:
      1. Gives students additional time to learn how to behave in a social setting, learn routines, build stamina, understand the educational process, builds a stronger kinder “community”.
    2. Anticipated improvements for families:
      1. Alleviate financial burden and simplifies scheduling.
      2. Creates consistency in families with older siblings.
      3. Teachers will only have one set of students instead of two half-day sets. Allows building deeper student-teacher relationships.
  3. Fiscal Impact – Katie Ebner (Director of Finance)
    1. Based on historical data of kinders, projected # of kinders, projected class sizes, and current teachers, CDA District will need 14 additional classes/teachers to bring free full-time kindergarten to the last 5 elementary schools.
      1. Salary + Benefits for 14 teachers: $951,776.00
      2. One-time Classroom Materials for 14: $167,373.78
      3. Art/Music/PE Specialist: $122,371.20
      4. Prep (Tech + Library): $8,138.34
      5. Classroom Aides: $127,935.00
      6. Total New Costs: $1,377,594.32 minus Addt’l State Funding: $305,500.00
      7. Total Net Cost: $1,072,094.32
    2. How to Pay
      1. Levy
      2. State is looking at restoring some previously cut funds; wouldn’t work for this upcoming year but would work moving forward.
      3. Federal stimulus money: still have almost $3M left over, could take $1M out of that with huge caveat of uncertainty of levy.
      4. Even though this will be a continuing line item on the budget, with the state’s promise that things will be getting back to “normal” and the promise of the restoration of some state funds, using leftover federal stimulus $$$ shouldn’t be an issue.
    3. Final thoughts:
      1. Investing in the full-day kindergarten, although expensive, will help alleviate the additional costs of special resources used in the later grades to develop the student’s social and emotional behaviors that would be learned in full-day K.
School Status Change/Blended Learning Framework Update & Presentation
  1. Community has seen a SIGNIFIGANT decrease in Covid cases compared to early December.
    1. Kootenai County
      1. 7-Day Moving Average: As of 2/24, there are ONLY 16 cases per 100,000 residents.
      2. Positive Test Results: 8.7%
      3. Current Hospital Status: Total # of Covid patients: 20. Those in Critical Care: 5
  1. b. CDA Schools Students
    1. As of 2/25, there are only 5 kids quarantined from the high schools
    2. As of 2/25, there are only 2 cases of Covid amongst students.
  2. Discussing procedures if the district were to go to a 5-day school week
    1. Elementary Level – Looking at procedures if they were to open 5 days a week.
      1. Continuing Mitigation
        1. No assemblies
        2. No change in masking policy, including busses and recess
        3. Continue to wipe down everything
      2. Wednesdays were used as prep day since the kids were cohorting with teachers full time during lunch, music, art, etc. They are worried about going to 5 days a week and lose that prep time.
      3. Want to see a phased approach:
        1. March 8-12 – still 4 days but with the following:
          1. Cohorting as a full grade instead of just individual classes.
          2. Keep soft start to limit parent’s ability to drop off kids early before class, allowing them to play on playground spreading germs. (Soft start: children are dropped off at classroom or come straight into the school after being dropped off instead of playing on the playground equipment or ball field first.
          3. Allow masked volunteers back in the classroom with temp checks and safety precautions.
        2. March 15 – if things go well
          1. Relax playground cohorting to 2 grades at a time.
          2. Add the additional clubs and learning groups back before and after school.
          3. All provided with the same masking and social distancing policies as is right now.
        3. April 5th go to 5 days a week – if things go well
    2. Secondary Level – Nothing as major as elementary but would like to see the following:
      1. Dual enrollment kids – would have to work with them to get their schedules coordinated so they get all their college and high school work done successfully.
      2. Continuation of cleaning
      3. Opening up buildings to masked volunteers following similar procedures as at the elementary level.
  3. Blended Learning Committee
    1. Models looked into moving forward
      1. Flipped Classroom Model: Students do work at home and then come to school prepared to discuss what they’ve learned at home. Leveraging in-class face to face time for more collaborative activities
      2. Station Rotation: Students-more at the elementary level-rotate through different stations with at least one station being online learning.
    2. Schoology Program – should continue to be leveraged as main online hub for each classroom.
      1. School district has license for the next 2 school years, will be continuing to use this program.
      2. Keep consistency for classes w/quarantined students
  4. Looking to implement the above phases or procedural changes in March and if things go well they’ll move to 5- days a week the Monday after Spring Break, April 5th.
Final Thoughts
  1. Board is aware of the petitions going around online: Unmask CDA Schools and Keep Wednesdays Remote (I can't find that one online). <<----sorry high schoolers, CDA Schools will be going back to 5 days a week, barring everything above doesn’t cause huge spikes in covid cases, starting April 5th.
  2. Late Start will be on Wednesdays.
  3. Elementary soft start will continue up UNTIL Spring Break and then the schools will individually decide about moving forward.
  4. Masking policy will stay in place although the board has received A TON of commentary about masks. The CDA Schools policy is based strictly on the CDC Guidelines for returning to schools along with some thoughts by Panhandle Health. CDC parameters explicitly state the importance of masks and social distancing to help stop the spread.
    1. Will have to start discussions around when is that time that masks are not going to be mandatory but are going 100% of Panhandle Health guidelines.
    2. Panhandle Health has a new color: Light Orange which is apparently what we’re in right now.
      1. Current mask mandate extends through April 22nd although next PHD board meeting is March 25th.
    3. “Looking for a trend in the [positivity rate] data and time.” (Although I don’t know what the last year would be called…)
    4. 160-ish students and staff had not needed to be quarantined and it is attributed it all to being masked.
      1. Says there’s documentation now that shows the best 2 ways to stop the spread are by masking and social distancing.
    5. Commentary through emails about how nice remote Wednesdays were for a “mask break”.

Board approves the Back to School and updated Blended Learning Plans.

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