Board to resume in-person meetings

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The Board of Education unanimously approved approved returning to in-person meetings starting on Feb. 8 at its regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 25. 

Board president Annette Ashley presided over the Jan. 25 meeting at the District Services Center, while other Board members participated remotely. The School Board has been meeting virtually since mid-March.

The Feb. 8 meeting will be held at Kromrey in Community Room 510. Masks would be required and those members who don't attend can still participate virtually based on PHMDC's current order. Members did want to make sure if were participating virtually that they could still vote. Cheryl Janssen noted a WASB attorney indicated that is allowed and only wasn't acceptable for the Annual Meeting in September 2020.  

Janssen also noted Board members can't participate remotely if a hearing was held. If PHMDC health orders change, it is also possible that virtual attendance would no longer be allowed.   

Members also had a lengthy discussion about citizen comments and preferred that residents have the option of doing them in-person or virtually.

In other news from Monday's meeting: 

* The Board briefly discussed the Wisconsin Association of School Boards State Education Convention, which was held virtually this year. Director of Student Services Barb Buffington was part of a presentation on Title IX and was commended for participating.  

* The Board approved the 2021-22 open enrollment plan. MCPASD is closed to open enrollment next year with the exception of five slots at Clark Street Community School. MCPASD will also maintain its current policy as it relates to preference and reapplication. The District's recommendation was shared and discussed at the regular meeting on Jan. 11  

* The Board approved the capital maintenance projects for 2021-22.  The projects were discussed at the Finance Committee meeting on Jan. 11. Assistant Superintendent of Operations Lori Ames briefly reviewed the projects the School Board approved for 2020-21. She noted the projects at Sunset Ridge and Elm Lawn went very well and that funds from the successful 2018 referendum have helped free up money to do projects at other schools in the District. 

* The Board approved a three-year contract with Wipfli to serve as the District's audit form. Assistant  Superintendent of Operations Lori Ames noted four bids were submitted and two firms interviewed. 

* Board president Annette Ashley noted members received three letters from residents since the last meeting on Jan. 11. She briefly who sent each communication and the topic of each email. Each communication will be added to the District website once personally identifiable information is redacted. The communiciations are available on the District website's Community Announcements page.

Paul Kinne also provided a legislative update, noting a bill that would impact public educaiton was passed by the Wisconsin Assembly but likely won't go further as it is opposed by the State Senate and Governor Evers.    

* As part of her Superintendent's report, Dana Monogue noted the District plans to open buildings in the fall, but will also need to consider guidance from Public Health Madison Dane County. She noted other Dane County superintendents support the same goal.

"We want to see our students in our school full-time, five days a week, next fall,'' she said.    

She reminded members that elementary students in the Universal instructional model will begin returning to school buildings next week with kindergarten orientation taking place Jan. 28-29. She also thanked staff and administrators for their efforts to make this happen. She noted class schedules changes last week for Universal and Fully Virtual students at the secondary level, while elementary class rosters change this week. She also thanked the technology department for their collective efforts.

Monogue reminded the Board that more than 700 students moved to Fully Virtual after the last instructional model change opportunity and noted there is some angst, especially at the elementary level, where changes at semester aren't the norm. She noted that has resulted in adjustments to staffing, which is another example of the challenges the pandemic has presented. Monogue also noted the District doesn't have additional resources to add teachers and keep staff where they were previously.