November 9, 2021
The Board of Education of the City of Fargo met in regular session on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, virtually via Zoom webinar teleconferencing.
Members present: Jennifer Benson, Jim Johnson, Robin Nelson, Nikkie Gullickson, Rebecca Knutson, Tracie Newman, Seth Holden, Brian Nelson, David Paulson
Members absent: none
President Rebecca Knutson called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. Robin Nelson moved approval of the agenda with the addition of an HR Addendum. Tracie Newman seconded the motion. The agenda was approved as presented (Yes: Benson, Gullickson, Holden, Johnson, Knutson, Nelson, B., Nelson, R., Newman, Paulson).
Three citizens addressed the Board. Jake Schmitz, a parent of two students in the Fargo Public Schools, asked what metric or benchmark Fargo Public Schools is using to continue the mask mandate, what metric or benchmark Fargo Cass Public Health is using to recommend the mask mandate, and who the mask mandate is supposed to be protecting. He asked for a written response to his questions. He also advocated to make wearing masks optional in schools. Kristin Sharbono asked what measurements the Board is using to implement the recommendations from Fargo Cass Public Health. She asked for a written response on how teachers are managing policing students wearing masks in schools, what the plan is for students losing school time to deal with mask issues, and why students should wear masks with boogers in them. She also asked for a response as to why Board members are seen in public without masks when students and staff are required to wear them in schools. Cassie Schmidt, with the group Let Parents Decide That, shared that the North Dakota School Boards Association (NDSBA) sent a letter to the North Dakota legislature to not look at any bills associated with vaccines or Critical Race Theory. She called on the Fargo School Board to disassociate with NDSBA as those issues are of concern of parents in Fargo. She shared that children are not required to wear masks within Fargo Cass Public Health (FCPH), and asked why FCPH is recommending children to wear masks within schools.
Director of Standards Based Education Dr. Liann Hanson provided a report on staff professional development and the transition to using Kick Up software for the facilitation of professional development. Kick Up allows the District to analyze data from professional development learning experiences and track coaching cycles with teaching staff, which in turn impacts student achievement. Discussion occurred. (Memo #52)
In accordance with EL-10, Dr. Gandhi reviewed Administrative Policy updates. During the summer and early fall, administration conducted its annual Administrative Policy review. FPS policies are reviewed on a set rotation, ensuring all policies are reviewed once in a four-year cycle. With the set rotation, administration reviews approximately 40 policies annually. Through this review process, some policies were simply reviewed while other policies received minor updates or more substantial updates. As policies are being reviewed, pronoun usage is being updated as needed. A number of policies were also updated to reflect the address change of the FPS District Office. Discussion occurred. (Memo #53)
FEA representative Ben Norman shared teachers are overwhelmed and underwater. He shared teachers are burning out and asking how to get out of their teaching contracts. He also referenced a lack of substitute teachers in our schools. He asked Board members to lighten teachers’ loads in any way possible through their capacity or control. Discussion occurred.
Dr. Gandhi shared he was asked by the Governance Committee to inform the Board of any changes in guidance from Fargo Cass Public Health, provide a COVID-19 data update, and share about students testing for COVID-19 in order to stay in school. He shared that per recommendations from Fargo Cass Public Health, universal masking for students and staff will continue in school buildings during the school day. That means that students, staff and visitors will be required to mask during the school day in school buildings, but masks will only be strongly recommended in buildings outside of the school day or in district buildings that are not schools. Dr. Gandhi also provided an update on COVID-19 positive case data. He shared data of positive cases by school week for the school year and in comparison to the 2020-21 school year, and shared data that allowed students to stay in school due to a mask exemption, vaccination exemption, or opted to participate in a COVID-19 testing program. Discussion occurred. It was noted masks will be strongly recommended in the District Office. Due to the change, moving Board meetings to back in person was discussed; the construction on the Board Room in the new location is still occurring and the audio-visual equipment will be installed soon. Jennifer Benson moved to direct administration to change the current mask mandate to masks being strongly recommended in all school buildings for students, staff and visitors. David Paulson seconded the motion. Discussion occurred. Upon call of the roll, the main motion failed (Yes: Benson, Paulson; No: Gullickson, Holden, Johnson, Knutson, Nelson, B., Nelson, R., Newman).
Robin Nelson moved approval of the Consent Agenda with the HR addendum. Tracie Newman seconded the motion which passed (Yes: Benson, Gullickson, Holden, Johnson, Knutson, Nelson, B., Nelson, R., Newman, Paulson) thereby causing the following actions to be taken:
A. The minutes of the regular meeting of October 26 were approved as written.
B. The following Human Resources actions were approved:
1. New Hires: Tara Eschbach, Title 1 Math – Madison, VCSU, BA – 2 (Step 3) – at 100% - $29,758 (130 days); Kayla Hauge, Title 1 Interventionist – Lincoln, MSUM, BA – 0 (Step 3) – at 100% - $28,613 (125 days)
2. Retirements 2021-22: Valerie Stockdale, EL - Lincoln, Dates of Employment: 1998-2022, Effective Date: 5/27/2022
C. The monitoring report for EL-3 was accepted. (Memo #54)
D. The monitoring report for EL-4 was accepted. (Memo #55)
E. The monitoring report for EL-11 was accepted. (Memo #56)
F. Changes to Board Policy GP-5 were approved as presented. (Memo #57)
President Knutson presented Memo #58, the superintendent evaluation, for approval. North Dakota Century Code (N.D.C.C.) 15.1-14-03(1)(a) requires a school district to conduct an evaluation of the superintendent’s performance on or before November 15 of each year. Board Policy B/SR-5 outlines the process for monitoring the superintendent’s job performance. Board Policy B/SR-5 requires the evaluation document for the superintendent to be comprised of summaries and conclusions of the Board as a whole. It has been the practice of the Board’s Governance Committee to bring the individual assessments of all nine Board members to the Board for consideration and approval. Under the advice of legal counsel at the committee’s October 27, 2021 meeting, the committee made the decision to revise the Formative Assessment of Superintendent Performance, which is included in the superintendent’s personnel file, to ensure it is in accordance with both state law and Board Policy B/SR-5. As a result, summaries and conclusions regarding the superintendent’s job performance were created using the individual assessments of all nine Board members. The summaries, conclusions, and satisfactory performance rating are included on Memo #58 and reflects the opinion of a majority of the individual Board members, and the Board as a whole. Jim Johnson moved the Board approve the Formative Assessment of the Superintendent indicating satisfactory performance and place a copy of the report in the Superintendent’s personnel file. Seth Holden seconded the motion. Discussion occurred on the procedures used to create the evaluation and the change from past practice. Robin Nelson moved previous question. Seth Holden seconded the motion. Upon call of the roll, previous question passed (Yes: Gullickson, Holden, Johnson, Knutson, Nelson, B., Nelson, R., Newman, Paulson; No: Benson). Upon call of the roll, the main motion passed (Yes: Gullickson, Holden, Johnson, Knutson, Nelson, B., Nelson, R., Newman; No: Benson, Paulson). (Memo #58)
Dr. Gandhi presented Memo #59 that includes attendance boundary changes for Bennett Elementary School. There are no changes presented to the Board for the boundary changes since the first reading at the October 26 meeting. The memo does include updated enrollment data. Bennett families were notified of the potential changes after first reading. An implementation plan will be brought to the Board at a future meeting. Jim Johnson moved that the Board adopt attendance boundary scenario outlined in Memo #59 effective for the 2022-23 school year and direct administration to develop a transition plan and bring it back to the Board for approval at a future Board meeting. Seth Holden seconded the motion. Discussion occurred about potential grandfathering options for families impacted by the boundary changes. Upon call of the roll, the motion passed (Yes: Gullickson, Holden, Johnson, Knutson, Nelson, B., Nelson, R., Newman; No: Benson, Paulson). (Memo #59)
Committee & Liaison Reports
Board members attended the NDSBA Law Seminar and Annual Convention; Board members shared about the sessions they attended.
The Governmental Affairs Committee met to prepare for the special legislative session. The Senate moved one bill forward and the House moved seven bills forward and one resolution. Robin Nelson reviewed bills currently being reviewed and discussed in the legislature. (Nelson, R.)
The Planning Committee will meet next on November 23. The meeting may be held in person dependent upon space availability at the new District Office. Jim Johnson thanked JoLynn Houkom, executive assistant to the business manager, for her service to the Board and District as she is ending her employment for a new opportunity. (Johnson)
The SEEC Board met and discussed a future site for the organization. The board directed the executive director to enter into a lease agreement for an office location in south of Fargo. The expected move date is in April 2022. The SEEC Board is thankful for being able to be a tenant at Agassiz. (Johnson)
The Recess Commission meets next on November 10. (Gullickson)
The Communications, Engagement and Advocacy Committee meets next on November 16. (Gullickson)
Jennifer Benson shared she was in Bismarck for the special legislative session. She asked for the Governance Committee to discuss the Be Legendary training program available to school boards in the state.
Board member liaison meetings: Nelson, B. to Madison for liaison visit; Newman to interview with high school students on being a School Board member and to Centennial fall festival; Holden to CTE visioning retreat and lunch with Grant Kraft; Knutson to North High production of Into the Woods.
Jennifer Benson moved to direct administration to accept mask religious exemptions in accordance with state law. David Paulson seconded the motion. Discussion occurred. Upon call of the roll, the motion failed (Yes: Benson; No: Gullickson, Holden, Knutson, Nelson, B., Nelson, R., Newman, Paulson; Absent: Johnson).
President Knutson said she will meet with FEA President Kim Belgard in December to continue to plan for the commissions and the join training on negotiations. She noted the Governance Committee meets next on November19.
The next regular meeting was confirmed for Tuesday, November 23 at 5:30 p.m. There being no further business to come before the Board, President Knutson declared the meeting adjourned at 8:26 p.m.
(Dec. 1, 2021) 8489