BOD Meeting Minutes- January 12, 2021
ABS Board Meeting 1/12/21
The meeting was called to order by Ellen Heck at 5:47pm.
Roll call was conducted by Ellen Heck. Ellen Heck, Dara Silver, Christopher Gilmore, Kyle Barnes, Brian Cole, Kelly Emling, Tomisha Gladman, Chrissy Hardy, Jennifer Holman, Michelle Taylor Kennedy, Shannon Meares, Griff Morgan, April Ruffin-Adams, and Bill Scheidt answered the roll call.
Non-voting Members: Principal Robin Hollis, Assistant Principal Paige Raper Parent Council Members: Katherine White, Becky Dickson
Amendment to the December Minutes. April Adams was present. Shannon Mears moved to approve the minutes with the amendment. Brian Cole seconded. Minutes approved.
Kyle Barnes presented the December Financials. The budget is being executed as planned. The finance committee moved to approve the financials. Christopher Gilmore seconded. The financials were approved.
The Principal’s Report was presented by Ellen Heck due to internet connectivity issues at Robin Hollis’ location. As of 1/12/21 the school lottery enrollment has 138 responses with enrollment open for the next few weeks. 44% of the responses are for placement in Kindergarten, 12% for 1st Grade, and the remainder are divided amongst the remaining grades. We applied for the
weighted lottery status in order to increase access to educationally disadvantaged students. We have not gotten a ruling on our application and are awaiting word from the State Board of Education. We plan to hold our lottery under the existing guidelines. The lottery is slated for 2/9/21 at 4pm via Zoom. As always, it is open to the public, but there will be no in-person attendance. Our regularly scheduled Board meeting will follow the lottery. Middle of Year (MOY) in-class reading tests are required by the State and will be administered via Zoom to each student in K-3, where they will read individually with a teacher. Results are pending. Optional MAP will be administered in February in Reading and Math in grades 3-8.
A Courtyard Construction Project update slide show was then shown.
Total Cost $678,625
School’s Capital Campaign will pay for $200K up front as approved by the Board in May 2020
A lease addendum will cover the remainder of the cost
Katherine White and Becky Dickson delivered the Parent Council Update, indicating that the parent survey should be completed soon. The teacher gift preferences were requested at the last Parent Council meeting.
Principal Hollis was re-connected. Shannon Meares asked if the weighted lottery application was not approved in time for this year’s lottery, would we have to reapply. Principal Hollis confirmed that we would not.
Griff Morgan delivered the Executive Committee Report on whether we reopen on 1/25/21 or delay reopening until 3/19. Reluctantly, in light of significant increases in number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, the Committee recommends delaying reopening. Forsyth County cases are hovering around 800/100K population. Percent positive tests in Forsyth County are just below 20%. It was reiterated that the highest risk of transmission in schools occurs when the number of cases per 100K population is >200 or the percentage of positive tests is >10%. We are currently well above those rates. COVID-19 cases and quarantine requirements in our ABS community, faculty, and staff along with non-COVID related absences were also cited as impediments to reopening. The Committee asks the Board to consider having ABS remain in remote learning until after 3/19, with the next decision on reopening being made at the March 9 Board Meeting. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the Winston Salem/ Forsyth County School System’s experience and vaccine distribution. In preparation for a return to school, a phased plan is being hashed out now by the administration starting 3/23 with anticipated completion by 4/6. This may occur under Plan A or Plan B guidelines. This plan includes potentially hiring a school nurse to address health related issues and isolation rooms for suspected COVID-19 cases upon return to in-person learning. The Committee understands the toll remote learning has taken on the students and their families and has come to this recommendation only after careful consideration of all factors and information available to us.
The report was followed by a Question and Answer session.
1) The Board was asked to consider less than an 8-week delay in reopening based on a parent’s observation of WSFCS phased reopening.
2) The Board was asked whose input did the Committee receive in making their recommendation, noting that the parents had not be queried.
3) A parent offered support for the Committee’s recommendation, citing neighboring states’ positivity rates and the import of decreasing morbidity and mortality. Acknowledgement was given to the differential impact the virus has had on various socioeconomic strata.
Ellen Heck pointed out that the reopening plan in development brings some children back to in-person learning prior to Spring Break and the remainder after Spring Break. 4) A parent made the observation that she felt not enough learning was happening during the current approach. A request was made to bring back Kindergarten students. The comments were largely inaudible.
5) A current student asked that consideration be given to allowing students whose parents are okay with them returning being allowed to return to campus for in-person learning. Ellen Heck noted that the Parent Council’s survey will be distributed soon to collect data from the ABS community. Also, input from tonight’s meeting would be considered before the Board vote.
6) Board member Michelle Taylor Kennedy suggested that the Executive Committee share more of the science behind their recommendation, noting that there has been a poor effort at contact tracing conducted in North Carolina.
Ellen Heck noted that teachers are in the next phase of the vaccination program, but there is still some question regarding how quickly that will happen. She is hopeful that it will happen in the proposed window between now and the proposed 3/9 vote. Ellen also pointed out that WSFCS made the decision to stop considering the test positivity rates and case/100K population data in making the transition back to in-person learning.
7) Other comments included concerns over the Parent Council’s delay in distributing the Parent Survey, Durham’s decision to remain in remote learning until the end of the school year, Charlotte’s current remote learning status, the import of reducing hospitalizations and deaths, the impact of new variants of the virus, conflicts of asking teachers to work in-person while a number of parents continue to work remotely, the impact of teacher vaccination on the decision to reopen, accessibility and the impact on socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
Robin Hollis noted that academically, ABS students are not demonstrating deficits based on test scores. However, she does note that social and emotional impacts are much more difficult to measure.
Kyle Barnes noted that the Executive Committee meets frequently and is open to bringing an updated motion to the Board earlier than the proposed March 9th date if new information becomes available.
A question was raised about whether a Board member could vote remotely without having been a part of tonight’s discussion. It was noted that the Board had a quorum despite the presence of the absentee vote.
The motion from the Executive Committee was seconded by Kyle Barnes. The motion was unanimously approved.
Ellen asked the Board to reach out to potential new members of the Board, particularly those with backgrounds in accounting, finance, real estate, and facilities. The due date for candidates is January 31, 2021. The Nomination Committee will be reviewing candidates shortly thereafter.
Motion to adjourn was offered by Tomisha Gladman and seconded by Christopher Gilmore. The motion to adjourn was approved. And the meeting adjourned at 6:54pm.