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Dickinson Public Schools Unapproved School Board Meeting Minutes Monday, January 11, 2021, 5:00 p.

Dickinson Public Schools
Unapproved School Board Meeting Minutes
Monday, January 11, 2021, 5:00 p.m.
Via Zoom Webinar
A complete recording of the January 11, 2021, School Board Meeting is available on the Dickinson Public Schools website utilizing the BoardDocs link.
The Dickinson Public School Board held a regular meeting on January 11, 2021, via a Zoom Webinar. Board members present were Board President Brent Seaks, Board Vice President Kim Schwartz, Board Member Michelle Orton, Board Member David Wilkie, and Board Member Jason Rodakowski. Others present were Superintendent Shon Hocker, Assistant Superintendent Keith Harris, Business Manager Stephanie Hunter, Berg Elementary Principal Tracy Lecoe, Dickinson High School Principal Kevin Hoherz, Southwest District Health Unit Executive Officer Sherry Adams, School Board Secretary Twila Petersen, and 95 participants.
Call to Order - Board President Seaks called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m.
Public Participation - There were no requests for public participation.
Addition/Removal of Agenda Items or Removal of Items from Consent Agenda - Mrs. Orton moved to approve the consent agenda as presented. Mr. Wilkie seconded the motion. A voice vote was taken on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Approval of Agenda - Mrs. Orton moved to approve the agenda as presented. Mrs. Schwartz seconded the motion. A voice vote was taken on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Superintendent's Report - Superintendent Hocker addressed the Board. The Phase 1b priority group for the coronavirus vaccine includes representation from DPS employees. He noted a survey went out to the employees asking if they were interested in receiving the vaccine. There were 221 responses that wanted to receive the vaccine, two responses that were not interested, and 45 responses that were undecided.
Dr. Hocker noted the National School Boards Association Conference will be held 100% virtual this year. Early registration is February 19, 2021. He added the North Dakota School Boards Association Negotiations Seminar will also be virtual and is scheduled for February 4 and 5th.
Business Topics - Informational Topics
Principal Reports - Berg Elementary Principal Tracy Lecoe addressed the Board. She shared photos of the building's kitchen improvements with a new exhaust fan. There were also new counters and corner protectors replaced on the hallway partitions by the Berg gymnasium.
Several Berg Elementary students applied to be representatives on the Berg Student Council. Principal Lecoe shared some video clips of the student applicants.
Principal Lecoe commended all DPS employees as well as the school board and DPS parents that have faced many challenges. President Seaks thanked her for all the great work at Berg Elementary.
Dickinson High School Principal Kevin Hoherz addressed the Board. He explained the end of the first semester is January 20, 2021. There have been many challenges in the first semester and many successes. There has been a lot learned about online learning through the pandemic and those skills will be useful for the future and better opportunities for students. Principal Hoherz commended the students, the families, and the employees for their understanding and patience.
Dickinson High School employees are preparing for the transition next school year for the career academy. Mr. Hoherz noted the dental assistant program is getting national recognition. Dickinson Public is the first one in the nation to offer a qualified dental assistant program. A video was shared giving testimonials from Dr. Maria "Duffy" Meyer of High Plains Dental and three students in Dr. Meyer's dental assistant program. The students are DHS Senior Griffin Obrigewitch, DHS Junior Evan Lubken, and DHS Junior McKenzie Swisher. Dr. Meyer stated the program provides hands-on skills that will be beneficial in the student's lifelong career. Some skills the students learn are how to prepare rooms for patients and techniques to assist the dentist with fillings.
Principal Hoherz explained six DHS students are enrolled in the firefighter program. This program has 110 hours of online course instruction and also hands-on experience Tuesday evenings. At the completion of the course, students may continue to complete 45 hours and will then become Firefighter I Certified.
Dickinson High is preparing a curriculum for a police academy program next fall. Principal Hoherz said these programs will keep students in Dickinson and they will receive their certification and experience here in Dickinson.
The Board thanked Principal Hoherz and commended the teachers and students. This agenda item was informational only. No action was requested.
Business Topics - Grievance Interview -
Teacher Grievance - Available on the School Board website utilizing the BoardDocs link are the grievance steps as per the 2019-2021 Professional Negotiated Agreement. Each step is described and the correlating dates are listed on BoardDocs.
Also posted on the website is the teacher grievance, the response in step 1 from Dickinson High School Principal Hoherz, the response in step 2 from DPS Superintendent Hocker, and a statement to the Board from Superintendent Hocker. The teacher grievance from 25 Dickinson High School teachers is now at step 3.
Board President Seaks recognized two teachers from DHS that will be representing the 25 teachers. The two teachers were Mrs. Maggie Lehman and Mr. Dave Michaelson.
At 5:30 p.m., Board Member Wilkie recused himself from this agenda topic and exited as a panelist.
Mrs. Lehman addressed the Board. She noted the teacher grievance was filed for the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year. She introduced Mr. Mike Geiermann, attorney for the teachers.
Mr. Geiermann explained the teacher grievance was based on the belief that the teachers are entitled to extra pay. He referenced the negotiated agreement's procedural steps for a teacher grievance. He went through the procedural process for a grievance describing each step and acknowledged steps 1 and 2 were satisfactorily completed.
Mrs. Lehman stated a typical day has the same responsibilities as last year. There are still students in the classroom, opportunity period, PLC groups, hallway monitoring, etc. For some teachers, the issue is the online class. Some teachers have no online classes, other teachers have one, two, or three online classes. Mr. Michaelson surveyed teachers and received multiple examples. He said the teachers had to learn Schoology and also a different way to present to the online students. He added they surveyed other school districts. All of those other school districts had a time increase. The teachers feel the online students are an extra duty.
President Seaks referenced Dr. Hocker's statement to the Board that all teachers were to teach face-to-face while utilizing a learning management to avoid extra work from the teachers when instructing online students. Mrs. Lehman explained at the start of the school year it was understood online students would be on Edgenuity. She considered the second group of students, or hybrid students, to include face-to-face students, distance learners, and COVID students. The hybrid students would be on Schoology. She said the two have different platforms. Mrs. Lehman said in some instances the technology was not available. She added the two groups could not be taught together.
Mr. Michaelson said at a meeting in August, the delivery method of instruction was discussed. He felt DPS should have had an online teacher for each department. He acknowledged that distance learning is expensive.
Board Member Rodakowski inquired about the number of courses taught and the number of students in Mrs. Lehman and Mr. Michaelson's classes during the first 9 weeks. Mrs. Lehman responded she had three classes and a preparation period. Due to hybrid learning and only half the students in her class, she might have 9-10 students in her first class, 12 students in her second class, preparation time in the third period, and then her 4th-period class. After this, she answers questions, responds to emails, and sets up the online class making sure postings are ready for the next one or two days.
Mr. Rodakowski inquired if Mrs. Lehman was responsible for approximately 20 students for each of her face-to-face classes. Mrs. Lehman agreed. Mrs. Lehman stated she had one online class in interior design with 3 or 4 students.
Mr. Michaelson shared his schedule was similar to Mrs. Lehman's with the exception of him assisting Mr. Fridley in the afternoons and other duties as assigned. He was teaching two economics classes in the morning. He also taught one online class in the first quarter with 11 students. He added because he was an experienced teacher, he doesn't have a lot of preparation. He said the younger teachers are not this fortunate as they have more preparation work. Mrs. Lehman stated some teachers had three face-to-face classes and three online classes.
President Seaks referenced the 7-3/4 hours and how that is interpreted and what that means and what a salaried employee means. He was concerned about the morale and culture in the District even without the context of the pandemic. President Seaks recognized the additional stress and challenges from the pandemic from every industry. He thanked all the teachers in the District. It has been a different and challenging year and he recognized the teachers have done very well and he was proud of them.
President Seaks inquired how they should respond to someone in the community when they state they understand the extra work and they feel that it was part of being a teacher and doing what is best for the students and a result of the pandemic. Mr. Michaelson responded he would never compare his job to an elementary teachers' job because they are two different challenging jobs. Mr. Michaelson noted the elementary levels were given a lot more assistance by designating someone as their online go-to person. Mr. Michaelson empathized with the younger teachers. President Seaks inquired if there were opportunities for the younger teachers to share their frustrations. Mr. Michaelson responded a lot of the help came from departments through PLCs. There was also assistance from mentors or administrators, but it still didn't mean there was less work. He stated it was extra contract work.
President Seaks referenced the request from the grievance for monetary compensation based on a formula. He inquired if there were other avenues other than monetary. On behalf of the teachers, Mrs. Lehman stated online education is an extra duty on the contract for the teachers and they were setting precedence. She added an online academy will be a problem.
Board Member Rodakowski clarified in the first quarter there were 132 full-time online students. He added these students were not quarantined students. The teacher representatives concurred. Mr. Rodakowski added that if there were one or 20 full-time online students it creates an additional class in the eyes of the teacher and the teachers wanted to be compensated for the additional online class. The teacher representatives agreed.
Mr. Rodakowski shared some data. In the first quarter, DPS had 51 online classes. The teacher grievance represents 39 of those 51 online classes. The teachers in the grievance are requesting $157,687.96, or approximately $4,043 per online class for the first 9 weeks. If the 51 online classes were multiplied by $4,043 per class, it equates to $206,000 in additional salaries for the first quarter. If the $206,000 is multiplied by four to represent the four quarters, this would equate to approximately $824,000 in additional salaries for the year plus benefits. Board Member Rodakowski said the calculation is about $900,000 in additional compensation. This equation is based on teachers using a pay scale per teacher to come up with their formula. If a teacher taught one online class it equates to a 23% pay raise, two online classes equates to a 47% pay raise, and for three online classes the teacher was asking for a 70% pay raise above the salary from the prior year. A teacher representative nodded in agreement.
Board Member Rodakowski referenced the student enrollment report that reflects a decline of 279 students from the prior year. He noted compensation from the state is approximately $10,000 per student. The decrease of 279 students is a decrease of $2.8 million in revenue. Adding the cost of $900,000 creates an approximate $3.7 million gap or 17.4% of the budget. Approximately 82.6% of the budget is salaries and benefits.
President Seaks noted the teachers were offered a stipend for what they were already having to do with the pandemic. The District awarded $539,000 to teachers with funds from the ESSER grant.
Superintendent Hocker explained he had posted his comments to the Board on BoardDocs. He added he was grateful for all the teachers have done and their very hard work. He noted some things had to be done differently this year; however, the opinion is that differently does not necessarily constitute additional work.
Superintendent Hocker noted that with the hybrid schedule, half the students for one class will be there one day and then the other half of those students will be in the classroom the following day. He felt this does not require repreparation; the hybrid schedule left time to prepare for the online students.
He added that Edgenuity was an option. Teachers were encouraged to utilize Schoology. Many teachers did take advantage and set their course work in the Schoology platform. Some teachers chose to use Edgenuity and some teachers chose to blend the two and tried to edit the prepopulated course material in Edgenuity.
Superintendent Hocker said he was sensitive to all that the teachers have been asked to do and was incredibly proud of the work done by the teachers. He reiterated that doing things differently in COVID does not constitute additional work, adding there was not a breach or violation of any master agreement that the District has with the teachers. Mr. Michaelson respectfully disagreed and said that the preparation time does not eliminate half of the preparation work. When something is put online in Schoology it requires attention. That is the preparation. Edgenuity was put out there, but those courses have had to have changes. Edgenuity requires a great amount of grading and a large amount of editing. If the coursework is in Schoology Mr. Michaelson felt it would create more work. Schoology requires a lot of online preparation. He added that Schoology in hybrid and Schoology for online learners are two different things.
President Seaks thanked Mrs. Lehmann and Mr. Michaelson for representing the teachers and he also thanked Mr. Geiermann. Mrs. Lehmann, Mr. Michaelson, and Mr. Geiermann exited as panelists on the Zoom webinar. This agenda item was informational only. No action was requested.
Business Topics - Action Topics
Delivery Mode of Instruction - Mrs. Orton moved to transition from Level II, Hybrid Instruction, to Level I, Face-to-Face Instruction beginning Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Mrs. Schwartz seconded the motion.
At 6:30 p.m., Board Member Wilkie rejoined as a panelist on the Zoom Webinar.
Discussion: President Seaks addressed Superintendent Hocker and referenced the January 19, 2021, transition date and inquired if that date would work also at the high school level since the second semester begins January 21, 2021. The question was referred to DHS Principal Hoherz. Mr. Hoherz responded the high school would make either date work, January 19 or January 21. Mrs. Orton amended her motion and moved to transition from Level II, Hybrid Instruction, to Level I, Face-to-Face Instruction beginning Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at the elementary and middle schools and beginning January 21, 2021, at the high schools. Mrs. Schwartz seconded the amended motion. Discussion: Board Member Wilkie requested input from Mrs. Sherry Adams, Executive Officer from Southwest District Health Unit. Mrs. Adams addressed the Board. Based on the data she felt there was no reason the District could not go to face-to-face instruction. She understands the District has a backup plan if the COVID numbers should change and increase. A roll call vote was taken on the amended motion: ayes-5 (Rodakowski, Wilkie, Schwartz, Orton, Seaks); nays-0; absent-0. The motion carried unanimously.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) - Mrs. Schwartz moved to extend through March 31, 2021, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Employee Paid Leave benefits as specified in the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Labor (FFCRA). Mrs. Orton seconded the motion. A voice vote was taken on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
2021-2022 Dickinson Public Schools Calendar - Available on the website utilizing the BoardDocs link is a draft 2021-2022 DPS school calendar. Mrs. Orton moved to approve the 2021-2022 Dickinson Public Schools calendar with a starting date of August 26, 2021; the last day of school scheduled for May 26, 2022; and graduation scheduled for Sunday, May 29, 2022. Mrs. Schwartz seconded the motion. Discussion: Board Member Wilkie stated he thought the Board had discussed moving graduation day away from Memorial Day weekend. President Seaks requested Superintendent Hocker address the question. Superintendent Hocker referenced a survey where several responses were suggesting moving the high school graduation away from Memorial Day weekend. Graduation has been on this date for decades. Some families also prefer to have graduation that weekend for traveling purposes. Dr. Hocker said the administrative recommendation was to keep graduation on Memorial Day weekend. A voice vote was taken on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
School Board Policies Revisions, First Reading - Available on the website utilizing BoardDocs is posted revised policy AACA. Mrs. Schwartz moved to approve the first reading of the revisions to policy AACA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Policy, as presented. Mrs. Orton seconded the motion. A roll call vote was taken on the motion: ayes-5 (Orton, Schwartz, Wilkie, Rodakowski, Seaks); nays-0; absent-0. The motion carried unanimously.
School Board Policies Revisions, Second Reading and Final Adoption - Available on the website utilizing BoardDocs are posted revised policies HBAA and KBA. Mr. Wilkie moved to approve the second reading and final adoption of the revisions to policies HBAA-Federal Fiscal Compliance and KBA-Relations with the News Media as presented. Mrs. Schwartz seconded the motion. A roll call vote was taken on the motion: ayes-5 (Schwartz, Rodakowski, Wilkie, Orton, Seaks); nays-0; absent-0. The motion carried unanimously.
Early Resignation Incentive - Mrs. Schwartz moved to approve the early resignation benefit for Kelly Kussy, physical education instructor at Heart River Elementary, with an effective date of May 27, 2021. Mrs. Orton seconded the motion. A voice vote was taken on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Schedule Special School Board Meeting - Mr. Rodakowski moved to schedule a Special School Board Meeting on Thursday, January 21, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. at the Professional Learning Lab. Mrs. Orton seconded the motion. Discussion: Board Member Wilkie said he will recuse himself from the Special Board Meeting since the only topic will be the teacher grievance. Board Member Orton and Board President Seaks realized they had a conflict with the time and requested moving the meeting to noon. Mr. Rodakowski amended his motion and moved to schedule a Special School Board Meeting on Thursday, January 21, 2021, at noon at the Central Administration Offices in the Board room. Mrs. Orton seconded the motion. A voice vote was taken on the motion: ayes-4 (Schwartz, Rodakowski, Orton, Seaks); nays-0; abstain-1 (Wilkie). The motion carried.
Adjournment - At 6:47 p.m., President Seaks declared the meeting adjourned.
Brent Seaks, Board President
Stephanie Hunter, Business Manager
Twila Petersen, Board Secretary
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