Newhall School Board Meeting, March 14, 2023

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To navigate to a specific part of the video, simply click on the timestamp links below. Each timestamp corresponds to a different section of the video, allowing you to jump to the parts that interest you the most easily.

00:00:00 In this section of the Newhall School Board Meeting on March 14, 2023, the board approved the agenda and the minutes from their last meeting. The governing board and superintendent also shared announcements, including attending a celebration of life and visiting schools. Additionally, they discussed the Child and Family Center as a resource for families, and legislators encouraged the group to bring bills to support education in the community. Dr. Hernandez thanked the Stevenson’s Ranch Community for their resilience and support during a difficult time.

00:05:00 In this section of the video, the Newhall School Board announces that the public may address the board on items of interest and thanks parent organizations for their support. The consent calendar is approved and a motion is made to approve a fifth grade field trip to Dodger Stadium, which is approved. The board discusses the possibility of holding virtual options for governing board meetings and mentions neighboring districts that do or do not hold meetings on Zoom. They also discuss who would run the meetings.

00:10:00 In this section, a member of the Newhall School Board reports on the attendance at their virtual meetings. She notes that the number of participants varied from just three to 30 and asks whether it is worth continuing with virtual meetings. The issue is discussed, with one board member suggesting that the low attendance is due to a lack of awareness about the option. Despite the concern about the executive assistant splitting her attention, the importance of public access to the meetings is acknowledged. Possible solutions, such as hiring personnel, are proposed, and the board’s history of low attendance is noted.

00:15:00 In this section, the board members discuss the use of virtual meetings and the potential benefits of having a third party manage technical aspects of the Zoom calls. They agree that although not everyone may use the virtual option all the time, having greater access to government-related meetings is important. However, a different platform than Zoom is suggested due to its history of violating privacy rights. The board members also discuss the cost of offering a virtual option and the possibility of using it for important topics in the future, such as changing attendance boundaries or closing a school.

00:20:00 In this section of the Newhall School Board Meeting, board members discuss the possibility of hiring a third-party company to run their Zoom meetings to support the board with virtual board meetings. They mention that having someone physically present would be preferred in case anything fails, but they also explore the option of remote companies. Board members also discuss the job description of their support staff member, Rosanna, and clarify that her job description only states “support” and not “run” virtual board meetings. Finally, they discuss the need to inform parents about the virtual board meetings, stating that many parents do not realize or pay attention to when board meetings are being held.

00:25:00 In this section of the Newhall School Board meeting, the board discusses the responsibilities of their technology support and whether they should change the job title to facilitator instead of supporter. They also talk about the challenges it poses to find someone to take on this role and how they could negotiate with Union leadership to add this position to a job description or offer a stipend to employees who are interested. Additionally, they address the difficulties of running board meetings virtually and the importance of having a deep understanding of the technology and hardware requirements to make it successful. They clarify that if the board streaming the meeting loses the stream, the meeting must be closed per the new Brown Act regulations.

00:30:00 In this section, the Newhall School Board discusses the potential of technical difficulties and how it would affect the board’s meetings. The board debates whether to have an employee or third party handle technical issues, but ultimately decides that a cellular Wi-Fi Hub would be the best backup plan if there were to be an outage. They also discuss the possibility of having a MiFi device that would allow them to connect to a different network within five minutes of an outage. The board then confirms that they cannot force someone to handle these technical issues and that it would have to be on a voluntary basis. They also clarify that shutting down due to technical difficulties is a new rule from Brown Actors and that they cannot turn to the community for support.

00:35:00 In this section, the Newhall School Board discusses the possibility of hiring an outside contractor or utilizing internal personnel to handle the audio and video equipment for virtual meetings. They consider the cost of hiring a third party and explore the job scope of their current employees, ultimately deciding to obtain more information before making a final decision. They also discuss the importance of keeping Zoom for virtual meetings and move on to a staff report on student support services and an overview of the special education program.

00:40:00 In this section of the transcript, the Newhall School Board discusses their special education program and how it fits into the district’s multi-tiered system of support and education. The board provides an overview of the program, including the number of students served, the different types of programs available, and the methods used to serve these children. They also provide data on the incidence of specific disabilities in their district and how they serve children with special needs through the resource specialist program and special day classes at various schools. The presentation highlights the challenges of providing individualized instruction for each student with a disability and the importance of maintaining high-quality services for all students.

00:45:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the various special education programs and services that are available to students in the Newhall School District. The district has multiple facilities that serve students with emotional disturbances and severe special needs, and employs a range of specialists including educators, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, and psychologists. The process for identifying which students require which services is determined on a case-by-case basis, as each child’s unique needs must be assessed. Some of the key areas of focus for the special education program this year include improving identification methods, increasing collaboration among team members, ensuring legal compliance, and enhancing partnerships with parents. The district has invested in new assessment tools and communication support, and has provided ongoing professional development and training for staff.

00:50:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the different levels of support that are available for students who require it, starting with the highest tier level, which is the Educationally Related Intensive Counseling Services. The speaker explains that they have made these services more accessible to site staff by working more closely with themselves. Additionally, they have implemented a tiered model of training for Behavior AIDs on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis, with professional development happening at least once a month. They are investing in social-emotional learning tier one and two interventions, and they are shoring up the curriculum for their education specialists. The district and site collaboration is facilitated by lead specialists in each area: school nurse, OT, speech and language pathologist, school counselor, and school psychologist. The speaker also talks about their compliance with IEP implementation, which they are currently auditing to ensure that students receive at least 90% of the services on their IEPs.

00:55:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the focus on parent partnership as a critical aspect of their work with families, particularly around individual education plans for their children. The school district has a variety of ways of including parents in that partnership process, including special education advisory council meetings and a parent partner family-focused resource center. The center’s goal is to train parents to become liaisons and support for other families of students with IEPs. Additionally, the district has had parent education meetings, surveys, and a parent resource fair in honor of autism appreciation month. The speaker also addresses how the increase in the number of students being serviced with special education needs affects their staffing ratio.

01:00:00 In this section, the Newhall School Board discusses staffing ratios in special education, explaining that staffing can change throughout the school year depending on the number of students they are serving. The resource specialist caseload is the only program that Education Code guides around, with the number of staff depending on student needs. They also discuss mainstreaming and how it impacts teachers, with some students needing a one-on-one aide or support. The district aims to implement 100% of a student’s IEP services, although they acknowledge that some factors like absences and special events can impact this.

01:05:00 In this section of the video, the Newhall School Board discusses the state’s interest in their special education services data, particularly in the categories of autism and emotional disturbances, and how they will be auditing a small number of records to prepare for this. The board also talks about their efforts to provide parent workshops and make resources available on their website, as well as encouraging school site specialists to reach out to families who are not participating in these workshops. Additionally, they explain that they partnered with CSUN on a project to provide resources for parent partnerships, which is available on the Santa Clarita Valley website. The state’s interest in the district’s special education services is part of a corrective action stemming from a lawsuit that took place 25 years ago, and the board expresses the hope that the state will allocate the appropriate funding for their students.

01:10:00 In this section, the Newhall School Board discusses their system for tracking students with special education needs using an online portal hosted by the San Joaquin County Office of Education. This system allows the district to access all special education records for a student immediately upon enrollment, and it is used to write IEPs and track service minutes. Parents are required to inform the district of their child’s IEP status upon enrollment, and teachers are also vigilant in letting the district know if they pick up on any special needs that are not being addressed. The district office also conducts regular audits and reviews to ensure no students are falling through the cracks.

01:15:00 In this section of the video, the Newhall School Board discusses their internal checks and balances for identifying children who may need an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). If a teacher suspects a child needs an IEP, they will reach out to parents and the assessment process will begin with the help of the school psychologists. The board also considers approving curriculums for counseling tier two interventions and early learning programs. The Character Strong curriculum is proposed for tier two interventions to support at-risk students, and the Second Step Early Learning curriculum is proposed for Universal pre-k students. The board ultimately approves both proposals.

01:20:00 In this section, the Newhall School Board discusses the approval of the Second Step Early Learning curriculum for tier one intervention, which passes with a vote of 4-0. The staff then presents the second interim budget report for the fiscal year 2022-2023, with Mr. Vensco leading the presentation. The presentation includes updated enrollment numbers and planning factors that the board must consider for future budget planning. Mr. Vensco thanks the board and staff for treating him like a family member and outlines his bittersweet departure as he moves on to a new position but promises to stay connected with the district.

01:25:00 In this section, the Newhall School Board discusses the funding and revenue projections for the district. The district is using a three-year average to calculate funding even though enrollment has increased this year, but they will get to count new students in the out years. The district received a COLA of 13.26% for this year and is projected to receive a COLA of 8.13%, although some are skeptical about it being an optimistic projection. The district’s budget is composed of about 80% salaries and benefits for its staff, which is projected to drop as COVID funding decreases. The district also discusses its projected revenues and expenditures, with federal revenues based on updated projections and the potential decrease in state revenues due to a proposed budget cut for the art, music, and instruction block grant. However, the district did receive a new transportation funding plan and has increased interest revenues from their bank accounts.

01:30:00 In this section of the Newhall School Board meeting, the Chief Business Officer provided an overview of the district’s revenue and expenditures. The district’s revenue has slightly increased on the unrestricted side due to a COLA increase. Meanwhile, the district experienced major increases in expenditures, particularly in Sped Services and utilities. On the restricted side, there was little increase in revenue, and the district experienced a major decrease due to expiring COVID funds. The district’s total available Reserve percentage is shown at the bottom, combining the 6 percent assigned for Reserve from economic uncertainty with the additional 3 percent assigned for the board’s resolution and the state-required 3 percent.

01:35:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the upcoming steps in the budgeting process, including filing a report with positive certification, waiting for the governor’s May revision, and building the adopted budget and estimated actuals for the year. The district is seeing an increase in restricted funding due to one-time funds, but they are waiting to create plans for these funds as they have other one-time funding set to expire first. The speaker also discusses advocacy for continuing social emotional learning funding and other areas impacted by the pandemic at the state and federal levels. Capital Advisors are paid to do advocacy work for the district, and the state still has a large sum of money that can go towards extra services.

01:40:00 In this section, the Newhall School Board discusses the topic of increasing the district’s reserves from 6% to a higher percentage to provide financial cushioning in case of emergencies. The board agrees that the conversation of increasing the reserves should happen with the new assistant superintendent of Business Services but emphasizes the importance of doing it incrementally over time. They suggest that the idea of raising the reserves from 6% to a higher amount is a prudent move, and that most Elementary districts in the state have reserves around 17 or 18%. The board also takes a moment to thank Kevin, the current Director of Business and fiscal services, for his 10-plus years of service to the district, and presents him with a gift as he is moving on to his new role as the assisted superintendent of Business Services.

01:45:00 In this section, the Business Services Roman reviews the Transportation Plan for 2022-2023 and 2023-2024, which is required under AB8181 to provide funds towards transportation expenses. The funding, which was frozen since 2013, will provide up to 60% funding towards transportation costs, with an estimated $733,000 to be provided to Newhall School District. However, the district must adopt a transportation plan, with the first one being due on April 1st to describe how transportation services will be prioritized for TK, kindergarten, grades one-six, special education, and low-income, homeless youth pupils, among other categories. Stakeholder input will be considered, and the plan will be updated annually.

01:50:00 In this section, the presenter outlines a draft plan for transportation, explaining that capital expenses and expenses for paying another agency to provide services do not count towards the $733 in new additional dollars. The presenter discusses Store Transportation, which has a contract with the district to lease space to store buses and also provides transportation services for pupils, including developing concepts for IEPs for special education pupils who require special equipment, plan trips, and train drivers. The presenter proposes adding a system to each bus that allows the driver to scan when students get on or off the bus, an app for school sites, parents and office managers to monitor bus status and location, and a no-brainer cost of $600 per bus to mount the equipment and $7,200 a year to have the application. The school sites and parents have been excited about the proposed enhancement, as it will help ensure the safety of students and provide timely information.

01:55:00 In this section, the Newhall School Board discusses the need to implement a system that allows parents to track their children on school buses and potentially increase ridership. They also discuss a transition that occurred with the Hart District and the need to determine new roles and contracts going forward. The board members discuss the possibility of prioritizing busing for UPK classes, letting students who live close to bus stops open enroll at other schools, and potential grant funding to replace aging buses.

02:00:00 In this section of the video, the board discusses the need for a contract with their current contractor, Store, in order to receive $733,000. The current plan is up for review and feedback, with the possibility of amendments before adoption. The board also discusses implementing a new tracking system and website updates, as well as negotiating with Store about managing the district. Safety concerns are also addressed regarding the tracking of students, with the board discussing the need for a method that would work with all students and situations, such as putting QR codes on backpacks or wheelchairs for students who cannot wear lanyards or bracelets. The goal is to ensure all students are accounted for when getting on and off the bus, especially during field trips.

02:05:00 In this section of the Newhall School Board meeting, the board discusses a proposal to accept a one-year renewal with I Bailey LLC to conduct the annual audit for the next fiscal year, which is recommended by a board member who negotiated a lower rate than the original offering. They also discuss a proposal to have I Bailey conduct the final measure e prop 51 audit for a closeout of four school projects. Additionally, they approve a resolution for the nomination of a new representative to the Santa Clarita Valley School Food Services Agency board of directors.

02:10:00 In this section of the transcript, the Newhall School Board discusses the approval of a proposal for a baseline system study to analyze data and identify successful teaching strategies among a group of schools with a high number of unduplicated students. The proposal would involve working with Orinda Partnerships and could potentially last for multiple phases, with each phase costing approximately $100,000. The board members ask questions regarding the cost of each phase and the possibility of further phases, but no conclusions are reached. The proposal is ultimately approved.

02:15:00 In this section of the Newhall School Board Meeting, the board discusses the work being done around professional learning communities and the implementation of the Baseline system study, which involves a commitment to a three-phase process for improving student learning. The board members discuss the importance of being fully transparent and ensuring that the program is fully implemented before moving on, and they consider using Title One funding to extend the program to non-Title One schools. They also touch on the Human Resources report and propose negotiations for the 2023-2024 school year.

02:20:00 In this section of the video, the Newhall School Board accepts the contract proposal for the Newhall Teachers Association with a unanimous vote of 4-0. The board also briefly discusses upcoming agenda items before adjourning the meeting.

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