“The Power of One”

Social Emotional Learning

Long Range Facility Planning

Bus Driver Shortages

Recorded Workshop Meetings

The district is currently talking about many of the issues parents care about. Two weeks ago, four elementary school principals shared how Social Emotional Learning is being wrapped into their 2022-23 school year theme, “The Power of One.” At the same workshop meeting, Superintendent Nielsen announced strategic planning would soon begin for the revised Long Range Facility Planning. Video clips are available to view here.

Today, at the September 22nd Meeting, “Streaming Workshop Meetings” will be brought back to the Board for a vote. Workshops have not been recorded since early 2021. More information will also be shared about the discussions had by LRFP steering committee and the leadership team.

School Board Workshop

September 8th

Social Emotional Learning, otherwise known as SEL, is a controversial subject among parent groups these days. It was interesting to hear the Elementary School principals openly discussing their plans to implement SEL into school culture. Maybe the non live-streamed workshops make telling the truth more comfortable. Maybe since there were only four audience members in attendance, they feel free to say whatever they want to say. Interesting though that no where in the official Approved Minutes were the words “Social Emotional Learning” or “SEL” spelled out.

Clip of “Approved Minutes” from the September 8th Workshop. View the entire document HERE.

6.0 Reports and Comments by Superintendent Julie Nielsen

The Best Season of All

Executive cabinet members were all out in and around the district on the first day back to school.

“The best season of all” Julie says, “IS the first day of school.” You can see in t the video above, she talks about her excitement over seeing little friends reunite on “The Red Carpet” which was rolled out at Red Rock that first day back.

“Truly, there is such a buzz in the school. There is happiness. There is kid noise.”

“If there is one thing I heard from all the staff members who are extremely positive it was just, the kids are so excited, and they’re really social, and I think many of our responses to them is, ‘It’s okay. Please allow the kids to have fun. Please allow them to play. Please allow them to interact. The math, the reading, the science, and all of the other content will be there when it’s raining, when it’s below zero and all those other times …’ “

Let me say that one more time.

The math, the reading, the science, and all of the other content will be there when it’s raining, when it’s below zero and all those other times. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Really?

This is the first time I’ve even heard the words “math” “reading” “science” mentioned in an 833 school board meeting, and this is how they are used? I guess academics in a public school building are purely a secondary concept next to social emotional learning and being “happy”.

But this is where it gets really scary …

The Power of One

This will be the theme of the 2022-23 school year.

The district had their staff welcome back event at East Ridge High School on August 30th, and select students were invited to present their stories to the 3,000 staff members.

Julie explains in the video, “I just wanted to summarize for anybody that’s here, just a message from our students … and I want to keep in mind that when we ask for student stories, whether it’s past or present, that we make sure that we acknowledge that the stories that we’re going after aren’t always the stories that are positive. Student stories and what kids have to say also allow for continuous improvement.”

“So to summarize, there was … ”

  1. THE POWER OF ONE emotional connection
  2. THE POWER OF ONE mindset around diversity
  3. THE POWER OF ONE health assistant
  4. THE POWER OF ONE math teacher
  5. THE POWER OF ONE idea
  6. THE POWER OF ONE experience
  7. THE POWER OF a million little ONES
  8. THE POWER OF learning with us and not just teaching us, and
  9. THE POWER OF being understanding

“And so each of those nine themes were woven in from our students.”

Superintendent Nielsen later clarified “The Power of One” later in the workshop to mean one of two things. “You are the most important ONE.” and “We work together as ONE team.”

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Bus Driver Shortage

“Last week families were informed about the bus driver shortage … and on Tuesday it was determined that we need to cancel four AM routes and eight PM routes.”

“And so with that we have continued the conversation about what are the next steps. What are the short term solutions. What are some long term solutions …”

“We do have three or four drivers that are in the hopper and being trained, but we also know as we look at that work force that we will have a number of retirements.”

Strategic Planning LRFP

“Next week we will have a strategic planning session. And then we are beginning conversations around long range facility planning and moving forward now that the students are settled in, on day 3. While focused on getting students into school, we have been listening to what student, staff and community members are saying about the unsuccessful bond. We will be formalizing our timeline process in the next couple of weeks. Early discussions include listening sessions, a survey of our community, and then potential plan options following winter break.”

“And so as we think about when are we going to see the next plan options, we’re not at that point. We want to take time to listen. We talked about a survey with Morris Leatherman just to evaluate some of those questions that we are going to need, in particular task impact as we move forward.”

To be discussed today

SoWashCo School Board Meeting

September 22nd, 2022

Action Item 7.1 Livestreaming of Workshop Meetings is being discussed and possibly brought back, but nothing is free. Interesting because I don’t remember discussion around the reallocation of money being saved when the convenience of recorded Workshops was removed.

View the full September 22nd Meeting Agenda HERE.

Organizational Charts

The Administrative Organizational Charts. Action Item 7.4 Proposed Policy Changes to 301.1 ADMINISTRATIVE ORGANIZATIONAL PLAN is being recommended for removal (View the Action Item HERE). This chart identifies the lines of authority for the school district. I am curious to know why this chart keeps getting buried. For context, it is relevant to note that before SoWashCo’s website redesign in 2021, this chart was accessible to every resident online. There were many occasions when I found it convenient to understand the chain of command because of 833’s massive system. Blame was often passed off onto those higher in command so that the only way to get a real answer was to have a clear chart of hierarchy.

So first the chart was removed from public view in 2021, and now it is being removed from Policy entirely. A parent will have no way of knowing this chart exists, nor will they know by what name to request it. The Superintendent will have a copy, but how will they even know that? Chalk it up to one more layer of transparency removed under the current leadership of Superintendent Julie Nielsen.

Post-Post Update, September 23rd:

After emailing the district my concerns about the Organizational Charts not being accessible, I was pleased to learn the chart has been put back online. The previous version had included names, picture profiles, and contact information. Director of Communication, Pepe Barton, informed me “that “The 2020 org chart you’re referencing was a paid service that we no longer use.”

Link to SoWashCo’s Org Chart under the Superintendent HERE

by JAiME for SCHOOLS on September 22st, 2022

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