Another Board meeting (they seem to now be weekly....). The audience was MUCH smaller than the last several meetings. I think this was mainly because of two 'meet-the-teacher' events scheduled at the same time.
Interestingly there were several people from both sides of the mask debate who started talking about room filtration solutions. Someone even brought a UV air sterilizer to the auditorium to show it working. What prompted the new subject was a mystery, but it seemed to be used as a compromise in bridging the mask argument.
From my point of view, any additional protections -air filters or otherwise- is welcomed.
Outline of my 1.5min Public Forum speech
- Profession is Engineer
- Lived in Dripping Springs for ~10yrs
Over the course of months, we've heard many, many arguments
- The School District is tasked to consider the full spectrum of families and students and then decide what is best for the District
The current reality of the situation
- Who decides appropriate safety for the children? Which is fine, except...
We're leaving a tremendous gap
- K-6 students currently have no option.
- The issue is NOT about medical opinions or risk assessments, it is about all their parents are being disenfranchised
- I understand the 'freedom' argument, but many concerned parents of k-6 students have NO FREEDOM to choose safety in the current state of the School District
Call to the District
- Reinstate safety protocols in grades K-6 at least until vaccinations are an option
Superintendent Holly presented in great detail new safety protocols.
Key Takeaways of the evening
- The Board Attorney effectively saying that no options are available for a mask mandate in the current judicial situation
- The district policy of extending COVID-19 leave available to employees for the 2021-22 school year is a big deal
- The Board approved an increase to the administration building relocation project budget by between $2.84 million and $3.73 million, resulting in a revised project budget not to exceed $7.85 million using remaining 2018 bond funds, as well as the admin building project schematic design.
- Official notes from DSISD page here: August 30, 2021 Meeting (dsisdtx.us)
- Full video here: Board of Trustees - Regular Meeting - YouTube
The meeting was not as contentious as the last several. I think it was a combination of fewer attendees and frankly, exhaustion. We've been hoping the community would develop compassion for more than just their immediate family, but many seem to be giving up this goal. Even my 1.5min request was specifically targeting the K-6 gap in protective procedures.
It was noteworthy how much time the board discussed staffing challenges. Predictably we are running very short in substitute teachers, hiring teachers, and managing teacher absences. It felt like there was a lot of discussion to evaluate if problems were directly caused by COVID. I'm sure this is important, but after everything in the last [nearly] 2 years, we've got a huge task making education an appealing place for a career. It feels like we need to start tackling this.
This was also the meeting where Barbara Stroud officially stepped down from being the Board President. I'll never get over how many of the community berated her in every meeting (and yes, even last night). In my experience, she is a warm and caring person doing her best in a volunteer position to promote the safe development of the community's children. I hope she knows how many of us are thankful for everything she has done.