Superintendent

Superintendent Report: Eagle Point School District 

March 4, 2021


Return to In-Person Instruction:

Since last month a great deal has happened. On March 5th Governor Brown directed the OHA and ODE to begin the process of bringing all students back into in-person instruction this Spring. 

EPSD9 is already in compliance with the Governor’s direction. However, the ODE is working to create a revised RSSL Guidance that may change our approach. Some of the key topics that we will be looking closely at include requirements for CDL, social distancing and cohorting. As we learn the specifics of the new guidelines Eagle Point School District will need or wish to adjust. We don’t yet know, but it is conceivable that we could increase the number of days 6-12 are attending in person. The timing is challenging. The new guidelines are due for publication on March 19. Fourth quarter, the best opportunity to make changes, begins on April 12. 

One significant change we do intend to make is to shift our CDL instruction to URCEO Virtual. Trying to maintain CDL within buildings, as some of our schools are, as increasing numbers of students return is not sustainable.

With this, I will be moving Technology Director Michelle Green away from the Technology Department and into the role of full-time URCEO Virtual Principal. Her mandate will be to meet the challenge of providing CDL instruction through the pandemic, continue to provide alternative school services and, importantly grow the URCEO Virtual program into a model online learning opportunity. It’s my intent for this virtual school to remain after the pandemic.

After we complete the changes and improvements we would like for the fourth quarter of this year  the next challenges will be preparing for expanded summer schools and the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. At this time we see finding qualified applicants as our bottleneck.

COVID Testing:

This past month EPSD9 introduced COVID tests into our schools. These tests called BinaxNOW tests are designed to be used and administered in non medical environments and their reliability is lower than the screens available in medical facilities. However, they are a useful tool in a school setting. They are non intrusive and self administered. Parent permission is required for us to test a student. As of this writing, EPSD has administered the test over fifty times with one positive result.

The overall work of managing possible COVID exposures is extensive for all staff. Every school must keep tracking and contact logs and when a possible exposure occurs numerous interviews are necessary as well as communication with the Local Health Authority. The work behind this of reviewing procedures, investigation, inspections, disinfecting classrooms and managing staffing is also large. As with expanded summer programs, transportation and preparing for next year we are struggling to find new employees to help.

OSHA referrals: Since initiating Hybrid instruction on January 25th, EPSD has received  five anonymous OSHA complaints. These were located at EPHS (1) Transportation (1) HES (1) and TRE (2). The Board should know that each of these have been responded to as required. The Board  should also be aware that OSHA complaints have become a frequent incident for all school districts operating in instructional models that have students in schools in person. At the same time, Eagle Point SD has not received any concerns through the anonymous links provided on our website. While we have taken every complaint seriously the validity of these complaints have varied. In one case the complaint was received prior to our schools actually initiating the action that was the topic of the complaint. 

EPSD9 iPad Contract:

A team led by Director Whitman has been working on exploring the options available to EPSD9 with regard to iPads. There will be a presentation this month with an intent to present this Board approval and renewal in April. At this time, I am becoming increasingly convinced that my recommendation will be for the board to renew this contract. My thinking for this primarily centers around where we are with COVID19, both with respect to the fact that we may need to return to virtual instruction in the coming months as well as logistics and training required to make a change. 


2021-2022 Calendar:

Last month I delayed presenting to the Board a calendar for the 2021-2022 school year. My reasoning for this was that I felt we needed to examine and consider whether EPSD9 should make changes to the calendars based on lessons learned through our experience this year with COVID and the need to begin the work of recouping lost instruction. I drafted three possible options. These were:

Option #1 - This year’s calendar transposed to next year without changes to the number of instructional days or vacations.

Option #2 -  Adding instructional days to the calendar without any other changes. The example in the survey added three days in December (12/20, 12/21, 12/22) with the opportunity to comment on other possibilities such as adding the days to the beginning or end of the academic year. 

Option #3 - This is based on our attendance data which shows the highest number of student/staff absences during mid year when people are sick. Option #3 moves instructional days to the warmer months and increases the vacation time during Thanksgiving and Winter Break. Part of our thinking is that, if COVID19 is still with us, our staff and students would have a longer period away from school just after they traveled for the holidays.

I took the calendar issue to multiple groups for feedback. These groups included the district’s administrative team and EPEA Executive Committee. I also conducted a survey with staff and parents. The survey results were as follows:

Staff - Total participation = 170

Option #1

122

71.7%

Option #2 - 3 days

14

8.2%

Option #3- extended breaks

37

21.7%


Parents - Total participation = 230

Option #1

111

48.2%

Option #2

49

20.8%

Option #3

90

39.1%

The feedback I received, both in discussion and through the surveys, was a preference to continue with our traditional calendar. I think there are several factors to this. Our staff and parents are strained by the ongoing pandemic and tired of ongoing change. My sense is that our people, both employees and parents, would be more open to a different calendar if they themselves were not so stressed.

With this, I am presenting and recommending to the Board a calendar (option #1) that matches the calendar EPSD9 has used in recent years.

Charter Programs

CLA will be presenting to the Board during it’s March meeting. This request is for an increase in the number of students, called the cap, they are allowed to enroll. I have begun meeting with CLA Head Administrator Stephanie Pogue in hopes of finding a compromise agreement that meets both organization’s needs. We will be meeting in the coming weeks with the intent of having an agreement by April 1st. The current “cap” for CLA is 335.

Kid’s Unlimited has requested the lease of a EPSD9 bus and driver training in order to provide quicker transportation for KU students. Normally these students use the EPSD9 transportation system. Due to the limit of students allowed on buses and, again, our struggles to find employees the service is slow. As of this writing KU enrollment is 48 of the 53 students allowed. Next year this cap will increase to 156 students. 

Budget Update:

The March 2021 Economic and Revenue Forecast was positive and there have been no major negative impacts on Oregon’s revenue outlook in the 2019-21 or 2021-23 bienniums.

 

Here are a few key takeaways:

Current Budget:

  • Revenues for the 19-21 biennium were up across the board slightly compared to numbers released in November:  Net General Fund and Lottery Resources are up $642.7 million.  This is good news in terms of closing out the current two-year budget cycle and all but assures there will be no budgetary impacts on schools during the 2020-21 school year.  Funding for the SSF, Measure 98, and SSA/SIA will not be reduced based on these projections.  And the growth in revenue bolsters state reserves to deal with any unexpected shortfalls. 

2021-23 Biennium:

  • Today’s forecast shows a modest decrease in General Fund and Lottery resources of $75.3 million since the December forecast. 
  • At the close of the 19-21 biennium, the state is now projected to have $3.094 billion in reserve funds available (General Fund, Education Stability Fund, and Rainy Day Fund).  This is equivalent to 14.1% of the state’s General Fund revenue. This is down slightly from the December Forecast.
  • Despite the stabilization of the 19-21 budget and significant state reserves, the state is still facing a budget deficit in the 21-23 biennium in the range of $2 billion.  This deficit assumes no reserves are tapped and no potential future federal aid.

Oregon Office of Economic Analysis presentation to Legislative Revenue Committees       

 

Legislative Revenue Office Forecast Summary   


ESSER

Beyond the state budget, Oregon School Districts have received substantial funding through ESSR/CARES relief funding and will be receiving more. These dollars (below) are substantial and parameters for their use are broad while at the same time must be used within specified timelines. This funding is critical to how EPSD intends to manage the coming year and set itself up for success in the following biennium.


Grant OR Allocation EPSD9 Allocation

ESSER #1 $109M $916,485

ESSER #2 $450M $4,075,889

ESSER #3 $1.2B TBD


Respectfully,

Andy Kovach
Eagle Point School District 9
Superintendent
541-830-6563