Superintendent provides update on return-to-school
The School Board presented its proposed FY 2022 Budget Direction during its Oct. 22 meeting. The School Board is committed to providing a high-quality education to its students and their aim with this budget direction is to ensure APS financially supports its mission in the FY 2022 budget.
In the spring, because of the pandemic, the School Board needed to make deep cuts in the FY 2021 budget – eliminating staff compensation increases, significantly reducing Minor Construction/Major Maintenance funding, and increasing class size by one at grades K-12 among others – and needed to use $17 million in reserve funds to balance the budget. These actions put APS at a significant disadvantage for the FY 2022 budget.
To fulfill its mission and goals, the School Board directs the Superintendent to prepare an FY22 budget that maintains its large and diverse school system, focuses on supporting our staff, and emphasizes the School Board’s three overarching goals:
- Focus on an excellent education regardless of the delivery model.
- Support staff to be innovative and deliver high-quality virtual and in-person instruction.
- Continue the focus on equity.
The full draft of the FY22 Budget Direction is available on BoardDocs.
School Year 2020-21 Update
Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán provided an update on the return-to-school plan and metrics. The presentation focused on the latest health and safety measures, results of the staff survey process, an update on the timeline for Levels 1 and 2 transitions to hybrid/in-person learning, transportation considerations, and finally, our budget projections. You can watch the presentation here.
Health, Safety and Operational Metrics
APS continues to see improved metrics in some areas and fluctuations in others as reflected in the APS COVID-19 Dashboard. Case incidences have increased for the region as APS prepares to start Level 1 transition. APS is well stocked on supplies however the global supply chain is strained.
The presentation highlighted the change in the benchmark for instructional staffing for Level 2 in the dashboard from a target of 35 percent to 70 percent. The benchmark was updated based on the revised hybrid/in-person learning plan due to different staffing needs for grade levels throughout all of Level 2. For all of Level 2, APS estimates needing 70 percent of our instructional staff ready to serve those students’ needs. This may fluctuate depending on the actual number of students requesting hybrid/in-person learning. APS does not need to meet this metric in order to begin bringing Level 2 students in for in-person learning, due to the phased approach. The staffing metrics are averages based on the survey responses across our scales for instructional and support employees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidance on the definition of a close contact to include: Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
Results of Staff Return-to-Work Surveys
The Superintendent discussed the results of the staff return-to-school survey that ended on Oct. 16. A total of 4,291 employees, or 63% of all APS staff, completed the survey. Additional key take-aways:
- 45.2% responded that their preference is distance/telework
- 54.8% responded that their preference is in person
- 88.6% of T-scale employees responded
- 39% percent of T-scale (teachers) respondents indicated a preference for in-person instruction.
- 85.9% of A-scale (assistants) employees responded
Human Resources will be contacting T-Scale staff who did not respond regarding assignments for hybrid in-person learning, depending on the final outcome of the family preferences and student needs.
Phased Return Plan for Hybrid/In-Person Instruction
The Superintendent focused specifically on Levels 1 and 2. Based on the staffing preferences and other data gathered regarding the availability of staff for these transitions, APS has adjusted student grouping in Level 2 to provide a more gradual transition by grade level.The timeline and student groupings for each Level include:
Level 1: Students with Disabilities (SWD) – November 4 (NEW)
- SWD who require direct support to access the curriculum as presented via distance learning.
Level 2: Projected Phased Return – Beginning Mid-November (NEW)
- PreK-5th grade students, including PreK-5th grade English Learners and SWDs with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), and high school students enrolled in selected Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses at the Career Center. Students phase-in in groups, according to the following revised timeline:
- LEVEL 2, PHASE 1: Starting November 12: PreK, Kindergarten, plus CTE students
- LEVEL 2, PHASE 2: Starting Week of December 1: 1st and 2nd grade students
- LEVEL 2, PHASE 3: Starting in Early January: 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students
- All projected dates for each phase of Level 2 are subject to health and safety and operational metrics and may be changed as necessary.
Level 3: Projected Return Date – Beginning Mid-January All APS middle and high school students who selected hybrid, in-person instruction
- Specific phases to be announced at a later date
The superintendent also provided additional details on what a day would look like for students with disabilities in Level 1, elementary/CTE students; an overview of the elementary hybrid/in-person learning model; additional consideration; health and safety expectations; and financial projections.The full report is available on BoardDocs.
The Board approved the following two items:
- Internal Audit Plan
- Education Center Reuse Final Design and Construction Contract Award
The Board was presented updates on the items below.
- First Amendment to Lease Agreement with Highland Holdings LLC
- Proposed Revisions to School Board Policy K-14.30 Volunteers and Deletion of Policy K-14.31 Volunteer Programs
- Proposed Revisions to School Board Policy I-126.96.36.199 Communications
- Proposed Revisions to School Board Policy J-8.3.1 School Health
For More Information:
Citizens who want to comment on any items discussed at the School Board meeting should email the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-228-6015. Citizens may call 703-228-2400 on the Monday after the School Board meetings to listen to a meeting summary.
School Board meetings are also broadcast live on Comcast Cable Channel 70 and Verizon FiOS Channel 41; live-streamed on the APS website, and re-broadcast on Fridays at 9 p.m. and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. immediately following the meeting. All materials and minutes will be posted to the website at www.apsva.us/schoolboard upon School Board approval at a subsequent meeting.