The Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) Board met via Zoom for a special board meeting on Sept. 17 to discuss distance learning, COVID-19 and to honor the Liberty Ranch High School FFA Advanced Parliamentary Procedure’s win at the state championships.
The winning team consisted of Hannah Parker, Trevor Schmeidt, Teddy Lopez, Luke Powers, Trevor Denier and Braden Crosson, who worked since last September studying Roberts Rules of Order, researching FFA programs, formulating effective debate and discussion points.
The team had won every competition they attended the past year, with the exception of coming in second at the UC Davis Invitational. Every team member was named outstanding officer.
Director of Curriculum Sean Duncan presented the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan for this school year, covering all needed components for student learning through distance learning.
Trustee Dennis Richardson asked if all parents understood what was expected from their students.
“But we did a very good job by sending out all the information through teachers and technology for students and parents,” Duncan said. “We’ve upped our text support so they can respond when families need help.”
The board approved the plan 5-0.
Business Director Corey Reihl covered the mandatory Gann Limit Resolution that will be due in March. The Gann Limit, enacted in 1979, states that state spending, including schools, may not grow any faster than the growth in population and inflation.
It was approved 5-0.
Superintendent Spalding spoke on COVID-19 and said, although the county is still in the highest case category, that good progress has been made.
“I’ve seen some movement,” Spalding said. “Sacramento County is still in purple, the highest status with an average of nine new cases per 100,000. It needs to be under seven cases per 100,000 to drop to red. Good news is positivity rates are down below 8%. If we can stay in the red for both of these categories for 14 days, it will allow us to do in-person instruction.”
Teachers were informed to expect distance learning to continue through October.
Spalding is monitoring new information on how schools might be able to have in-person instruction for small groups.
“Small stable groups of no more than 14 students may be allowed soon for some classes,” Spalding said. “New guidance information from Sacramento County Health Department said the county would provide a level of surveillance testing mostly for staff who are directly involved with students. They’ll provide testing every two months.”
Trustee Terry Parker asked if he had heard when shop classes could possibly return and classes for special education students.
“Some of the small stable cohort groups are really designed for special education and English Learning students,” Spalding said. “It does look like they’re (the county) is ramping up. We are looking at these classes of small groups that we might start with.”
Trustee Mark Beck asked about the district’s liability during the pandemic. He was concerned that insurance companies are saying schools won’t be covered should they be sued during the pandemic.
Spalding said some state lawmakers had backed a bill that would protect districts from being dropped if sued through the pandemic but was “killed” in committee.
“I’m pushing where I have influence,” Spalding said. “I suggest the board push the locals on this. If sued, the district is liable and the money comes out of the general fund.”
Educational Opportunities Director Lisa Pettis reported on the Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) during distance learning. The group is following students who are not logging into classes or are struggling. She included a survey done with teachers on what their biggest challenges are during distance learning.
Pettis said many teachers complained about how time consuming it is for preparing lessons and grading. Many said it’s hard or impossible to check that students understand the lessons and if they are progressing. Other complaints had to do with keeping attendance records. Teachers may refer students who have not been participating on Zoom or those who they haven’t seen or heard from over time.
“We’ve had to do quite a few home visits when we can’t get hold of students or their parents,” Pettis said. “Twenty-nine students were referred to the district outreach officer. We had 27 home visits. If the cases go further, we can contact CPS.”