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After decision in October to not re-open yet.

October 9, 2020

I’m typing this the morning after the school board meeting where we decided not to re-open schools for in-person learning yet. We’ll reconsider at our first board meeting in January.

This was a tough issue because the community is divided, and the vote was not unanimous. We received many comments from community members. In fact, the survey comments made an impression on me. There were many. When compiled into a document, they stretched for 129 pages. (I’ll link to it here.)

I was leaning toward not-reopening, and had prepared a mini scripted statement of my thinking, but I revised it a bit during the meeting, then read that when the time for a vote came. It was late in the meeting, but I noticed about 750 community members were tuned in and watching the meeting broadcast on YouTube when we voted on this. (At the moment it show 3,900 views. To find our YouTube school board meeting channel, search for “FSUSD Broadcasting“.)

Here is a version of what I said.

“It’s too early to return. Let’s look at it again at the semester break. I spent two hours earlier today reading through the 120 pages of comments submitted by students and community members. They tell a story, the many sides of the hardship we are enduring.

“We’re the largest district in Solano County, but we don’t want to lead on re-opening. We do want to lead and be a pioneer in educational quality in our classrooms, but we don’t want to lead in testing the boundaries of a global epidemic.

“Even though we can’t return yet, there is a lot we can do to make distance learning work better for more people, because it’s not working well for everyone. We can listen closely, collaborate, be flexible, stretch our understanding and try different techniques. Teachers have already made many changes. We’ve come a long way since we first started distance learning in March. The coming months will bring more insights, tools and new approaches.

“The survey responses contain many thoughts about ways we can improve. Let’s be creative, find new ways to be effective and pull together. We’ll get through this, but it’s not yet time to return.”

In my almost-two-years on the board, this matter drew the most intense interest of any. Thank you to all who took the time to comment. I put good time into reading everything that is communicated to me, even when I don’t respond personally. There’s a way in which we’re all on a team together, and I hope at the end of the day we’re somewhat satisfied with the result.

Here are some other items that caught my attention from last night’s meeting:

  • I enjoyed the presentation on the history and current status of equity efforts in our district, the ways we have attempted to level up students who underperform, especially when there are patterns in racial or ethnic groups. The district often prepares slide shows on important subjects, and this was a good one. In case you can’t find it, I’ll link to it here.
  • I noticed, during the presentation of the school day calendar for an upcoming school year, we will try an entire week off in February, instead of the frequent three-day weekends for presidents days. That will be interesting.

You may have noticed I haven’t updated this website in awhile. I want to change that, and start posting at least following each board meeting. (I’d also like to “tune up” the other pages on this website.) One of my motivators is the election season upon us. I won’t be on the ballot for another two years, but if I do decide to run again, I want to be able to run on a record, and for me, this website should show, to some degree, what my record it. It’s a small accountability bit. I don’t really do Twitter or Facebook, so this is the only place you can track me. (You can also see my calendar, where I’ve started logging every time I sit down to work on remote district business, including writing in this blog.)

One reason I tapered off on writing here is because I get no feedback, and my dashboard shows only a handful of followers. But I value this aspect of my public office (reporting), and I want to do more than faithfully serve. I want to communicate as well. This is my major way of communicating outside of meetings. Before I was a board member I never watched meetings, so this may be the only way for me to reach some citizens. At least things will be here on the record.

Thanks. -Craig Wilson, October 9, 2020

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