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Meeting Recap: Exeter Elementary School Board - May 10, 2022

Note: This meeting was not included on the SAU 16 main calendar or the Exeter Elementary SB web pages at the time of our weekly meeting email on 5/8/22, whereas other meetings for the same week were listed online. Therefore, notes for this meeting were taken from the YouTube video: Exeter Elementary School Board

Public Input

The meeting began with public input by Andres Mejia, who spoke about how DEIJ will be implemented at the elementary schools. He reported that he doesn’t have an agenda on how DEIJ will look in the elementary schools, but he discussed the approach that he plans to take. He will be a resource to the educators at the schools. He reported that his style is to come in and hear people’s needs and wants and tailor professional development and workshops around that. He discussed the work that he has been doing at CMS and EHS, and how he has tailored it based on students’ needs, which he has determined through focus groups. He gave examples of conducting professional development on empathy and listening and creating affinity spaces at school for students to discuss race and LBGTQ issues.

He stated that he has already been working with the leadership team at Exeter elementary schools. He plans to be an administrator in the building and will do activities like have lunch with students. He stated that his presence and representation will be positive, as he walks down the halls students “will see an educator of color in their space” and “someone who identifies as bisexual in their space.”

He wants to work around all topics, as students should feel they belong no matter what their identity is. He plans to infuse restorative justice and DEIJ together. He will be teaching a session at the summer institute for educators, DI 101, to learn all identities and ‘isms. He also wants to look to make sure there is representation in learning materials. Who is represented in learning materials? What images are in books? What images are on the walls? Do all students see themselves in their teachers? This shouldn’t just cover race, but also stories for the LGBT community and those with disabilities. What are the stories about marginalized communities? Are they stories about victims or resilience?

Unable to hear audio for 2 minutes

Dawn Bullens asked what DEIJ things are going on already, as she mentioned that this is not new to the schools. She asked the principles to explain so parents could understand.

  • Tonja Neeve (MSS principal) gave examples of how children are provided lessons on unique families and celebrations; how staff is made aware to be conscientious of the classroom and how students may have different families.

  • Drew Bairstow (LSS) stated that they have purchased new books and materials that are representative of all people. He also reported that there are changes to the immigration unit that 3rd graders participate in, as they are tying it into modern immigration, not just European communities.

SAU16 Administrative Update

Molly OKeefe reported on financials, stating that $335,000 had been added since the last month. These expenses included a maintenance and facilities project, the hiring of a new paraprofessional, substitute teachers, supplies, and new firewall.

Esther Asbell reported on the school climate survey, saying they were disappointed with the return rates across all schools in the district:

  • MSS: 11% personnel, 18% of students that opted in, 0% of families

  • LSS: 20% personnel, 10% families

They will send it out again in the fall, as they did not receive enough data for an informed decision.

Principal Reports

Neeve discussed what had been happening at MSS, specifically mentioning activities in PE, staff appreciation week, a staff restorative justice presentation that will occur Thursday (5/12) for early release, and the open house occurring on May 19th.

Bairstow commented on the restorative justice training that 10 staff members were doing. He stated that restorative justice is a “method of ensuring all individuals in school feel seen, heard and feel welcomed.” He explained the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 and 3, and how training is currently for the use of Tier 2 and 3.

  • Tier 1: used in classroom circles - provides a way for kids to learn to take turns, listen, and process important moments (good or bad). Examples of questions asked in these circles include: “What's your weather today?” “Tell me the story of your name.” “What does respect look like to you?”

  • Tier 2 & 3: the use of “harm circles,” used when harm has been done in school. He remarked how a lot of work is done before meeting with students in these harm circles, so it is important to train staff since it is time intensive and needs to be done well.

Committee Reports & Policy

Very brief updates were given on the different committees. They began discussing air quality and advertising policies; however, the online video abruptly ended at time stamp 1:04.28. This was before the school board meeting had concluded. Other agenda items the video did not capture include the following:

  • Fund Balances - 1st Reading

  • DBJ - Budget Transfers - 1st Reading

  • DAF - Administration of Federal Grant Funds - 1st Reading

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