ASBA Connect COVID-19 Special Issue

What to do about collecting signatures for school board candidates, Open Meeting Law PLUS other FAQs

ASBA is committed to answering your most important questions as you work through the many complex and challenging leadership, governance and management/operational issues on the path ahead. The most popular questions we have been asked by districts across the state focus on signatures for school board candidates and Open Meeting Law. Below are the most recent questions.

Q. What should candidates do if they are running for school board and need to get signatures on petitions?

A. Unfortunately, there is no relief for signature requirements for school board members.  The dates and number of signatures are unaffected by our current situation.  Interestingly, the Legislature and other state offices (not ballot measures) are allowed to collect signatures online.

Q. Is the governing board required to vote on suspending the Public Comments during the meeting or can we just post that public comments have been suspended due to an emergency situation?

A. Either one is fine. There is no legal requirement of a public vote to suspend public comments and no requirement that it even be mentioned, though we think that would be a good idea.

Q. Does the Open Meeting Law require a physical location to be open to members of the public who do not have access to a computer or internet and therefore, cannot view/attend board meetings digitally.

A. The Open Meeting Law does require open access. You should provide technical assistance for anyone that cannot access the meeting.  This could include conference call access or a physical space or a place where one could watch the online meeting.

As questions arise, we will answer them ASAP in an online FAQs forum. This is a time for experts. If our staff and partners cannot answer your questions, we will direct you and/or connect you to those we believe can best do so. (Please note that this service is only for ASBA member districts).

Did you miss the March 25 Legislative Update webinar on school closures, budget and more?

Just in case you missed the ASBA/AASBO webinar about HB 2910 (public school closures; coronavirus disease) including expectations and funding during the mandated statewide closure, plus the “skinny budget,” below is the recording and presentation you can now view on-demand.

ASBA Webinar Archive: https://azsba.org/learning-center/webinar-archive/

Recording: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2036304736534015238

ASBA/AASBO Legislative Update on school closures, budget and more – PDF: https://azsba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2020-Skinny-Budget-School-Closure-Update-AASBO_ADE.pdf

ADE Presentation – Special Education Considerations – PDF: https://azsba.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ESS-ASBO-and-ASBA-PPT-3-25-20-2.pdf

ASBAIT responses to COVID-19 using three-tier approach

Even though our school doors are currently closed, the mission doesn’t change

Written by James Bryce, ASBA Secretary

Arizona has over 200 school districts. Each one of them are locally governed by elected school board members and they represent a wide range of demographics. However, at this moment, every school board is dealing with the same issue. How do we address the COVID-19 issues of today? As policy makers for our schools, we have been tasked with challenge of determining what is best for our students and staff that we govern. For some, this is the biggest crisis their school has ever had to deal with, and for those districts that have dealt with emergencies before, this is still uncharted waters. I’m certain that every one of us are asking ourselves, “what do we do now?” I’m also certain that anyone you have spoken to in your district is asking you the exact same question. The short honest answer is, the best that we can. We are listening to experts and working with professionals in both education and healthcare to lead our districts through these trying times.

School board members are the most effective elected officials because they are closest to their voters. We are highly engaged and believe strongly in local control. Although school boards are comprised of experts in many different fields and are generally reflective of their districts, knowledge and expertise on how to deal with a pandemic is not common. Thus, we lead through policy and not through management of operations. It is impossible for us to know all the moving parts it takes to run a successful school district. We do, however, understand the values and priorities of our communities. When we focus on the outcome based on our community values and work with our administration to determine the how, then we can find the best course of action to take and set policy accordingly.

So many of our decisions feel like they are made for us by way of federal or state mandate. We may have been directed to close our schools by the state, but it is still up to us to determine how we address the needs of our students. Local control may mean that every district chooses their own best policies, but for some remote and rural districts, it can feel like you are all on your own. We cannot assume that what works best for central Arizona will work for the southeast or the northwest region. ASBA staff is constantly developing resources to ensure that all boards have access to accurate information and expert opinions. ASBA also realizes that we are all in this together and remains available for all who need them.

Our mission is to educate every student that walks through our doors of our public schools. Even though our doors are currently closed, the mission doesn’t change. We will continue to do the best that we can by listening to the experts, working with staff and utilizing resources from all stakeholders involved. And when this is all over, we will continue with professional development and networking so lessons learned may not be forgotten. We are all in this together and together we will overcome.

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Leadership, Communication & Teamwork – You Got This!

Written by Julie Bacon, Board Support and Training Specialist

Unprecedented times call for thoughtful, calm and deliberate leadership. Across Arizona, school leaders are working nonstop to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re not just worried about our own families, but also the students, staff and communities in our school districts. Many of us are feeling a little bit helpless in the face of this new territory. And board members may be feeling that more acutely because we are not involved in the operational tasks of our school districts in the way our school administrators are. Be assured, however, that at this time your critical role will be felt in three key areas:

Leadership

There is no better time for the board members to provide feedback from the community. A school board’s existence is based on the belief that lay control of public education makes schools flexible and responsive to the needs of the local community – something that is needed at this moment more than ever.

At this moment, it is also necessary to recognize the board’s leadership role is the big picture, not the day-to-day management. Board members seeking to engage in operational decisions will slow down the district’s ability to respond in a rapidly evolving environment. Issues are changing constantly, and superintendents will need flexibility in addressing issues as they arise. Let superintendents manage districts. That is the job you hired them to do. It’s sometimes hard to do, but it is more important than ever to be a united front for the communities you serve.

Teamwork

Trust one another on your team. Assume the best intentions when having discussions about these very emotional, difficult decisions with which you are being faced. This may be more difficult in the era of remote meetings, but practicing professionalism, flexibility and kindness when using these platforms will demonstrate your commitment to doing what is in the best interests of students.

Let go of any baggage that may exist on the team. Now is not the time to be embroiled in disagreement for the sake of disagreeing. It is a time for the leadership team to come together for the benefit of your students and staff. Author Brian Tracy said, “The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis.”

Communication

New times may call for new ways of communicating within the leadership team. Being mindful of open meeting law, a best practice would be more communication, not less. Uncertainty demands information and sharing of the newest updates will be critical to the effectiveness of your leadership.

We are not the only ones who need information. Your students, parents and staff need to have the latest information possible so they can have confidence in district leadership. As an ambassador for the district, you will be expected to know the most essential facts.

Make sure the messages being shared by the district are known to all on the leadership team, but keep in mind that developing those messages is the job of your district staff. Your input as a community and district leader will influence the overall messaging, but in times of crisis sensitive messages may need to be communicated quickly without the board having prior notification.

Your leadership is critical to the students, parents, staff and community. Now is the time to be a united team, with your superintendent, in a collaborative and supportive culture. Let’s show the world what we know; public schools are the hub of our communities and locally elected school boards are the best avenue for decisions.

Got questions? Don’t hesitate to ask us by clicking here. We’re here for you.

Deadline extended! Has your district completed the teacher/administrator salary and benefit survey?

Due to extraordinary circumstances the deadline for the FY2020 ASBA Teacher and Administrator Salary and Benefits Survey has been extended to Friday, April 3. If your district has not yet completed the survey, we understand, but hope this additional time will enable staff to add your district’s information to this important shared resource. Superintendents, business managers and board presidents were sent details and a link for completing the survey on March 9 and March 23.

The compiled data to provides a valuable resource for comparative analysis and decision-making on issues related to salaries, benefits and budgeting. All districts who complete the survey will receive a summary report of the compiled data, plus a sortable Excel spreadsheet.

As of noon on Wednesday, March 25, 84 districts had completed the survey. Click here to view districts. Thank you to all who have participated.

2020 Census Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19

The 2020 Census is underway and households across America are responding every day. Considering the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted 2020 Census operation. The Census has extended the self-response timeline to August 14, 2020. Click here for updated fact sheet and new resources.

Which states have initiated school closures?

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing widespread school closures in the United States, with some states ordering all schools to shut down for as long as a month in an unprecedented disruption of K-12 schooling. Click here or the image below to view the Coronavirus and School Closures map

Four areas of focus for successful virtual learning

Written by K12itc

It goes without saying, COVID-19 has thrown a new challenge at schools, parents and students. The big question on everyone’s mind is, can we virtually educate in an effective, efficient and secure manner?

The answer is YES! However, there are four essential areas your district will need to consider.

Remote IT Support: With all users going remote, the district must be able to handle an influx of remote IT issues. This new dynamic can overload the IT staff as they struggle to adapt quickly to trouble shooting, diagnosing and repairing issues remotely. Managed Technology Services companies, such as K12itc, can help. K12itc provides remote IT Support to more than 80,000 users across the United States.

Connections at Home: Secure connectivity at home is crucial for remote teaching and learning. K12itc offers several solutions to assist including, teleworker devices, VPN connectivity and remote application hosting to ensure users are connected to the files and applications they need.

Cybersecurity: With students and staff remote, there are now thousands of uncontrolled environments. School districts need to make sure that the proper web filtering, email security and anti-virus are in place. It is important for your district to enlist a trusted partner, such as K12itc, to ensure a secure network at school and at home.

Deploying Video Conferencing: Districts will need to tap into video conferencing to help staff and even students connect remotely. Cisco Webex, the leading enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings and screen sharing is offering free accounts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact K12itc to set up your district account.

In order to implement a successful virtual learning environment, districts must utilize secure and reliable technology. For more information, please visit: k12itc.com

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