The School Zone: News

Workshop Briefs – January 11, 2021



Executive Session

Trustees met in a closed executive session to discuss routine as well as other personnel matters, and to consult with the Board’s attorney. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve routine personnel items. No other public action was taken.


No proposed amendments. Third reading will take place at next regular meeting on Jan. 25, 2021.

Discussion and Presentation Regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Presented by Superintendent Jennifer Blaine, along with EdFuel’s Raven Freeman and Suzanne Lynn, who are serving as consultants for this work.

This work will build on existing work the district has done to garner an inclusive and respectful culture (with initiatives such as No Place for Hate, Character Strong, Character Without Question). Looking forward, SBISD seeks to have a systemic approach that is unified, strategic and involves stakeholders.

DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) is a national term, which directly aligns with the district’s strategic planning work and will also support the Visioning work currently underway. In SBISD, all of the work will align to, and strengthen, the district Core Values and the T-2-4 Goal.

Suzanne Lynn from EdFuel shared definitions of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:

1.      Diversity: Embracing individual differences

2.      Equity: Equal access to opportunities, information and resources

3.      Inclusion: Everyone feels connected and welcome in the environment

By investing in DEI, SBISD will be able to help people listen to one another, establish a shared vocabulary, understand historical contexts and align expectations to the strategic plan.

The impact of DEI work is represented by three eye-opening and meaningful research data points. DEI work shows that when diversity and inclusion are present the following points happen:

Point 1 – helps with recruitment and retention because existing employees are more likely to recommend working here

Point 2 – strengthen connection with the district; students and families will get what they need and want from district

Point 3 – higher achievement levels

Dr. Blaine emphasized the DEI work will align with the district’s strategic framework to make sure the work of the system is streamlined and connected, all in support of the T-2-4 goal.

She anticipates the Board will need to go back and look at the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) once the Visioning process is finished, to determine what will be measured, including components of DEI.

Next steps

1.      Develop a Chartering Document from the board to outline what a DEI task force would be charged to do – ready for adoption at the March board meeting once Visioning process is complete.

2.      Assemble a broad-based DEI Task Force.

3.      Timeline: Summer work to organize the task force and resources for a start to the work in September 2021. The task force will develop a DEI plan recommendation to the board in early spring 2022, with the intent to put action items into place for the 2022-2023 school year.

Discussion conclusions:

Each trustee expressed support for strategic DEI work in SBISD. The trustees agreed a task force approach is the way to develop a DEI plan that includes robust, actionable, sustainable and measurable expectations for students, staff and the community.

Discussion of the District Improvement Team (DIT) Academic Calendar Recommendations for 2021-22 and 2022-23

Presented by Linda Buchman, Assoc. Superintendent of Communications and Community Engagement, Mike Thomas, Director of Research and Evaluation, and Lance Stallworth, Executive Director for Student Support Services.

During spring, summer and fall of 2020, the DIT used board parameters to develop calendar recommendations for the next two academic years to bring to Dr. Blaine and the board.

Mike Thomas presented data from the October 2020 academic calendar staff and community survey, which garnered 5,346 responses. For the 2021-22 and 2022-23 options presented in the survey, Option 2 received the majority of preferences for both school years. The DIT approved recommending the Option 2 calendars to Dr. Blaine, who has now submitted them to the board for adoption.

Lance Stallworth reviewed details of both recommended calendars, which are similar in design. He noted that on the 2022-23 calendar, Election Day in November is designated as a student and staff holiday, which precludes including a Monday holiday during the April Easter holiday weekend.

The board will have the opportunity to vote to approve the calendars at the next regular meeting on Jan. 25.

District of Innovation (DOI) Renewal Plan Update

Presented by Linda Buchman on behalf of the DIT.

In November, the DIT took a consensus vote to move forward with the renewal of the DOI plan. A 30-day public comment period ensued. At their January meeting, the DIT formally voted to affirm the DOI renewal plan and recommend it to the board for approval.

The board will have the opportunity to vote on the DOI renewal plan at the next regular meeting on Jan. 25.

There were no closing remarks.