Posted Date: 12/15/2021
Union Adopts Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy
Citing increasing diversity among the student body, Union Public Schools’ Board of Education unanimously adopted a new district-wide diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy Monday night.
As approved, the new policy states that the district appreciates diversity of thought, values, perspectives and personhood and is “committed to procedures intended to support a diverse and equitable school community in an inclusive manner.”
While presenting it to the school board Monday night, Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler said the new policy is not an attempt to subvert state laws or introduce critical race theory into the classroom but is instead an affirmation of the district’s core values.
“This is a policy that I have supported ever since it was first proposed to me,” said Hartzler. “Our district has changed dramatically, and I love the changes. Our diversity is a treasure that money cannot buy, and we are changing our culture to better serve our students, staff and community. At Union, we have over 60 different languages represented at our district. This new policy is an affirmation of our values. As we’ve said many times, we respect people for who they are, not what they are.”
He acknowledged the work of the new DEI committee chaired by James Cooper, assistant principal (10th grade) at Union High School and Dr. Todd Nelson, Senior Executive Director of Research, Design and Assessment.
“I am very proud of this policy and I’m proud of those who served on this committee,” said Hartzler. “I think you took a very bold and creative step in moving forward with this policy recommendation.”
Union Approves Capacity Levels for Out-of-District Transfers
Union’s board approved the capacity levels by school and grade level for out-of-district transfers as required under Senate Bill 783. Under the new state law, school districts must set their capacity for out-of-district transfers by Jan. 1 and publish quarterly updates as to how many open seats are available under that capacity policy.
Under its new transfer policy, students who are already attending Union and move outside of the district’s boundaries will be given priority consideration since they have already been included in the student count. However, they will still have to apply for a transfer and provide their own transportation.
Todd Nelson, Union’s senior executive director of research, design and assessment, said the district leadership met with individual site principals to determine how much space they have for additional students, with current staffing levels and continuing in-district enrollment growth taken into consideration.
Districtwide, the capacity levels are set at 20 students per classroom for prekindergarten, kindergarten, and first, second and third grades; 23 students per classroom in third and fourth grades; 22 for each core subject in sixth grade; and an average of 27 students per core classroom in seventh grade and up.
With those figures, as of Monday night, Union is at capacity district-wide for prekindergarten, kindergarten, sixth, eighth and ninth grades.
“Where we’re already stressed, we are not going to accept transfers,” Nelson said, noting that the majority of the district’s campuses are already at or near capacity.
The capacity levels are not the same as maximum class size limits, Nelson said. “They are, rather, numbers that are used to determine the amount of space available in a classroom to allow for transfer students while still leaving room for additional students who move into the district. The calculations are based on current class sizes with existing staff members for general education classes and do not reflect counts of all special programs, certain English Learner classes, and certain special education classes.”
Capacity levels will be available on the district’s website, www.unionps.org, no later than Jan. 1, 2022.
Board Members Approve Revisions to Board Policy
In addition to adopting the new DEI and Student Transfer policies, the Board of Education on second reading Monday, Dec. 13, approved various other board policy revisions.
The Board first considered approval during first reading on November 8. In that time, administrators had made further revisions to the following policies: 1005 – Booster Club PTA Sanctioning, 1840 – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, 5500 Student Transfers, and 5450 – Student Residency. Use the same link below to see the latest revisions. Changes in Board policies may be viewed here.
Board Approves 2022 Meeting Dates
The Board unanimously approved its calendar of meeting dates for 2022, which is generally the second Monday of each month. The Board will meet at 7 p.m. on the following dates:
Board Members Approve the 2020-21 Audit Report and Appoint Committee
The Board of Education approved the 2021-2022 Early Retirement Incentive program for certified employees, which will help the district save more than $224,572. Whereas the ERI program is designed for savings over a two-year period, the cost to fund the 2020-2021 program for certified personnel is $375,326. As of this writing, 14 teachers, four support employees and three administrators have signed up for the incentive.
In other action, the Board: