By Crystal Hayduk
(Thanks to Board President Shawn Quilter and Principal Stacie Battaglia for the information in this article.)
The Chelsea School District (CSD) Board of Education unanimously approved a start date of Aug. 31 for the 2020-21 school year at its meeting at South Meadows Elementary School on Feb. 10.
Although board consent is not required to determine the district calendar, Superintendent Julie Helber wanted the board’s backing to begin classes before Labor Day following the state’s approval of the county-wide waiver application on Feb. 4. (Related story here.)
The board also approved opening the district to limited School of Choice for 2020-21, with a vote of 6-1. Board member Tammy Lehman cast the dissenting vote. Like last year, there will be a cap of 25 non-resident students. School of Choice will be reevaluated annually based on space and program availability. The number of non-resident students shall not exceed 5 percent of the total district enrollment based on the annual fall count.
There was a special presentation about learning at South Meadows Elementary School, and Principal Stacie Battaglia thanked the Chelsea Education Foundation for the grant that funded the updates and new furniture in the media center.
Tara Thorburn, special education teacher, along with two students from her program, presented the philosophy of working with learners with special needs. “If they can’t learn how we teach, we need to teach how they learn,” she said. She and the students shared aspects of their learning program from academics, to social skills, and even cooking lessons.
“Their learning doesn’t just happen at school, but also outside of our walls with field trips to other school buildings and local businesses including police and fire stations,” said Thorburn.
“These trips give our students the opportunity to learn about life skills, community, and how to interact with others,” she said.
The academic curriculum is modified to support all learners, said Thorburn.
Fifth-grade teacher Tracy Heydlauff thanked the PTO for a generous grant that paid for updated historical fiction books. Several fifth-grade students presented their thoughts about the books they had read, as well as the impact the historical fiction unit has had on them as readers.
Battaglia said, “I have a tremendous staff here at South who work hard each and every day to reach all learners. Hearing the students share and speak so confidently tonight was tremendous. I could not be prouder.”
Helber said administrative staff are attending Justice Leaders Training, professional development that helps staff focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Staff members from Beach Middle School and Chelsea High School will also attend this training in the future.
In other board news:
Standard & Poor’s gave the district an A+ bond rating. It is expected that the first bond sales will occur in March.
Helber said that the state budget proposal for the next fiscal year has already been released in hopes of having it completed before July. When the state budget is not completed before July, school districts must set their preliminary budgets based on guesses instead of accurate numbers.
The board approved a donation of $2,200 from Project Chelsea to North Creek Elementary School. Project Chelsea was a fundraiser held by a group of local artists who sold their art for the purpose of paying off lunch account balances of North Creek students who need financial assistance.
The board thanked Battaglia and South Meadows’ staff for hosting the board meeting. They also thanked the district’s paraprofessionals for their continued hard work and dedication to students in honor of Paraprofessional Appreciation Week.
There will be a half-day for students on Feb. 13.
There will be no school Feb. 14-17 for Presidents’ Day Weekend.
There will be a board work session at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 in the administrative offices.
The next regular board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 23 at Chelsea High School, 740 North Freer Road.