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School Board to focus on ‘transforming schools’ and hold just one business meeting each month

STORY BY GEORGE ANDREASSI (Week of December 2, 2021)

At least for the next year, the school district hopes to spend less time on School Board meetings and more time “transforming schools.”

That means the Indian River County School Board will have only one business meeting per month to oversee a $327 million budget, 22 public schools, 17,000 students and 2,000 employees.

From now until November 2022, the School Board scheduled business meetings for 6 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month, with exceptions on Dec. 14, March 15, July 19 and Aug. 30 to avoid scheduling conflicts.

The School Board previously held two evening business meetings per month, generally on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, following mid-day workshop meetings.

The School Board voted 4-1 on Nov. 16 to approve the new business meeting schedule. Dissenting board member Jacqueline Rosario said she wanted to keep the workshop meetings on the same days as the business meetings.

Controversies involving mandatory facemask policies, a proposed chief equity officer position, critical race theory lessons and sexual content in school library books have turned School Board business meetings into marathons of repetitious debate during the 2020-2021 school year.

School Superintendent David Moore said cutting back on School Board meetings would give administrators more time to focus on improving the academic performance of students.

“Over two-thirds of counties in our state conduct one business meeting a month,” Moore told the School Board. “This is a process that will allow us to maximize our amount of time in schools and removes a lot of the logistical compliance work of prepping and having board meetings. I need staff to be involved in transforming schools.”

Earlier on Nov. 16, the School Board discussed the proposed instructional calendar for the 2022-2023 school year, which is set to start Wednesday, Aug. 10 and conclude May 27, 2023.

 A new process designed to maximize student time in class already eliminated half days so students benefit from a full day of instruction, Moore said during a Nov. 19 interview.

“We used to have those half days at the end of December, that last week – we no longer do that,” Moore said. “They’re full days of instruction. We’re not going to waste those days away.

“We’re going to make sure we have good quality instruction,” Moore said. “I know we’re going to have some celebrations and that’s fine too, but we want to maximize the time we have with our students.”