February 1, 2022 Board Meeting Highlights
At its regular meeting on February 1, 2022, the Freeport School District Board of Education:
Heard Superintendent Alvarado recognized the following FHS teams for their participation and achievements in area/regional, sectional, and state level competitions on Saturday, Jan. 29th:
- Competitive Dance Team
- Boys Bowling
Voted to approve an updated job description for the Human Resources secretary; and an independent contract agreement for a speech and language pathologist in FSD due to two unanticipated vacancies within that department this school year.
Received an update on the potential outcomes of Austin v. Pritzker Suit and how that may or may not affect FSD145:
A. If a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is At Least Partially Granted and the Court Strikes the Executive Orders/State Mandates
It is possible that the Court will declare Governor Pritzker’s executive orders as exceeding their authority, and strike the State-level mask and close-contact exclusion rules. If that happens, that TRO is enforceable only by the 400+ plaintiff-parents across the 146 school districts. Those Plaintiffs and their attorney (Devore) have asked the court to certify a class action for all parents in those 146 school districts – but their request is limited to just those 146 school districts. There is no pending request from the plaintiffs/Devore to certify the class for parents in all school districts in the state. It is therefore likely that even if the Court strikes down the State mandates, Governor Pritzker and ISBE will likely continue to apply their mandates against all the other school districts not named as defendants, including D145. If the Court were to specifically declare in its order that the TRO is effective state-wide, we would then have to evaluate its effect on the non-defendant school districts.
B. If a TRO Includes an Injunction Specifically Prohibiting School Districts from Exercising Independent, Local Authority
A TRO is effective against only the parties to the lawsuit. Therefore, at a minimum, even if the Court rules completely in Plaintiffs’ favor and issues injunctions against both the state parties and the 146 school districts, your district would not be subject to that order. District 145 would have the authority to determine at its local level whether it wishes to enforce mask mandates and close-contact exclusion mandates of its own. Even if the state mandates are stricken, the public health guidance from IDPH and CDC recommends masking and close-contact exclusions.
C. Other Outcomes Are Possible
It is of course possible that the Court rules in favor of the Defendants and does not issue a TRO. Even if the Court rules in favor of the Plaintiffs, however, there will be a motion filed to “stay” that decision pending an emergency appeal. If the Court grants that motion, the status quo will persist no matter the ruling and the TRO motion will be further litigated in the appellate court.
January High Attendance awards were announced for Jones-Farrar at the elementary level and Carl Sandburg for the upper level schools. These are the winning schools for 3 months running.
Received a report from Mr. James Rhyne Jr., Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Freeport & Stephenson County and Ms. Rebecca Spindler, Education Director. The two highlighted the 21st Century Community Learning Center programs that they operate in partnership with FSD. The program continues to provide after-school homework help, math & reading enhancement and meals to a number of FSD students. The pandemic has caused BGC to make 11 pivots in how the program is operated. Two additional sites for the program were started at Lincoln-Douglas and Blackhawk schools. This prevents a large number of students from being in one location.
Heard a COVID update for the district. The total positive cases reported for the week ending 1/26/22 was 78, down from a school-year high of 91 for the week ending 12/1/21. (Note: The lower number may also be attributed to the adaptive pauses at Center, Blackhawk, and Jones-Farrar that week. Quarantine numbers are also down notably from previous highs for the week ending 1/26 with 156 students reported as participating in quarantine vs. 269 for the last week we collected district wide data. This is due, in part, to the implementation of shortened quarantine times for students meeting certain criteria.
Received as information the proposed 2022-23 School Year Calendar. The Board provided input and this item will come back for approval later this month.
The public is always invited and encouraged to attend Freeport School District Board of Education meetings. The next scheduled regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 15, at 6:00 PM. All meetings are held virtually and information on joining the meetings can be found here.