Board discusses DEI work, school reopening plans

During its July 6 meeting, Fayetteville-Manlius School District Board of Education entertained public comment as it relates to the continued discussions on embedding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) tenets throughout the district.

In April, New York State Board of Regents launched an initiative to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in New York state schools. As first steps in the initiative, the Board of Regents released a policy statement, draft framework, and a call to action for all schools to develop policies that advance diversity, equity and inclusion.  An accompanying roadmap for the Culturally Responsive – Sustaining Education initiative outlines their expectations for stakeholder input inclusive of parents, caregivers, students, and community members.

The Board of Regents expects that all school districts will develop policies that advance diversity, equity and inclusion – and that they implement such policies with fidelity and urgency.

Earlier this spring, Fayetteville-Manlius School District Superintendent Craig J. Tice provided to district families and staff members an update on the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, which among other things, included the initial equity training programs for administrators and a retrospective of the governance team’s efforts to honor its commitment to better understand the issue.

“As educators, we are responsible for preparing our students in their core academic areas so they become contributing members of our society, but it is also incumbent upon us to ensure that we are graduating critical thinkers of strong character who are compassionate and empathetic,” Dr. Tice said in the May 3 email.

During the July 6 board meeting, President Marissa Joy requested the board devote time during the next meeting to discuss the district’s DEI policy framework.

The Board of Regents believes that effective DEI policies must consider the entirety of the schooling process and expects districts to include the following elements in their policies:

  • Governance
    Establish a district Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee that is representative of all stakeholders, including students.
  • Teaching and Learning
    Address the need for inclusive and culturally responsive teaching and learning, including but not limited to curricula in all content areas; books and instructional materials; pedagogical practices and professional development; classroom grouping policies and practices; student support systems for all developmental pathways; full and equitable opportunities to learn for all students; and multiple assessment measures.
  • Family and Community Engagement
    Ensure that family and community engagement practices are based on mutual trust, confidence, and respect.
  • Workforce Diversity
    Recruit and retain a diverse workforce in all areas and at all levels, thereby reducing stereotypes and preparing students for an increasingly global society.
  • Diverse Schools and Learning Opportunities
    Take creative steps to enhance the level of socioeconomic and racial diversity within district schools.
  • Student Supports, Discipline, and Wellness
    Employ programs and practices that enhance all students’ self-identity, self confidence, and self-esteem.

“We’re a very strong district, we’re proud of our results, but at the same time, I think we all want to be deliberate, systematic, and methodical in addressing the Board of Regents DEI initiative,” Tice said.

COVID-19 Update: District plans for full reopening this fall

While the district awaits receiving school reopening guidance from local and state officials, F-M leaders are anticipating and planning for a full return to in-person learning five days-a-week for K-12 students starting in September.

During the July 6 board of education meeting, Tice said that some COVID protocols will likely remain in place for the 2021-22 school year, but it will depend on what the guidance says.  Tice is hopeful that the guidance will be released sooner rather than later so that families, teachers, and administrators can plan accordingly.

In the event an official order requires the district to offer remote instruction during the upcoming school year, it has been decided that the remote instruction will be provided by the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES and taught by BOCES instructors. So that families would be able to plan ahead, Tice noted that F-M educators will resume providing in-person instruction only.

More information about the district’s reopening plans will be shared with families during the summer recess.