Hunt District Advocacy
The Hunt District Advocacy Committee recently represented the Hunt District PTA at National PTA’s Annual Legislative Conference. We had the opportunity to attend advocacy workshops and participate in virtual meetings with the offices of several members of Congress, including Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Representatives Jennifer Wexton, Bobby Scott, and Morgan Griffith. During these meetings, we discussed the National PTA’s legislative priorities, including the need for funding for our school infrastructure, access to affordable Broadband, and legislation that would ban seclusion and restraint practices in our schools. For a complete list of National PTA’s legislative priorities and ways that you can get involved at the federal level, visit https://www.pta.org/home/advocacy.
At the local level, the Hunt District PTA Executive Board sent a letter to the School Board and Acting Superintendent Dr. Zeigler requesting that Loudoun County Public Schools develop protocols and recommendations to resume artistic outlets for our students at this time, similar to the way protocols and guidelines have been implemented for our sports programs. In our letter, we acknowledged the positive impact of the arts on our students and stressed the importance of ensuring that all schools have equal access and consistent practices regarding their in-person artistic opportunities. We shared examples of several successful local programs and provided links to guidelines from reputable organizations that utilize CDC recommendations to create best practices for reopening performing arts programs. If this is something you support, we encourage you to reach out to your School Board member to share your personal experiences with this issue and advocate for any changes you would like to see. Contact info for School Board members can be found at https://www.lcps.org/Page/226240
Advocacy Committee Chair
Hunt District Advocacy
The Hunt District PTA has been invited to participate in a special focus group with the consulting firm hired to assist in the search for a new Superintendent. We are excited to have an active role in identifying the characteristics we would like to see in the candidate ultimately chosen to lead LCPS into the future. We encourage all PTA members to take an active role in this search process as opportunities arise to be involved, and as leaders, we encourage you to advertise those opportunities with your members.
LCPS Superintendent Survey (deadline extended to Feb 17)
LCPS Public Forums:
Virginia PTA Advocacy
Virginia PTA’s Capitol Day efforts are in the final stretch. Governor Northam’s recent call for a special session will extend the General Assembly’s work until March 1st, so there is still time to make your voice heard! We are tracking budget amendments related to school counselors, teacher pay, rainy day reserves and funding losses linked to decreased student enrollment. There are also opportunities to advocate for Broadband affordability and accessibility, funding for unified mental health team positions, improved school nurse staffing ratios, investment in early childhood education and childcare, and funding to implement recommendations to improve IEP’s for our students who receive special education services. We are also watching legislation that would reduce SOL assessments to the federal minimum. For additional details on this pending legislation and specific action steps you can take, please see the latest Virginia PTA Advocacy Update.
For a complete recap of the General Assembly and to learn how you can bring advocacy efforts back to your school community, plan to attend Part Four of Virginia PTA’s advocacy webinar series on March 4th from 7:00-8:00 pm. To register, and view the previous webinars, visit https://www.vapta.org/advocacy/adv1/capitol-day.
Advocacy Committee Chair
At the local level, Director Kirsten Shabanowitz recently represented the Hunt District PTA at the LCPS Pathway to Equity Community Conversation on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between LCPS and the Leesburg Police Department and Loudoun County Sherriff’s Department. The panelists included representatives from MSAAC, SEAC, the Equity Committee, LCPS Senior Staff, the School Board, Department of Criminal Justice, the Commonwealth Attorney for Loudoun County and the Leesburg Police and Loudoun Sheriff's Offices. The conversation highlighted the roles of SROs in schools, accountability within the MOU, implicit bias and cultural competence training and how communities can be aware of this information.
We encourage our PTA leaders to:
Virginia PTA Capital Day
All Hunt District PTA leaders and members are invited to participate in Virginia PTA’s 2021 Capital Day activities! It is a great year to participate since everything is virtual…so no need to drive to Richmond. The activities will occur over the course of several weeks in January and February, beginning with a 4-part Learning Lab series that kicks off on January 7th. Then, on January 14th, Virginia PTA will hold its virtual rally – be sure to follow the Hunt District PTA’s Facebook page to see how you can participate. And most importantly, we will be hosting Community Conversations with our local delegates and senators to discuss PTA priorities that are important to you, your students, and your school families. For more information and to register, visit the Advocacy page on the Virginia PTA website.
Virginia PTA Resolutions Submission
Last call for Virginia PTA Resolutions! Do you know of an issue or concern that affects children and youth statewide and would benefit from a statewide solution? If so, consider writing a resolution to address that issue. January 11th is the submission deadline for resolutions to be considered at the March 2021 Virginia PTA Annual Meeting. For additional information, visit https://www.vapta.org/advocacy/adv3/resolutions-main or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocacy Committee Chair
There have been several important changes regarding distance and hybrid learning options in Loudoun County since our last update. We encourage you to support the advocacy efforts of your members by helping to keep them informed of these changes.
On October 27th, students in Grades PK-2 and English Learners (Proficiency 1.0-1.9) whose families previously chose hybrid returned to school for in-person instruction two days per week.
On November 10th, the Loudoun County School Board voted to approve the implementation of Stage 3 of the hybrid model. As a result, students in Grades 3-5, seniors at the Academy of Engineering and Technology, and seniors at the Academy of Science whose families previously chose hybrid will return for in-person instruction two days per week beginning on December 1st.
The School Board also approved the implementation of Stage 4 of the hybrid model on January 21st , the first day of second semester. In Stage 4, all students in grades PK-12 who choose hybrid will attend school for two days per week of in-person synchronous instruction and two days per week of distance synchronous instruction. Mondays will remain asynchronous for all students. In addition, the Board approved the concurrent learning model for middle and high school students during second semester. Concurrent learning involves direct instruction and interactive learning for both hybrid and distance learning participants at the same time and in the same class. As a result, there should be minimal disruption to student schedules and teaching will be continuous throughout the week for both hybrid and distance learners. The Board also directed LCPS to reduce the space between desks from 8 feet to 6 feet from center to center if the demand for hybrid necessitates this change. This change could result in additional quarantines, should a student test positive.
All families are currently being asked to complete a survey to select either distance learning or hybrid for their students for second semester. The survey opened on November 11th and will close November 20th. Every family will need to make a new selection even if they plan to continue in the learning method they previously selected. Any family that does not respond will be placed in hybrid by default. We encourage you to remind your families to complete their surveys by November 20th.
ACTION ITEM:On November 9th, the Hunt District PTA sent an email to Superintendent Williams and the School Board encouraging them to provide specific metrics, such as percent positive and case number ranges, that would clearly identify when LCPS would determine it safe for students and staff to be learning in-person versus learning online. Several other jurisdictions around the state are currently relying on such metrics to make these decisions and we provided some of those examples for reference. We stressed the importance of clearly communicating these guidelines with families and staff, especially as families prepare to make their learning format selections for the second semester. We are happy to report that the School Board will address the issue of metrics at their next meeting.
The next School Board meeting is scheduled for December 1st at 4:00pm. Visit https://www.lcps.org/Page/226240 to see additional info from the November 10th meeting, watch videos of previous meetings or live stream upcoming meetings, and access contact info for School Board members. This continues to be a busy time for advocacy…stay informed and stay involved to ensure your voice is heard.
There continue to be many opportunities for advocacy as we head into the fall. Here are a few things you can do to as local PTA leaders to support our students and our schools in the Hunt District:
LOUDOUN COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
On Tuesday October 13, Loudoun County Public Schools welcomed some special education students back into classrooms. Previously, only students enrolled in MATA were receiving in-person instruction.
At the School Board meeting, Dr. Williams presented a 3 Option proposal for returning all additional hybrid students to schools. Possible dates include:
OCTOBER 27, 2020 - Grades PK, K-2 and English Learners Proficiency level 1.0-1.9
DECEMBER 1, 2020 - Grades 3-5 and AET/AOS Seniors.
JANUARY 21, 2021 - All secondary hybrid students
There were several motions made by School Board members to return hybrid students sooner than the proposed plan, however all motions failed to pass.
To review the documents presented, the remaining agenda items which will be discussed when the School Board reconvenes on Monday Oct 19 at 6pm, and watch the meeting recording, please visit LCPS Board Docs
**A new feature in the video recordings available on Board Docs allows you to select the agenda item you wish to view, rather than watching the entire video.**
To contact the Loudoun County School Board to make comments or share your concerns:
LCPS Superintendent Eric.Williams@lcps.org
All School Board Members email@example.com
Denise Corbo (at large) Denise.Corbo@lcps.org
Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian) Atoosa.Reaser@lcps.org
Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) Harris.Mahedavi@lcps.org
Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) Ian.Serotkin@LCPS.org
Leslee King (Broad Run) Leslee.King@lcps.org
John Beatty (Catoctin) John.Beatty@lcps.org
Jeff Morse (Dulles) Jeff.Morse@lcps.org
Beth Barts (Leesburg) Beth.Barts@lcps.org
Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) Brenda.Sheridan@lcps.org
GET OUT THE VOTE
With the upcoming 2020 elections just a few weeks away, now is a great time for local leaders to share important voting information with your school community to ensure that all our members’ voices are represented. Here are some important dates to pass along:
As learning becomes more and more dependent on accessible high-speed internet, ensuring that our students have access to broadband service is an issue of equity in education. On October 7, 2020, Governor Northam allocated $30 million in federal CARES Act funding to fast-track broadband projects throughout the state. Localities are eligible to apply for this funding. You can advocate for the broadband needs of your students by emailing the Board of Supervisors to ask how they will partner with local Internet Service Providers to expand broadband in your community and encourage them to consider applying for this funding.
RETURN TO SCHOOL – NEW PANDEMIC DASHBOARD
As the School Board continues to discuss plans to return our students to the classroom, there is a new tool available to assist with decision-making and advocacy efforts. The Virginia Department of Health launched a Pandemic Metrics Dashboard that includes color coded school metrics based on the dashboard previously released by the CDC. This was a key priority in Virginia PTA’s Return to School Position Statement and we believe the data provided should support the work of the school division, as well as your advocacy efforts, on this issue.
Advocacy Committee Chair
is year, more than ever, advocacy is critical to fulfilling the PTA’s mission of making every child’s potential a reality. We must recognize that many of our families are struggling to ensure their children get a quality education in the current environment. As PTA leaders, we have an opportunity to address these struggles by advocating for all our students and engaging and empowering our families and our communities to do the same.
While advocacy can sometimes seem intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. If you have ever addressed a concern with your child’s teacher or your school’s principal, then you have experience with advocacy. Here are a few specific ways you can be an advocate this year:
Calling all Advocates!! It's time to Rally for Education!!
We are asking YOU to join the Virginia PTA and our coalition partners at Fund Our Schools VA in our Virtual Rally that will occur as the Virginia General Assembly convenes for its Special Session next week.
All you need to do is snap a picture of yourself holding a sign or record a 20 second video requesting support for your top legislative priority from the list below and post it to your social media accounts beginning on August 18. Be sure to tag your legislators in your posts to make sure they get the message and use the following: #FundReturn2School #FundNotFreeze #VAPTAAdvocacy
#TakeAction4Kids. Calls and e-mails to your legislators are also encouraged!
Choose from the following legislative priorities that Virginia PTA is advocating for during the Special Session:
- Restore the $500M of K-12 funding that was unallotted in April
- Fund $600M for flexible K-12 pandemic response
- Accelerate funding for high-speed broadband
- Restore $50M for school counselors
- Provide a registered school nurse for every school
- Improve accessibility of licensed, affordable childcare
- Increase availability of rapid COVID-19 testing
- Fund compensatory services for students
- Provide adequate sanitizing and safety equipment for schools
- Ensure school meals are provided during school closures
- Provide needed support for low income families
New to advocacy and have questions....well, we have answers:
What is the General Assembly Special Session and why does it matter?
Governor Northam has called the General Assembly to come together for a Special Session to adopt the state's 2020-2022 budget. Adoption of the 2-year budget was delayed earlier this year due to changes in projected revenue and expenses as a result of the pandemic. As the General Assembly decides what to cut and what to fund during this fiscal crisis, it is more important than ever that we advocate for adequate funding for education, especially funds that will allow us to safely return to school.
What are Virginia PTA's legislative priorities for the Special Session and how do I know which one to mention in my post?
Virginia PTA is advocating for the list of items below. As with any advocacy, the most effective issues you can support are the ones that personally affect you or that you feel passionate about. Pick an issue from the list that matters to you, your children, and/or your school community. Then share your relevant experience directly with your legislator in the form of a social media post, call or e-mail and explain why it is important that your issue is funded. You will have IMPACT!
How do I find out who my legislators are?
Visit https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/ and enter your address. For this Virtual Rally, you should reach out specifically to your State Delegate and State Senator. A quick search of their name on your preferred social media platform will direct you to their accounts for tagging and tweeting.
Still have questions? Reach out to Laura Espiritu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the State and County continue to address plans to reopen schools this fall, the Hunt District PTA recently sent letters to our state and local officials to share the Virginia PTA's Position Statement on the Reopening of Schools.
At the State level, we highlighted the need for clearly defined triggers to identify the start and end of each phase for planning purposes, emergency state funding to enable school divisions to safely reopen schools, new flexible sick/leave policies, and improved access to childcare to support our families and staff.
At the local level, we highlighted the need for clear communication regarding instruction and cleaning protocols, guaranteed flexible scheduling options for staff with high risk health conditions, access to high speed internet access for all students, and improved access to childcare.
In addition, we also sent a letter to Superintendent Dr. Wiiliams, LCPS senior staff, and the School Board with a list of unanswered questions gathered from PTA leaders throughout the County. We emphasized the importance of transparent communication utilizing multiple platforms and translation services to effectively relay all information to the community.
To all of our wonderful community advocates...keep asking questions, proposing solutions, and making your voices heard! While we are currently faced with so many obstacles and unknowns, your efforts, in partnership with our elected officials and school division leaders, will create the best possible outcome for our students, families, and staff.
The next LCPS School Board meeting is scheduled for July 21, 2020. Agendas are posted in Board Docs the Friday before. Be sure to tune in.