A message from Executive Director
To BPAA Members:
I had hoped that by now we would be well on our way to a re-opening plan that was defined and clear but that is simply not the case and to make matters worse, it appears that our numbers of people contracting Covid-19 are on the rise. In the midst of this pandemonium, you are all caught in the crosshairs between tough decisions and impossible decisions. I know that you are making every effort to plan for the coming year, whether it be offering a full compendium of in-person classes, a hybrid of online and in-person, or a complete virtual experience for students. You are doing this planning with virtually no information, little direction, and no clarity on when such information might be forthcoming. There is a reason for that and its a simple one. No one really knows what to do. The truth is that the Administration is doing its level best to navigate waters that no one has ever navigated. While that does not alleviate your burden and stress, it may be small comfort to know that while trying to put on the face of calm preparation, the folks in KCW are no more clear about the best way to proceed than you are. Some small mercies are the creation of a parent and teacher/staff survey so that at least you can obtain data that suggests where you might need to deploy resources in what amounts to a handful of days to come, but it is clear in the discussions at the Board and Superintendent level that each School must determine what is the best course given what choices your parents and students intend to make.
Assuming the resources will be available, (and right now it would appear that Tallahassee is moving forward to honor the budget approved prior to COVID outbreak which is positive) you should not be facing severe budget cuts. Notwithstanding the White House announced today that all federal funds will be withheld from school districts that don't "fully reopen" whatever that means.......you should have resources to deploy. Now, the question is, will they be the right resources that you actually need. There are major unknowns at this point such as Union Contract matters, will training be adequate and will training be inclusive enough to cover the broad array of needs, will you be able to flex your space, will students from other boundaries be put in your school, will some of your students be spread to other schools and the list goes on and on.
I know many of you are lying awake at night trying to figure out the best way to be prepared and ready come August. All I can tell you is this......You are not alone. You are not going to be expected to perform miracles and create resources that don't exist. The best any of you can do is to pay attention to the incredible speed at which decisions are being made, decisions are being changed, and decisions are being rejected. Become very aware of your own data and what your parents are thinking. Be very aware of the benefits and the constraints of your physical campus. Be very aware of the limitations and gifts that your Faculty and Staff demonstrate. Be ready to respond and the best way to do that is to be informed. Listen to the weekly Board Meetings. Yes, by virtue of their very length, they are tedious to listen to, but it is vital to hear the evolution of policy and direction that is being taken by the various departments. You will be ahead of the curve if you stay informed.
OSPA downloads an incredible amount of information to you on a regular basis. That is the expectation of OSPA so try to be patient with the ever-changing demands and requests as it is difficult at best to get you prepared but that is what they are trying to do. Read the operational notes, don't just listen to the team's calls. From time to time I have received a copy of the evolution of these notes and I have to read and re-read these four and five times and I still miss things in the document. Listening once is not sufficient for you to keep up with this fluid process and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give a copy of these operational notes to Assistant Principals and anyone else on your administrative team that needs to understand what is happening moment to moment.
You simply can't prepare in the normal old ways. No matter how many hours you spend on budgets and schedules, it won't be enough to get it right. This is not to say do nothing, don't plan, but for all you type A overachievers out there, you guys are going to be exhausted before the year has even begun if you try to chase this runaway train too far down the tracks. My best advice to you is to monitor and listen to School Board Meetings each Tuesday as they are now meeting weekly until the start of school and possibly beyond. Read and re-read and re-read again the memo's in pivot and operational notes from OSPA and SHARE THEM. Talk to your facilities and custodial crews about space utilization. No one knows your spaces better and can advise you on how to best use and then sanitize for safety. There is a rumor that orders for Plexiglas at your front offices will be fulfilled so think about getting on that if you have not already. Your SAC teams might be a good resource in terms of what the parents are feeling and thinking in terms of your specific school - what issues might they raise concerns about beyond the general ones?
Join us on BPAA Zoom calls. We will be setting one up in the very near future for people to brainstorm and share concerns so make sure to join us and lend your voice. No one has the right answers and no one will so it will be up to you to define what the future looks like in terms of your school site. I know and trust that each and every one of you has the right stuff to get us through this pandemic in such a way that supports our students, parents, staff, and community. Please reach out to us if we can help you in any way.
Broward Principals' and Assistants' Association Executive Director