School board director Jenn Mason visits with Birchwood Promise K students in October 2022

Q. Recently the school board revised a policy related to maintaining and protecting its properties and assets (executive limitations 9) to include sustainability standards. Can you tell me more about these changes to EL-9?
Jenn: I think the revision of EL-9 helps to better reflect the work the district is doing around sustainability and to push ourselves to do even more. This work has been happening over many years but this policy revision creates a space for us to intentionally make it a more permanent part of the board’s review of our policies and systems.
This addition also recognizes that we live in a community that cares a lot about sustainability. This is an important accountability measure, and I’m excited for the district to showcase the work we are doing.

Q. Across our schools, we are taking steps to be more proactive with inclusionary practices for all students, including those served in Special Education. Why is this an important time for us to be focused on inclusion?

Jenn: Every student who comes to our schools is unique, and historically, our public schools across the country have not done a great job including kids with disabilities. As our district has continued to better support these kids, we are also seeing the need for an expanded definition of inclusion. I think it’s easy to be focused on policies around inclusion, but so much of our inclusion work is related to our practices and what happens in our schools every day.
As a parent, I’ve been seeing evidence of this work in progress, and we are making great strides to better include all students. I think we have done amazing work in this area and there is still a lot to be done. We need to be creative with the resources we have to ensure all students have an excellent experience at school.

Q. When you think back to the last few years during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the start of the 2022-23 school year, what are some things you have observed?

Jenn: This fall has been the most normal start to a school year we have had recently. It’s really nice to see more faces without masks! There are fewer concerns about scheduling changes, being remote, being in person and all the unpredictability we experienced earlier in the pandemic. I have noticed the joyful aspects of school are back and there’s a lot more connection. A significant part of being in a school community is being able to connect in person with students, staff and families.
There is an undercurrent of the impacts of COVID and all of us redefining what is normal. I spend a lot of time noticing where we are at, both as a school board member and in other areas of my life, and considering how we continue to move forward.

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