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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

city education

MCCSC school board introduces redistricting resolution, union discussion bylaw

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In a meeting Tuesday, members of the MCCSC Board of Trustees introduced redistricting policy after last meeting’s debate on how to balance socioeconomic status, discussed a new bylaw to support the teachers’ union and heard a presentation on potential litigation. They also adopted new antiracism policies, discussed state legislative session bills they’re concerned about and gave an update on the MCCSC strategic plan. 

The MCCSC’s goal is to have a plan to balance socioeconomic status in the district by June, the new resolution said, so they can ideally move to implement it in the 2025-26 school year. The MCCSC’s five-year strategic plan made equity a major goal, but right now, there’s a 64% socioeconomic deficit between the highest and lowest free and reduced lunch populations.  

MCCSC parent Dani Raymond came to the meeting in support of redistricting as a way to balance inequity. 

“I think we have an incredible opportunity with this school board and this leadership to create something incredible in this community,” Raymond said. “It is clear that there is in fact, inequity across our elementary schools that does need to get solved, and I'm here to back that 100%. But I'm here to do that in a way that builds community support.” 

After hearing community feedback on elementary school merger plans at last month’s board of school trustees meeting, board members suggested the district consider redistricting alongside or instead of merging schools. Elementary school zones haven’t been significantly changed since 1997, according to the redistricting resolution. 

The resolution to begin the rezoning process was read for the first time, discussed and adopted at Tuesday’s meeting. Now that the process has been started, the board will start looking for experts in demography, population and districting to develop redistricting criteria. 

The board also revealed a new bylaw meant to support teachers’ unions. It states that the school corporation “shall meet and confer with the exclusive representative” regarding teacher working conditions and student learning. This would largely affect union bargaining, as this discussion would include hours, compensation and teacher evaluation, among other aspects. 

“Shall” in that sentence is more important than it may appear: State law recently shifted to using the word “may,” which could allow school districts to work around unions. The board’s new bylaw is intended to hold MCCSC administration and the board accountable. 

“Even while the state legislature has been continually chipping away at the autonomy of teachers in their profession,” board member Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer said. “We at least as a school district can affirm our support for their voice being involved in the process and not making unilateral decisions without that process and that structure in place.” 

Board members also heard a presentation about a potential piece of litigation the school board could be involved in. Lawyer Austin Brane from Wagstaff & Cartmell invited the MCCSC to participate in a nationwide lawsuit against Meta, TikTok and other social media companies for their role in causing a youth mental health crisis.  

The board did not take any action Tuesday, but they must decide if they’ll participate before the end of the school year. MCCSC participated in a similar lawsuit against the electronic cigarette company JUUL led by Brane in 2021. 

Policies on antiracism were adopted on their second reading. The policies detail antiracism commitments and accountability measures, and expand current student policy to faculty and support staff. It also recommends prevention through education. 

Near the end of the meeting, assistant secretary Ashley Pirani reported on pieces of state legislation she was concerned about. Pirani is the legislative liaison for the board, meaning she follows statehouse happenings to inform the rest of the board. 

Pirani’s biggest focus was Senate Bill 1, which would tighten third grade retention policy. She also brought up bills such as Senate Bill 128, which would restrict human sexuality instruction, and House Bill 1137, which would allow students to leave for religious education and which recently added language from Senate Bill 50, which would allow chaplains in public schools. 

MCCSC Director of Educational Technology & Communications Alexis Harmon presented how the district is fulfilling the communications goals of the strategic plan. The school district is increasing translation services, starting the switch to communication platform ParentSquare and taking student and faculty feedback. 

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