SBDM Meeting Notes: February 16, 2021
Hello LPAS Families and Friends! Below are my notes from the February 16th 2021 LPAS SBDM meeting.
Note: I’m one of two parent reprensentatives, so my notes are slanted towards parent/family topics. As far as notes go, they are probably incomplete, and are definitely not “official”. Official agendas and approved minutes are posted on the LPAS SBDM page and JCPS SBDM Council and Standing Committee Minutes site.
- Playground equipment is now complete. Thank you PTA!
- Shoutout to Ms. Jones for her Minecraft Clubs!
- Also: Student Spotlight is a hit.
- The LPAS SBDM page has been updated with all dates and easy links to Agendas and Minutes
Not much on comittee reports - admins have been asked to focus on back to school planning.
CSIP Survey may move to the fall. If done in spring it will be abbreviated. Ms. Case hopes it happens in the fall during “back to school” so it won’t be affected by NTI.
Backpack of Success. If you are interested in reviewing Backpacks, you can do so! (I’m waiting to get a link for this)
Racial Equity is continuing with staff discussions of “So You Want to Talk About Race”. “A lot of good questions and conversations happening” and that she is seeing a lot of teachers relating it to real-world classroom situations.
Welcome Frank Goodlow - our new attendance clerk!
A first grade teaching position has been open since the beginning of the year. Since it was beyond the “transfer period” they are currently in the lookback process, school must interview 8 people, including the person currently in the position.
In addition, one of our 4th/5th split teachers has resigned last week, and Ms. Case has reached out to all families of students affected. Hiring freeze coming up in March. There will be a sub remainder of this year.
Note: See below for an update for ESL teaching related to budget.
Student Achievement Updates
732 books read last week “They are reading!!”
Not a lot of movement since school isn’t spending money. LPAS spent money on school supplies (non-COVID-related) earlier in the year. They are working on having “individual schools supplies” for a return to school.
The Budget due March 15th, one day prior to our regular March meeting. So the week of 8th we will hold an early special meeting. Ms. Case will provide a “narrative” on the budget so that Council members do not need to parse line-by-line each budget item.
Due to LPAS’ relatively low ESL (English as a Second Language) student-teacher ratio (“roughly half compared to the rest of the district” per Mr. Evans), and the way that LPAS is lottery-assigned students, we will be losing one of the three ESL staff we currently have. In short - under prior non-lottery student assignement plans, LPAS and JCPS had more control over the number of ESL students who were admitted. With a random lottery, the demographics are a random sampling of applicants, so staffing related to those demographics will also change.
As we recently completed a principal selection, our Principal Selection Policy was reviewed. Most Council members agreed that the policy and the process was not in need of major change, as the process went smoothly. However, we did receive some pointed feedback from the school community regarding the makeup of the Interview Committee (which is the Council itself, excluding the existing principal, plus “three additional members” chosen by Council). Our policy states that the Council “will ensure a diverse representation.” The Council felt that we did this well during our last process, choosing a Committee that was diverse in race, gender, administration vs teacher, arts vs traditional. However, we agreed that as a magnet, this can be tough requirement to fill. Should we expand this to more than three? Should we require “arts” and “administration” (e.g. a counselor)? We are getting feedback from the district in regards to that. We’ll have feedback on that ahead of the second reading next month.
JCPS has also asked us to consider adding “Policy Waivers” to our Bylaws. This would allow “in extenuating circumstances” a Council to waive Council policies for a period of time. The practical guidance from JCPS has pretty light here - but we were made to understand this was allow Councils to respond to COVID-like events. As an example: suspending the “Dress Code Policy” due to everyone being remote. The example language stated that “by majority vote” a Council could waive a policy for an amount of time, and they could do so within the span of a single meeting, instead of the two meetings required by SBDM rules. I felt like this was a dramatic power to hand to a Council (or the majority of a Council), so we should definitely put limits to it. So, I suggested a couple of things: 1) that it be larger than a majority 2) there be limits to the length of a waiver. Mr. Evans suggested that instead of those things that waivers would need to be reviewed and extended month to month. That seems simple and fair, and we are set to do another reading of this next month (possibly after we seek guidance from our JCPS SBDM liasion)
All of the Principal Selection documents (council statement, survey results, etc) have been linked in the December 15, 2020 meeting minutes which you can now find through the new SBDM Minutes link on the LPAS SBDM Page - officially closing out that process.
In addition, Ms. Case mentioned that she will be changing up the SBDM Policies link “over the summer” to link to individual policies. Currently it’s one big, non-searchable PDF of all the policies (though they are in alphabetical order).
New Business AKA Reopening
While I hadn’t expected to be discussing LPAS’ reopening plans this evening (it’s not really in SBDM’s purview) - Ms. Case did state that LPAS has been working on their reopening plan, offered details and answered a number of questions from both parents and teacher representatives.
This was very welcome - as I mentioned later to Ms. Case, the amount of official communication from LPAS or JCPS to parents has been minimal, while the amount of questions, concerns and private chatter regarding reopening is voluminous. Whatever she or JCPS can do to communicate with parents would be appreciated, and would go a long way to tamping down speculation and setting expectations.
There was a lot of detail, and I’m going to miss much of it, but here are my notes around the conversation:
- Ms. Roth asked what is the current percentage of students expected to return to LPAS. Currently it is 70% in-person, 30% remote. (FYI JCPS is publishing those states in real(?) time here, for each school )
- 70% equates to roughly 20 students per classroom.
- Ms. Case offered this assessment of just how many students LPAS can safely handle by saying that “if we go from 68% to 83%” LPAS could not do that - they don’t have the space.
- LPAS’ reopening plan is due for presentation to staff by the end of next week (2/26). (Note: Dr. Pollio said later that evening that ‘the third week of March’ would be the earliest elementary would reopen)
- They are attempting to effect all mitigation efforts possible. For example, all round “preschool” tables are being removed in favor of solo, front-facing desks (“kids facing one another is a ‘big no-no’”)
- Ms. Craven asked about how student “Choices” (arts electives) in 4th/5th grade would affect contact tracing/cohorting.
- Band and Chorus will continue. “They can play for 30 minutes”. When I asked, Ms. Case stated that they are following NAfME/KMEA protocols and she was familiar with these from her prior role at YPAS.
- Per Ms. Case, classrooms that have different groups of students shuttling in/out (e.g. Dance) will end 5 minutes early and staff will work to disinfect the rooms. Ms. Case stated that staff includes the teacher, the principal, counselors, whomever they have.
- Teachers who “have a need” to be virtual, LPAS is going to try to make them virtual-only teachers, housing them solo in the building.
Ms. Case did not offer her opinion on reopening, but did note that the high percentage of students returning to in-person school at LPAS does put them in very clear jeopardy of running afoul of CDC social distancing guidelines. “It’s a double-edged sword”.
I share her concerns and I think the JCPS Board and teachers do as well, hence the delay of a recommendation. There are real, physical limitations to JCPS’ ability to hit the CDC guidelines. So either we reopen and fudge those guidelines or… the buildings get bigger and buses aren’t used? (On buses, Ms. Case noted that that is not the responsbility of the individual schools, but rather JCPS).
Those concerns and challenges aside - I feel confident that the staff at LPAS is preparing as best they can for what appears to be an imminent return to in-person school. It’s a whirlwind of shifting guidelines, science and recommendations, and it’s largely out of individual school control. But they can plan and prep, and so they are.
I appreciate the candor and transparency in her remarks - and I hope we will hear more soon. As a reminder, JCPS is hosting a Virtual Town Hall, Thursday, February 18 at 6PM to discuss reopening. You can watch it live on youtube.com/jcpsweb and they will be providing a “text line…for you to text in your questions”.
See you in March!