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    June 18, 2019 Site Council Meeting

    In Attendance—
    Teachers/Staff: Lisa Calvert; David Swanson; Maria Callahan; Lara Sendjaja; Josh Colwell; Melissa Sire; Ginny Allemann; Katie Zissermann; Kathleen Elsenboss; Liz McCormack; Debbie Kosman; Julie Clayton; Cindy Deshler
    Administration: Kim Sciarrone, Assistant Principal; Chris Cordell, Assistant Principal

    Parents: Kaori Tanaka, Chair; Elizabeth Corman, Vice Chair; Lisa Anacker, Co-Treasurer; Tim Fonken, Co-Treasurer; Beck Weinhold; Jessica Knaster Wasse; Liz Benko; Erin Shade; Elizabeth Duffell; Brad Wilke; Leslie Kot; Megan Tremain; Angela Hyland; Andrea Mann; Julie Houser; Jen Chan; Jesica Avellone; Malia Oliver; Anna Marshall; Kc Potter de Haan; Amelia McGee; Jessica Williams-Nguyen; Melissa Alexander; Anna Farr; Kristy Copeland; Robin Belz; Cassie Condon; Gregory Lorenz; Chelsea Lin; Jenny Pinto; Leimomi Felice; Satcha Dearborn Graham; David Simonton; Tristan Osborn; Susan Callari; Lisa Berman; Cathy Reidy Liermann; Tina Watkinson; Dontf Jacobson; Emily Mitchell; Whitney Gregory; Stacey Seifert; Mike Alexander

    Minutes taken by: Robin Belz

    Call to Order – Kaori Tanaka

    Want to start with some thanks. Thank you to everyone for all that you do. With this continued engagement, feel confident that we’ll continue to keep school on positive track for kids to learn and grow for 6 formative years they spend here. So many more things I wish I could have accomplished. Special thank-you to Elizabeth Corman, vice chair. She worked really hard and kept me on track, the two of us balanced each other out. With all the in-process gatherings, connections, and engagement, I hope we can continue to build our school in the image we want.

     Tim Fonken, Co-treasurer: Many parents in and out of room want to say thank you to Kaori & Elizabeth. You two have led very capably in a very difficult year. You’ve lead with a great generosity of spirit and obvious love of our school. I have loved working with both of you and loved watching how you partner and brought your respective strengths to each thing you took on. Presented thank-you flowers.

    Approval of May Meeting Minutes

    Are there any correction to be made to the May meeting minutes?

    Parent asked for more details about last sentence of 3rd paragraph of page 3. Elizabeth explained that she talked to Ronald Boy, legal counsel for Seattle Public Schools, and he recommended that the April 5, 2019 letter to all TC staff from Clover Todd, Chief Human Resource Officer at Seattle Public Schools, not be attached to the
    minutes. Parent stated that she had talked to Ronald Boy earlier in the day and he had suggested something different to her and went on to say that all she has gotten this year is suppression of information, including from within the EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) committee. People don’t want Christina Ellis to come to school, they don’t want the cherry pie document to come out. I’m asking you, Jessica, as new Site Council chair to stop the suppression of information.

    Parent comment: Wondering if it’s possible for you to provide concrete examples of information suppression.

     Response: The idea that we can’t attach this letter to the minutes even after I clarified with legal counsel today. People didn’t want to link to cherry pie document. EDI didn’t want Christina to come. Feels it’s a complete pattern of information suppression.

    Multiple parents responded that that wasn’t a true statement. People didn’t think an EDI meeting was the appropriate forum, felt Q&A with Christina should happen at another time.

    Initial parent: There is a pattern of managing anti-blackness. “Don’t talk about it, don’t talk about it.” It’s the same response Christina got last year when she raised issues of racism.

    Parent comment: I raised an email hand against posting letter to the TC website because this is a document that’s a letter between two other parties. The letter is not to us or from us.

    Parent response: I respect what you’re saying, but I don’t agree. When teachers have been found to violate HIB policy, I want to know about it. For me, it’s a big deal. I do understand what you’re saying.

    Teacher comment: We’ve asked for clarification from the district. The wording of the letter was confusing. There was not a HIB investigation of staff. HIB investigations were of individuals (though confidential). As for the language, “It is without dispute,” it is without our ability to dispute. They are unable to describe any of what was in my head at that point. No one did that investigation. It’s an impossible situation for staff to put the letter out because we can’t respond. You can try us for the next 5 years; we won’t be able to respond.

    Comment: There are more letters from the district that not everyone has seen.

    Teacher comment: Would like to request Chris & Kim to step in and speak to the fact that there have been requests for mediation that haven’t been followed through with.

    Chris’s response: I don’t talk a lot at these meetings. This is my first year here. Any time I open up my public computer and type an email, I know the public can request it. Everyone is going to have their own bias and interpretation of anything published. Withholding information and publishing excerpts is confusing.

    Parent comment: The letter does not represent disciplinary action. No evidence of race playing a role was found. The excerpt read in the May Site Council meeting stopped short of the statement that there was no evidence of race playing a role.

    Parent comment: The sour tone of last year that’s hovering over this community is not helping. What is it going to take for all of us to be working together? Rehashing things every month has not been helpful. Lashing out at each other is not healthy or helpful. The district has great responsibility here.

    Bring it back to objection re: last month’s meeting minutes.

    Motion made that we’re not going to attach letter because it doesn’t tell the whole story; it’s an excerpt of a larger story.

    Question posed as to whether there were objections to this motion, and several people responded with a yes.

    Teacher comment: Hearing the next day about the reading of part of the letter in the May Site Council meeting felt like public shaming. That is why there is reticence to publish the document. We’re completely shocked and cannot believe that was read out loud. I don’t even know how you got the letter. I don’t understand why teachers are continually having to sit and be quiet and be publicly shamed. That is the reticence to linking to the letter.

    Decision: Minutes not passed. This is obviously still an open and very tough subject.

    Kaori: I’ve been reluctant to weigh in feeling as chair I should remain neutral. I felt this version of minutes was ok because it listed who letter was from and who letter was to. I believe staff haven’t been able to speak freely about many things. I really did not think that having this out there without staff having format or venue to be able to speak to their experience was the right course of action. I don’t want to shut conversation down, but we have a lot of other agenda items to go over as well. Discussion can be continued via email.

    Administration’s report: Jon unable to come, feeling under the weather. Chris gave report.

    *400 solar panels are being installed upstairs.
    *Enrollment at 591. Projection is 597.
    *Hiring updates:
    -Preschool special ed position—Marina
    -Laurie & Beckie – two hired intermediate teachers (4th/5th/3rd)
    (Chris sat on all three interviews. Thank you to parent volunteers who participated in process. Believes they’ve found really good people.)
    -Admin secretary—still waiting on paperwork to be finalized, but verbal confirmation has come through.
    -HR directions—counselor will be referred over to us and we will be meeting with displaced staff.
    -Preschool position open—interviewed last Friday, offered position.

    *Jon gave him list of events at TC--Harvest festival, Winter Bazaar, Field Day, Art Night, Talent Night---all of events not possible without families.

    Chris comes from a lot of Title 1 schools. Thank you so much for ability to be here on nights like this. Different experience from what he’s had in the past. There has been and continues to be lots of conflict: how can we harness all of this energy for the kids?

    *A bunch of us going to RC training July 9-12---Robyn, Jon, new interventionist.
    *Explore possibility with Steve of heading to Atlanta for EL conference. Hoping to see about potential funding for consultant from EL organization.
    *Special thanks to 5th grade families.
    *Looking forward to a new year.
    *Congratulations to PTA elected officials. And Site Council.

    Anna Marshall, Hiring Committee Co-Chair: Met with Jon on Friday. What is process going to be for counselor hire?

    Response: Small group to meet with counselor. Meet & greet to see if it’s a good fit. CBA trumps hiring waiver because many counselors lost jobs in budget cuts.

    Question: Are we at 0.5FTE counselor for next year?
    Response: 0.8FTE.

    Question: Can we not open to pool of candidates?
    Response: District is going to send over a person and we aren’t obligated to take them.

    Treasurers’ Report—Tim Fonken & Lisa Anacker

    Purpose of review is to pass the 2019-2020 TCPG budget. We’ll discuss what needs to be discussed and then vote to pass the budget as the bylaws require.

    Plan is to focus on big stuff this evening. Everyone welcome to ask questions. The whole reason a budget this size exists is that it enables us to support the school.

    Expenses:

    Working with BLT. They and Jon needed to figure out prioritization since there aren’t unlimited resources. Have asked for us to fund 0.2FTE for 4/5 Interventionist. Chorale music (represents half since cost is shared between classroom fees & TCPG budget)—forced to figure out new relationship with Mary K because of district requirements. She’ll probably be here less than in past, agreement not reached yet though. Earmarking $30,000 ($15,000 from TCPG budget and $15,000 from classroom fees) total at this point.

    Academic assistants/hourly tutors—treasurers asked teachers if they could try to stay under a $100,000 cap. This was a sacrifice--represents a 15% cut in hours. This is the level at which we’d fund academic assistance in classrooms. Line 618 Counselor 0.3FTE supplemented by TCPG on top of 0.5FTE funding from district.

    Academic assistant/tutor comment: Respectfully ask someone in administration to be the contact person for tutors/academic assistants and not leave it up to the treasurers or teachers. Putting teachers in awkward place.

    Administration: Please clarify.

    Academic assistant/tutor response: Requesting that communication come from administration. Some academic assistants knew what was going on and some didn’t this year. They are not in it for money, in it for the love of children, and administration has made it very challenging this year.

    Chris, assistant principal, would love to be contact person and have closer relationship with academic assistants.

    Academic assistant/tutor (continued comment): It’s pretty disrespectful how we’re being treated by administration. If I sound angry, it’s because I am.

    Chris: We know you’re invaluable to us. Teachers could not agree more. I taught for a long time with 37 kids in classes with no help. I appreciate you.

    Kim: We entered a school with a longstanding tradition. We had no idea that academic assistants would be here day 1 of school.

    Academic assistant/tutor response: We talked about communication in November. A little concerned that there’s a lot of mouth but not a lot of follow-up.

    Question about Mary K/Classroom fees – changing process. Concerned about how classroom fees are described and whether all money will be collected.

    Tim: I have been thinking about this a lot and know of no ways to mitigate situation. Parent group might have to cover a shortfall next year. Would rather face that situation than wait until classroom fees situation is all sorted out.

    Question about note near art room budget and lack of increase. (check last month’s draft)

    Instrumental music: district pays for instrumental music starting in 5th grade. Funding pays for 0.1 additional FTE—half of a day per week. $13,400. Proposal is that 4th grade families who participate will bear all cost next year.

    Teacher comment: I was a parent on Site Council when TCPG began supporting additional time for the music teacher, and the motivation to support this through TCPG budget was to build a robust cohort of students who could enter middle school where music programs are important and could provide good social foundation in the new middle school setting. But recently, lots of kids drop throughout the year. If not accomplishing goal of keeping them in music, it’s defeating the purpose of encouraging them to play.

    Parent comment: Have two kids who both started 4th grade music. One plays in orchestra in middle school, but the other won’t. A half hour once/week is sometimes having the opposite of the intended effect—turning them off of music.

    Parent question: Do we have any data on what % of students started in 4th grade and what % of students don’t have access to music outside of school? Might help inform decision.

    Parent comment: Would love short description of instrumental music.

    Response: Optional, 30-minute lessons, kids in and out of room in 30-minute increments throughout the day when it’s music day. Families who opt in are the ones being asked to pay. Half day is free (paid by district). Not necessarily receiving instruction from someone who knows how to play the particular instrument well.

    Teacher’s explanation of the current proposal to Mary K—Mary K for K-3rd graders and for 4th & 5th graders, one rotation with Mary K and then 4-5 other artist in residency rotations (5-week sessions).

    Tim: What we pass isn’t set in stone. There are lots of great ideas for how to give access to music to students as early as possible. Proposal is to drop this line item to $0 for now.

    Income section of budget:

    Tim applied philosophy of moderate optimism when setting goals. For annual appeal, we hit $155K this year. Proposal is to shoot for $175K but not the $210K that was our goal this year. Bazaar left as is because it’s not intended to be a major fundraiser.

    (Recent BBQ fundraiser made $400.) Chelsea Lin is happy to be point person for such small fundraisers. Very small amount of work and could make a few thousand dollars each year. Other restaurants are also willing to do this.

    Scrip goal for next year is much lower than for this year. After meeting with Leslie & KC, it’s clear that this is a tiring program to support with the amount of detail. Don’t expect Leslie & KC to keep doing it. Need new blood and program needs to be revamped. If we’re going to continue to get money out of it, unless someone new approaches it with great energy, we should have modest expectations for what we’d make.

    KC: Do we know if PCC check has come in for the year? Anticipating that to be approximately $5,000. Target could be bumped up just a little with just PCC. Payment by cash and check seems to be going by wayside.

    Tim: Based on KC’s feedback, we’re going to bump scrip goal to $5,000.

    Parent questions: How much do staff gift giftcards bring in each year?

    Response: $300-400 for last order, so maybe $1,000 per year.

    Corporate donations/matches line item—again, applied moderate optimism goal, proposing target that is more than we brought in this year, but not as much as we budgeted to get this year.

    Line 6000 – amount we have to pull from savings to make budget balance

    Unless more questions or want to go through all small line items, let’s skip. Silence implies consent.

    Suggestion: Art room (Tim will add $2,000)

    Show of hands for those in favor of this being tcpg budget for next year? Lots of hands.

    Anyone who isn’t willing to go along with this budget? No

     Anyone in middle (not great, but I’ll go along with it)? No.

    Consider this budget passed.

    BLT/Staff Report
    BLT report provided by Ginny Allemann

    BLT is transitioning to new representatives, some of whom are identified and others are still being decided. Have been working on details related to TCPG budget. CSIP (Continuous School Improvement Plan) work finalized, with input from parents and also lots of teacher work. Decision-making matrix--voting on a revision that will be more usable on website. Voting on at staff meeting tomorrow.

    Hoping at meeting on Thursday to discuss follow up to audit findings.

    Katie, on behalf of staff, wants to thank Kaori & Elizabeth and SC chairs and all other amazing volunteers.

    5th grade panels—one of most amazing and enduring traditions at this school. Shout out to 5th grade teachers. Expedition night last night—thanks for coming, great to see all effort kids have put in, all learning they’ve done over year.

    This year for first time, handful of staff doing Obliteride. 6 people doing 50-mile ride. Business cards available if you want to support the team. Team name: Thornton Creek.

    Parent comment: Lissa Armato & Polk Prud’homme deserve a round of applause for coordinating 5th grade panels.

     Communications Committee—KC Potter de Haan

    KC read a statement. This school exists to prepare our children for a lifetime of creativity and collaboration. Over last 12 months, I’ve failed to build collaborative relationships around communication. I’m not comfortable continuing to invest my time in this endeavor. Looking forward to doing other important work with teachers, staff, and caregivers in our community.

    Wanted to make an addendum to minutes from last month.

    In 2010, TC school Facebook group started, over time came to be managed by alumni.

    Friends of TC Parent Group started in 2015 for current family members and staff. There are concerns regarding this forum: privacy, topics discussed don’t reach everyone, questions of censorship, liability, people who don’t want to be on social media but don’t want to miss out, lack of relationship building.

    600 members currently but no record of who they are and no system for managing them.

    Parent comment: Shut it down. Any middle ground is going to be problematic. Don’t think it’s good for community.

    Parent comment: This is an equity issue for parents who can’t be here in person. Need a way for people to be able to connect online.

    Parent comment: Internet access can be a barrier too. Somebody will be disenfranchised no matter what.

    Parent comment: Thinking about how some classrooms have Shutterfly sites. What about having conversations on classroom pages rather than Facebook?

    Parent comment: I don’t think we can shut Facebook down, anybody can start a site that other people will join. Not huge lover of Facebook but it is where lots of people are. Helpful to be able to ask “what time does this event start?” Create stronger moderation piece like local middle schools have. Important for people to have way to crowdsource in some digital way.

    Parent comment: What option creates the least harm? It’s true that someone will be left out no matter what. Great harm has come to people in Facebook community this year. Great quick way for people to check in on information. Overall, way better off without it.

    Parent comment: It is kind of an equalizer. Would like to have some way to do that. Would still choose to connect with people and interact with people with all their flaws, knowing we’re not perfect.

    Administration comment: advocate of shutting down Facebook page. Is it private discussion of people who are affiliated with school or official communication channel of school? Don’t understand why we can’t clarify boundaries between official channels and private communications. Is there some means to moderate questions on something like Twitter—what time is this event? My request would be to clearly separate those two functions.

    Parent comment: These are all really good points. We have to have a way to have conversations, and everybody is already there. If we try to have something else, we reach the same problem as with the newsletter. At the risk of opening a can of worms, the reason Facebook became a toxic place this year, is because bad stuff happened and we never had a mediated conversation. Did anybody ever have soul-sucking experience on Facebook before this recent time period? Need to be able to have hard conversations in person.

    Parent comment: Love what last parent said and agree with lots of things said here. I’m not a social media person. As school is growing and changing and going through growing pains, notion of community is super important. Community defined in social media as well as in person in building. Just like we want to have norms/commitments for meetings, should be true for any communication channels, including Facebook. Even if we shut it down now, someone else will create it. Need clear boundaries. Hope we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    KC: The question is, how is communications committee and SC or TCPG connected to Facebook page?

    Parent comment: We need to form a concrete plan. Who is saying what, when, to whom? This is a problem across all committees. I’d urge us to find some way to refine that. Need to step back and take much more concrete look at whole situation.

    Parent comment: I feel concerned that things are going on without me related to school business when I’ve chosen not to participate in social media/Facebook.

    Response: Facebook was never intended to be the primary method of communication. Items related to school business are posted there secondarily to their primary communication method (e.g. newsletter). Communications committee has been trying to enforce that this year.

    Question: Is there a community blogging option on Schoology?
    Please direct additional comments to KC.

    Teacher comment: even most well-intentioned people say things that are not accurate. People sometimes think they’re speaking the truth when they’re not.

    Audit Working Group—Tim Fonken

    Four people from the district came to the school to talk about how we address observations, concerns, recommendations from state audit of district audit of our school from last fall. Met with teachers first, then open meeting with parents and anyone else welcome to attend. JoLynn Berge was constructive and informative.

    There is a special newsletter coming out in the next couple of days with recap of that meeting. Several inaccuracies in audit report, and we’re working with JoLynn to correct these. Working with Jon around corrective actions related to TCPG.

    Co-Governance working group

    Community meeting—approximately 50 people attended. Discussed history of co-governance at our school, at SPS, clarified distinction/relationship between BLT and SC. All members automatically members. Building admin, teachers, staff, families—everyone in support of the idea but the devil’s in the details. Concern about power differentials.
    Mutual respect with admin and families when there are disagreements. Lots of suggested next steps:

     Not a lot of clear understanding of what was in the scope of co-governance. Decision matrices available to community. Making sure we’re able to disagree with each other in respectful way. Admin was not able to come to meeting. Workgroup meeting again tomorrow—admin is coming to that meeting. Ronald Boy coming to that meeting as well. Creating a timeline of annual events that warrant collaboration. Items that BLT is restricted from publicly talking about. Creating SC and PG decision-making matrix; link to BLT decision-making matrix. Plan to create co-governance charter to help define scope and goals. Reviewing minutes. Plan for tasks. How to gather community input. What’s happening next year. Working group 6-8pm tomorrow.

    Introduction of Jessica Williams-Nguyen, incoming chair.

    Wanted to say hello. I am stepping up to do this because everybody in the community is important to me. I’m not willing to take a side. I don’t believe in sides. Available to talk to anybody for any reason about any topic. Can email me, find me, call me at 612-845-6254. Biggest goal for community is to re-establish trust. Hear some of the things said today. I believe that we’re all trustworthy. You don’t have to trust me yet. I’ll try to show you by doing.

    Safety Committee—Jessica Knaster Wasse

    Plan for next year is for busses to do pick up and drop off on 77th. Loop will be used for parent drop-off. Guidelines handed out. Take a peek and email safety@thorntoncreek.org with feedback; received lots of helpful feedback already.

    EDI Committee—Angela Hyland

    Highlights of EDI committee this year: MLK, Jr rally (marched as group), partnered with Mary’s Place on hygiene supplies drive, shared resources for BLM (Black Lives Matter) week of action, shared resources following hate crimes and organized a card-writing event; hosted 2 gender-diversity events; invited community to attend events such as Countering Whiteness and continued conversation at EDI meeting; discussed topics such as microagression; partnered with HIP to pack food packs; sponsored Anu Tanarath evening event.

    Overview of year as whole: 2018-2019 spent largely dealing with events of last year. EDI has complicated relationship with SC, heard parents/teachers question that there was racism at our school, sense is we’ve all become more embedded in our positions. Last year, a black mom described as being tone-policed. This year, people wanted to control how that black mom told her story. Talking about race and racism challenging for everyone—how can we bring about cultural change on this topic?

    Shocked at level of open hostility directed at Christina and Evan last year. Same scene this year with Jon Gasbar as target.

    Goal to advance policies and build culture, strive to eliminate barriers that have prevented full access for all.

    Grants Committee—Tristan Osborn

    40,000 minutes goal—Golden Pedal Award. Turns out they give you a literal golden pedal. 4 of last 5 years—golden pedal. 45,000 minutes. Schoolwide cookie party this Friday.

    Intersection painting—40 & 77th. Can’t paint on any kind of arterial. Now thinking to paint in front of drop off area on 80th, going to try to include Decatur. $12K spent on JAMS intersection painting. Date at end of August still TBD. All you have to do is show up and paint. Anyone interested in design, contact Tristan.

    Sandpit might be paved over. Dirt gets tracked in and scratches the floors and clogs the sinks; pit itself doesn’t drain properly. Need volunteers to brainstorm what to do with the space rather than just paving it over. There’s guy at district we can talk to. Keith, facilities supervisor for some NE schools.

    Request: Please make sure to get teacher feedback as well.

    If you want to generate ideas, please contact Tristan.

    Facilities Committee—Amelia McGee

    Beth & Amelia spent a couple hours on Friday creating the rainbow array of clothing. Will be bagged up on Friday and taken to Goodwill. Don’t have volunteer capacity to wash everything this time around. Over 400 items.

    One of teachers asked Amelia to organize work party to clean up teacher’s staff room, so she will be putting that together.

    Parent comment: I’m very concerned about how we move forward as a community. This is the last meeting of the year. How does the healing process happen? What needs to be done? Don’t hear practical steps—what is reconciliation plan?

    Why don’t we meet around this? I just want to know how we’re supposed to fix it. Don’t see why we have to dredge it up all the time but not go anywhere with it. In my opinion, this can’t continue.

    EDI Chair comment: These things keep happening in different scenarios. Sense of déjà vu. Culture of shutting down people we don’t agree with. People in governing body of Site Council are the ones doing it.

    EDI committee member comment: I have been on EDI committee this year. Wanted to end on somewhat constructive note. Small group of EDI committee members met on a Sunday, and this included some members who were involved in last spring and it felt hopeful in terms of moving forward. Some allegations of oppression and minimalizing voices—this is happening all over, not just from one side. We probably have more in common than we have differences. If we can’t hold space for multiple perspectives within EDI, how can we hope the broader community will fare?

    Parent comment: One area that a lot of progress has been made but is still battle---making sure all voices can be heard. Would like PTA members to not have to fight so hard to share information with school.

    Parent question: Is there something preventing mediated meeting from happening? Is there someone a large group of parents could contact?

    Administration comment: Earlier requests for mediation were put on pause because of open investigation. Within staff, there’s mediation planned. There was a meeting yesterday or today: district is committing to ongoing funding for mediation. In terms of community mediation, the district is not actively doing that part.

    EDI committee member: I helped bring facilitator for talk Angela mentioned. There was lots of support for bringing back that facilitator. Are different parties even interested in reconciliation? Otherwise we’re just spinning our wheels. If we don’t have consensus in terms of what the outcome should be, then it’s hard to find a facilitator. Hard to have mediation when people are so polarized and when it doesn’t feel safe. If not done in a way that has mutual respect, I don’t see how that’s helpful. Safety is going to be critical.

    Elizabeth, Vice Chair: This is my last SC meeting. I’m heartbroken to be leaving this school that I’ve loved so much. My wish is for people to start talking to each other. I really hope this community can heal. These meetings have been brutal. Find a way through, please. Your kids deserve it. This is a beautiful place with beautiful hearts. People aren’t that far apart with what they want for school.