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    SITE COUNCIL 10/15/19

    Attendance: Elizabeth Duffell, Misha Lower, Lisa Berman, Anna Farr, Tristan Osborn, Anne Arnett, Alissa West, Angela Suh, Jennifer Lowe, Tim Fonken, Robin Belz, Barb Reilly, Bill Reilly, Amelia McGee, Jesica Avellone, Kavita Fitzpatrick, Julie Shin, Shmulik Eisenman, Shawn LeValley, Mike Alexander, Joe Peterson, Gina Massoni, Melissa Sire, Emily Mitchell, Beck Weinhold, Kaori Tanaka, Sarah McVay, Jenny Pinto, Kristen Eason, Jacob Clark Blickenstaff, Misha Lower, Laurie Macy, Gregory Lorenz, Sophia Yackshaw, Katie Zisserman, Sam Chen, Tiffany Kuhn, Susan Callari, Jessica Wasse, Tammi Mack, Alys Wylen, Jessica Williams-Nguyen

    CHAIR OPENING BY J.W.N.: Land acknowledgment, reminder of what Site Council is—the place where staff and parents come together to collaborate and make decisions.

    PRINCIPAL UPDATE BY D.O./STAFF UPDATE BY KATIE Z:
    DOUG: We are bringing staff and principal updates together to highlight that we are working as a team. Thanks staff and community for dealing with stressful staff reduction situation this month. We tried to keep it away from kids as much as possible. Meredith has been placed in a new school and she is doing well, in a similar role in her new school. We’ve been working with K-3 intervention team to figure out how to deal with 1.0 reduction. Powerful team of Cindy, Debbie and Anne are working on prioritizing literacy supports, then other supports beyond that. I appreciate the supportive tone of the community in dealing with this.
      Update on office: our office assistant resigned—we are a team of 3 in the office for now, with temps Shannon and Antoinette helping out. Elona is going to take the training for volunteer clearing process so she can temporarily help with this process. Next focus will be clearing K parents for volunteering. Lots of focus on compliance from the district in the office setting, it’s a big challenge for a big school like TC, and we are understaffed, so please be patient as we try to meet compliance with a smaller staff. Long term we will be able to add more staff as our numbers grow. We are holding interviews for the office position tomorrow afternoon (10/16/19).
      AP position: we have not moved forward with hiring this position. We did not get the waiver we requested from the district, and Doug feels this position is so important that he wants to make sure we end up with the right fit for the long term. Doug is in discussion with district leadership about how to move forward—reposting job now vs bringing in a long term substitute then post the job and hire in March/April (Doug prefers second choice). Will keep us up to date on the process.
      Thank you to Jenny and Barb and congrats on the move-a-thon. Great event.

    STAFF UPDATE (Katie Z): Tonight’s topic is Wednesday early release days. What do we do as a staff on those days when your kids come home at 1:10pm?  Basically, the complicated schedule put forth in teachers’ contract sets up categories of things we are supposed to do on specific days. BLT fills this in and determines our schedule. Some time is collaboration with grade band teams, specialists, various groups that you are working with, and then the school as a whole sets forth goals around our Continuous School Improvement Plan (C-SIP) in the spring and we work toward meeting those goals throughout the year. We talk about equity work and eliminating the opportunity gap. We have days when specialists gather to meet with teachers from other schools, professional development days, and staff meetings on some weeks. It’s really collaborative, very few instances where admin make decisions on their own.
    p.s. Harvest Festival on Nov 1—keep an eye out for emails from teachers about volunteer opportunities and costume guidelines.

    BRAINSTORM: JWN asks the group to discuss ideas for things families would like to hear from staff at future Site Council meetings. A few examples from the small group discussions were: progress reports, expeditions--how they are constructed, whether they are shared across grade bands, etc., arts and in context of EL, what kinds of learning do teachers look at, how is academic progress evaluated, how do you learn to teach in the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) model, are newer teachers being mentored by TC-tenured teachers, etc.

    MINUTES FROM SEPT: PASSED

    MUSIC UPDATE: (Doug)
      Artist in Residence: We have been in discussions with Mary K to continue an Artist in Residency role at TC this year. Mary K has been made some changes to her own workload in order to pursue her passions of focusing on multi-generational singing/community gatherings. Staff representatives, TC Parent Group, and Building Leadership Team (BLT) members have been working together to finalize a plan for this year that would include Mary K supporting our monthly Community Gatherings, doing some grade-level sessions each month with our K-2 grade levels to teach into the songs that are being shared at the assemblies, and providing some opportunities for possible grade level/school event opportunities throughout the year.
    It has been wonderful for Mary K to be part of our first two Community Gatherings and we look forward to continuing our partnership with her as an Artist in Residence this year at TC while supporting her in this new focus/journey she is exploring. We expect to have the details finalized by November 1 to move forward with planning for the remainder of the year.
      Instrumental Music: This has caused some confusion in the community… and my apologies for not knowing all the details from last spring to know I needed to communicate on this on the front end of the year.
    There was a decision made in last year’s TC budgeting cycle to reduce 4/5 instrumental music to the half-day provided through SPS. Each elementary is District-funded a half-day Instrumental music teacher. Schools can opt to have more instrumental music by using school-based funds or funds through partner organizations (such as parent groups and PTAs). Priority is given to 5th grade (to support a feeder pattern into Middle and High School music programs) and focuses on band and string instruments (the range of which depends on the instructor).
    This year, with a half-day program on Mondays, priority was given to 5th graders interested in participating. There were some remaining spots available for 4th grade students. A form was sent home with 4th grade students to fill out and return if they were interested in participating. The District moved to a lottery system this year for filling available slots, wanting to ensure equal access opportunity to any student who wanted to participate. At TC, names were randomly drawn by administration to fill the fourth grade openings in band and orchestra.
    One reflection I’ve shared is around communication. For example, in a situation like this moving forward making sure that not only kid mail is engaged, but an informational email is sent home as well so families have multiple access to information – especially when its an opportunity open across a whole grade level.
      Ukulele: This year we are continuing our partnership in 2nd and 3rd grade by offering Ukulele as part of our program. This is a great bridge moving from the choral singing musical experiences in the younger grades to instruments and musical pedagogy in the middle grades as an introduction to band and orchestra instruments in the upper grades.  
    The 4th grade team is looking at additional opportunities for music enrichment this year since so many students expressed interest in instrumental music. They are in discussions exploring an opportunity to continue ukulele instruction into the 4th grade year. They are also in discussions regarding an additional Artist in Residency opportunity. They will keep their families informed as plans get finalized.   
      As we head into spring budgeting for next year, I have been talking with staff and in community conversations about developing a predictable music pathway as part of our PCP structure in the school (such as PE and Art). We would have to discuss how to fund this through our District funding balanced with our other programming such as library. Additionally, I would like to engage in conversations about increasing our instrumental music program based on the student interest we saw this year. Long term, it would be great to have a General Music teacher (K-2 or K-5 exploring both choral and instrumental music opportunities) providing a strong music foundation to our students building interest and readiness to a robust instrumental program pipelining into Middle and High opportunities. This would also be balanced with other Artist in Residency opportunities during the school year… but that base-line experience would be funded and supported predictably through the school’s PCP/Instrumental Music system.
      I want to thank the individual teachers, staff, and TC Parent Group for supporting the hard work around organizing the music opportunities this year and I’ll continue to keep the community informed as we engage in these discussions heading into the spring.
      Parent: Choral singing K-5 is a big TC value that really impacts kids at the school. Would like to see that kind of program continue at TC.

    CAPACITY BUILDING FOR RACE AND EQUITY WORK in SC/TCPG/EDI
      JWN: Sarah McVay, OMBUSPERSON for TC, impartial person who can email me to talk and discuss concerns if you don’t feel comfortable coming to Jessica or other leadership. Idea is that she would chat with parents to understand the issue and then be the in between parents and admin/staff/TCPG leadership. She can be reached at  sarahmcvay@yahoo.com
    Handout on A Framework for Inclusive Governance: https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/foundationconsortium.pdf
      JWN recognizes the complexity of making change in a large organization. Whole structure of SC vs. EDI alone. Jessica plans to go through these items systematically and working towards full inclusion as much as possible. i.e. culture of meetings, how info is accessed. Wants to hear from the community about what we would like to see as the result of this work—a report, community discussions, etc. Questions?
      Teacher: It’s important to have community conversations with many voices. I learn when I hear other people’s ideas, helps me to grow and consider other viewpoints.
      Parent: Thanks. Powerful exercise. Emphasis on evaluation—thinking about whether or not your outcomes match the goals. Does the district have any tools we can use? We may not have the budget for formal evaluations, but what can we do with the resources we have? The practice of looking through this continually will be helpful.
      Parent: In a smaller meeting, it would be good to get feedback from people who have expressed feeling excluded at SC.
      JWN: Yes, while also understanding that some of those people might not want to share, but doing the work anyway.
      GREG LORENZ (EDI Chair): Inviting others highlights what we need to do proactively. EDI can explore establishing a process for people to come forward. How can we avoid/prevent the kind of situations we’ve experienced in the last few years? Greg distributes a handout on EDI topics [LINK?] The last few years were colored by experiences of trauma, but we are now in a new place. As we move forward, what is the lens that we will look through this year? Do we want to focus on TC or larger community outside of TC? We have resources here that other schools do not—is that something we need to discuss? Parent/student focus? Uncomfortable conversations are going to be necessary. If we go outside the school, would we want to help fund resources at another school—what would that look like, how would we engage with another community, would it foster our own sensitivity and awareness here at TC, etc?
      Parent: When we were discussing including transitional housing at SP, we were told that we weren’t ready for it. What needs to happen before we can make these changes? What internal work do we need to do first?
      Teacher: We have to have our own adult code of conduct set in place before we start the heavier work, people need a working frame/definition/agree on what equity actually means and then you can go deeper. If you start the real work before we are on the same page it can be really problematic with systematic issues.
      Greg: Let’s think about how to approach this for different kinds of people, i.e introverts vs extroverts. Hoping EDI can be part of the support system for this work. Looking for people to join the committee, especially people with different perspectives, would greatly appreciate participation. Info coming in newsletters about future meetings.
      Treasurer: 2 years ago we were in the running for a place in the race and equity training done by the district, didn’t make the cut. Is there an opportunity for this again this year?
      Doug: Financial focus for this training opportunity has been schools of deep need. There has been some turnover in DREA, Doug has reached out to see what’s available for us now with so many new staff members, etc. Families of color have shared with Doug that the focus on inclusivity should not be done to the exclusion of looking at racial equity and dismantling racial bias. How do we address all of these issues and develop a common language so that we can work together?
      Teacher: Is there a committee meeting date/time/place? Should be on calendar/website. Can we put info on how to find these meetings on the bulletin board? Chair: we will work on getting these things on the bulletin board, but for now they are on the calendar/website.

    TREASURER UPDATE: Barb Reilly on Move-a-thon: we have a goal of 40k (same as last year), as of today we are at $8k, communicating through newsletter, but we may need a special edition newsletter, end of Oct deadline. Ok for staff to put a reminder in their emails with a link to the paypal.  Barb will write a blurb that the teachers can share. May be an issue with donation link putting donations into the general fund vs move-a-thon.

    SAND PIT UPDATE (TRISTAN OSBORN): sand pit still closed. District is concerned about animal fecal matter, flooding and the drain cover system which caused a student injury last year. Sean McManus of SPS Self Help Projects met with Tristan, the president of Decatur PTA, TC teacher Debbie Kosman and others. Debbie emphasized the importance of the sandpit for TC students. Tristan gave him info on medical benefits (allergy benefits of being exposed to dirt). McManus suggested a few things, like raised bed dirt that can be covered when not in use. Tristan reminded him that the drainage issue stems from improper installation, so what will they do about this and why are we responsible for it? Decatur principal shared an email from SPS risk manager, Richard Staudt, which strongly reiterated the district’s health and safety concerns. Doug and Rina (Decatur principal) have another meeting on 10/22 to discuss this with the district about how to move forward, what are the options, etc. Seems the injury was what prompted the sudden closure, more than any of these other issues. Other ideas: raised sand, raised bark area.

    BIKE TO SCHOOL MONTH: We have received a grant from SDOT every year that covers the cost of the event, bike fairy prizes, etc. This year we are thinking of using the grant for installing more bike racks. What do people think about this? We have a parent volunteer who is a licensed contractor and can do this work, and to also move the existing bike racks forward a few feet so we can park more bikes on either side. Idea to work with Decatur so we can both get one. Sentiment in the meeting was widespread support for more bike racks.

    COMMITTEES UPDATES:

    SPECIAL EDUCATION: Julie and Beck: We had our first meeting and have a project idea for a database/guide to all the events that TC puts on and how to make them as accessible/inclusive as possible. Jenny C had suggested opening a blacktop space for kids who couldn’t use the gravel track for the move-a-thon, for example. Also addressing sensory processing issue at big events at events like talent night (quiet room). Community input on what various needs are will be great.
    Julie: p.s. Remember that Nov 13th is the fall book fair at Lake Forest Park Third Place Books, 20% of  Mod Pizza and Book Sales go to library.

    CURRICULUM: Jesica: What is TC night coming up soon. Great opportunity for parents to find out more about EL and what actually happens in classrooms at TC. Nov 4, 6:30-8:30, childcare provided.
    COMMUNICATIONS: Newly created role, Events Coordinator for TCPG/Site Council. Susan Callari. Reach her at events@thorntoncreek.org. She will help you schedule your event and get it on the calendar, in the newsletter, etc.

    LANDSCAPING/FACILITIES: Several garden work parties happening on the next few weekends, 2 hours each of the next two weeks to weed, etc. Come do yard work, bring tools

    AFTER SCHOOL ENRICHMENT: Fall classes going smoothly. K/1 participants have parent volunteers and vendors picking them up and bringing them to the commons. Meeting on Friday 10/25 after school here with Edith to start talking about winter classes. Thanks to teachers who opened their rooms for after school classes.

    HIRING: if you are available at 4pm tomorrow for office interview let Elizabeth Duffel know.

    Amelia McGee: Reminder for teachers, I am available to you for help with organizing your space, etc.