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    3/12/2019 Site Council Meeting
    In Attendance—
    Teachers/Staff: Maria Callahan, Kathleen Elsenboss, Ginny Allemann, Jenny Stewart, Carleen Sinton, Julie Clayton, Marina Woodall, Joshua Colwell, Linda Kjarstad, Nora Sipes, Alissa West, Phoebe Daniels, Mari Brockhaus, Tammi Mack, Mark Fung, Katie Zissermann, Robyn Haggerty, Joy White, Melissa Sire, Emma Swanson, LaChrista Borgers, Liz McCormack, Kristina Voss, Mim Turnbull, Lisa Calvert, Lori Miller, Jeremy Cooper
    Administration: Jon Gasbar, Principal; Kim Sciarrone, Vice Principal
    Parents: Kaori Tanaka, Chair; Elizabeth Corman, Vice Chair; Lisa Anacker, Co-Treasurer; Tim Fonken, Co-Treasurer; Lisa Berman, KC Potter de Haan, Will Gould, Steve Carling, Tina Watkinson, Chris Neumann, Chelsea Lin, Anna Farr, Alys Wylen, Anne Holland, Angela Hyland, Christina Pizana, Michael Krafre, Kristy Copeland, Chris Countryman, Elizabeth Whitmire, Beth Rubin, Greg Lorenz, Tristan Osborn, Stephanie Barnes, Jacob Kosman, Noah Lawrence, Julie Houser, Jennifer Jarrett, Erin Shade, , Emily Wong, Mardi Brekke, Chris Ledford, Beck Weinhold, Todd Bowers, Daniel Keppler, Juan Carlos Gomez, Cathy Reidy Liermann, Julie Shin, Hugh McCullough, Stacy Earlywine, Robin Belz, Chandra Mullenix, Stacey Seifert, Carne Groseclose, Jenny Pinto, Susie Bunker, Julie Combs, Erica Seddig, Cassie Condon, Amelia McGee, Courtney Bell, Linda Smith, Jen Chan, Lissa Armato, Bridget Duruz, Jennifer Lowe, Satcha Dearborn Graham, Anna Fragomeni, Elizabeth Duffell, Jessica Wasse
    Minutes taken by: Robin Belz
    Call to order 6:40pm
    Approval of January Meeting Minutes—Kaori Tanaka
    A draft has been available on the website and there are a few copies circulating around.  The chair asked for any corrections to the January minutes as distributed (Note: February 2019 Site Council meeting not held due to inclement weather). No corrections to the January minutes were requested.
    January 2019 minutes are approved as distributed.
    Reports of Officers
    Principal Jon Gasbar’s Report
    Two things to report on tonight: 
    1. Race & Equity Long-Term Plan—Jon had invited the community via the newsletter to two evening sessions for those interested in working on the long-term plan for race & equity.  There is a 3rd evening meeting scheduled for 3/27 at 7pm. Concie Pedroza, SPS Department of Racial Equity Advancement (DREA) Diretor, has been invited to that meeting to help make sure we’re engaging everyone, including people whose voices are typically not heard within this community.
    2. Budget—Everyone probably received the video from Superintendent Juneau regarding $40 million of cuts in the district.  Some schools are facing double-digit teacher displacements.
    Start with cuts: 
    Special ed department—we are under-enrolled in our distinct program, so one of our classrooms won’t be here next year, but that could still change because it’s based on enrollment.  If enrollment doesn’t change, one teacher would be displaced.
    Down 1.0 FTE (Full Time Employment) for assistant principal.
    Down 0.5 FTE certificated core.
    Both of the last two cuts could come back, but we won’t know until May.
    4 special ed instructional assistants won’t have positions due to one fewer distinct classroom and a change to health laws.
    Mary K—we won’t be able to have the same kind of contract with her since the district wants schools to use a person who is certificated.  Jon’s thought is that we could still have her for assemblies or as an artist in residency short-term.
    Projected enrollment for next year of 597 students. 600 is threshold for getting more staffing.  Right now, we are full in K, 1, 2, 3 going into next year, but not in 4 and 5.
    Budget is for 20 FTE K-3 teachers and 7 FTE 4-5 teachers.
    Because of CBA (Contractual Bargaining Agreement), we need to add a music teacher.
    WA state has made new restrictions on how we can spend K-3 money.  There are restrictions on social emotional support.  State also passed new health law that impacts people who work 635 hours or more (0.5 FTE).  If someone is working 0.5FTE, they get full medical benefits paid for by the employer.  If the school decides to hire two 0.5FTE positions as a full-time job-share, the cost to the school for benefits is $14,000.  
    Asking TCPG for 1.0 counselor or as close as we can get.
    Initial budget gave us 0.4 nurse, but that was increased to 0.5 nurse a couple days ago.
    Asking TCPG for 0.1 nurse to bring nurse position to 0.6FTE.
    Tomorrow we’ll finalize the school budget for next year.
    Parent comment/question: After the BLT (Building Leadership Team) meeting about the budget, parents asked teachers on the BLT questions regarding how the discussion went.  Parents got stonewalled by teachers—question to Jon as to why?  Parents then went to the BLT parent representative and learned that there were a suite of budget options that BLT teachers proposed and a suite of options that Jon countered with.  The final budget that was voted on was one of Jon’s.  Why is eliminating part-time positions or job shares good for the school?
    Administration answer: Generated from new health care law.  Having part-time employees would increase our overall costs because of benefit costs.
    416 K-3 students projected for next year.
    Parent question: If job-sharing teachers agree to go to 0.6FTE and 0.4FTE, there would be no additional cost, correct? 
    Answer: This is correct.
    Parent comment: None of this feels in partnership despite Jon’s signature on each of his newsletter postings.  Jon came in at the beginning of the year, saying to the community if it ain’t broke, he didn’t plan to fix it. But now he’s trying to fix lots of things that aren’t broken.
    Parent comment: Multiple comments about having transparency and discussion about budget.  How can this budget get passed tomorrow without any community discussions?
    Parent question: What was process for creating and approving the budget?
    Answer: I worked with Site Council leadership who explained how this had been done in the past, then went to BLT to talk about options.
    Site Council Leadership response: Want to clarify that when you met with SC leadership, we explained the beginning of a process under the assumption that there would be transparency and communication in the budget process going forward.  That didn’t happen.  SC leadership was not involved at all in creating the budget.
    Parent comment about how budgets are more than just dollars and cents, that they reflect the priorities of the community.  Additionally, the new health laws Jon referenced were presumably put in place to protect part-time workers and therefore to support families, so it’s unfortunate that those rules are being applied in a way that actually is much less family-friendly if it’s now the case that no one can work part-time in a job-share.  Question raised as to why Jon’s approach to the budget was so different than the teachers’ approach.
    Kim Sciarrone’s (vice principal) answer:  She makes budget decisions in a student-centered way rather than in an adult-centered way.
    Parent comment: Take exception to that statement.  We all make decisions in a student-centered way.  That’s why everyone in this room is here.  Parent speaking has two kids who were both served very well by the current interventionists in the current configuration of less than 1.0FTE positions.
    Parent comment: Administration is making the assumption that students are better served by 1.0FTE instead of 0.6FTE/0.4FTE job share.  Don’t understand making decision like that and changing the culture of who we are.   
    Jon/Kim reiterated that job shares changes have to do with health law changes and not budgeting decisions.
    Parent question: Can you be more specific about who 3 interventionists would be in K-3?
    K/1 literacy interventionist
    K/1 math interventionist
    2/3 literacy & math interventionist
    Parent question: How do we salvage expeditionary learning in all of this?  Sounds like we’re moving toward being a neighborhood school. 
    Answer: Jon sees interventionists as supporting the expeditionary model.  Interventionists would know expeditions and provide assignments related to them.  District is moving toward Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS model) and this is guiding Jon’s decisions on this.  His hope is that we can increase the support and consistency for students.  
    Parent comment: Trying to clarify.  It sounds like agreement among staff is that 0.6/0.4FTE splits (which would be budget neutral) are ok with them.  Who gets to make this decision ultimately?
    Answer: Superintendent policy is that Jon makes that decision.  This is Jon’s decision.
    Teacher comment: Right now, benefits are prorated.  Job-share teacher who is  0.5FTE pays half of cost of her benefits and district pays the other.  
    Parent comment: We currently have 2 0.8FTE interventionist positions.  Rather than making both those people go 1.0FTE, we could add a 0.4FTE person.  When asked if he would consider this, Jon said yes, but several parent vocalized that it didn’t sound like he was actually going to consider it.  
    Parent comment: Seems like the entire parent community represented here wants one thing and the teachers are silent, which speaks volumes.  Request for Jon to be straight with community.  Families need to make decisions about what they want to do next year.  These are big changes, and families will need to decide if they want to stay at Thornton Creek.
    Clarification from admin: there are positions we might choose to job share but some positions that are just part-time.  Resource room has part-time allocation(2.6 FTE).  TC will not be responsible for covering the cost of full-time benefits in that situation where enrollment determines FTE.
    Parent question: Per CBA, does budget require unanimous approval?  Majority?  What is requirement to arrive at agreed-upon budget?  
    Answer: Unanimous consensus within BLT and then it would go to staff for a vote that would require a 2/3 majority. If not able to come to consensus, the decision would go to the chief academic officer.  
    Parent question: Why didn’t you support budget that the rest of the BLT voted to approve?
    Answer: Believe in building budgets off of what students need.  
    Follow-up parent question: Are you saying that teachers developed budget that didn’t support the student community?
    Response: Jon compromised in areas.
    Parent comment: Regarding the child-centered notion and an option school:  Everybody who chose to send their child here possibly has a different idea of what child-centered means.  It’s not just about data.  As a community, we may have decided that what children need isn’t the same as what the district has decided children need.  Most people I speak with really value the options for their kids—specific programs, specific support staff, the way classrooms are organized.  We’ve made a conscious choice that what our children need may be different from what you think our children need.
    Admin comment: Students will get more support with full-time positions.
    Parent comment: We’re not talking about not taking offered FTE positions; we’re talking about how positions are divided up (e.g. 2 1.0 FTE positions vs 2 0.8 FTE positions and 1 0.4 FTE position). 
    Parent comment: We came here because the district is a top-down entity.  This place is a bottom-up place, and that really builds community.  Right now, this feels top-down again and that doesn’t build community.  It’s very easy to tear a community down but really hard to build it up.  
    Parent comment: Never been to a meeting where no teacher voice is being heard.  Why are we not hearing any teacher voice?  
    Jon’s answer: You’ve directed all the questions at me.  
    Parent response: We asked them after BLT and they can’t answer.  You’ve directed them not to speak.  
    Parent question to teachers: Are you ok with 0.6FTE/0.4FTE job-shares?
    Teachers’ answer: Teachers as a group not ready to speak on 0.6/0.4FTE topic because it hasn’t been presented as an option, so discussions among teachers may not have even happened.   Staff as a whole haven’t been able to discuss this this year.  
    Parent comment: Our family is made up of one 1.0 FTE and one 0.5 FTE and it’s hard, so I know principal decisions around these things are hard.  What are different ways we can get involved to help advocate for what we want?  
    Staff member comment: If I was hearing all of this for the first time, I would be so confused right now.  Right this second, we can’t do anything as a group before we get together with SPS (Seattle Public Schools) & SEA (Seattle Education Association) reps tomorrow.  Job share needs to go on back burner tonight because nothing can be decided before tomorrow.  But distribution of interventionist FTE is something it would be good to discuss tonight.  
    Parent comment: Expeditionary learning is a built-in system that allows for diving deeper.  Is there data to support that kids here are not getting what they need?
    Parent comment: Want to acknowledge that all of us come from the same place of wanting to help students.  What I really am concerned about is partnership , collaboration, and the three-legged stool of admin, teachers, and parents.  Think you’re hearing very strongly that parents have a lot of concerns and teachers probably do as well.  Feels very disempowering not to be heard and acknowledged.  It would be good for administration to consider what does it mean to not be heard.  Parents step up to help in lots of ways when asked.  We need your help in listening to our input. 
    Parent comment: Hard budgeting decisions are Jon’s job as principal, but it’s also his job to consider stakeholders.  
    Jon’s response: I guess how I’m looking at it is, in a scenario where people are being displaced all over across the district, we’re looking at scenarios where people are having the opportunity to be here full-time.  
    Every single person who is in the building now has the opportunity to work full-time. 
    Parent comment: I have 100% confidence in these teachers after my six years here.  They’re looking to the needs of our kids.  I see Jon looking to the needs of the district and not so much the kids. 
    Speaker from FACES (Families & Communities for Equity in Schools) – Heather Hart
    (5 minute break)
    FACES used to be called PTSA Equity (Parent Teacher Student Association), a group that began looking at parent-based funding and how it creates inequity within a school district. 
    Heather has 3 kids.  Two are currently at Beacon Hill International School.  She also has a 6th grader.  She is a past PTA (Parent Teacher Association) president at Beacon Hill and is currently the treasurer.  Beacon Hill has faced a number of challenges during her time there.  4 principals in 5 years.  Lost 21 staff members over period of 2 years.  Heather also works as a health care practitioner, working with pregnant people.
    Heather got involved with FACES 2 years ago around the time Hayden Bass and Vivian van Gelder wrote an article titled Contributing to Inequity: White Parents Must Act to Change Seattle Public Schools’ Opportunity Gap, which appeared in the South Seattle Emerald.
    Since then the group has experienced some pushback and lots of support.  They didn’t know exactly how to get started and decided to focus primarily on relationship building.  
    Activity: Heather asked attendees to break into small groups and consider the question, What would true equity look like in Seattle?
    Group report backs: 
    *Both people in small group grew up in the south end of Seattle down.  Discussion of their experience there when there used to be more busing.  Their schools were more diverse.  It didn’t solve everything but it created more of an opportunity for things to happen.  For Thornton Creek, who has access to it?  Are there things that could be changed to increase access to more people?  Or, how to create more programs like Thornton Creek? 
    *Equity: There are some things that currently need to be funded by fundraising that other schools don’t have but that should just be part of the school experience for everyone (e.g. music, librarian, nurse). Discussion of rights vs privilege. Equity would be a school experience for each student that gives them all these experiences.  It’s a shock to know that there are schools that don’t have these things.
    *Equity would involve getting kids mixed amongst neighborhoods.  Education would be fully-funded, as would social services.  Recognition that kids here get supports at home that kids in other neighborhoods may not have access to.  Equity would be all kids getting what they need.
    *Equity involves going back and recognizing native people—the Duwamish, the only local people without a reservation.  We should be doing something at school to recognize that, and we should be reaching out to other schools that have more native populations and supporting them.  Parent recently contacted Cecile Hansen, Duwamish tribal chair, about things we might do to support them as a school.
    Heather’s summarized what she heard from small groups and added additional information:
    Seattle Public Schools hasn’t funded library books for at least the last 20 years.  Library books, if a school can get new ones, are provided for by parent funding.  Almost all books that reflect kids of color have come out in the last 20 years, so it’s a really big issue that a lot of schools don’t have library material that reflect the demographics of their student populations. 
    Integration: bussing didn’t solve everything, but there was certainly more segregation once it was done away with.  There is a long history of institutional racism and redlining in Seattle, and public schools are a product of this history.
    FACES right now has slowed down and is focused on building relationships: going into communities of color in south end and asking how people want their schools to look, talking to families in wealthier neighborhoods and asking how they want their schools to look and what they want all schools/kids in Seattle to have?
    Building relationships is the fundamental, most important part of creating a successful movement. They are still grappling with history that we have in Seattle of segregation and racism.  What can we do?
    Three things FACES is talking about doing:
    Step 1 is internal.  Want people to use their parent-based funds to make sure that they are addressing needs of all kids (e.g. scholarship provided for every school activity?  money for ELL (English Language Learner) kids to have equal access to activities?  race and equity trainings in building/community?) Really good race & equity trainings take time and money.  Encouraging everyone to do this and have it become part of school culture. 
    Step 2.  Build relationships.  Green Lake Elementary has established a relationship with sister school: Van Asselt.  No money, no field trips, just a few groups of parents coming together monthly and talking about strengths each of those communities have that could be shared.  Talking about how these two communities can be in community together.  Seattle Council PTSA available to help with this as is FACES if we’re interested.
    Step 3: Change the way parent-based fundraising is handled in the district.  Change so that parent-based fundraising doesn’t make a few schools exceptional schools while others are left without resources.  Even if education were better funded, there would be inequity in parent-based fundraising unless we work to find a way to address this.  
    Discussion of Portland model where schools donate a specified percentage of all fundraising over $10,000 to a pot that gets redistributed. In Washington, there are lots of inequities between districts, but not as much inequity within any other single district as there is in Seattle.  
    Seattle Council PTSA (Chandra Hampson) on board with this idea.  New superintendent is also supportive of this.  Majority of the school board is listening.  FACES feels like the time to make a move is now and they are also very worried about moving so quickly that they don’t do it right.  There is also concern about the potential of the district managing the pot of money. Seattle is ready to start doing more but it’s a complicated thing.  
    Heather encouraged our community to do all three steps outlined previously.  
    Question: Is there a mailing list so we can follow the group’s work?
    FACES has a 1-pager that is actually 3 pages.  It includes quite a few links and how to sign up for communication from group.  Heather will forward it to the EDI committee, who will link to it in an upcoming newsletter.
    Question about whether there is data on districts that have implemented something like Portland did and whether parent-group fundraising dropped?
    Not aware of much data, but it would be great to see that. FACES is just three people right now and two aren’t full-time jobs, so there is a limit to their resources.
    Vote put to group: Do we continue meeting until no later than 9?  Majority voted yes.
    Second vote put to group: Do we continue previous discussion (budget discussion begun under Principal Report) or continue with what was on agenda?
    Need to prioritize a few topics on agenda: 
    Annual appeal shortfall
    SPED (Special Education) update
    Mary K/music certificated position
    Back to building budget discussion: 
    Parent comment: It would be really helpful to see side-by-side comparison of Jon’s budget vs BLT teacher budget and pros and cons of both.  
    Parent comment: Proposal to have certificated district-paid position music teacher, but also keep Mary K funded by TCPG.  What is way around this?  How do we keep her enrichment of our school and culture?  
    Answer: These are union issues.  
    Parent response: We want to help think creatively about this topic.
    Parent question: Does Mary K know about this?  
    Response: No.  Jon was just informed of this and let everyone know as quickly as he could but has not had a discussion with Mary K herself.
    Parent question: Is staff allowed to speak to us totally freely about the budgeting process?  
    Answer: Yes. Jon stated he asked staff not to share information until he got clarification on some things but that he didn’t request teachers not talk to parents.  He looked to teachers for confirmation of this.  
    A teacher read from an email Jon sent that said “please don’t send information to families.”
    Parent comment: We don’t want to shut down teachers but acknowledge that it’s probably highly awkward for teachers to talk in this situation.
    Parent question: Can we have a parent representative be a part of the budget process going forward? 
    Admin answer: For tomorrow’s meeting it’s just SEA and SPS. If no concensus is reached, it goes to Chief Academic Officer.
    Parent comment: request for someone to clearly summarize the primary differences between BLT teacher budget proposals and administration’s budget proposals. 
    Teacher response: crux of issue—tried to work out compromise.  Teachers were in favor of two 0.8FTE interventionist positions and being creative with the additional 0.4FTE.  
    Admin response: Initial proposal had that 0.4 going to art, but that would be offered to someone who has a position in another building which then leads to medical benefits issue.  
    Admin clarification: There would be proportional responsibility for benefit payment between the two schools in this case.  This was not the original understanding at the beginning of this process, however. 
    Parent comment: Back to the request to see a side-by-side comparison of Jon’s budget proposal against the teachers’ budget proposals, there are way too many questions left unanswered when the meeting is about to end.  It’s really frustrating that this information is just being presented to the parent community tonight and the vote is scheduled to happen tomorrow.  We’ve talked a lot about the interventionists (1.0FTE vs 0.8FTE), but there are a number of other implications of the budget, such as the distribution of PCP time, that we haven’t even had time to discuss tonight.  
    Admin response: I thought this was the process used in the past.  How has it been different this year?
    Parent response: In past years of my experience (10 years at TC), there has never been a situation like this where the teachers and administration could not come to agreement about the building budget.
    Parent comment: It would have been really helpful if you had brought a written document to hand out that showed budget cuts, positions in budget, what the up-for-decision points were. 
    Parent question: Can you demand more time?  Even in fast-moving companies, this would seem like a really accelerated timeline.  
    Parent question: What is philosophical difference between two positions?
    Parent comment: Significant lack of trust of administration expressed by parents tonight.  
    Parent question: Why can’t parents be in the room during tomorrow’s meeting?  To be observers?  Site Council leadership would be great.  
    Parent request: Repeated requests made to Jon to commit to time by which he will update Site Council leadership about his request to the district to delay tomorrow’s meeting and to request parent attendance at the meeting when it happens.  Meeting currently scheduled at 3pm tomorrow at TC.  BLT all scheduled to be there minus the BLT parent representative.  
    Site Council Leadership question: Does parent organization representative need to sign off on the budget?  
    Jon’s response: Initially Jon said no, then said he’d check when it was expressed that in the past this has happened.  
    Parent comment: Request for special edition newsletter with budget comparison.  Asking for leadership that we haven’t seen as parent community.  Doesn’t feel like a group effort.  
    Fundraising Committee Report: Annual Appeal Shortfall—Lissa Armato
    Lissa Armato, fundraising chair, spoke about the recent annual appeal effort.  She expressed gratitude to all the parents and staff who participated.  We reached 87% participation, which was not as high as the 90-100% participation target.  The financial goal of the appeal was $210,000. We raised a little more than $166,000, which has left us with a $43,000 shortfall. When you include our separate corporate matching goal of $28,000, of which we anticipate receipt of $17,000-18,000, our total annual appeal shortfall is approximately $53,000. This shortfall needs to be discussed. As Site Council leadership and as an entire community, we need to come together to figure out how we’re going to address this shortfall in fundraising for the current budget year.  
    Treasurers’ Report—Tim Fonken
    Tim Fonken, co-treasurer, stated that the only thing more sobering than having to make budget cutbacks for next year is the necessity of doing it for the current year.  There was a piece of paper available at the sign-in table tonight, which he’d like people to fill out to provide some feedback on funding priorities.  Tim will coordinate discussions around how to respond to the annual appeal shortfall but noted that it needs to be a discussion with broader representation than just Site Council leadership.  Tim suggested the need for a special meeting to discuss this topic at a different time than within a regular Site Council meeting.  Tim’s plan is to repeat this information in the newsletter and initiate this process.
    A teacher noted that the last time Site Council was faced with the task of having to scale back the parent-group budget, the teacher steering committee was highly involved. One of the things that committee did at that time was to articulate 10 principles to help prioritize funding decisions, and teachers will share these with current Site Council leadership to help once again guide this process.
    Bylaws Working Group Update –Todd Bowers
    The group found some documents from 1990s that help to clarify the relationship between Site Council and the Thornton Creek Parent Group.  They expect to have a draft out soon, followed up by an open meeting of the Bylaws Committee to which people can come and provide input.  They will also provide an alternate way to provide feedback for those who can’t attend the meeting. 
    Meeting Adjourned: 9:05pm