LE MONDE IMMERSION
Board Meeting Minutes
First Republic Bank at Uptown Shopping Center,
2405 W Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97210
Monday, August 7, 2023 5:30 PM
Meeting started at 5:37pm
- Approved: Q3 and Q4 2022/23 Financials, March Board Minutes, direction to ED to submit EmployeeRetention Credit (ERC) amended returns for four quarters in 2020 and 2021, revised 2023/24 budget,signing of new charter contract, and opening of new bank accounts at a new banking institution.
- School Report
Shouka applied for Le Monde to receive the “LabelFrancEducation” credential. We haven’t heard whether we have received that credential, but the school is receiving invitations to Dual Language Immersion seminars conducted by the French government/FACE Foundation, which has given certain grants. Two teachers, Kate and Leone, attended a 4-day conference for public school French immersion teachers in Atlanta. This unique conference was really enjoyed by our teachers. Another conference is planned for October for public school principals; Shouka was offered a travel stipend. These conferences offer networking opportunities with other French immersion schools, curricular resources and professional development.Academically the school is feeling very positive. During our staff training weeks, in addition to safety trainings (CPR/first aid), staff will focus on mental health and meeting the needs of neuro-diverse learners. David secured a national leader on Tier One interventions, Dr. Gregory Fabiano, to offer on a volunteer basis an all-staff training.This year Le Monde has many new staff members. Visas for current staff continue to be an issue because of the challenge of obtaining appropriate visas for our foreign national teachers, so that staff have the requisite French fluency. This is a significant challenge (and expense) for the school.
- Discussion of Possible Calendar Revision (possibly shortening school year to align with PPS)
The Board would like to look holistically at the school calendar as the current the length of the school year is not working well and as intended when the school was founded. Initially, the school wanted additional instructional hours as compared to local schools to increase the opportunity to learn French, reduce summer learning loss, increase equitable access to summer learning opportunities, and other reasons. However, many practical realities are impacting the value of the two additional weeks we have in our calendar as compared to other local schools and districts, including but not limited to the loss of Special Education services from the district after PPS schools end, the state testing completion date of early June after which time there is limited time and energy to start new material, and many student absences toward the end of the year as families leave on vacation or sign their students up for sports and camps. Juneteenth is also a federal holiday and one that is important to acknowledge—but it often falls mid-week in what would be close to our final week of school. Board members still have ongoing concerns about a longer summer break and mental health impacts to students who may have less structure and routine when out of school. A number of Board members are in favor of a shorter summer break with longer breaks during the year, more like the French calendar.The Board recognizes that there may be divergence between what theoretically would be an ideal calendar as compared with the reality of being a public school in Portland, Oregon. Dory advocates for having a calendar more similar to the French school calendar. Shouka says we need to ask staff for input, and then if we are looking for a significant change, from the community as well. Current “summer break” for staff is really only about 1.5 months, given that they continue working to wrap up the year after school lets out and return to school for trainings before school starts for students. We also have many foreign national staff members who want to travel home during the summer, and might find it costly to go multiple times in a year, and too burdensome to travel a long distance to see family for a short while. The board concurs that if we are going to consider a significant calendar change going forward we should do it after consulting with staff and parents.The Board discussed possible options, such as mirroring the PPS calendar or something different that is very intentional. If we change this year it would be a temporary stop gap while we engage in conversations with the staff and then possibly the wider community. Theory vs reality may dictate, but let’s reach out to determine how staff feel, and if they support a significant change, parents as well.
For this academic year 23/24, the Board agrees to modify the calendar by ending a few days earlier on the day before Juneteenth, while still exceeding local district instructional hours and state minimum requirements. This would make the last day of school for students June 18, and for teaching staff on June 21. However, the board would like to explore the possibility of an entirely different calendar for the 24/25 academic year, such as one more like the French calendar. The board plans to survey staff first and see whether there is interest in a significant restructuring of the calendar for 24/25 and subsequent years. If there is, the board can then reach out to the community.
- Intern Committee Discussion
Three interns are arriving in the next few weeks. Host families are secured and the interns will start with staff trainings in late August.
- Financial and Fundraising Report
As indicated above, the board elected to apply for the ERC. Shouka and the office manager worked together to try to provide appropriate information to our payroll provider, who had indicated that they do ERC submissions. Subsequent to that application we have learned of significant complexity around the ERC. Although we were recently awarded the credit, the board feels it is important to seek legal advice before processing the refund. The National Charter School conference had a speaker who was a lawyer from a law firm that has represented 300+ charter schools who have applied for the ERC, who appeared to have a lot of experience in this arena. The Board directs Shouka to engage that law firm, to opine on Le Monde’s eligibility for the ERC. Shouka reminded the board again that she does not serve as the lawyer for Le Monde and is not an expert in tax credits, so having an expert in this arena to provide advice is important. The Board approves that firm’s legal fee, not to exceed the amount that the firm quoted to Shouka, and directs her to retain that firm to evaluate Le Monde’s eligibility and to recalculate the refund amount if we are eligible. If the variance is more than nominal variance, the Board directs.Shouka to have new amended tax returns prepared and submit them on behalf of the organization. Any remaining ERC refund (net of the expenses above) should be deposited at the new bank in an interest-bearing savings account or in certificate(s) of deposit (something where principal will not be invaded if the CD is accessed prior to expiration of the CD term). This amount will be kept in a board-restricted fund, requiring board approval prior to use.End of year financial reports were discussed. SIA amounts were just released and were slightly more than anticipated, so the board directed Shouka to prepare a revised budget with increased substitute staffing. Shouka will present the board with a revised budget for consideration.
Michal is able to spearhead the Oui Run again this year. She will look at possible dates and share those with Shouka for planning. With the new year, new parent volunteers will need background checks. Shouka will send background check information in an email to the school community.
- Public Comment
No public comment.
Board adjourned at 8:15pm.