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February 2018: Board Meeting Minutes

Le Monde Immersion Board Meeting Minutes
at Mercy Corps, 45 SW Ankeny Portland, OR 97204
February 13, 2018
5:50 – 9:05 pm


Board members present: Jarod Hobbs, Dory Hobbs, Alison Garfinkle, Karen Kitchen, Ben Melix-Stanciu, Shouka Rezvani (non-voting member)

Parents present: Jen Stack and Catherine O Donnchadha Also present: Tara O’Neill of PPS

  1. Board Approvals – The board approved the consent resolutions since the December meeting (Charter Renewal paperwork, Q2 Financials for provision to PPS), as well as the December board
  2. School Report
    Today was the Mardi Gras parade. The school has completed 2nd round of MAP testing, with good preliminary results. While the trends seem positive, Shouka will provide a full report later when all of the data is in.Oregon Battle of the Books is scheduled for February 24th. This is Le Monde’s third year competing. The board thanked volunteer coordinators Christopher Gorton and Laurie Hager!One of the French Teaching interns is leaving, therefore Shouka requested approval to hire an assistant in place. The position will be April – June, full time position in the short term but with the potential to stay on next year depending on circumstances. After discussion, the Board approved this hire.

    Field Trips happening: All school ballet trip to see Alice (in wonderland) coming up in March. The fourth graders going to the State Capital soon, fifth graders visited Fort Vancouver last week, and the sixth grade will soon visit the Japanese Gardens.

    Last week was a Professional Development day as a follow up to Mind Up. This curriculum is going really well, teachers are implementing with age appropriate tracks.

    Le Monde has a higher rate of absenteeism than PPS schools and this was noted in our charter renewal process. Le Monde follows PPS protocol for absenteeism and takes the approach of reaching out to the family to see if anything can be done to provide additional support. Most often the reason for absence is illness or family travel. The school will continue to work with families and try to reiterate how it impacts long term success.

    International Baccalaureate (IB) – Shouka brought to the board a discussion about the potential of moving forward with applying to be an IB candidate school in the Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP). Applications for each program are instituted and submitted separately. There are two times we might submit – April 1 and June 1. The application is lengthy. If Le Monde applies in April, we will not know if we are accepted until May or June. Once Le Monde is accepted as candidate school Shouka and teachers would attend trainings. There are significant costs to the program, which were discussed. As we envision, probably $8K for this calendar year, probably $20-25K estimate for next year. Additionally, the program asks for a program administrator or support teacher (.5-.75) who coordinates programming and facilitates instruction. Shouka will run preliminary budget by Ben before bringing to the board. Shouka will build the costs of IB into the proposed budget for board consideration. There is additional IB support staff that comes to Portland often and would support our efforts. Le Monde is finally at a place in its development where this can feasibly happen and can make a difference in the future of the program. IB offers a cohesive and project-based addition to the curriculum that is right in line with our mission and the founding vision. The board agrees that we should continue exploring this possibility. Dory asks how teachers feel? Shouka reports that she has only talked with some of the teaching staff, and she anticipates that it will be viewed as having pros and cons: it will involve more work for already tired staff, who will need to re-think curriculum and how they approach their teaching, but it will also provide a framework for instruction, cohesion, and additional levels of resources and support. Some will love it and some might not be happy. In the end, this was always part of the original vision and could influence academics in a really positive way.

    Tara O’Neill indicated as a reflection from something stated by a PPS board member at one of the Charter Renewal hearings that it seemed PPS wanted to make it clear that students and families shouldn’t expect that doing IB at Le Monde means that they will get to in high school—doing pre-high school IB does not guarantee access or admission into high school IB programs. The Le Monde board reiterated its belief that becoming an IB candidate school for Le Monde is mission driven, not related to getting a specific credit or credential, but to ensure that we are providing an academic program that aligns with our mission. Ben agreed that adopting something with a proven track record will help integrate the curriculum, which has been a goal of the school to move towards truly cohesive learning.

    Shouka advised of a teacher needing a visa in order to remain in the United States and teach next year, as both the school and the teacher would like to occur. The Board approves to apply for the required visa, which will be subject to a lottery for acceptance. Tonkon Torp LLP has previously assisted in obtaining visas on a pro bono basis and offered to assist “low bono” in this matter. Shouka indicated a conflict and recused herself from the decision. Tonkon has offered a flat fee and a reduced rate. In our previous experience we paid significantly more money with a different immigration law firm and the process was not smooth. The board discussed options and costs estimated from other firms, and agreed to proceed with Tonkon’s proposal.

    Shouka raised concerns because our existing background check process is no longer feasible. Insurance has indicated they will allow non-fingerprinted background checks now. Tara indicated that ODE has a process that is not fingerprint based for a nominal fee. The board agreed that this sounds like a good option.

  1. Calendar Review for 2018/19
    The board reviewed the proposed calendar for 2018/19, and discussed pros and cons of various schedule options. The board decided to table the final calendar approval pending PPS publishing its calendar.
  1. Intern Committee Report
    Ali reported that things are going well with the interns. One intern is leaving after Spring Break, bringing the total to five. While this intern has an understandable reason for needing to leave (unrelated to the school and personal), more interns have left during this school year than is ideal. Shouka has discussed a few items with CICD and the French Consular liaison to help set more solid expectations with prospective interns, such as providing additional information before the interview process. The intern handbook has been added to the Le Monde website, which lays out expectations for interns. It was also suggested that we offer FAQs from the intern perspective, and also offer past interns to serve as contacts for potential interns to ask questions. Overall the host families for spring are doing very well.One intern will need to move in May due to the host family applying for an Au Pair. Ali reported that some interns are living paycheck to paycheck, based on additional needs during the month. The Parents Association was supportive of the idea of parents providing additional assistance to the interns via a “wish list” to offer experiences that might be otherwise out of reach. Ali will work with parent volunteer Jen Donovan on this project. Ali also reported that recruitment for host families for next year has started. She will make an announcement at the Spectacle, along with Madame Kate to provide the classroom perspective. Dory suggested that perhaps a child speak as well. Parent volunteer Robyn Rose has agreed to make buttons for previous host families to wear to highlight their participation in the program. Ali will publically thank the host families and will provide them a small thank you gift.
  1. Equity and Inclusivity in Education Committee Report
    The committee is currently in process of providing a Positive Discipline workshop to parents; going really well. Genevieve attended to represent staff and sent around information and worksheets, including positive reinforcements (lists for phrasing for teachers.)A parent suggested information about age-appropriate reading for Black History Month. The committee will put a list of books and information on the website with a focus on cultural competence by grade level compiled by NAACP. Kudos to the committee for their work!
    Shouka shared an article that came out in the Portland Business Journal looking at implicit bias in essay applications and the board reviewed and considered instances of implicit bias.
  1. Facilities Discussion
    Shouka is moving ahead with meetings with developers and our existing landlord, but has nothing new to report. Shouka thinks we are moving forward, but all help in this regard is useful and necessary.
  1. Financials
    Financials were reviewed (Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement through January). We are experiencing significant revenue not being generated as against expectation from Le Monde Programs LLC that operates AFCA. Everything else is pretty much as expected. Tara requested a monthly cash flow projection for the year on behalf of PPS, which Shouka will provide. Although there isn’t an immediate concern, fundraising continues to be essential to providing the services families want their students to experience at Le Monde.
  1. Le Monde Programs LLC
    The AFCA program has not generated the usual income this year, in part likely due to a failure to capture use and invoice families appropriately, though it is hard to tell since financials reports haven’t been prepared due to lack of information from the AFCA supervisor. Parents have expressed concern in general about how the program is for their students in the day to day. In Executive Session the board should discuss HR alternatives. Shouka expressed that we need an after school option for students, and we also need the revenue provided from AFCA to support the school, or else we have to eliminate some programming or generate additional revenue in another manner.  One alternative is to have a third party provide AFCA (in fact, some parents and nonprofits have approached the school with this possibility), but those third parties have proposed keeping all or most of the revenue generated. Jarod will work Shouka and with other board members to try to resolve the issues with Le Monde Programs.