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February 2020: Board Meeting Minutes

Le Monde Immersion Board Meeting Minutes
Mercy Corp, 45 SW Ankeny, Portland OR
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Called to order 6:04 pm.

In attendance:
Board: Shouka Rezvani (non-voting), Ben Melix-Stanciu, Ali Garfinkle, Michal McCamman, Karen Kitchen, and Dory Hobbs (Absence: Jarod Hobbs).

Various parents.

  1. The board approved Q2 financials, SIA grant submission, November board minutes, one family leave request, and two staff medical leaves. Board voted to approve existing slate of directors for additional three year terms and discussed considering an additional board member to enhance community outreach and support, especially in financial services industry. Existing officers’ annual terms renewed: (Jarod Hobbs President, Ben Melix-Stanciu Treasurer, Alison Garfinkle Secretary, Dory Hobbs Vice President).
  2. School Report
    1. Facilities
      We are currently waiting on the perimeter fencing to go up in order to roll out our “PlayPod” (which is currently filled and ready). Portland Free Play advised us not to open the pod until fences are up. Shouka is currently obtaining bids from two fencing companies in case our handyperson is unavailable to put up the fences. The school hopes to be able to continue to work with our handyperson because he has done good work! Board discussed fencing options. Portland Free Play provided good training for staff, with a great equity lens. Staff has had the training. All look forward to opening the PlayPod.
      Shouka is also receiving quotes to install a surface that is not asphalt for some other type of playground. First board hopes to see how the Play Pod would be used before building this other area. The idea is to have at least some other area that is not asphalt (in front of Middle School which is currently parking). Student input for this area is important, and the gardening elective in Middle School is planning for plants and construction of a raised bed.
    2. SIA funds – (Student Investment Account Funding). The district has said it will give Le Monde 100% of its allocation of these funds, with no hold back by the district. Great news, as this could represent about $240K for next year, which is a game changer for staffing, health and safety, and other needs. The grant is for three years but could be in perpetuity. Shouka will share information with the community when she has more information
    3. The PPS Board member who is leading the subcommittee on charter schools is new and appears to bring a fresh approach. This new member is asking helpful questions, such as where the percentage of the school funding retained by the district from charter schools is being used within the district, and also mentioned having plans to visit the charter schools.
    4. We have had a great Speech Pathologist assigned to the school – positive piece of news from the district!
    5. The school has purchased the Look, Listen, Link Curriculum – four 45 min sessions about helping students identify when there is a mental health problem in themselves or classmates, and what to do about it. We are recognizing the serious nature of mental health issues in youth, and this is one way to incorporate positive lessons into our health curriculum.
    6. We hope to bring in an executive functioning coach for the Middle School students, to help them learn organization, scheduling, being prepared for a task, etc. This skill building technique might be best approached by bringing in an outside expert who can offer solid tools with a fresh voice.
    7. Multnomah County Youth Equity Sexual Health Coaches funding was recently cut. The school was referred to another instructor with an inclusive approach to sexual health. She will be coming to 5th and 8th grades; will send parents opt out letters. The curriculum runs about 4 weeks in length and meets Oregon state standards.
    8. Good Staff Professional Development in the following areas in last few months: Kate went to an out of state IB instruction, returned energized and excited; Shouka and some of the teachers will be going to a training for suspension alternatives and restorative justice; David went to a training regarding Emergency Responsiveness; English teachers all attended the Oregon state literacy conference, which this year was about literacy, equity and empowerment, and came back with great resources
    9. Corbett School District saw Le Monde Math scores on state tests and contacted us about our Singapore Math program. They came and met with Shouka, observed classrooms, and shadowed Kate, who did an amazing job showcasing Le Monde curriculum. In general, the Board shares a deep appreciation for Kate, her positive actions and providing a wonderful example for the school.
    10. There have been some good student field trips: the Middle school went to “School Girls: The African Mean Girls” (and discussed an “un-conference” in March where middle school students come together to talk about equity and inclusion, and students said they would like to be school representatives); Bright Start Touring theater from Atlanta did some great black history presentations, so Shouka invited them back to do some anti-bullying performances in the spring; there was an all school field trip to see “Sleeping Beauty” at the Oregon Ballet Theater; younger grades are heading to see “Dragons Love Tacos” at Oregon Children’s Theater; Middle school grades are going to the “Journal of Ben Yuchida”, a play about Japanese Internment with associated curriculum at Oregon Children’s Theater; the fifth grade has a trip to Fort Vancouver.
  3. Le Monde Parents Community (LMPC) News
    1. Community events and community outreach: Project Lemonade started this week – collecting donations for foster youth with a store location at the Lloyd Center, LMPC has a volunteer slot to set up the store; Friends of Trees event.
    2. Bowling party after early release day February 14 always popular and filled up quickly
    3. Noted that in the Gazette some parents don’t realize that you need to open the Gazette in a new tab (not just view in the email), in order for live links to work—worth pointing out to families. Also good to remind parents to leave the Gazette in your inbox to look back on for information, since they are only issued monthly.
    4. Science Fair: this year sign up for the Science Fair moved to an online form. It will take place after school again; pros and cons to doing it during the day vs after school were discussed.
  4. Calendar Conversation 2020-21
    Board discussed the staff’s proposed 2020-21 calendar. Shouka recommends Wednesday, September 2 (before Labor Day) as a start date, keeping in mind that parents express concern that there is no childcare the week after PPS starts, starting after Labor Day as we usually do will affect our funding for the month of September, but waiting until September instead of starting earlier allows for teacher training and preparation. Proposed calendar has 2 less instructional days than this year; one day is specifically requested by teachers, the day after back to school night. Proposed calendar tries to match PPS days as feasible, especially with longer vacation times. Board discussed concerns and challenges with reducing instructional days, including that Oregon is below national average, all that teachers are required to try to fit into the year, and the overlay of immersion, but also that families and students often seem less engaged towards the end of June. The Board discussed year-round school, but recognizes that this type of change requires at least a three year lead time. Shouka is seeing students, staff and families who seem exceedingly stressed and with not enough time for self-care. The board discussed trying to balance everyone’s diverse needs. The Board proposes starting on Tuesday, Sept 1 instead of September 2 to increase incrementally the instructional days, with goal of increasing to 180 instructional days the following year. Dory prefers to get up to 180.
  5. Intern Committee Report
    Ali reports that the interns moved to the spring families, and mostly seem to be doing well. One intern is leaving early for personal reasons. Soon we will start to get applications for new interns. Ali would like to do a “Meet the 2020-21 Interns” campaign ASAP with photos and blurbs, to start in April and May to try and get new host families for next year. School will aim for 4-5 interns for next year and have a more selective application process. We need to emphasize the interns are not coming as teachers, they are coming to assist teachers and can earn more responsibility by showing that they are invested in that learning. We will continue to tweak our messaging so that incoming interns truly understand they are not employees, but are an important and relied upon members of the school community so must take their role seriously.
  6. IB Report
    IB training and implementation is moving along. Kate attended a recent IB training. This summer there will be a large IB conference in Portland. The lead speaker has a reputation as one of the best IB trainers, so much of our staff will be going. Starting to see positive benefits with student led, inquiry-based projects already.
  7. Financial and Fundraising Update
    This time of year it is typical for the school to be cash poor but still on track. We are about at budget, and tracing 95% accuracy on our estimates. Trending positively in line with budget. More money would pretty much always be good! School will start the Read-a-Thon late because of a printing snafu. This is the third biggest fundraiser so that will be helpful. Soon the school will be preparing the 2020-21 budget for review. The new budget will have a separate restricted line for the SIA grant, with specific spending requirements. Bookkeeping and accounting for SIA funds, once received, were discussed.
  8. Le Monde Programs LLC Discussion
    There are still families not paying their AFCA bills, meaning Le Monde Programs LLC has less to distribute to the school. They are collecting more than in previous years, but it still frustrating that people don’t pay for this extended service. May need to move to a prepay format in the future

Meeting Adjourned 8:40pm