Le Monde Immersion
Board Meeting Minutes
Mercy Corp, 45 SW Ankeny, Portland OR
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Called to order 6:04pm

In attendance

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

  1. The board approved two family leave requests, modification of Staff Handbook for up to two weeks of jury duty as paid leave, Annual Performance Plan, and August board minutes.  Q1 financials reviewed and approved (Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheet, PERS reports, narratives).
  2. School Report
    • La Foire a Faire
      Organized by Torie Nguyen and Eva Robinson and their fabulous crew of a lot of volunteers. Really nice and fun event. The board continues to believe it is good to have fun school social events that don’t involve money, to create an inclusive environment. The board extends thanks to the organizers and volunteers!
    • Student Investment Account (SIA) Survey Results
      We will receive some SIA grant funds. The school provided a school community survey to determine how best to allocate funds among the categories of permissible uses. The next step will be to align the uses with specific longitudinal outcomes as permitted by the grant.   We had 171 survey responses.  Among the permitted uses of grant funds, most voted for was the “reducing class size” and by far the most commented upon item; second was “well-rounded education”; third was health and safety. Not a huge differentiation in response rates so all seemed important. Approximately 30% of respondents identified with one of the specified underserved/represented categories.
    • Arts Update:  artist visits, outreach, field trips
      Started spending Run for the Arts funds with a residency with mask artist Shue Hawkins for the middle school. We also have arts-related field trips coming up soon, with all middle school students attending “School Girls” by a Ghanian-American playwright, the ballet and children’s theatre activities regarding Black History month from a national touring theater company. A lot of activities are planned.
    • Equity Report
      Shouka presented to the Board a letter sent by a few families who had questions regarding diversity and inclusivity at the school. While they specifically didn’t ask for an answer, the board would like to acknowledge that it has a way to go to attain its goals of having an environment that reflects the diversity of the district and the level of inclusivity to which it aspires. The letter brought up concerns related to the school being too “France”-centric. The board emphasized that we look to international best practices – i.e., Singapore math, scope and sequence from Canada, 4th grade looking at La Francophonie, etc. While the interns are French nationals from a French governmental program, they represent diverse backgrounds (Algeria and Mauritius, for example). The board also wanted to clarify that the school’s logo is the crest with the four animals representing IB traits (the Eiffel tower clip art is not the school logo, but the governing nonprofit’s logo). The school has provided and is committed to continuing to provide professional development for all staff regarding creating a more inclusive learning environment, including but not limited racial bias training. IB has as a key component creating globally-minded citizens with very international approach. We are also proud of the diversity of our staff given its relatively small size; we have significant representation of historically underrepresented populations, though we continue to seek additional staff members from underrepresented groups and especially staff members of color. The school has lost staff members who have received better salary offers at district schools, where pay is substantially higher. We would like to continue increasing staff salaries so we can attract these high level and diverse good people. Our relatively low pay rates and high need for a difficult mix of specific language skills and licensure is a big barrier to increased diversity, though the board continues to list job posting on national listserves as well as local forums geared toward diverse educators, among other approaches to seeking candidates. The board also noted that we have not had any complaints regarding discrimination, and noted that we should be certain to re-publicize the complaint procedure in the Gazette so that all know how to file complaints should they arise.  Shouka noted that the procedure is also provided on the front of our website and under the Parent Resources tab of the website (www.lemondeimmersion.org).
      In keeping with the directive from the prior board meeting, the board members shared specific tasks related to ensuring a more inclusive environment that they hoped to individually engage in this year:
      Shouka – Black History Month, International Day, Loving Day and curricular materials to facilitate celebration of Loving Day; IB implementation and sharing library; ensuring getting equity PD for staff
      Dory – will research intern programs from other countries; and working with Oregon Vietnamese Community of Oregon;
      Michal – will look into tabling/booth space at the Jade Night Market;
      Karen – January 2020 schools rolling out the new Tribal Curriculum; Karen is a trainer of this new curriculum and would like to share with teachers at a staff meeting and work with students at Le Monde, and will coordinate with Shouka. She notes she will be conducting performances with Multnomah County Library.
      Other ideas for celebration:  Ada Lovelace Day – celebration of women in STEM field in October; October focus on anti-bullying; friendship Fridays; World Kindness Day.The school is placing efforts into awareness and education of neuro-diverse students, as these students are currently underserved. Shouka is working with the Director of Student Support to find more professional development on teaching strategies to help neuro-diverse students. Our early literacy specialist has also received trainings for specific learning challenges.
  3. Parent Council News
    1. The Parent Council reported that they conducted a volunteer event at the Oregon Food Bank – about 50 people attended.
    2. They plan to organize a potluck to bring food for staff during conferences.
    3. The parents inquired as to whether they could conduct a monthly uniform exchange in the school building? Could be held after school and in the hall. Shouka asks to just be informed when this will take place so she can advise staff. Could be a regular day per month.
    4. Parents raised concern over drop off and pick up traffic. The school advised that it plans to increase staffing of drop off after the move to one building.   The school asks that families drive sanely and safely. Let’s be courteous to the neighbors. Parents should not park in the cycle shop.
    5. Parents asked if the school has a plan for students to continue their French in high schools? Shouka reports that she is working to ensure students get high school credits, but we are not a feeder to a specific high school.
    6. Parents asked if after school clubs a possibility? The board noted that while we support them in theory, they are not a priority because they would take away from AFCA, which generates key funding for the school upon which it currently relies heavily. Also, use of teacher classrooms impacts cleaning of rooms as well as teacher ability to do planning in their own spaces.  We have allowed some free after school clubs because they are inclusive and everyone can participate, such as the Magic Club.  To do those we have to have a teacher willing to volunteer their classroom (because they are using it for prep and planning) and staff who is willing to hang out while the club is happening so they can secure the building.
  4. Intern Committee Report
    Ali reports that the interns and families seem to be doing well. Her focus now is all about finding spring host families. Three of the interns will be staying with their fall host families, but some of the rest still need host families.
  5. Facilities Report
    1. The keys for the new middle school extension have been delivered! Thank you to the St. Philip Neri Church, which has been a kind and generous landlord. We want to leave their space in good shape and clean! The movers are scheduled for Saturday of Thanksgiving break. Shouka is planning a field trip for the Middle School students on the first day back because teachers will need some time to prep their classrooms.
    2. A teacher (Genevieve) suggested the school consider adopting the play program provided by the nonprofit Portland Free Play, which provides curated recycled materials for students to play creatively. Shouka and Genevieve visited another school and training to observe how it works. The teachers and staff are unanimously on board with this approach.   Board approves investing in Portland Free Play approach, at a budgeted variance.  The school would invest in some sort of pod structure to store the materials, which are regularly updated by this nonprofit. The organization trains the staff on how best to manage recesses, including a lens of equity and conflict resolution. However, one of the keys is minimal adult intervention; children in conflict are redirected. Used in England with positive results, and locally Vernon school using it with great success. We can build structures for a playground in the future, with input from students.  We do need to keep an area for games such as basketball. This program goes with our values, is very imagination-based, and works well on asphalt.  Hope to have the Play Pod open by March.
  6. IB Report
    Teachers  are visiting other IB schools to observe, including French American International School, Sabin, and Vernon. It is really helpful to see things in action, and teachers are also joining the IB platform and social media groups for additional support and ideas. Teachers have been pleased to see these examples to get a better sense of how implementation of the program looks in a classroom. An IB Consultant came and met with teachers, parents, board for two days. The Consultant said that we are ahead of the game but we recognize we still have work to do. She will send a report with suggestions and modifications that the school will need to implement in order to have its candidacy confirmed. The school may apply in March or April to have its candidacy visit, depending upon how things continue.
  7. Financial and Fundraising Update
    1. The Board formally recognized Michal for her hard work organizing the Run for the Arts! Run for the Arts was a huge success and really fun. The run portion and business portion earned almost $8000! Michal and volunteers do so much work with tallying and accounting – such a huge commitment that really pays off. Second grade took the cake this year!
    2. Shouka received an $8,500 Keller Foundation grant–also awesome!
    3. Audit results were discussed. Of note was that there were no significant deficiencies, only best practices recommendations, which is really good. We continue to show a large PERS liability like most PERS public institutions because of new accounting requirements. Kudos to the finance team!
    4. We are on target with budget. Thing of note: budgeting appropriately because we are within 10% of variance for most primary line items; board anticipates that moving expenses will exceed line item in budget, since classroom expenses to ensure that the new spaces work well for the teachers will be slightly higher than anticipated (variance of approximately $10,000 or so).  Also variance noted above for the Portland Free Play Project.
  8. Le Monde Programs LLC Discussion
    The program appears to be working smoothly.  Many people using the program; some fail to pay on a timely basis and this is being monitored.  Individuals may be refused participation in the program for nonpayment.Meeting Adjourned pm 8:30pm