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October 2016: Board Meeting Minutes

Board Meeting Minutes
Tonkon Torp LLP, 1600 Pioneer Tower, 888 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204
October 27, 2016
5:45-8 PM

Board Members Present: Nicole Aas-Rouxparis, Karen Kitchen, Dory Hobbs, Ben Melix, Jarod Hobbs, Shouka Rezvani
Excused Board Member Absence: Jeffrey Scott
Others Present: Chantal Dufour-Martel, Genevieve Maull, Joseph McFadden, Catherine O’Donnchadha


  1. Approved board consent resolutions from the month: Granted two student family leaves, approved Employee Handbook for 2016/2017, approved Healthy and Safe Schools Plan, approved audit report and Q1 Financials, approved hire of Art Teacher instead of independent contractor, and approved hire of Director of Student Support.
  2. Equity Reflection/Equity and Inclusivity in Education Committee update. The Equity and Inclusivity Committee already has met and has new members this year. An open invitation was sent to the entire community, and the committee is composed of parents, staff and board members. The Committee discussed priorities for the year and already has set up a Facebook page to publicize events and held its first events for the year in the form of parent workshops on gender identity and inclusivity and sex education. Shouka attended a free two-day workshop on equity in education hosted by the Oregon Department of Education, and attended by Department of Education and PPS employees and charter leaders from around the state. It presented strong messaging on the need to view everything when providing education through an equity lense. One poignant video raised the issue of all of the things that historically under-represented communities (women, LGBTQ, people of color) need to “leave at the door” in order to fit in the workplace. Those in attendance discussed some of the things they have felt the need to “leave at the door”, which often reflect key or important personal traits (the “best parts” of themselves), and discussed the importance of creating an inclusive educational environment where less is left at the door and more is brought to the table to enrich the educational environment.
  3. School Report from Chantal.
    1. The staff is thankful for the additional classroom of chromebooks purchased with funds donated at La Fete last year. That said, we now have only two classrooms worth of chromebooks to share between 12 classrooms of students. Between testing, typing, coding, and other uses, the sharing of chromebooks creates a hardship for teachers and students, and more are needed. That said, there is an
      understanding that finances are tight
    2. Teachers have worked with Chantal to create two student learning and growth goals, as required this year.
    3. Chantal currently is conducting teacher observations for evaluations. The evaluation rubric is based on the Danielson model. The board requested that Chantal provide the teachers with the Danielson Framework for Teacher Evaluation so that the teachers will have a reference guide for the rubric.
    4. Chantal relayed that the first round of MAP testing in English and Math has been completed and there is either no or minimal “summer lag” noted on average between end-of-year and fall testing.
    5. Students are being pulled out of class for interventions; not deemed a best practice but Chantal feels necessary given staffing. Not clear if students are being pulled out during the same subject for which the intervention is being performed, or during other core subjects or specials. Board noted that parents should be informed if their student is being pulled out of class for an intervention, and given the opportunity to agree or not agree for such intervention to occur.
  4. Facility Discussion. Although the active search for a new facility continues, there still are not any locations found that meet our very specific needs. Discussions are ongoing with developers and realtors. In addition to actively looking for a new location for the whole school, and discussions with our current landlord about expansion, we are actively looking for additional classrooms offsite to hold kindergarten classes, which would allow us to stay onsite for a longer period of time. It would help our ability to bid on spaces in this competitive environment to enhance our financial position and create a capital fund. Many different facility options are
    under consideration. A worst case scenario for next year during which we have our current lease would be to not have kindergarten classes, and using sibling priority and the admissions process to admit students directly into first grade the following year. At this point, it is likely that we will find at a minimum an offsite-location to hold kindergarten next year, so this worst case scenario is not yet likely. Decisions will need to be made in this regard by January.
  5. Discussion of Proposal to Shorten School Year. Genevieve presented that many staff members would like to shorten the school year in subsequent academic years by about two weeks, to match that of PPS. She noted that students and staff are tired at the end of the long year, and that many students note that those in the neighborhood are out of school. It was also noted that many families leave for the last 10 days of school. Joseph noted that often the curriculum is completed by that time and the last month or two weeks feel like they do not have a lot of educational value. Board members noted that we start school later than PPS, that the original plan for the school in the charter was to have a longer year because more things need to be covered in the dual language environment, and that not all teachers felt that the longer year was a waste. It was also noted that childcare for the additional time can create a burden for working families, so that there are reasons of equity to maintain the longer year. One idea was to return to another initial plan in the charter of having the last one or two weeks of school be teacher-led “project weeks”, where students can do a more in-depth exploration of a concept in a less traditional setting, like through field trips and field studies. Shouka will discuss this concept with the staff and provide feedback to the board before it decides whether to shorten the year, noting that the calendar for next academic year is not due until next calendar year Intern Committee Discussion. The French interns have all arrived, though the last one only recently due to delays in obtaining her visa. The staggered arrival times made training and orientation difficult. A Committee has been created composed of parents and staff to help create more of a framework around the intern orientation and support process.
  6. Financial Review.
    1. The audit report for last year was reviewed by all board members and discussed. The report was unmodified, with no material suggestions noted. Of note was that The Commerce Bank does not receive state “insurance” for public monies on deposit in excess of FDIC-insured amounts, since it is not a depository institution on the state’s list. To date we have not had cash deposits in excess of FDIC insured amounts, but we should consider a switch to a new financial institution, possibly over the summer when it would have a reduced impact on direct account deposits. It was also discussed that there is a new PERS reporting requirement, which results in a significant accounting liability across the state for all entities that are part of the PERS system. Shouka will work with the bookkeepers and auditors to determine how to modify our accounting for this PERS liability going forward.
    2. The Q1 financial report to PPS was reviewed. Though we are operating within budget for the year, absent a cash reserve we are having very significant cash flow concerns. It was noted that approximately 40 families did not pay their activity fee contribution, resulting in a $20,000 shortfall as against where we budgeted (budget assumes that approximately 80% of families will make this contribution, as has historically been the case). There are individuals working on obtaining grants and external community monies, but since there is no PPS payment in September, finances are very tight. Rent and facilities cost almost $30,000 per month, and PERS is about $16,000 per month; these are significant expenses each month. Fundraising remains essential to the continued success of the school.
  7. Fundraising Discussion. The Run for the Arts was very successful, raising in excess of $32,000 of arts-restricted funds held for us at Young Audiences of Oregon. In addition to our traditional micro-drives, our two major fundraising activities are a Read-A-thon and La Fete. The same parent organizers as last year have agreed to chair those two drives. We also plan to have a classroom activity fundraiser at the Winter Dance, again organized by parents. Other parents are proposing fundraising assistance and ideas, many of which we will implement.
  8. Executive Session. Human Resources issues were discussed.