March 14, 2011 Minutes

Leadership Meeting 

March 14, 2011
Media Center

In Attendance – Donna, Carl, Tamsen, Jenny, Lisa, Eric, Rhonda, Amy Rosemary, Shannon, Sidney, Nicole, Jan, Jackie, Jennifer, Krista, Katherine, and the McDills.

Approval of Agenda – Minutes from Feb. 28th meeting approved

Update on school fundraising guidelines from Donna – This request came up because Amy, our French teacher, wanted to do fundraising to support Amity program. Donna talked with several other principals. They sent her to the district website where there is a plethora of information. Basically the bottom line is that the principal and sometimes the area superintendent make the decision.

Our policy for staff would be that they approach Donna about fundraising and if she has a question or concern she will bring it to Leadership for feedback or ideas.

Update on instrumental music program/middle school scheduling – will be discussed during the budget update.

SIP (School Improvement Plan) review by Carl and Donna– Reviewed student data on what we are doing to prompt student achievement. The four categories of the SIP are reading, math, climate of the building, and family involvement. Students of color have made good gains in reading. Math is still a work in progress in all categories. For building climate we are working to decrease student suspensions, which are low.

The SIP will be available on the Marcy website. We are waiting for the district to upload this document. If you would like to see this we have a paper copy available in the office.

Budget Review by Donna – We were estimated to get a 3-5% budget cut. We did lose about $106, 000 of our budget. The district gave us a Math Coach, a CFC and a Reading Specialist. We have a budget of $3,933,713.00 for the 2011-2012 school year. Donna shared the break down of the money we are receiving and from which funds. She explained that there are rules for each category of money and what can be “purchased” from it.

We did gain a part of another ELL teacher. This is not quite enough for a half time position.

Special Education teachers funding – We did not get enough for one full-time person. There are federal laws that we have to follow on how many SERTS are needed for our building and we need to purchase 2 SERTS to meet this requirement.

We lost money in integration aide.

Overall we are down by $106,000 in this year’s budget.

Our new math specialist position will be working with the 4th and 5th grade students for math. The district will fill this position and then Marcy can hire from that pool of teachers during interview and select.

Donna has emailed staff about prioritizing our budget items. Parents have been asked to give input through Parent Council and through the Parents Press.

We currently buy up our K program, our Guidance counselor (.5), our French teacher (1.0), our Social Worker (.6), our Support Staff, and we buy an additional (1.1) positions for specialists.

Parent feedback (38 responses)

Classroom Configurations
8 for Single Grades
6 for Looping
24 for Multi-Age

Project Based Learning
People like this and would like to see more (5) K parents are unaware of projects.

Portfolio Events
Several people talked about portfolio events and how important they are

Generally like all our specialist offerings
Enjoying and supportive of Science
Vocal music in younger grades
Would appreciate a daily rotation through centers classes
Would like more active things in centers classes

We have one specialist retiring this year and this could impact the budget. This may be a time to look at things differently. The citywide autism program also impacts our specialists.

The instrumental music program is tied to our budget and this is being looked at how we can make this work to the benefit of all. As we receive feedback and look at the budget Donna will do her best to meet the needs of all our students.

Feedback from those present at this meeting regarding the budget:

Is there a correlation between a guidance counselor and/or social worker in student achievement? Or AYP? Donna shared what happens with these two positions and what impact they have on students.
One parent recommended cutting our Guidance Counselor.

Isn’t full-day kindergarten more desirable to parents? Wouldn’t this impact student achievement. Some schools charge for full day kindergarten. If we offer two-morning K class’s students could then go to Minneapolis Kids. This would ensure that students get into Marcy.

The goal is to keep the AEs/Support Staff as stable as possible. They have been trained and have been so valuable in the classroom. All support staff were cut by 3 hours last year.

French impacts middle school class sizes.

.5 Guidance Counselor makes slightly more than a classroom teacher. We are sure this is great but we haven’t had it for much time and seems easier to do away with this.

We have no representation of those who need the Guidance Counselor services. We cannot ignore this problem and it needs to be discussed. We are a very white counsel and we need to make sure we are representing the whole school. How are we going to get off of AYP? We need to look at the “big picture.” We need to get the folks that are failing and support them. I think that the guidance counselor and social worker are helping these students.

Smaller class sizes could also impact student achievement.

The Guidance Counselor is working with so many students that need extra support. Our middle school students are gaining from having the guidance counselor and social worker.

We need our AEs they are doing so much for differentiation for our students.

One parent expressed that they would cut a .5 K.

Think that parents would be unhappy with 2 half day K.

Think about changing the hours for the specialist that will be hired to replace the one that is retiring.

Kids are enjoying Science and teachers seem to be supportive of this also.

We used to have a “guidance counselor” and when she left we had a great hole. We really needed that person. While I will always advocate for more specialist time, the guidance counselor is an asset for our building.

Donna is asking for input on the budget and she knows that this is not easy.

Are we going to lose more K kids if we go to 2 ½ time teachers? Currently enrollment is the lowest in our ½ day K.

I think that cutting K would hurt our enrollment.

We have had a Guidance Counselor for the last two years. This year it is optional for us to have one for 2011-2012.

Kids see the Guidance Counselor when they have issues with drugs and alcohol issues.

Sidney and Eve are still in our budget.

The Social Worker has been in our building for a number of years and she has a relationship with many of our students.

The importance of the Guidance Counselor is important for the 8th grade students. They help with letters of recommendations, high school applications, out reach for kids, and so much more. Guidance Counselors are very valuable to middle school students. (We now have a procedure in place for letters of recommendations.)

Have we ever thought about having a language as a specialist? What if French was all the way through the building?

We have high stake science testing now. Teachers also commented on the fact that they don’t have enough time to fully teach the science curriculum.

This week is the time to let Donna know what you are thinking about for the budget.

Classroom Configuration

Have there been academic studies of the benefits of different types of classroom configuration?

Some staff and parents are wondering why we are talking about this again. We are discussing this because several teachers have discussed this with Donna during Data Meetings. A small group of teachers were interested in teaching single grade classrooms. Several ½ teachers and one ¾ teacher feel strongly that teaching single grades would be better for students and their achievement.

Is switching classroom configurations going to solve the problems? Is it a classroom management problem? It seems that the day is designed to meet the varying needs of students. What would we gain and what would we be giving up? Math is currently separate and reading and writing are already differentiated.

Why does this come up every year? This is what you sign up for when you come to Marcy Open school? Do specific teachers need individual support? This is frustrating.

I am amazed at how hard these teachers work at this school. I am amazed at their work and dedication and can see how and why this comes up every year. Teachers have lots of stress trying to make AYP. While I see the stress, I think that multi-age needs to be held onto. It is very important for families. We have a waiting list for our school and it is not because of our scores. There are other reasons that families choose Marcy.

If we say we are multi-age what can we do to support teachers that are struggling with multi-age classrooms?

What does this mean for us as a magnet school? If we keep trimming out things that make us different what will be left.

My biggest concern is the stability of teachers either in multiage or looping. The changes through my family for a loop. Would like stability for kids and families.

Mixed grades does not ensure stability. There are always going to be changes.

There are some things that we cannot control.

Some times I worry that people are not listening to me, when I say, that if we don’t get off of AYP our school is going to have big changes.

This has been a hard year for Marcy staff. They have never had a schedule like this, or have had to follow the district curriculum, and have people check-up on them. We are on 3.1 for AYP. We have enough students that are close enough to get off of AYP. We have to get off of AYP.

We could be restructured if we continue to stay on AYP.

Multi-age does not negatively impact our AYP status. No matter what kind of grade level configuration we have teachers must differentiate to meet the varying student needs.