September 19, 2012 Board Meeting Minutes

Regular board meeting – Sept. 19, 2012

  • Board Members Present:  Andrea, Genevieve, Alex, Brad, Michael, Tiffany, Mark, Shelley
  • Board Members Absent:  None
  • Others in attendance:  Dawn Bolotow
  • The meeting was called to order at 6:20 pm.

Principal’s Report:

The teachers have put a tremendous amount of time into getting ready for the school year. They were pretty much there from August 28th on. Jen and Laura came every Sunday. Jon and Loren went out to Hood River to meet with Michael Beckwith.  The teachers spent two days of staff development focusing on three things: Re-looking at the behavior system plan; where we are at with the garden; and setting/scheduling the lunch period. 

Weʼve hired Ken (our building engineer) for approx.. 20 hours a week. He has had two background checks. He was also in the Journeymen Union.  Weʼve hired Kaci Rae as our Americorp garden coordinator. Her mother is on the board of the Tualatin River Keepers. Kaci was born and raised gardening. She is an English major. She is well versed in the permaculture techniques. She interacted well with all of the students. She also went to a K-8 school in Hillsboro.  Lori Bell with also work in the garden on Mondays and Wednesdays. She will help with our outreach. She and her husband run a non-profit “Friends of the Farmers,” group.

Weʼve purchased the new computers for staff, and they are being configured. The 7/8 grade teachers have really worked hard at making some positive changes. We have 8 new students in the 7/8 cohort. The students have been really accepting and kind to the new students.

Garden Plan: (See Dawnʼs handout for additional info)

  • Each class will have at least one unit tie-in to the garden
  • Each class will have a literacy component (examples: read aloud, novel 
selections, writing/journaling)
  • The teachers are designing the Garden System components by grade 
level. 
The staff is engaging in staff development for understanding permaculture (as systems thinking and garden design).

Behavior Plan:  The staff looked at Ross Greenʼs process: Belief is that kids do well if they can. Springwater focus: What does it mean to take care of yourself and others in different settings (instead of the more typically worded “Be Safe” “Be Respectful” and “Be Responsible”). 
Michelle Blanchard will have a new role in our building this year. Two times a month, Michelle will meet with each classroom for a lesson/activity for 30 minutes. There will also be small groups of students (identified by staff/parents) from each classroom that will meet 2 times a month for additional support for the character traits. Each month there will be a new character trait to be focused on. For example: September is “Caring”, October is “Respect”… Also, weekly Morning Meetings will feature exemplars from staff and students based on the character trait. Andrea suggested that we pass out this new procedure at the Back to School Night.

Lunch Schedule:

Staff decided that the students need to play first and then eat, and that they need a full 20 minutes to play and a full 20 minutes to eat. We will have K, 4, 5/6 lunch and 1, 2/3, and 7/8. The teachers have two duties per week: Either they will cover Outdoor Explore or Lunch Duty.  Michelle will be the lead on Wednesday, Heidi will be the lead on Thursday, and Dawn the lead on other days.  We are asking that students bring in food in microwavable containers, their own water bottles/ or cups for water. We do have some silverware and paper towels available. There are only three microwaves now in the cafeteria. We just donʼt have the consistent volunteer group to be doing so many dishes as in years past.  There will be a teacher on duty for each outdoor explore and lunch/clean- up. We need parent volunteers still to assist the teachers.

Budget:

We have more students on kinder scholarships than we had budgeted for. We are right on budget, but the board discussed some options for future years.  We also have higher medical insurance costs (premium costs are rising, and more of our staff are taking the full family health insurance benefit).

School Fees: Only half the families have paid their fees. We have a lot of families on payment plans. There is no problem with families needing a few months to pay their fees, although it does necessitate a tracking system, which Kathy has put in place.  There seems to be a misunderstanding about the transportation fee. A significant number of our families could not attend Springwater if transportation wasn’t available, and we can’t make transportation available unless all families pitch in by paying the transportation fee.  Perhaps we were not specific enough in providing this information to our families; the board decided to re-communicate the rationale for this fee to parents. The community needs to know what the bus fees go toward. Dawn and Andrea will decide how they will communicate this out.  The board discussed the option of a quarterly billing for next year so that parents are not feeling such a pinch at the beginning of the year.

Gen said that her grant writing committee is looking at a few tech. grants. They are looking at “Kick-Start.” For building improvements, we are looking at Home Depot, IKEA, Loweʼs, Target, etc.

Action Plans:

Sustainability Policy: Primary focus was for the garden. Dawn has given us the update on this goal.

Academic Focus: Focus on math program to prepare students for the Common Core State Standards, and basic skill mastery.  Basic skills instruction has already begun. The teachers will be attending a workshop centered around CCSS.  The staff has looked at the state test scores, and theyʼve set schoolwide goal at above 70%. The teachers are already doing the pre-assessments.

Facilities:  Andrea is talking with the district about a rent credit on improvements we make on the property from here on out. We are asking for .50 on the dollar.  A reconfiguration of the facilities has already happened in the building:  the Resource Room, Computer, and Science labs have moved. Weʼve already hired a building engineer. Weʼve begun the installation of the greenhouse. Weʼve contracted for environmentally friendly products for floors, cleaning, paper and pest control.  Andrea is continuing to pursue the lease-to-own agreements for the two portables. She tweaked the agreement to have a buy-out within 60 days, so that it is a very safe investment.  Troy is working on the design and implementation of the bio-swale.

Community Relations:  The schoolʼs mission statement will have an addendum to include an 8th grade outcome.
The staff will be provided an opportunity to apply for visitation stipends (as per Markʼs proposal).
A staff rep will attend each board meeting and make a presentation.
The board will meet twice a year with the staff. We could do this meeting on our regularly scheduled time, or come to the school from 4-7. This is an opportunity to jointly talk about what we are excited about. We could do this in place of a board meeting.
The board discussed meeting on Dec. 5th. and April 17th.

We need people to create the PR brochure, the quarterly newsletter. We can post this on the website, and have all present and past families receive a group email. We have the photographers lined up, but we need someone to do the layout and the writing. Each board member should be writing or finding someone to write articles.  Andrea would like specific photo-op opportunities with the day and time specifics emailed to her. Andrea will edit it and forward it to the website. Alex suggested that we have a flip camera per classroom for photos on field studies.

We need a volunteer coordinator. Andrea asked that Alex might take this on. Alex said she would be willing to talk with Dawn about what this would entail.

The board meeting adjourned at 8:59 pm.