Creative Science School

critical thinkers, courageous problem-solvers, compassionate community builders

PTA Meeting Minutes 2/19/13

PTA Meeting Minutesbrittney

Meeting called to order by Diedra at 6:38pm. Approval of minutes from January meeting: motion made and seconded, approved.


-       Laresa (chair) announced that date has changed to Friday 4/12 due to conflict with the venue (it is a no-school day)

-       Classroom baskets have been started for most classes

-       Many volunteers are needed: pay-to-play volunteers, teacher item coordinator, etc. A request for help will be going out soon, and meetings will be coming up starting next week.

Mid-level Announcement

-       Leadership team is doing a “Roll for the Cure” fundraiser to raise money for breast cancer research. It’s at SkateWorld Gresham on March 9th from 5-7pm. Tickets are $6 each and there will also be other breast cancer awareness merchandise for sale. 100% of profit goes to breast cancer research (about $2.50 per ticket) at Providence Cancer Center for support groups, research, and mammograms.

-       Goal is to raise $1000.

Science Fair

-       Date is Thursday 3/21 (before spring break)

-       Material will be distributed through the teachers

-       Is open to all students K-8

-       5th grade students are presenting projects in their class the last week of February and are invited to show their projects at the science fair, as well

-       64 projects is the max (with minimum 3 foot space)

-       Projects should be done at home, as there will not be time for them during school

Treasurer’s Report

-       Pool Party made a profit

-       Budget does not have any major changes since last month

Sex Ed Budget Proposal

-       Proposal to spend $2000 out of our unallocated PTA funds on sex ed for grades 5-8

-       Curriculum would be taught by Ada Dortch (Deb’s daughter), who is a highly trained and experienced sex/health educator

-       CSS does not currently have a sex ed curriculum (current 8th graders have never received sex ed)

-       Ada’s approach is much wider than the standard PPS curriculum and involves the kids more (in terms of what they know already and what they would like to learn)

-       There is not currently a schedule in place (may happen during regular counseling time for 5-7th,  and TBD for 8th)

-       Idea is to create a sustainable program that the staff could eventually take on themselves (this is sort of a pilot) so that we would not be putting $2k toward it every year

-       For PPS it’s in the health standards every year (starting at K and becoming more specific as the kids get older)

-       Why an outside contractor? The conversation started because it wasn’t currently being taught at CSS. Bringing in someone who is an expert in the field as opposed to a teacher who may not have the experience is a unique opportunity.

-       Right now we are looking at bringing it in for this year and then see how we’d like to handle this for next year and thereafter.

-       Why not use someone certified by the state for PPS? Ada has a connection to CSS and has offered to donate some of her time and work so we can bring this in at a reduced cost.

-       Scope of project is 5 lessons per grade level, working in coordination with Lynne, to cover the health standards

-       All of the health standards are incorporated into what Lynne does with grades K-7 (Lynne doesn’t see 8th graders this year). Sex ed is part of this curriculum, but Ada brings a much broader wealth of knowledge and information on the subject.

-       It’s not unusual for us to tap into our community resources to add to what we do as a school.

-       Filip thinks this would be a tremendous asset to our kids and to Lynne. We know and trust Ada, and after this year we can decide how we might use her or what she brings to us this year on our own in future years.

-       Ada would not be teaching in isolation. She would be co-teaching with Lynne and the teachers.

-       Lynne would like sex ed at the school to be a collaborative effort that does not fall solely on her shoulders and would like to see it be integrated into the classroom and modeled by all of the adults that the kids come into contact with at school.

-       The PPS FLASH curriculum has been around for years but has not been updated recently.

-       Some classroom teachers do not feel comfortable teaching this material, and with this plan that part of the kids’ education will not go by the wayside, and it could also make the teachers more comfortable with the material.

-       This opportunity could also be a training for our teachers.

-       Ada is doing focus groups with the kids to see what they know and what they want to learn, and she would like to do this with the staff as well. Her goal is that this is all-inclusive.

-       Some parents expressed that specifically with sex, they would like someone highly qualified to be teaching the subject matter to their children

-       Right now Ada is in the information gathering stage and will develop a curriculum based on the feedback she receives. This curriculum will be sent home to the parents before it is taught.

-       Ada will also be the presenter at next month’s PTA meeting.

-       8th graders are required to have one quarter of health – most likely this will be when they have these sex ed sessions (in place of where Spanish is taught now).

-       We will be implementing a health program anyway, whether or not Ada comes in to teach it. The health curriculum will be overseen by Lynne (whether it is FLASH or something else).

-       Filip thinks that the FLASH curriculum is outdated.

-       Ada’s information is more current when it comes to HIV/STDs, dating violence, gender issues, etc.

-       Some parents would like to see a strategic plan for the next several years before bringing in Ada.

-       Ada would be working with the teachers and Lynne to figure out how to move it forward.

-       Motion to approve and spend money made and seconded: 25 in favor, 6 opposed. Motion to spend money (up to $2k) to bring Ada passes.

-       Deidra encourages everyone to come to the next PTA meeting to talk with Ada.

-       Filip wants to acknowledge all the points made tonight and will work to make sure parents are informed about the curriculum and that a plan gets put in place for moving forward in future years.

Early Release Proposal

-       Proposal: an additional 2 hours of early release time one Friday per month for teachers to focus on our constructivist practice

-       Christi’s presentation: when Christi first started teaching with Brandi, there was a voluntary extra staff meeting and book study group with Jules to work on constructivism and the school mission and core principles and to prepare for Filip as our new principal. These additional staff meetings have continued since Filip has been here, on the teachers’ own time. The teachers have been thinking about how to do their daily work and meet districts standards, as well as do district professional development, but there is still a need for staff to get together to work on goals specific to CSS.

-       Staff want: time to visit each other’s classrooms, time to work with Jules, and time to look at a variety of questions for discussion specific to CSS.

-       Staff looked at what schools with similar approaches have done: MLC, Emerson, and Trillium all have an early release day once a week for this purpose. Our staff is proposing that we have an early release once a month.

-       An example of the questions addressed during this extra time would be: what does constructivism look like across the grades?

-       This would be an opportunity for staff to connect across grades and bring what they learn from and share with each other immediately back to the classroom.

-       Staff feel that in order to fulfill the promises they’ve made, they need this additional time/resource.

-       The monthly early release day amount to the loss of about 6 minutes per day (about 30 minutes per week).

-       Even though the staff would not be teaching our children during this time, the staff feels that the time would be invaluable and enrich the time they do spend with our children.

-       Filip shared this year’s professional development calendar (attached). He stated that it is hard to focus on what CSS is all about with everything else that has to be fit in to the existing staff meeting and professional development time. He feels it’s important to have designated time, especially as the school grows, for staff to come together to focus on what our school is all about.

-       The teachers need more time to talk to each other across grades about their teaching (other than time stolen in the halls, on their own time, etc.).

-       One parent made the point that the place where the fires are lit for teachers is the times they have conversations with each other.

-       Filip gave the example of the staff meeting in which they discussed using guiding questions in their classrooms, and this is now a practice that is consistent throughout all the classes in the school.

-       These staff meetings and conversations among teachers help us to figure out how to meet district standards in a way that feels authentic to our approach at CSS.

-       One of the goals is to have the teachers learn from each other, which (as one parent brought up) could help the teachers whose classrooms are not as strong in the storyline method and constructivist approach improve.

-       Teachers observing each other allows for discussions of basic things such as how to lead a class discussion, how work is displayed in the classroom, etc.

-       The staff all wants this extra time. If it also has Site Council and parent support, Filip will propose it to his supervisor and get approval from the district. Filip hopes there will be tangible evidence of learning and the effects of this extra development time.

-       One parent asked about how this information will be passed on from year to year and to new staff. This hasn’t been thought about much yet, but Christi feels like we already have tangible evidence of how we are improving, in terms of now having a mission and core visions, etc.

-       The logistics: how will this work for working families, Camp Fire, etc.? We are working with Camp Fire to see if it can be covered. There may be opportunities to create a volunteer or parent led after school activity time to accommodate families who don’t have care options for their children or can’t afford extra care. This has not been solved yet.

-       Parent/community support is currently being solicited and the four parents on Site Council will eventually vote to support or not. Filip would like the Site Council to vote on this by mid-March.

-       What other options were discussed besides early release? Christi noted that they have been working with the “other options” for the past few years. These options have largely been the teachers doing this work on their own time. Filip tried to bring this into the existing PD time this year, but there is just not enough time to get it all done. Filip thinks that we need to reserve time specifically for this mission as we grow.

-       The impact on families, employers, etc. is huge and needs to be considered just as much as the convenience of the time for the staff.

-       The benefit to the students of the teachers having this time and bringing these skills back to the classroom is also enormous. Ultimately it’s the kids who will benefit, and by extension the entire community.

-       Many parents want to know that the childcare options will be in place before being able to support this proposal.

-       Is there going to be a survey or some other sort of way to gauge parent support other than the voices here at the meeting tonight? Will the broader community have a say before the four Site Council members vote? The Site Council parent members should be voting not just as themselves but also bringing the concerns of the larger community to the Council?

-       Could there be another Wednesday late start instead of the district late start and then an early release?

-       One parent made the point that from a socio-economic standpoint, the only equitable solution is to have a free childcare option to cover this additional time. And what happens if Camp Fire raises their rates for this extra time? Is there a stipend for those families who now have to pay more? Can PTA funds help pay for all of these childcare options?

-       Can this be built into the PTA budget?

-       One parent made the point that we have one of the shortest school years in the country and this will now make it shorter – can we really be assured that this will be worth it and make things that much better?

-       Filip: we’re asking teachers to do what’s really impossible in terms of prep time, etc. There is no time to step back, reflect, talk to colleagues, etc. The alignment across grade levels is not happening at most schools. This alignment is important to CSS and we want to figure out how to accomplish it. This is impossible to accomplish without having time for teachers to be together to address our specific mission.

-       Christi: this is not about having more get togethers as teachers. This is about upping the level of our practice as teachers. The way we do things here takes an extra level of commitment from staff.

-       JOHN SAYS! This is valuable! We can come up with an educational, creative option for the children to be doing during this time! And it can’t cost anyone money! And it can’t inconvenience anyone!

-       Could we involve the mid-level students and their service time to help work with volunteer parents to cover this time?

-       Filip will come to the next meeting with more information and answers.

Meeting adjourned at 8:43pm.