Creative Science School

critical thinkers, courageous problem-solvers, compassionate community builders

Site Council Minutes 3/4/13

Site Councilbrittney

In Attendance: Lynne Gammon Ben Needham Christi Braun Filip Hristic Jeff Pazdalski Brooke Dempsey Russ Alexander-Hensley Heather Zelinsky


Security/Building space-Filip

Professional Development update-Christi/Filip

Visit to Sunnyside report-Heather

Funding Request Approval-Filip

Process for Reviewing and Monitoring SIP-Ben

Agenda Item #1: Security/Building space

  • Not much to report on Security aside from the fact that the auxiliary doors are remaining closed throughout the day
  • As for space in our building, Filip met with Head Start Administrators and other PPS School Administrators, among others, to look at current capacity and future capacity at CSS with regard to sharing space with Head Start
  • Agenda Item #2: Professional Development Proposal Update-Christi/Filip
  • Christi and Filip pitched proposal for adding Constructivist-specific Professional Development (PD) time into our schedule via a once-a-month early release at the last PTA meeting
  • After a spirited conversation at the PTA meeting, parents made it clear that there are significant concerns about the potential cost to families in such a proposal
  • Filip, Christi and several parents are working on other ideas to try and avoid an early-release option while preserving Constructivist-specific PD time
  • No decisions have been made at this point but Filip and Laura Richards are working to come up with options that keep the same bell schedule (no early release or late start)
  • One concern that Filip presented with having a staff-wide meeting during the school day was supervision and he is considering breaking the staff into smaller groups, such as grade-level teams (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) instead.  These teams would meet on a rotating basis so that only 3 grades-worth of students were without their classroom teachers at any given time
  • He would still try to have a staff-wide meeting but may use a portion of the current Tuesday afternoon staff meeting time to focus on Constructivism and make up the Committee time in another way
  • Heather raised a concern voiced to her by a parent that if we use the PD time to deliver arts instruction to the students that it not be a "hodge-podge" approach and that it instead be tied into classroom instruction somehow
  • Christi replied that it would be her assumption that we would be thoughtful about any enrichment curriculum that would be taught during that PD time and would strive to make sure that it connected to classroom instruction
  • Jeff raised a point when he said that it sounds like we are having 2 different conversations: 1) Can we carve out this time? 2) How do we fill this time for the students in the most meaningful way possible?
  • Christi, Filip and Laura (and others) will continue to resolve these questions

Action Items:

  • Laura Richards and Filip to report back on answers to logistical questions at next Site Council meeting
  • Russ to email community to let parents and teachers know that we heard their concerns about the early-release option and are now pursuing other options that won't be as disruptive to our students and families

Agenda Item #3: Visit to Sunnyside Environmental School, Part 1-Heather

  • Katy and Heather went to visit  Sunnyside Environmental School with an eye to observing how they structure their Mid-level program
  • SES started out as a Middle School program and grew into a K-8 and is therefore a strong model to observe
  • They, like CSS, are a Focus-option school within PPS
  • Heather reported some key observations that included being impressed with their 3x a week all 6-8 Morning meeting, moving in cohorts throughout the day, block scheduling to allow more time to delve deeply into curriculum, a Field study every week that gets every 6-8 grader out of school and into the community, a service-learning focus that can be empowering to this age group
  • Katy was not at this SC meeting and will add her take-aways at the next SC meeting

Action Items

  • Katy to give her feedback about the SES visit next SC meeting

Agenda Item #4: Funding Approval Process-Filip

  • Filip brought a draft of a Funding Approval Process form that he intends to implement when staff make funding requests
  • Form is intended to make the process less arbitrary and more formal
  • It is also intended to highlight what benefits each request will bring to the students and how a request, if granted, will support CSS' Vision, Mission and Core Principles
  • Filip can also use this form to present information to SC so that this body can discuss the merit of individual requests in a more consistent way
  • SC looked over Filip's draft and made some minor suggestions
  • Brooke raised question of TAG funding and referred to an article in the Tribune that asserts that most schools aren't using their TAG funding
  • Do we have a TAG fund?

Action Items:

  • Filip to send this draft  to teachers by the end of this week for feedback
  • Brooke to forward Tribune article to Filip

Agenda Item #5: Review and Monitor School Improvement Process (SIP)-Ben

  • Ben updated SC on our current status with regard to the SIP
  • SIP is a fairly prescriptive document that looks at data from OAKS testing to try and determine where a school's particular weaknesses may be and it is a goal-driven plan to address those weaknesses
  • Every school is required to create a SIP
  • Last year it switched from an annual document to a 2 year document
  • Specifically, schools are required to make a plan for improvement in the areas of 1) literacy 2) equity 3) math 4) School Mission and Vision
  • The idea is to look at data from the top performing students and see where they are struggling to identify those areas as our areas of need for better instruction
  • CSS students have just completed their first round of OAKS tests and by early May we will have some data that will help to determine what our areas of improvement need to be
  • One SC member asked if we have flexibility in terms of what data we choose to create our SIP around- Filip answered that the District requires the data to come from OAKS testing but that doesn't mean that our SMART goals (acronym for something or other) have to be tied to testing and we can choose our own measurable outcomes and goals as a way of striving for improvement.  OAKS data help us to identify our "areas of weakness."
  • One example of an area of focus within our current SIP is writing and to address concerns that we have about our students as writers, we have partnered with the Oregon Writer's Workshop
  • Christi and Filip have both heard positive feedback from K-2 teachers about this partnership
  • Brooke asked if SC should be monitoring the current SIP more actively
  • Russ asked if we should be doing active monitoring this year or putting a process in place for active monitoring for the upcoming year

Action Items:

Look at current SIP at future SC meeting