SLT Meeting Minutes, January 18, 2017

On January 18, 2017 the School Leadership Team of The Children’s School (“The SLT”) held its regular meeting in the science room at 7:30am.

The following members of the SLT were present:

ANGELA FERRANTE, PARENT, CHAIR; ROSA AMATO, PRINCIPAL; CHERI ANDERSON, PARENT; ROSEMARIE ASTARITA, PARENT; SHARON BARONE, TEACHER; LUCIA BURNS (ON BEHALF OF NINA CREWS) , PTA; DAVID HO, PARENT; MICHAEL O’NEILL, TEACHER; UNYQUE RENCHER, PARA; KIANAH SMITH, TEACHER; PAULA SZUCHMAN, PARENT; TONIANN TEPEDINO, SCHOOL SECRETARY; DAVID TIPSON, PARENT, SECRETARY; SHARI ZISMAN, TEACHER

The following individuals participated as guests at the meeting:

Bridget Nash, assistant principal, special education
Yvette Agas-Bautz, parent coordinator

The following matters were discussed:

I. Approval of Minutes:

The SLT approved the minutes from the December regular meeting.

II. C-30 Process for Assistant Principal Position

The committee interviewed three candidates. A fourth backed out of the process prior to the interviews. The interviews went well. The committee is down to two final candidates: Interim Acting Assistant Principal Rosa Perez-Leonetti has advanced to level two of the process, and Principal Amato will ask to have an additional candidate advance to level two. The process will be finished by January 20, 2017, and then there are two – six weeks required for the background check.

III. School Mission

Principal Amato updated the group that the staff is still working on homework and grading policies. Once these are complete, they will start work on the school’s mission statement to be inserted into the new SLT bylaws. At that point the SLT will approve the new bylaws having already reached consensus about all other portions of the bylaws. The changes to the homework and grading policies are mostly clarifications — not major changes.

IV. Principal Update

Principal Amato delivered the principal’s report to the SLT. The school is exploring the possibility of taking advantage of a child ID card program offered as a community service by New York Life. New York Life would visit the school, take photos of the children, record basic information about each child (height, weight, etc.) and print an ID card for each child and a duplicate for the school’s files on site. The school needs to have a current photograph of each child on file in the event of an emergency. The information is not stored electronically, but only exists on the cards. Parents will need to give consent for their child to participate.

Ms. Rosa also mentioned that this initiative is part of a larger initiative around safety and security in the school facilities. The staff is also working on a system of color-coded passes for students to carry when they leave their classrooms. Security is now required to ask all parents regardless of circumstances to produce identification when they enter the building.

V. PTA Update

The mini-grant vote is set to occur at the January 18, 2017 PTA meeting and parents are encouraged to vote. The read-a-thon starts in February.

The Valentine’s Day dance is Feburary 11. The gala and silent auction event is set for March 18. There will be suggested donations at these events, but all will be welcome regardless of ability to donate.

The SLT discussed the Parent Patrol attempted at the last event. Many unsupervised students at the last event were unwilling to obey or respect the members of Parent Patrol, and a new solution is needed. There are reports of parents inappropriately dropping off students at events and then leaving.

Students were supposed to have committed to the star pledge governing behavior at events after having reviewed it with their parents. It may be necessary to emphasize that children are not to be dropped off unsupervised at events.

Principal Amato volunteered to have a conversation with Michele Dobson, the volunteer parent organizing the Valentine’s Day dance. School security staff may be able to make their presence known in ways to deter inappropriate behaviors.

VI. Committee Updates

a. Diversity Committee. Shari provided an update from the diversity committee. Co-chair Michele Greenberg has been very active with outreach efforts to underrepresented neighborhoods in District 15. Kindergarten application deadlines were earlier than ever this year, and the committee fell behind. In subsequent years, the committee would like to begin outreach efforts earlier. Principal Amato volunteered to have the open house in early December. The committee will also be looking at other strategies such as using word-of-mouth strategies with existing parents at the school not on the diversity committee. (A pre-prepared committee update is appended to these minutes.)

b. Social Emotional Committee: Rosemarie provided an update. This committee comprises only three people and did not meet since the last SLT meeting. Committee members would like to have a community-spirit day during Respect for All week. There is interest in having more students involved in planning the week.

c. Wellness Committee: Paula provided an update. There has been lots of healthy debate on the possible content of the a school wellness policy. The wellness committee has discussed talking to teachers and students about what is going well with respect to classroom wellness and what could be improved. The idea would be to get better information and ideas. The proposed content of the policy is evolving and will continue to evolve towards an actual proposal as the committee matures. The SLT discussed the need to talk about wellness in ways that are socially and emotionally appropriate and don’t inadvertently lead to negative body-image or shame among students. (Minutes from the last committee meeting are appended to these minutes).

VII. Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP)

Many SLT members would like to be more involved in the annual development of the CEP. There was consensus that the group should come together around early March to look at the goals stated in previous CEPs and discuss how we arrived at them. Then we need to assess needs with respect to curriculum, family engagement, diversity, and other categories. There should also be a meeting in June and a meeting over the summer. The work is labor-intensive and needs to be undertaken by a committee. On the February agenda, we make a point of scheduling a special March meeting.

Diversity Committee

The Diversity Committee Outreach Sub-Committee has been hard at work reaching out to pre-K and child care programs in time for the January 13th Kindergarten registration date.  They have been distributing translated flyers (English, Spanish, Chinese, and Bengali) to the under-represented D15 neighborhoods of Red Hook, Sunset Park, Gowanus and Kensington.  The application period started earlier this year than the last 2 years and this had an effect on outreach.  We will begin organizing earlier this year (Spring) for the 2017-2018 school year.  Next year, outreach will begin earlier (October-January) with hopefully more of a coordinated effort from the school.   Organizers will also encourage families to attend our Open House, so knowing what day that will be as soon as possible next year will be helpful.  The Diversity Meeting plans to hold a daytime meeting in late January and an evening meeting in February.  Dates are to be determined.

Wellness Committee Meeting
January 11, 2017

In attendance:
Paula Szuchman, parent
Layla Childs, parent
Janine DiLorenzo, after-school registrar
Kianah Smith, teacher
Nina Crews, parent/pta co-president

Mike, the head custodian stopped by to discuss possible placement for an after-school refrigerator so we can offer fresh food options.

We discussed looking for outside organizations that we can partner with on programs to introduce more health and wellness awareness and activities.

How to get teachers’ input and involvement? The idea of a Survey Monkey was raised that could go to all teachers asking questions about how they currently handle in-class celebrations, where their pain points are, and gauging interest in alternate ideas.

How to get kids’ input? Could we engage the 4th and 5th graders as wellness ambassadors to younger grades, perhaps surveying them to on what kinds of rewards most motivate them?

Generally speaking, is there low-hanging fruit we can talk to Principal Rosa about? One example is candy being used by teachers as rewards. Is this something Rosa would consider talking to the staff about?

Generally speaking, let’s look at ways to partner with parents, teachers, students, organizations on programs, and then have all of this help inform a policy.

Janine believes getting oranges/apples/bananas to offer to AS kids is feasible and within the budget.

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