Vibrant Schools: School Board Brief for June 23, 2016

Board Report Image

Vibrant Schools School Board Report:

June 23, 2016

(Here is the same report as a pdf file): 2016 June 23 School Board Report Final 8.2.2016

President Vialle, and Directors Ushka, Heinze, Winskill and Cobb were all present. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Garcia was present. Superintendent Santorno was away on a sister cities trip to South Africa.

The “Vibrant 3” Comments and Priorities

  1. Vibrant Schools speaks to systemic issues around institutional racism that have both broad and specific impacts on youth and their families, and, at times, on staff of color.  School board meetings allow for general testimony, but the coalition would like to explore specific conduits that families, and staff can pursue if, and when, they encounter obstacles and unequal treatment that requires serious investigation and follow up.
  2. Dietary restrictions are increasingly recognized as important aspects of serving a wide range of people in the community.  Testimony at this meeting indicated a specific need for the District to address gluten-free options in its food service options.  The testimony offered by a district mother, her children alongside her, was honest and compelling and speaks to the need to begin providing gluten free and possibly additional options to the hundreds if not thousands of youth who may have these dietary limitations.
  3. Vibrant Schools heartily supports the extension of Superintendent Santorno’s Contract. We believe she has done extraordinary work during her tenure. We believe it is important to offer a three-year extension to provide both the stability and time to enable the district to keep moving forward. The coalition looks forward to working with our pro-active superintendent to end the achievement gap and assure that all students are performing at grade level.  We believe that pursuing benchmark goals and regularly assessing measurable progress is a powerful tool designed toward this purpose.

Recognitions. 

  1. Ready Set Read, the pre-K reading program sponsored by Communities in Schools were recognized.  This is the meeting every year where the Pre-K students who have read all 50 books in the program come to be recognized.  It is one of the most fun School Board Recognitions of the year and students and their families were present to celebrate.
  2. Lincoln High School track and field champs.  Coaches and several athletes from the state champion Lincoln HS track team were honored.
  3. National Merit Scholars—Two were recognized this year from Foss High School.
  4. Air Force Association Teacher of the Year (from SAMI)
  5. Tacoma Gents—Gold Star Community Partner award.
  6. TPS PR team—multiple awards from the Public Relations Association, for Communications in School Districts.

Budget Presentation.  Kristin Bell of the Budget Office gave an overview of the mid-biennium budget.  This preceded the public hearing on the budget.  There were two significant issues identified for the Board:

  • The District has been conservative in its budgeting and spending, with the result that there are savings in excess of the required 5% reserve.  The proposed budget includes spending some of those dollars but retaining an 8.36% reserve amount.  This decision ties to the McCleary decision as outlined below:
  • Legislative inaction on the funding required by the McCleary decision, and the risk that local levies will be constrained starting in 2018.  This is sometimes called the “levy cliff” and could cause Tacoma to be short several million dollars in its budget in the future.  Thus, the Board is committed to keeping enough in savings to offset this possible loss.

The total operating budget is now over $400 million a year.  This does not include construction projects.  On a more detailed note, ASB (Associated Student Body) fees are no longer able to cover all athletic expenses so the staff and Board will be reviewing this situation over the summer.

Public comment.  Vibrant School’s Director, Lucas Smiraldo and Steering Committee Member, Sally Perkins, testified in favor of the extension of the Superintendent’s contract.  The comments were well-received by the Board.

See the full testimony of Vibrant Schools leadership here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJkMG1HndRs    Begin the video at 1:07:41

A parent testified about the positive support her son was given in SAMI and SOTA for his unique learning needs.  She advocated for this support to be provided in all high schools.

Alton McDonald of the New Century Justice Network testified about racism in TPS and the need for racism to be addressed by the Board.  He advocated for the Board to direct the Superintendent to address issues of racism among the staff.  He asserted that black children are targeted in the schools from an early age and that black employees in the District are mistreated.  Mr. McDonald noted that racism will not go away by itself.

Vibrant Inquiry: Vibrant Schools speaks to many broad and systemic issues around institutional racism that have both broad and specific impacts on youth and their families, and, at times, on staff of color.  School board meetings allow for general testimony, but the coalition would like to explore specific conduits that families, and staff can pursue if, and when, they encounter obstacles and unequal treatment that requires serious investigation and follow up.

A parent testified that her child has celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes but that the District lacks celiac awareness and is not a gluten-free District.  She advocated for the District to implement gluten-free products, and noted that her child needs to carb count for his insulin levels.  He needs support to do this with school lunches.  When he brings his own lunch, the other students hassle him.

Vibrant Comment:

Dietary restrictions are increasingly recognized as important aspects of serving a wide range of people in the community.  Testimony at this meeting indicated a specific need for the District to address gluten-free options in its food service options.  The testimony offered by a district mother, her children alongside her, was honest and compelling and speaks to the need to begin providing gluten free and possibly additional options to the hundreds if not thousands of youth who may have these dietary limitations.

Superintendent’s Report, Remann Hall, Day Reporting Center school programs.  [Please note:  The Powerpoint for this presentation is not currently on the District’s web site.].

Significant effort has been invested in improving the educational progress of students who are incarcerated or who are otherwise affected by the Juvenile Justice system.  All students who move through Remann Hall are now using Edgenuity, the on-line course work option for high school students.  This means that these students can access their classes no matter where they are, so students who are temporarily in the justice system can continue to make academic progress and earn credits.  Remann Hall is also using a behavior modification approach with a point system that allows students to earn privileges.

Remann Hall school options serve about 650 students a year with approximately 2000 “in and out” during any given year.

Board presented follow up questions, led by Director Cobb, focused on where students go next after they leave the Remann Hall program.  More information will be forthcoming on this.

Financial update— is on the web site.

Curriculum and Instruction.  This featured a long list of items to approve including:

  • The Indian Education Federal Grant,
  • Handbook for Parents Participation,
  • Next Generation Science Kids,
  • Math Express Materials,
  • Springboard Materials, and;
  • The Head Start Continuation Grant.

Business Matters.  Request for approvals, all granted by the board, included:

  • The interlocal agreement with ESD 112,
  • The RFP for Athletic Training Expertise from Children’s Hospital in Seattle,
  • A new scoreboard for Mount  Tahoma High School,
  • An elevator maintenance contract,
  • A pre-construction award for Browns Point Elementary,
  • A construction bid for SAMI, and
  • The land lease for SAMI.

Other Business.  The Superintendent’s contract is being extended until June 20 2019 (the maximum amount of time allowed).  The Superintendent is in South Africa so Deputy Superintendent Garcia made comments on her behalf.  The Board took a roll call vote, 5-0.

Vibrant Comment: Vibrant Schools heartily supports the extension of Superintendent Santorno’s Contract. We believe she has done extraordinary work during her tenure. We believe it is important to offer a three-year extension to provide both the stability and time to enable the district to keep moving forward. The coalition looks forward to working with our pro-active superintendent to end the achievement gap and believe that pursuing benchmark goals and assessing measureable progress is a powerful tool toward this purpose.

Report to the Board:  None.

Board member reports—Brief comments

Next Board meetings:  July 14, August 25.  There will also be a Board Retreat sometime in August, probably on a Saturday.

Vibrant Schools Call to Action: None at this Time

 

Vibrant School Board Study Session Brief: May 19, 2016

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Vibrant Schools School Board

Study Session/Retreat Report Briefing: 2016 May 19

The study session focused on Board professional development issues, including ethics and conflicts of interest, Roberts Rules of Order and appropriate meeting procedures, the Superintendent’s evaluation, and roles of School Directors.

All five Directors were present, as was Superintendent Santorno, Shannon McMinimee (legal counsel), and Paul Walker, the District’s internal auditor.  Ms. McMimimee and Mr. Walker were the primary presenters.

  1. Ethics and Conflicts of Interest

Mr. Walker focused on ethics and conflicts of interest.  Mr. Walker reviewed state law, District policy and a Code of Ethics for Municipal Officers in detail.

  • Mr. Walker indicated that directors or the Superintendent could not accept gifts if the value is over $50. Multiple examples were cited where public sector leaders had accepted such gifts and projecting an appearance of personal benefit or misuse of public resources.  There were a number of questions asked about community events with significant ticket costs, as both staff and Board members are invited to many community events.  Staff and Board members were urged to seek additional information about individual situations.
  • This scenario could also lead to allegations of conflict of interest, if a Director or key leader appears to be using their position to benefit a family member or themselves.
  1. Roberts Rules and Parliamentary Process

Ms McMimimee focused on Roberts Rules of Order, including what constitutes a “majority” when a Board member abstains or recuses her/himself.  Board members received 600+ page books outlining the various elements of Roberts Rules.  Following the proper meeting process is important for decision-making, as a decision that did not follow proper meeting process can be challenged, and could be held invalid.

  1. Superintendent Evaluation

The Superintendent’s Evaluation Process is starting now.  Supt. Santorno is evaluated based on goals she set with the Board last August.  The goals are based on the District’s strategic plan.  Progress toward achieving the goals is documented with evidence, so that there are tangible and objective ways to assess performance.  It is not opinion-based.  The Board will hold executive sessions on June 2 and 16 to carry out the evaluation process.  In August the Board will hold a retreat to set 2016-17 goals with Supt Santorno.

  1. Director’s Roles

Tanya (secretary to the Board) assembled a packet of information for the board including the elements of leadership, communication, a commitment to personal development and a commitment to treating people with civility and respect.

Vibrant Schools Comments

Vibrant Schools strongly supports the current format of measures and ongoing evaluation built into the Superintendent’s evaluation and affirms both the School Board Directors and the Superintendent’s team for developing this approach to initiating progress and change. The coalition values this fact-based form of leadership and will continue to reference these measures as the coalition engages with district leadership.

Call to Action: None at this Time

 

Vibrant Schools Study Session Brief: May 12, 2016

Board Report Image

Vibrant Schools School Board

Study Session/Retreat Report Briefing: 2016 May 19

The study session focused on Board professional development issues, including ethics and conflicts of interest, Roberts Rules of Order and appropriate meeting procedures, the Superintendent’s evaluation, and roles of School Directors.

All five Directors were present, as was Superintendent Santorno, Shannon McMinimee (legal counsel), and Paul Walker, the District’s internal auditor.  Ms. McMimimee and Mr. Walker were the primary presenters.

  1. Ethics and Conflicts of Interest

Mr. Walker focused on ethics and conflicts of interest.  Mr. Walker reviewed state law, District policy and a Code of Ethics for Municipal Officers in detail.

  • Mr. Walker indicated that directors or the Superintendent could not accept gifts if the value is over $50. Multiple examples were cited where public sector leaders had accepted such gifts and projecting an appearance of personal benefit or misuse of public resources.  There were a number of questions asked about community events with significant ticket costs, as both staff and Board members are invited to many community events.  Staff and Board members were urged to seek additional information about individual situations.
  • This scenario could also lead to allegations of conflict of interest, if a Director or key leader appears to be using their position to benefit a family member or themselves.
  1. Roberts Rules and Parliamentary Process

Ms McMimimee focused on Roberts Rules of Order, including what constitutes a “majority” when a Board member abstains or recuses her/himself.  Board members received 600+ page books outlining the various elements of Roberts Rules.  Following the proper meeting process is important for decision-making, as a decision that did not follow proper meeting process can be challenged, and could be held invalid.

  1. Superintendent Evaluation

The Superintendent’s Evaluation Process is starting now.  Supt. Santorno is evaluated based on goals she set with the Board last August.  The goals are based on the District’s strategic plan.  Progress toward achieving the goals is documented with evidence, so that there are tangible and objective ways to assess performance.  It is not opinion-based.  The Board will hold executive sessions on June 2 and 16 to carry out the evaluation process.  In August the Board will hold a retreat to set 2016-17 goals with Supt Santorno.

  1. Director’s Roles

Tanya (secretary to the Board) assembled a packet of information for the board including the elements of leadership, communication, a commitment to personal development and a commitment to treating people with civility and respect.

Vibrant Schools Comments

Vibrant Schools strongly supports the current format of measures and ongoing evaluation built into the Superintendent’s evaluation and affirms both the School Board Directors and the Superintendent’s team for developing this approach to initiating progress and change. The coalition values this fact-based form of leadership and will continue to reference these measures as the coalition engages with district leadership.

Call to Action: None at this Time

 

Vibrant Schools: School Board Brief for April 28, 2016

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VIBRANT SCHOOLS TACOMA COALITION

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING THREE PAGE BRIEF FOR

APRIL 28, 2016:

The Vibrant Three: Top Three Priorities, Comments or Concerns, April 28, 2016

  1. How can Vibrant Schools and its coalition members have advance input in the budget process before the budget is drafted and submitted for a public hearing and to the school board for comment and approval?
  2. Vibrant Schools heartily applauds Director Heinze’s recommendation to standardize benchmark reports to offer consistent data for comparison and analysis.
  3. Vibrant Schools members have worked with youth who use Edgeuity and would like students and families to have more orientation so that they can use the program effectively.

TOPICS AND ISSUES

1     Recognitions

  • Bi-lingual/Multi-Lingual advocacy month (April)
  • Gold Star Community Partner award presented to Lisa Keating for work she has done around inclusion at Geiger Montessori.
  • City of Destiny Award Winners from TPS (Alan Mandigo from ROTC at Stadium, Michaela Smith (student at Wilson), the ROTC Marines at Wilson.
  • Youth of the Year for Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound—Kalaea de Gregory
  • National Board Certified Teachers were recognized.    Tacoma now has 171 National Board Certified Teachers in the District
  1. Superintendent’s Report. 

Michael Mirra of the Tacoma Housing Authority was present with a guest from Washington DC, Andrea Laveer, the CEO of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, an organization expert in designing effective programs for families to build their financial assets and move out of poverty.  Ms Laveer spoke briefly about her efforts to work with the Housing Authority on the Children’s College Savings Program.

  1. Public Testimony and Lead in the Water Concerns

The preface to the actual testimony was a briefing on the lead/water issues that the District has been addressing.  Dan Voelpel reviewed the many steps that the District has taken to address lead testing and replacement of fixtures.  This information is on the District’s web site and the link is here:  http://www.tacoma.k12.wa.us/information/departments/safety-security/water-quality/Pages/default.aspx

No one signed up or testified on the lead/water issue.  President Vialle stated that the Board will be diligent in assuring that water issues are addressed.

  1. Curriculum and Instruction.  Books are being purchased to use in small reading groups in elementary schools.  By having multiple copies of the same book, teachers can work with a group of students and focus on one book.

The District is purchasing 500 Edgenuity licenses (the software used for credit retrieval).  Dr Garcia noted that Edgenuity can also be used for students to take classes ahead (for acceleration) but that it is not being used that way at this time.

Vibrant Recommendation: Vibrant Schools volunteers have worked with youth who use Edgeuity and would like students and families to have more orientation so that they can use the program effectively.

  • Director Ushka asked if “summer school” could be retitled and not called “credit retrieval” so that students would understand that they could use it to get ahead in their classes.
  • President Vialle and the student reps concurred.
  • Later in the meeting Director Cobb noted that summer could be a time to help students in the 8th and 9th grade catch up in Algebra and Geometry or other classes where they are behind.
  1. Middle School Boundaries and Community Input

Ros Medina noted that an additional step has been added to the Middle Schools boundary process, for community and neighborhood input to the Committee in September. This was in response to requests that community members be included on the actual Committee, which was denied.

  1. Report to the Board on Strategic Plan Goal #1 benchmarks.

The slides covered Rigor (% of students taking advanced classes, measured at the end of each semester), Algebra and Geometry grades (C or better).  Gaps were noted.  The staff noted that there needed to be summer bridge support for students who have not taken advanced classes previously.

Director Cobb said that summer bridge also needed to be provided for Algebra and Geometry for 8th and 9th graders.

Director Heinze asked if the report format could be standardized as to how progress is identified, how trends are displayed, common definitions, etc.

Vibrant Schools heartily applauds Director Heinze’s recommendation to standardize benchmark reports to offer consistent data for comparison and analysis.

  1. Budget report. 

Ros Medina and Kristen Bell reported the impacts of Legislative actions on the TPS budget and identified four items for what they called the “budget watch list:”

  • Compliance with the McCleary decision.
  • The continued underfunding of salaries and need to pull local funds have to cover the shortfall.
  • The emergence of the Education Funding Task Force, which was formed to address McCleary and the “levy cliff”
  • A call for more work on the “levy cliff” which could result if the District was not able to run its own levies AND the state did not add more funding.  Tacoma is estimated to lose $4 million in 2017 and $3 million in 2018 if this were to happen.

Vibrant Schools Concern:  The coalition invites input during this budget process and would like to participate earlier in the budget development process for the next budget cycle. Details for the current cycle are offered in “A Call to Action”.

  1. Board comments. 
  • Director Ushka reported on the upcoming Louder than a Bomb event at TCC.
  • President Vialle spoke about the Palmer Scholars luncheon and the need for and value of mentors for these students.  She also expressed appreciation to staff people for their quick response on the water quality issues.

Future Board meetings:  May 12 regular meeting; May 19 Retreat; May 26 regular meeting.

CALL TO ACTION:

  • VIBRANT SCHOOLS WILL BE CALLING COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO PARTICIPATE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL BOUNDARY DISCUSSIONS IN SEPTEMBER.
  • PART 2 OF THE BUDGET REPORT WILL COME TO THE MAY 12 BOARD MEETING.  THE FINAL BUDGET WILL COME TO THE BOARD ON JUNE 23.  JUNE 23 IS ALSO SCHEDULED TO BE THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BUDGET.  JULY 14 IS SET AS THE TIME FOR ADOPTION OF THE 2016-17 BUDGET.

The link to the full report for April 28th is here:

2016 Apr 28 SCHOOL BOARD MEETING REPORT FINAL 6.2.2016 pdf

VIBRANT SCHOOLS: SCHOOL BOARD BRIEFING FOR MARCH 24, 2016

Board Report ImageVIBRANT SCHOOLS TACOMA COALITION

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING THREE PAGE

BRIEF FOR MARCH 24, 2016:

THE VIBRANT THREE: TOP THREE PRIORITY COMMENTS, QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS

(ALSO IN THE BODY OF THE REPORT).

1)    Vibrant Schools would be interested in a needs-based assessment building a rationale for the Jason Lee Academy and is also interested in how the program will further equity and access for youth of color and those impacted by poverty.

2)    Will the new school within a school displace natural Jason Lee students and redirect resources to students who do not live in the current service area? The coalition would like this to be tracked over time.

3) Vibrant Schools is interested in the nature of the data that will be accessible based on the findings of the climate survey.

VIBRANT SCHOOLS TACOMA COALITION

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING THREE PAGE BRIEF

FOR MARCH 24, 2016: TOPICS AND ISSUES

  1. Wainwright Delays and Parental Responses

Staff explained the reasons for delays in construction at Wainwright school site which was driven by soil remediation (Asarco plume impacts), the large amount of rainfall, the shortage of subcontractors and delays in procuring materials. Parents who testified were universally critical over the decision to place students originally designated for the new Wainwright in the basement spaces of Whittier due to water leakages and overcrowded conditions. Several school board members raised concerns around the lack of parental input around the decision balanced by the need to make building decisions that are fiscally sound and stay in budget.

  1. Minority Contractors

Patrick Hughes of the Hughes Group was there to represent contractors of color.  An agreement has been reached and signed, that includes goals and measures for minority contractor inclusion.  Nathaniel Hartley and Grover Johnson spoke about this during public comment.

Follow Up: Vibrant Schools applauds this commitment and believes that It will be important for the contractors to track the statistics that demonstrate inclusion.

  1. Superintendent’s Report

Enrollment for the first ninth grade class at Industrial Design, Engineering and Arts (IDEA) is now complete.  No demographic or geographic data were provided for the 9th grade enrollment. The Jason Lee Academy will be a school within a school and the district plans to flex enrollment policies for students outside Jason Lee’s service boundaries for this Academy. The program will also take part-time off campus home students.

School Board Questions:

Director Ushka asked for special education student data and Director Cobb asked for the timeline for completing staff hiring.

Vibrant Schools Question:

1) Vibrant Schools would be interested in a needs-based assessment building a rationale for the Jason Lee Academy and is also interested in how the program will further equity and access for youth of color and those impacted by poverty.

2) Will the new school within a school displace natural Jason Lee students and redirect resources to students who do not live in the current service area? The coalition would like this to be tracked over time.

  1. Climate Survey

Dr Jennifer Kubista, Director of Student Life, reported on the new climate survey.  developed by the Center for Educational Effectiveness.

Director Cobb asked what parents will see in the way of reported out data once the surveys are done and compiled.

Clarification: It was not clear if Director Cobb’s question was fully answered, Vibrant Schools is also interested in the nature of the data that will be accessible based on the findings of the climate survey.

Other School Board Questions and Responses:

Director Heinze said that the District wants to own what it needs to do.  President Vialle asked if the District was getting a good cross-section of responses, since self-selecting to fill it out might result in skewing of data.

Dr. Kubista responded that the number of responses (staff, students, parents) is being tallied. It was not clear from the response if a tally of other demographic categories such as race, families representing ELL (English Language Learners (ELL) and other categories would be tallied in the report.

  1. Curriculum and Instruction. 

Library books for school libraries are being purchased.  Director Cobb asked if the book selections were taking into account cultural groups and relevancy. Staff responded that cultural relevancy was a factor in the selection of books

  1. Other Topics: (See Full Report for More Detail)
  • Attendance tracking systems
  • Six new principals were introduced to the Board
  • Seismic improvements at the Broadway and 9th space
  • Artificial turf replacement and concerns around materials used
  • Concluding board comments

VIBRANT SCHOOLS CALL FOR ACTION:  None at This Time

Here is the full report:

2016 March 24 School Board Meeting Briefing and Full Report Combined 5.31.16 FINAL

VIBRANT SCHOOLS: SCHOOL BOARD BRIEFING FOR APRIL 14, 2016

VIBRANT SCHOOLS TACOMA COALITION

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING THREE PAGE BRIEF FOR APRIL 14, 2016:

The Vibrant Three:Top Three Priority Comments, Questions and Concerns (Also in the body of the report).

  1. The coalition does not understand the rationale behind the policy of excluding members of the community from school boundary committees. Further, committee members should have notice and access to discussions that lead to boundary recommendations.
  2. The purpose of report card standards is to set clear learning goals for each subject at each grade level. Once these learning goals are clear, Vibrant Schools would assume that the focus on them should ultimately result in more students passing their classes but it is hard to assess this based on data presented thus far.
  3. While cohort groups may differ, when some student groups do poorly or really well every year, it may be an indicator of systemic impacts on certain groups of students and those systemic factors should be explored, understood and acted upon.

TOPICS AND ISSUES

  • Recognitions:

Tacoma won a perfect score on its risk management survey and Mount Tahoma High School won a state award as 11 of 25 Palmer Scholars and 3 of 6 ACT scholars were Mount Tahoma students. Finally, the District won a College Board award based on recent outcomes in the district for access for under-represented students

  1. Testimony
  • Alton McDonald, commenting on his concern that there are no black contractors on current construction projects and no black principals at the district’s comprehensive high schools. He also expressed concerns regarding the hiring and retention of teachers of color in the district and around a recent disparaging comment directed toward a student of color.
  • Bill Hanawalt, parent, and Executive Director of Peace Community Center, asked that neighborhood integrity be maintained and that community agencies’ efforts to support students in schools be honored during the redetermination of middle school boundaries. He asked that community members be included on the District’s middle school boundary committee.
  • Liesl Santkuyl, a parent, indicated that there are real neighborhood identities and natural neighborhoods that need to be honored in the boundary-setting process. She suggested a number of community groups to include on the committee, and asked specifically about the Tacoma Mall area which now has many children but no school.

Deputy Superintendent Garcia noted that the current process is designed for all middle schools, and noted that forums will be available for community members but that community members will not serve on the committee.

Vibrant Schools Question and Concern

The coalition does not understand the rationale behind the policy of excluding members of the community from school boundary committees. Further, committee members should have notice and access to discussions that lead to boundary recommendations.

  1. Report to the Board.  Goal One, Academic Excellence, Part One.

Marie Verhaar and Toni Pace reported on middle and high school metrics. The staff, administrative leadership team and school board members had an involved discussion around high school graduation rates and ninth grade failure rates with numbers and outcomes varying for each different groups of students with the need to review and present some of the results at the next meeting with clearer conclusions.

Vibrant Schools Questions and Concerns:

  • Has the percentage gone up or down (or stayed the same) with the implementation of report card standards for 9th graders?
  • The purpose of report card standards is to set clear learning goals for each subject at each grade level. Once these learning goals are clear, Vibrant Schools would assume that the focus on them should ultimately result in more students passing their classes but it is hard to assess this based on data presented thus far.

 

  • Superintendent Santorno asked about a decline in Asian students’ graduation rates from 86.2% in 2014 to 82.6% in 2015.
  • Dr Garcia noted that each year the students are different–these are not cohort-adjusted numbers.
  • President Vialle asked the definition of “multi-racial” and Dr Garcia replied that students self-identify by racial/ethnic group.

Vibrant Schools Comment

While cohort groups may differ, when some student groups do poorly or really well every year, it may be an indicator of systemic impacts on certain groups of students and those systemic factors should be explored, understood and acted upon.

  1. Middle School Extracurricular Participation

Dr Jennifer Kubista then reported on middle school students participating in extracurricular activities.

Questions from School Board Members

  • Director Cobb asked about the link between the participation levels of male students in activities and whether that participation impacts these young men’s graduation rates.
  • Director Heinze asked if the cost of participation is prohibitive for kids and how families go about seeking financial assistance.

Other Comments

  • Student Representative Bernante remarked that cost is an issue and students do not know about the help they could get, and that the help needs to be publicized more widely.
  • Director Cobb asked about access to specialty clubs like Robotics.

Vibrant Schools Comments:

  • There was no discussion about a possible link between participation in extra-curricular activities and either attendance or academic progress, despite the fact that this is a Goal One Academic Excellence metric.
  • Vibrant Schools has heard from parents and community members that activities may be cost-prohibitive for many youngsters and families and so access to activities can become an equity concern.
  1. The Goal 2 Partnership Report

Partnership staff Amanda Scott Thomas and Merilee Tanbara indicated there has been an overall increase in parent volunteers. Ms. Scott Thomas highlighted several key partnership efforts including the Tacoma Public Library, Family/Community Learning Academy at Jason Lee, College Tours for Parents and an effort to improve attendance by writing a letter to parents whose students have missed 18 or more days of school (10%).

  • President Vialle asked if the list of partners could be broken out by level of partnership, so that it is easier to see who is doing what.
  • Director Cobb suggested that the District then follow up with parents who respond positively to the first letter, thanking them for their efforts.

Vibrant Schools Observation

Because the data was not reported based on different demographics, it is not clear which groups of parents are increasing their volunteer activities within TPS. We understand that an on-line volunteer access capacity is being developed.  Some climate survey data were shown from the old climate survey so will be of limited value as the district moves forward with the new climate survey tool.

General Board comments. 

  • Director Heinze had no comments.
  • Director Cobb reported attending the National School Board Association and seeing well-designed reports for the community.       She also asked how children are assessed and identified as “gifted.”
  • President Vialle talked about historically black colleges and universities and teacher recruitment, the assignment of mentor teachers to young teachers and her concern about takeovers of school districts in other states and the possibility that charter schools might receive large amounts of public funds. She expressed sadness at the unexpected death of Ms. Dralle, a teacher at McCarver.
  • Student Representative Bernante gave additional kudos to Mt Tacoma High School staff.
  • Student Representative Olson gave similar kudos to the Stadium High School staff.

VIBRANT SCHOOLS CALL FOR ACTION:  None at This Time

Here is the link the full report:

2016 April 14 School Board Report Website Finished Version PDF

VIBRANT SCHOOLS SCHOOL BOARD BRIEFING: MARCH 10, 2016

Board Report Image

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING ONE PAGE BRIEF FOR MARCH 10, 2016:

 

TOPICS AND ISSUES

  1. An Extraordinary Superintendent.

Vibrant Schools joins in celebration with our school board over the recent commendation honoring Superintendent Carla Santorno through a resolution passed by the Washington State House of Representatives.

 

  1. Vibrant School Recognitions.

Vibrant Schools recognizes Peace Community Center and Bill Hanawalt for being honored by the White House as program of excellence for summer learning and to Jason Lee Middle School as a designated demonstration site for AVID.

 

  1. Service Provider and Evaluator?

The University of Washington at Tacoma (UWT) has partnered with the Tacoma School District to support the Whole Child Initiative. The program will now be evaluated by the UWT as well. School Board Director Debbie Winskill posed a question about whether an institution can provide a service and also independently evaluate the success of that program. Vibrant Schools believes this is a legitimate question that deserves an answer.

 

  1. Topics for Future Board Study Sessions.

Vibrant Schools believes that School Board Study Session are important and place the following recommendations as priorities:

  • Tacoma’s English Language Learner (ELL) Program
  • A Look at Tacoma’s Equity and Achievement Data
  • Community Outreach Efforts and Ways to Measure Success

 

  1. Transparency

Vibrant Schools would appreciate knowing what each School Board Director chose as a priority for upcoming study sessions.

 

VIBRANT SCHOOLS CALL FOR ACTION:  None at This Time

School Board Brief and Full Report March 10.2016 Web Version 4.13.16

 

VIBRANT SCHOOLS SCHOOL BOARD BRIEFING: FEBRUARY 25, 2016

Board Report Image

                              VIBRANT SCHOOLS TACOMA COALITION

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING ONE PAGE BRIEF FOR FEBRUARY 25, 2016:

TESTIMONY

  • Alton McDonald testified regarding his concern around mistreatment of black staff members in the district.
  • Lucas Smiraldo of Vibrant Schools praised the district for spurring a significant improvement in school liaison participation in the Equity Advisory Committee and expressed his desire to see this impact replicated system wide around similar priorities.

TOPIC AND ISSUES

  1. SAFETY

Dr. Jennifer Kubista, Director of Student Life, presented a report around changes in suspension and expulsion rates among “cohort” groups compared to previous years and noted specific advancements at specific schools.

VIBRANT SCHOOLS QUESTIONS:

  1. In lieu of long-term suspensions or expulsions, what discipline tactics are being used?
  2. Are we seeing fewer incidents of behavior leading to these forms of discipline or are administrators addressing these behaviors differently?
  3. How is the term “cohorts” defined here?

(For example, if a student is expelled from third grade…is s/he included then in her/his fifth grade cohort, or is that student out of the cohort?)

AN OBSERVATION

  • Vibrant Schools noticed specific schools were highlighted in the report and wondered about other schools and regions not highlighted.

 

TOPICS AND ISSUES

  1. THE MEANING OF “GAP”

Vibrant Schools welcomed a clarification from Superintendent around the phrase “gap”. The Superintendent clarified that the phrase “gap” should be used when comparing one group of students to another such as report outs by race.

  1. Vibrant Schools agreed with the student representative who indicated that while CIHS is a great program, many families may not be able to afford them and for this reason, access could be an equity issue.

 

VIBRANT SCHOOLS CALL TO ACTION: NONE AT THIS TIME

 

School Board Brief and Full Report Feb 25.2016 Web Version 4.13.16 pdf

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Undoing Institutional Racism (UIR) Workshops

Interested in Lasting Change Within Our Tacoma Community Surrounding Race?

Vibrant Schools hosted two Undoing Institutional Racism (UIR) Workshops with facilitators from The People’s Institute Northwest. These workshops were August 28th-29th and September 18th-19th.  Each workshop session had 40 participants.  The August session was for community and civic organizations.  September was dedicated to educational organizations and institutions.

In October we brought together ALL participants from the August and September workshops for information sharing and development of action steps as a result of the UIR training.  Those involved in the workshops have been asked to continue on as a cohort looking at collective action within our Tacoma community to address issues surrounding equity and race within their own institutions.  Everyone who participates in our quarterly workshops will have the opportunity to share the anti-racist and equity work they have done at the 2014 Race and Pedagogy Conference.

These initial workshops would not have happened without our sponsors: Tacoma Public Schools, Race and Pedagogy, Solutions for Humanity, Community, and the Environment, League of Education Voters, and Asia Pacific Cultural Center. If you have been through an Undoing Institutionalized Racism workshop through The People’s Institute Northwest, you qualify to attend our quarterly events and be apart of this work. We still have our quarterly workshops that we are looking for sponsors and volunteers for. In order to keep momentum with this work we wanted to have each institution and organization take on an anti-racist and equity project for 2014.

For more on these quarterly workshops, please check out: Undoing Institutionalized Racism Workshops & 2013/2014 Cohort. To be a participant, volunteer, or to sponsor these events, please contact us at:Info@VibrantSchoolsTacoma.org.