OA Thorp Scholastic Academy School
Local School Council Meeting at 6024 Warwick Ave
In attendance: Monica Dunleavy-Gerster, Tammy Woods, Amy Ellison, George Marinoff, Efren Toledo (Principal), Jennifer Alper, Jeremy Chaet, Albino Robles, Jason Qualia, Debbie Dean
Absent: Tim Alexander
The meeting was called to order at 6:03 pm by Ms. Gerster.
Motion to approve minutes from previous meeting (Ms. Woods)
Mr. Marinoff seconded
The motion carried and the minutes were approved.
Review of agenda
Ms. Gerster moved to approve the agenda for the meeting.
Mr. Toledo requested that the Principal Report be moved to the beginning of the meeting since two teachers were in attendance to report on the Autism Cluster Program.
Mr. Qualia asked if the discussion of the Special Education Instructor under New Business would instead be included in the Principal’s Report. As Special Education has been an ongoing discussion at LSC meetings, Mr. Chaet noted that it should appear as an item under Old Business. Mr. Chaet also noted that Old Business should be included as a line item on all agendas.
Mr. Toledo indicated that the discussion of the Special Education Instructor could take place during the Principal’s report.
The Agenda was updated to reflect these changes.
Ms. Gerster moved to approve the agenda.
Mr. Qualia moved to approve the agenda
Ms. Woods seconded.
The motion carried and the agenda was approved.
The first part of the Principal’s report was a presentation on the Autism Cluster Program at Thorp by program instructors, Ms. Hollimon ((K-2) and Ms. Marsiglio (6, 7, and 8). Ms. Hollimon stated that she had worked for 14 years within a therapeutic setting prior to coming to Thorp. She appreciated being at Thorp because “everyone works together” for the kids. She is very happy with the growth she has seen in her students: “some kids that had no speech when they entered the program now have speech; one particular student was tantrumming several times at day at the beginning of the year; now he only has a tantrum once a week, if that.” Ms. Hollimon brought examples of the kinds of materials she uses to teach the students, including visual aids for communication and chore boards. She stated that her goal is to get behavior under control and then teach function. She praised the SECAs that work with the kids to help them modulate behavior. Ms. Hollimon welcomed anyone on the LSC to come into her classroom and observe her classroom at work.
Ms. Marsiglio is working with older kids; her goal is to boost academics. She begins each day with a communication time. Once a month she holds a Speech Breakfast during which her students talk about the kinds of foods they are eating. She also emphasizes life skills. On Fridays her students learn cooking with “buddies” from Mr. Robles’ class. The kids also take community field trips where they go to places like the grocery store to learn to shop and read labels. The kids vary in their abilities. Some can read novels, while others require support to write the alphabet. The key is to meet each child at her/his level. Ms. Marsiglio stated that she appreciates the extent to which the Cluster students are integrated into the Thorp community: “I have come from schools where the kids I taught were not a part of the larger school—the amount of support these kids here feel is huge.”
When Ms. Marsiglio and Ms. Hollimon where finished with their presentation. Mr. Toledo thanked them for their time and reiterated the strength and importance of the Autism Cluster program at Thorp.
Mr. Toledo continued with the Principal’s report by noting that he had already distributed the written report to the LSC via email. He officially submitted the written Principal’s Report to the LSC for inclusion in the meeting minutes.
Mr. Toledo continued his report with a discussion of the following:
Budget and budget format:
At previous LCS meetings, there has been discussion about ways to present the budget accounts and transfers in a clearer format.
Mr. Toledo introduced Thorp’s clerk, Ms. Sanabria. Every month, someone comes from the CPS budget office and sits with Ms. Sanabria to reconcile the budget. Mr. Toledo is designated as an independent school principal: he is not under direct budgetary supervision by the network.
Mr. Toledo presented the budget in an updated format. He noted that CPS is in the process of changing budget transfers. Currently, the LSC must approve any budget transfer over $5000.00.
Mr. Toledo stated emphatically that this is a “fat year” for CPS. A state budget was passed last year, refortifying the CPS budget, but this type of funding is not likely to last. School budgets had already been deeply cut prior to the state budget being passed. Because CPS schools are not dealing with further cuts this year, it feel like there is sufficient money when, in fact, schools are still dealing with the ramifications of previous cuts.
LSC Committee Reports
Bi-Lingual Advisory Committee (BAC)
The committee had its second meeting. The initial meetings of the BAC are held at different locations and they include training and information by the Central Office of Language and Culture (OLAC) to help inform/guide the BAC in its activities. The BAC is required to have one meeting per quarter and at least five meetings per year. The BAC seeks to increase input from families of English language learners while also increasing all children’s exposure to various languages (the State of Illinois wants all students to be knowledgeable in 2 languages). This year, for the first time, Thorp has textbooks for Spanish (paid for by a grant from OLAC).
Continuous Improvement Work Plan (CIWP)
Combined with report from PPLC.
Presented by Jennifer Alper, LSC Teacher Rep.
With regard to the CIWP, after discussion, the PPLC held a vote to a resolution that the PPLC committee would prefer to have one committee work on the PPLC, i.e. the PPLC and the CIWP committee would be comprised of the same people. The following schedule was then established: at each PPLC meeting the first third of the meeting will be PPLC business; the remaining meeting time will be spent on the CIWP. January 9th at 2:40 pm will be the next PPLC/CIWP meeting (under this construct).
At the last PPLC meeting there was also follow-up regarding concern for Diverse Learners, specifically making sure that DL students are having their minutes met.
Mr. Toledo stated that 24 teachers are currently signed up as interested in training for their LBS1 Endorsement. This endorsement will allow a large number of teachers to provide support for Diverse Learners. As per student budgeting makes overall budgeting more challenging, having teachers with multiple endorsements will be the wave of the future.
Ms. Alper continued report of PPLC Diverse Learners discussion. She reported that a CTU Representative came to Thorp to discuss concerns teachers had regarding Diverse Learners. Mr. Toledo stated that, at this meeting, the CTU representative noted that Thorp had 87 students with IEPs and 11DL teachers. The CTU rep stated that “no one has this” (meaning Thorp is a CPS anomaly in being this resourced for DL).
Ms. Alper noted concerns that Mr. Toledo told teachers at the PPLC meeting that he did not want the PPLC to discuss Special Education concerns anymore. Mr. Toledo stated his concerns that the CTU meeting with teachers regarding Special Ed appeared to exclude some teachers. Mr. Toledo also stated that he has monthly meetings with the Thorp Sped Team to which any LSC member is invited to attend He also stated his belief that Sped issues should not be discussed at LSC meetings given the sensitive, potentially confidential nature of SpED information.
Mr. Qualia asked if, at this time, he could inquire about the hiring of a special education teacher (originally this discussion had been listed under New Business).
Mr. Toledo stated that he had hired Ms. Powers as a DL instructor in order to better accommodate DL minutes. He emphasized that student minutes were being met. He also stated that required minutes are higher at Thorp than at other schools since the DL students learn by inclusion and are not removed from the classroom. Inclusion is the preferred method for instructing DL students. This sets a very high bar for the DL minutes requirement at Thorp.
Principal Evaluation Committee (PEC)
Reported by PEC chair, Tammy Woods.
Ms. Woods reported that the PEC met on December 5th with a CPS representative. The representative was asked to attend to give clarification on the composition of the CIWP. The CPS representative reported that the composition of the CIWP is largely at the Principal’s discretion but that the LSC can ask that certain constituencies be represented. It is not required that all constituencies listed on Principal Evaluation criterion on “forming a diverse CIWP committee” be included.
Ms. Woods emphasized that the take away from the meeting was to trust the process and the expertise of the teachers and staff who would comprise the CIWP committee as it is currently constituted.
After discussion Mr. Qualia and a parent rep from the LSC will be included on the CIWP in order to facilitate communication about the CIWP with the LSC.
Reported by Wellness Committee chair, Amy Ellison
The WC met on December 4th. It decided upon two long-term priorities: 1) establishing a school-wide policy/curriculum around human sexuality/sexual harassment/consent and 2) to develop a comprehensive school-wide homework policy. Other WC goals include creating a Little Library of health and wellness books for Thorp students; Creating a Wellness FB page with info on Wellness initiatives and info on wellness topics in general; having teachers present on the Second Step Social Emotional curriculum; creating an in-school Wellness Bulletin Board that focuses on different wellness topics every month/every other month.
The next Wellness Committee Meeting will be on February 5th at 5:45 pm at Thorp.
Friends of Thorp
Reported my Mr. Toledo.
Friends of Thorp will have its annual Pub Quiz on Sunday, January 28th. They will also be hosting a Yoga night on February 18th.
There was no one present to report on the PTA. Mr. Toledo stated that the PTA currently had about $10,000 in its account.
8th Grade Committee
No one was present to report on the 8th Grade Committee. Mr. Toledo reported that fundraising was going well and the committee had about $5000 in its account.
Discussion took place during the Principal Report.
Special Education Instructor
The discussion took place during the PPLC report.
Roberts Rules of Order
Monica Dunleavy-Gerster introduced the topic by stating that meetings are going very long and that discussion often drifts from the topic at hand. She emphasized the importance of staying on topic and shelving discussion for another meeting when it becomes too long for the scope of a single meeting.
Others discussed ways of staying on track/keeping meetings succinct. Ms. Ellison suggested that it was important to make sure written reports are submitted to the LSC for review ahead monthly meetings. Committee members can then decide what information needs discussion/further clarification. Mr. Chaet raised a concern that if the LSC relies too heavily on written reports/minutes that issues will not get a thorough enough public discussion.
Discussion ended with Ms. Gerster’s call for LSC members to be mindful of time and staying on topic during meetings.
Items up for vote
Principal Evaluation: Final Summative Review
Ms. Gerster moved to approve the Final Summative Review of the Principal’s Evaluation. Ms. Dean seconded. The motion passed with 7 ayes with Mr. Chaet abstaining.
A vote on new budget documentation for principal reports was shelved.
Ms. Gerster moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Marinoff seconded. The motion passed and the meeting was adjourned at 7:55 pm.