Monday, February 25, 2013

Parent Advisory Committee Review

Parent Advisory Committee
Review from 2/5/13 Meeting
The first thing I’d like to say is Kudos to The Lobbestael PTC for all their hard work and commitment to supporting the children, teachers and parents of Lobbestael.  I spoke with a mom from another school’s PTC at the meeting last night and they have only 2-3 people attend their meetings and have a lack of parent involvement.  So, hat’s off to all of you for your dedication!
Title 1 (31A Funds)
-          Title 1 is a federal education supplemental resource (student specific) which is allocated per school based on need of reduced/low income.  The goal is to provide additional funds to schools/children to assist in funding for such things as: additional teachers, parent involvement plans, staff development, early interventions programs, materials (ipads/technology) and paraprofessionals.
-          To receive funds, each school must provide a plan to incorporate and have it reviewed annually. 
-          Lobbestael is not a Title 1 school
-          Within the last 5 years Lanse Creuse ‘Free/Reduced’ or low income has increased from 18% to 35%.
Review of previous meeting’s Foundations vs. Bridges
-          See attached two documents.  There are five advisory committee’s (Parent, Student, Teacher, support services and community feedback) that participated in identifying strengths and weaknesses within the district.  By reviewing you can see the commonalities across the board.
-          Top Strength/foundations are found in the middle color coded block for the Parent Advisory Group.
o   Top Strength varied but included facilities buses, parent portal, great teachers, quality programs etc.
-          Top weakness/bridge can be found in the 2nd page which is also color coded for the Parent Advisory Group.
o   Top Weakness was class size.
§  The group had a long discussion on this issue. The district knows this is a problem but it is not easily fixed.  For example, average class size is 35 students by taking one child out of each class would incur approx.. $350k in additional funding, by taking 5 children (which is really what we would need) the additional funding raises to approx.. 1.7 million.  The district is losing funds constantly due to various laws and proposals being passed (proposal 1 stopped ability to hire new teachers, cannot use millage for it, required money to go to technology etc.).

Budget Talk (the next meeting is all about Budget, this was a small portion and was discussed due to our discussions of district weaknesses)

-          District receives $7,398 per child
-          Last year the largest revenue loss was due to the district losing 238 children of these 117 children lost in the K-12 and the remainder in the Alternative School.  It was explained that the alternative schools enrollment requirements were not strict enough and after reviewing the successfulness of these students the district has updated their Alternative School enrollment requirements to avoid issues like this in the future.
Curriculum Changes
-          The new Common Core Curriculum is being followed by almost all states.  First to be implemented will be English and Math followed by Science and Social Studies.
-          The goal of this new curriculum is to simplify the curriculum overall.  This allows less requirements so teachers can get in depth on more important topics.  Issues rose in the past because there were so many requirements; teachers were not able to dive into subjects like they needed. 
-          Other top rated countries utilizing common core include Finland and New Zealand
-          Next year will be the last MEEPS testing and will be replaced with Smarter Balance Testing.  Go to to learn more about it.  It is very different, what is tested, how it’s tested etc.
-          New curriculum and testing will be a challenge but they are cautiously optimistic
-          Mrs. Polega, please give us an update on how the pilot programs in Lobbestael are doing.
AP vs. Duel Enrollment Classes
-          At the high school level parents are frustrated in knowing how to advise their own children whether they should take AP or Duel Enrollment classes because of colleges not accepting credits. 
A college night will be held on April 18th at 6:30pm in the Pankow Center.  There will be 100 colleges represented.  This will be a great forum for any high school student to learn more about this.
Food and Nutrition – Tanya Nofs
-          This took the discussion back to a unanimous weakness of longer elementary lunches.  One of the main causes of these short lunches which include recess is due to the union contracts which allow teachers 30 minute lunches which translate to the children getting 30 minutes.  Obviously the younger children need more assistance getting food, opening containers etc. and by the time this happens their 10 minutes are up.  A main concern is that we are not teaching our children to have a positive relationship with food.
-          Again, this is a challenge and there are no easy answers, by extending lunches etc. would mean pulling time from other required programs and/or extending the school day which directly impacts the need for additional buses etc.
-          It was stated, it is much better for the students to have Recess first than lunch but classes need to rotate through the cafeteria which requires some to eat first than recess.
-          Ms. Nofs discussed the changes in federal requirements implemented via the current administration.  These requirements do not fit the true nutritional needs of students. 
-          If anyone would like more information regarding this, I can get more data for you.
Superintendent CHALLENGE
-          It’s easy to complain and to point out issues, bridges etc.  She is challenging us to help turn district talk from negative to positive.  Check out the Facebook Page and see positive stories.  Get the word out to other parents to start talking in the community about the positives going on in the district, approx. 35% of the community has children in school so the only way to get the word out to those not directly impacted is to talk up how great we are!
-          Teachers need more recognition.  Currently, many budget changes, curriculum changes and many other challenges can cause moral to decrease.  It was suggested that we do our best to send a note or do something to show them they make a difference…even as a simple verbal thanks.
o   Suggestion – when the PTC puts on the teacher appreciation lunch…prior, send out note to parents asking to write a story or a thank you to a particular teacher/support staff etc. which would be distributed at this time.  These messages could also be posted on the district FB page.