December SBDM meeting introduces budget priorities and CSIP goals

Mandala Gupta VerWiebe

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Yesterday, the December School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) Council meeting commenced at 3:11, reviewing the homework policy, meeting minutes, the Parent/Guardian Involvement Policy, budget priorities and CSIP.

Principal Darryl Farmer introduced the topic of budget priorities for Manual so that the council could debate the 2020 goals.

The council agreed that constructing an accessibility ramp in front of the school is a main priority as Manual does not meet the American with Disabilities Act requirements without one.

Farmer also emphasized that he wants to stagger security employees’ hours so that Manual has security for after school events. Currently, Manual’s security staff both work first shift.

Lastly, Dr. Robin Weiss, teacher representative, brought up air purifiers being instituted in the school due to the construction.

“I filed an air quality report that got a district guy out here but nothing happened after that. There’s dust everywhere that students are breathing in and all of my science equipment is being compromised by the debris,” Mr. Chris Applegate (Science) said.

Farmer said that an increase in custodians should be an option, however, JCPS currently has a custodial staff shortage district wide.

YPAS Assistant Principal Bryan Crady then introduced the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) to the council for them to review goals that the school had proposed setting based on previous test scores and other data. 

The resulting goal recommendations are based on five areas: Proficiency, Growth Indicator, Achievement Gap closure, Graduation rate, and Transition readiness.

When analyzing the math proficiency, parent representative Marian Vassar suggested a possible explanation for the gap between African-American students and non-black students.

“A lot of this is because of representation. If I’m a young black man and I’ve never seen someone who looks like me excel in math, then I’m not going to feel confident. Scott [Williams] was the first black teacher and probably the last black teacher my son ever had,” Vassar said.

Mr. Eric Purvis (Math) described how teachers need to make an effort to discuss historic minorities that have succeeded in math or science to instill hope in students.

As well, Mr. Applegate broached the subject of peer tutors and their “wasted potential.”

The council believed that if peer tutors were teaching students it would help the school reach the goals that they established for 2020 and 2022.

After making the last round of changes in the homework policy at November’s meeting, the second reading passed without any more changes on Wednesday.

The final policy asks that teachers refrain from assigning homework on major breaks and on shorter breaks that they not assign an “abnormal amount” of homework due to the extra days. It will now be sent to the staff for feedback before becoming the new, official policy.

With a further review, the council decided to change the phrase “learning styles” to “learning techniques” in the Parent/Guardian Involvement policy after Dr.Weiss cited reports refuting the learning style concept.

As well, the board edited the policy so that under the student, parent/guardian, and teacher responsibilities it also has “respect the school, others, and themselves.”

“All schools should have a policy that creates mutual respect as a basis of their environment,” Marian Vassar said.

When discussing the different policies, many members of the council asked about access for the public to the policies.

Manual’s school policies are edited by the SBDM Council and sent to Dr. Shawna Stenton, the director of SBDM for Jefferson County Public Schools.

The discussion ended with a decision to research whether or not the policies are posted anywhere, and to speak with Mr. David Dallmann (Technology) about displaying them on the Manual website.

The council accepted the minutes for three meetings that took place in November, the first being the SBDM meeting and the other two being special meetings for hiring new staff members.

As the council went over the expenditures for Manual and YPAS in the past months, the members talked over Ms. Dana Wilson coming to the January meeting to discuss the purpose of them and their meaning. 

The meeting adjourned at 4:32 with the promise of the policies not discussed at the meeting to be on the agenda for January.