School Board notes: May 9 meeting

  • The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. with all present. President Sue Chapin asked Vice President Jerrall Haynes to lead the flag salute. There were no changes in the agenda from the board or administration and the minutes of the April 11 Special Meeting and Regular Meeting were approved unanimously without comment.
  • Director of Communications and Community Relations Kevin Morrison introduced the Good News item: the Spokane Public Schools -Spokane Public Library partnership, which has allowed special library accounts to be created for all SPS students and staff so they can easily access the library’s resources from school, home or any computer or device. Sarah Bain, director of Strategic Partnerships and with Spokane Public Library, spoke of the work done with the district over the past year to bring this partnership to fruition. Chris Hansen, librarian at Shadle Park High School, spoke to the vast additional resources that this partnership brings to SPS students. She conveyed that this access makes using the library a habit and reduces some of the significant barriers that have prevented some students from being able to use those resources. Students Zoey Judge and Emma Caraway from Spokane Public Montessori each spoke to the board about how this opportunity allows them additional resources to help in their school work.
  • President Chapin provided instructions for the public wishing to comment on items both on the agenda, as well as those items not on the agenda. She clarified for those in attendance that due to open meeting laws of the state, the board will not make statements or comments when taking public comments on items not on the board agenda. Approximately 40 members of the public presented comments regarding the district’s process in selecting a human growth and development curriculum that aligns with state standards. This item was not on the agenda, and therefore the board did not comment or take action.
  • Director Deana Brower asked for a motion to move the item A, “Charter School Application Presentation,” to the next item on the agenda in order to accommodate the members of the public who were present to comment on this presentation. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
  • Director of the Department of Innovations Jeannette Vaughn presented the application for a new charter school in a public forum as a component of the overall application process. The proposal included a presentation by Becca Moore and Dr. Steven Gering for approval of the Spokane Classical Academy. The presentation included the characteristics that make the classical education approach suitable for the Spokane community under the Spokane Public Schools Charter authorizer umbrella. Nine members of the public spoke in support of the application.
    Upon completion of the public forum section of the presentation, Director Mike Wiser asked for clarification on the term “Classical Education,” and what separates it from Spokane International Academy, an existing charter in the Spokane Public Schools attendance area. It was explained that this curriculum would not be using an international approach and would instead focus on STEM.
    Director Brian Newberry asked for clarification on the “Classic” education in relation to a local private school offering the same style curriculum. Ms. Moore commented that the Latin component would be optional, per feedback they have received thus far, and when asked about the lack of Latin instruction available in our community, she responded that the search for Latin resources has been augmented through the Classic Language Department at Gonzaga University.
    President Chapin asked about the search for a suitable location and Ms. Moore shared that those discussions are ongoing, including possible co-locating with Spokane International Academy. She commented that it could take up to two years to find a viable long-term location. Director Chapin followed up with a question on transportation within their model. Dr. Gering suggested that the SPS “hub model” would allow the diverse range of students that the school is looking for. Director Chapin’s final question revolved around concerns that might be interpreted due to the similarities that the school name has with a religious based institution in the area. She asked for assurances that the foundation of this application was not based on any single religious premise as this is a public charter school and must maintain the separation as any other public school. Both Dr. Gering and Ms. Moore assured the board that there was no direct association with any particular theology, but broad-based in the classical sense.
    School Board Vice President Jerrall Haynes asked the presenters about supports that they may have in place for both special needs students and English Language Learners within this diverse community they are looking to attract to their model. Ms. Moore explained that those considerations were within their proposal, and that a full-time special education teacher was included in their plan, as well as resources necessary to meet ELL requirements that come forth.
    Director Brower had some initial concerns about the lack of space for the program and would like to seek clarification in the future on plans to address no definite location given the challenges of limited options in suitable and sustainable property in the area.
    Find the Spokane Classical Academy presentation here.
  • Director Jerrall Haynes moved that the Consent Agenda as presented in board docs be accepted in its entirety. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
  • New business resumed with the presentation for acceptance of the District Career and Technical Education as required in Procedure 2170. The presentation by CTE Director Rob Reavis included an overview of program goals, program descriptions, demographic information, success indicators and improvement tactics to the program. Find the CTE presentation here. Upon review, and following up with positive comments on the growth of CTE programs in SPS, the plan was unanimously approved.
  • Chief Academic Officer Adam Swinyard and Director of Elementary Curriculum Matthew Henshaw presented a Teaching and Learning update for the elementary levels. Their presentation centered on three components: Fostering Academic Behaviors, Providing Academic Press, and Promoting a Culture of Success within SPS. Find the T&L presentation here.
  • Director of Assessment Travis Schulhauser presented a comprehensive program evaluation and review of the high school iCAN credit recovery program including recommendations for improvement. Find the iCAN presentation here.
  • Chief Financial Officer and Interim Director of Human Resources Linda McDermott presented the interim financial and enrollment report up through March 2018. Dr. McDermott reported that the $419 million budget was 99.1 percent on track with projections and enrollment trends were on par with previous years back to 2013-14. Find the financial report here.
  • Board reports included Director Wiser asking that visits to our schools by our local legislators be arranged so that either he, or SPS Board Legislative Co-Chair Brian Newberry, can present the great work being done at SPS. Director Newberry referenced his being able to recognize Libby custodian Craig Wallgreen. He also mentioned the ongoing work he and Director Chapin are doing with the Boundary Study Committee and a brief report on the forums he was able to attend. President Chapin briefed the board on her trip to Washington, D.C., to recognize National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning. Director Chapin was complimentary of Mandy representing the field of teaching and Spokane beautifully. She related how during her trip she was able to discuss with the national teacher appropriations committee on education funding the degree of the special education gap in funding in public education and what that means in delivery of services for a district.
  • The superintendent report included Dr. Redinger informing the board that OSPI State Superintendent Chris Reykdahl has asked her to be on the budget committee roundtable for the coming two years.