The LSAT strongly believes that the guidance counselor should be a full-time position. Throughout the budget process, the LSAT urged Principal Ellis to retain a full-time counselor in next year’s budget.
Two letters (dated March 12 and March 15) that the LSAT sent to Instructional Superintendent William Wilhoyte reflect that view.
Most recently, the LSAT met on Monday, April 4. At that meeting, Principal Ellis presented the budget she had submitted on March 18. The budget includes a half-time social worker and a half-time counselor. Many Murch parents attended the meeting and participated in the discussion, sharing their concerns with the Principal about reducing the counselor to 1/2 time.
At the conclusion of the budget discussion, Principal Ellis committed to:
1) Contacting Lafayette Elementary to discuss their budget submission for two counselors to see if Murch could use a similar rationale and resubmit the budget
2) Calling Chancellor Henderson to see how the Murch HSA can make an advance payment through DCPS which would cover a portion of non-personnel services in the school budget (i.e. supplies). The payment would equal the amount needed to cover the remaining half of the counselor position next year. Such an advance payment for supplies would enable the Principal to shift funds in the school budget to restore the counselor to a full-time position.
The meeting was called to order at 5:30 PM. Present at the meeting were Sarah Bogan, Cinzia Roveta, Miriam Cutelis, Nimmi Damodaran, Dawn Ellis, Sally George, Ellen Hays, Lauren Miller, Vicki Otten, Karin Perkins, John See, Jim Whitney and Nancy Zuckerbrod. Members welcomed our new community member, Nimmi Damodaran, to the committee.
Ms. Ellis presented two reports that she had prepared and submitted to DCPS that required LSAT signatures: the Comprehensive School Plan and the Family Engagement Plan. Both of these plans are required by DCPS although Ms. Ellis assured members that they had little impact on planning and operations at Murch: the Murch strategic plan is the operating document for the school. All LSAT members are required to sign both documents. The documents were circulated during the meeting and, in addition, Principal Ellis said she would email the plan to the members of the LSAT.
Karin Perkins, HSA co-chair, discussed the actions that had been taken at the December HSA meeting. At that meeting, Ms. Ellis had presented a proposal for use of some of the HSA’s unallocated funds. The HSA agreed to purchase the following items: 10 new desktops to replace the library computer hub; large storage cabinets, which will be placed in an upstairs hall, to house leveled books; folding cafeteria tables and an outdoor storage shed to store folding chairs. In addition, Sherman Fells, Murch’s technology coordinator, will inventory what each classroom teacher needs to be able to fully operate the ELMOs recently purchased by the HSA. The Murch Auction will be held on Saturday, March 5th.
Planning and work on the auction are well underway; Karin thanked the teachers for their help in creating the classroom projects and the teacher donations that are always so popular. On Tuesday, January 11, 6:00 pm, Murch will host a Deal information night with Deal administrators. Information on the night has gone to all Murch families, with particular focus on Murch 4th and 5th grade families. HSA just signed a contract with the Northeast Foundation to provide Responsive Classroom II Training. Over 20 Murch teacher and aides will be giving up two week-ends in January to participate in this training: January 7-9 and January 29-30. In addition, HSA will buy Responsive Classroom books for teachers who do not have them.
FY2011 DCPS Budget Process
Jim Whitney reviewed the new budget process for the 2011-2012 school year. Much of the action that the LSAT and Ms. Ellis will take on the budget will occur in January. Ms. Ellis should receive the initial budget allocations from downtown on January 14th. She has already received FY2011 enrollment projections from DCPS; these are the numbers that will drive the budget process. Our current student enrollment is 520 students. DCPS is projecting that our enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year will be 543 students. The principal has already begun discussions with DCPS surrounding the need for additional demountables. Murch is an autonomous school which may give Ms. Ellis some flexibility in how money is allocated and spent. Because of the timing of the receipt of the budget, the LSAT will meet to discuss the budget on Monday, January 24, at 5:30 pm.
Members returned to the discussion on the school’s core values and culture. Many members have visited the website share by Miriam Cutelis, the website of an organization that routinely evaluates a school’s culture and values. LSAT members expressed an interest in continuing a discussion to identify and develop our school values. Lauren Miller suggested that the LSAT narrow its focus to determine what the nature and goals of such a discussion would be. Vicki Otten suggested revisiting the DCPS school culture survey to identify strengths and weaknesses in our school culture as one place to start. Members agreed that a sub-group of the LSAT would come together to develop some specific recommendations for action on school values and culture before the next LSAT meeting. Members interested in being part of this process should contact Lauren Miller.
The LSAT will meet to discuss the budget on Monday, January 24, at 5:30 pm and the next regularly scheduled LSAT meeting will be on Monday, February 7, at 5:00 pm.
The meeting adjourned at 6:50pm.
The meeting was called to order at 5:00 PM. Present at the meeting were Sarah Bogan, Miriam Cutelis, Sally George, Ellen Hays, Lauren Miller, Vicki Otten, Karin Perkins, John See and Nancy Zuckerbrod. Jim Whitney was attending a DCPS sponsored meeting for LSAT representatives on the new budget process, a change that will greatly expand the role of school LSATs in the DCPS budget process.
Karin Perkins, Murch HSA co-chair, announced that the HSA would be meeting the following night, Tuesday, December 7th, to discuss how to allocate additional funds. Among the items to be discussed are: new technology; a new sound system in the gym; new books for both teachers’ classroom libraries and the school library and; projection screens to be used in the classrooms with the new ELMOs. There was some discussion on whether every classroom teacher would want and would use a laptop; members suggested that the HSA teacher representative, Wendy Creswell, touch base with teachers on this issue.
There was no principal’s report.
Lauren Miller announced that the LSAT was still looking for a Community Representative. Jim Whitney had talked with several people, none of whom were able to fill the position. Ellen Hays will talk with a former Murch parent to see if she is interested in the position.
Lauren Miller discussed new guidelines governing the LSATs. The new guidelines can be found on the LSAT page of the Murch website.
Members returned to discussions held during the strategic plan process on school values and school culture. During this process, efforts to discuss and develop school values were put on hold until the strategic plan was completed. Now that the plan is completed and is being put into operation, many LSAT members would like to return to the discussion and development of Murch’s core values. Miriam Cutelis mentioned a website she had found particularly helpful in beginning to frame a larger discussion on school climate and values. Members agreed they would review the website and review some of the earlier discussions on core values before the next LSAT meeting on January 3rd.
As there was no new business, the meeting adjourned at 6:07 PM.
The next meeting of the LSAT will be on January 3, 2011, at 5:30 pm.
LSAT members present: Dawn Ellis (principal); Karin Perkins (HSA co-president); Sarah Bogan (union rep); Miriam Cutelis, Sally George, Lauren Miller and Vicki Otten (teacher reps); Ellen Hays (staff rep); John See, Jim Whitney, Nancy Zuckerbrod (parent reps)
The meeting began at 5:07 P.M.
Principal Ellis reported that Nurse Wright had been redeployed to complete hearing and vision screenings at other DCPS schools. This redeployment could be anywhere from a week to a month. Principal Ellis also talked about the highly successful movie night that the HSA had sponsored the previous Friday.
Karin Perkins, HSA co-president, reminded LSAT members that the HSA’s first general meeting of the year would occur on Tuesday, October 19th and that much of the discussion would involve the 2010-2011 HSA budget, including money available for implementation of the strategic plan.
Lauren Miller updated the LSAT on discussions with Murch faculty about the social/emotional goal of the strategic plan. She expressed the support of the staff and the concern that there be sufficient Responsive Classroom training so that teachers could move ahead with implementation of the social/emotional goal. Teachers also wanted to be sure that students were fully knowledgeable about school-wide social/emotional expectations and were held responsible for meeting those expectations.
LSAT members expressed interest in Responsive Classroom training for parents to foster greater consistency between school and home. Parent LSAT representatives also wanted information on Responsive Classroom to be more readily available to parents by posting information on the Murch website. Development of tasks and other planning necessary to move ahead with the social/emotional goal will be passed on to the Responsive Classroom Committee, composed of teachers, so that decisions about funding can be made prior to the October 19th HSA meeting.
LSAT members returned to last month’s discussion on whether to proceed with renewing our Middle States School accreditation. Neither Ms. Ellis nor Vicki Otten was able to find any information that explained why the accreditation had been sought by Murch in the first place. Only one DCPS school – Brent Elementary School – has the accreditation. LSAT members felt that the major purpose of the accreditation was as a marketing tool and that it was something that Murch did not need to pursue at this time.
The November meeting of the LSAT will be held on November 1st at 5:30 PM.
LSRT Members present: Sarah Bogan, Miriam Cutelis, Dawn Ellis, Sally George, Ellen Hayes, Lauren Miller, Vicki Otten, Karin Perkins, Cinzia Roveta, John See, Jim Whitney and Nancy Zuckerbrod
Principal Dawn Ellis’s report
Murch’s enrollment is large.
The Weather Bug station is up and running.
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools: Dawn reported that Murch is accredited by the Association. Our accreditation will run out within the next year. We need to make a decision as to whether to pursue reaccredidation or not. At this point Dawn and Vicki will do some more research into why Murch initially sought accreditation by this organization, and what the benefits would be to seeking reaccredidation. They will report back at the October LSRT meeting. The accreditation seems to mainly benefit colleges and universities.
HSA report by Co-President Karin Perkins
There will be a reception for new Murch parents on Friday, September 3rd.
Friday, October 1st will be the first “Movie on the Hill.”
The “SOS” (Staff our School) campaign will begin towards the end of the week of September 6th.
The “Paddles Up for Murch” effort at the Auction last year raised $15,000. Over the summer, the HSA purchased 3 macbooks, 11 ELMOs and LED projectors.
The HSA has also just purchased a portable SMART board which will be housed in the Murch library.
Strategic Plan Update
Dawn reported that many members of the Murch staff spent the summer creating new curriculum guidelines for math instruction at all grade levels.
Staff also inventoried and organized math and science materials. The school is still in need of a great deal of accessible storage for these materials but this is not likely to happen prior to our 2013 renovation.
The LSRT still needs to flush out the social-emotional goal for the strategic plan.
Karin Perkins reported that the HSA has allocated some money to support completing the strategic planning process this year, depending on what the needs are to complete the process and implement the goals.
Lauren Miller will be the staff LRST co-chair. The parents will select a co-chair as well and notify Lauren.
Meetings will occur on the first Monday of every month. The starting time will move back and forth between 5:00 and 5:30 P.M.
The next meeting was set for Monday, October 4th at 5:00 PM.
Sarah Bogan will take notes at the meetings. Vicki Otten will type the notes up, send them around for additions and edits and make sure they are posted on the website and the Forum.
Lauren Miller will circulate possible meeting dates for the LSRT to complete work on the strategic plan’s social-emotional goal