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WMPCS Community Meeting Dec-2-2010 Minutes v1

Washington Montessori Public Charter School


Minutes for Community Meeting held Dec. 2, 2010
Attendees: (34 total)
Steve Jones, Head of School Angie Antrican Austin Smigel
Jen Hales, Associate Head of School LeeAnn DelMonte Dori St. Amant
Stacey Roberson, Admin. Assistant Ginger Gardiner Ronnie Watson
Jessica Adams, Teacher 6-9 class Bianca Gentle Jenn Windham
JoDee Anderson, Teacher Assist. 3-6 Joel Leggett Pam Woolard
Dale Baker, Curriculum Coordinator Jamie Midette
Lisa Barmer, Teacher Resource Cortni & Russell Lilley
Rae Cochran, Teacher Resource Jill Naberhaus
Jill Gaddy, Teacher 3-6 class Elizabeth Oliveira
Janice O’Kane, Teacher 6-9 class Lori O’Brien
Bonnie Miller, Teacher 6-9 class Darla Prescott
Amy Smigel, Teacher Assistant 9-12 Franklin Scott, Jr.
Lisa Lawless, B.O.T. Member
Treva Maxwell Anderson, B.O.T.
Rachel Midgette, B.O.T. Member
Darwin Woolard, B.O.T. Member

NOTE: If you attended and your name is not listed, please remember to sign in at the next
community meeting.

NEXT Community Meeting: Thursday, January 13 at 6:30 pm

Agenda Items
• Mr. Jones’ Report to Community
• Survey Committee Results of First Survey
• 2011 Auction
• Scavenger Hunt
• 5-year Plan
• Future of Community-elected B.O.T. Positions
and newly elected Trustee: Lisa Lawless
• Montessori Moment

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Mr. Jones’ Report to the WMPCS Community


• WMPTO has decided to hold a new fundraiser next March: WMPTO Scavenger Hunt
• Austin Smigel presented Survey results to Board of Trustees at their November B.O.T.
meeting and also to the faculty/staff.
• WMPCS raised $1004 via its “buy a chain link” fundraiser for Chloe Alligood, the
toddler-aged sister of a WMPCS student who is in need of a liver transplant.
• 9-12 classes presented 40 blankets to the Beaufort County Hospital Neonatal unit.
• 6-9 classes visited Ridgewood and Britthaven nursing homes for the Holidays, singing
and giving small gifts to residents.
• Mrs. Rhem took the traveling violin group to The Village, treating them to a Holiday
concert and 30 pies donated by the WMPCS community.
• Those wanting to participate with WMPCS in the Christmas parade, dress in school t-
shirts and meet at SCOOPS at 9:30 a.m on Saturday.
• The Middle School students will be serving baked goods and hot chocolate at the
Washington Christmas Flotilla on Saturday evening.
• WMPCS has set a goal to raise $1500 for the Heifer Project as its annual Christmas
giving project.
• January 20 is the lottery drawing for 2011-2012 enrollment.
• Mr. Jones corrected a misinterpretation of something he had discussed earlier. When
he conveyed that the Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI) in Raleigh said they would do
away with the gateways for EOG testing, this only means they will no longer use
grade 3, 5 and 8 EOG test results as the basis for promotion. The tests will continue.

Survey Committee – Results of First Survey


Austin Smigel presented the results of the first survey completed by the Survey Committee, a
committee created with the help of B.O.T. member Treva Anderson. Other members include
Austin Smigel, Dori St. Amant, Elizabeth Oliveira and Mr. Jones. Through several meetings
last Fall, the Survey Committee decided to develop an initial “climate survey” which would
help to better understand what issues the community has with WMPCS, where it sees the
school as performing well and where it needs improvement. This survey and others to
possibly follow would serve as an additional means of letting the community’s voice be heard
(but in an anonymous way) and also provide data for long-term strategic planning.

The overall response rate was 45%. Austin felt this was low due to the small size of our
community and the community’s expression of need for more communication in September,
but everyone agreed it was a good start. The top part of the survey gave a numeric ranking
from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) on statements such as “Our family is very
happy with WMPCS as a whole” and “The school is safe”, etc. The overall average ranking
was 4.42, indicating that overall the community rates the school’s performance positively.

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The bottom part of the survey asked what should be the staff’s top 5 priorities for the coming
year, ranking 1 as most important down to 5. There was also a space for comments. Class
Size ranked as the top concern, followed by (#2) Additional Student Instruction, #(3)
Safety, (#4) Montessori Method Adherence and (#5) Communication. Within safety, some
of the comments indicated areas of concern include fencing, the parking lot, children alone on
campus and the Before and After School program (BASC). There were also a number of
comments desiring a high school, a gym and/or cafeteria/multi-purpose building, more
extracurricular activities such as sports, more music/encore, more education for parents
about what Montessori actually entails and how it should be implemented, and a desire for a
written 5-year plan that includes community input. There were also several comments about
difficulties in communicating with teachers, especially in the area of follow-up.

Mr. Jones and the community members present expressed thanks to Mr. Smigel and the
overall reaction was positive. Mr. Smigel said that the Survey Committee would continue to
meet after the Christmas break to decide how to proceed, with initial plans to do another
survey in late Spring, this one aimed at getting more clarification and detail around the areas
where the survey indicated WMPCS needed improvement, such as safety and additional
instruction.

Mr. Jones was asked what he and the B.O.T. will do with these survey results? He responded
that he will review them and separate them into 2 categories: (1) what affects the budget (i.e.
requires significant funding) and (2) what does not. The former must be presented to the staff
and then a recommendation can be made to the B.O.T. regarding how to address these,
which will take a longer term approach due to funding. The latter is anything that can be done
without too much cost, and these Mr. Jones will pursue immediately and on an ongoing basis.

Rachel Midgette commented that some of the issues raised in the survey results have
actually started to be addressed by the B.O.T., but the community does not seem to know
about this. She suggested that the community could learn more by attending the monthly
meetings “Keeping Up with Mr. Jones”, where he presents an update on these and other
improvement efforts ongoing at the school. Regarding larger, strategic issues, such as Class
Size, Mrs. Midgette suggested that these will need to be discussed and suggested that the
top items from the survey results be added to the February B.O.T. Retreat agenda.

Based on input from Sharon Main, it was agreed that in the future, the Survey Committee
needs to interface with Sharon and then can issue subsequent surveys in a parallel electronic
/ paper format in order to reduce paper usage. However, paper surveys will still be available
and sent home for those who do not have access to e-mail. Sharon has a breakdown of
which families require paper vs. e-mail and a distribution plan to achieve this.

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AUCTION Fundraiser
LeeAnn DelMonte presented that the annual WMPCS auction fundraiser will be held
Saturday, February 19 (3rd Saturday in Feb.) at the Lake House, where it has been held in
past years. Auction preview will begin at 5:00pm with food served at 6:00pm and the auction
at 7:00pm. This is the main fundraising event for the WMPTO and thus, LeeAnn encouraged
the community to support it. Last year’s event raised $6200 and the community needs to
decide how it wants to use the funds raised. LeeAnn solicited for ideas. Responses included:

• 3-6 yr playground
• New sound system for Mrs. Rhem (field day, Kidsfest, etc.)
• Art program wants a kiln
• 9-12 and 6-9 classes need new copiers
• Awning over sidewalks along with new benches along car line between Bldgs 1 and 2
• Industrial dishwasher for 3-6 classes
• Landscaping out back between Bldg 1 and large playground area

The event will change somewhat this year, including serving only heavy hors d’oeuvres
instead of a full meal and a change from Mardi Gras theme to The Tropics / Beach. Suzanne
Hedgepeth and Anita Purser will lead the Item Search Committee and Ginger Gardiner
agreed to lead the Decorations Committee.

SCAVENGER HUNT Fundraiser


Elizabeth Oliveira presented the new fundraising event to be held March 5th from 12-3pm in
Gooseneck State Park. The objectives include:

• get families outdoors and into nature


• build our WMPCS community and reach out to the large community
• make money for WMPCS

The event will basically consist of teams (3 or more members make up a team) searching for
a list of items at Gooseneck Park, but they will not be removing these items, instead taking
digital pictures of them, in order to preserve nature and respect the Park’s rules. Each team
will need a captain that is 18 years or older, and each team must have a digital camera in
order to present their findings to the event judges. Detailed flyers will be available. Deadline
for registering teams is FEBRUARY 27.

Elizabeth requested help with getting donated incentives/prizes (maybe outdoor-based, like
fishing gear, boating stuff, sports stuff, paintball gift certificate, etc.). Volunteers are also
needed to put up posters in the community and as workers the day of the event.

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5-year Plan
Ginger Gardiner requested, that based on the high level of interest at the September
Community Meeting, a committee be formed, similar to the Survey Committee, that would be
led by a B.O.T. member and basically do “legwork” with regard to developing a 5-year plan
for WMPCS. The committee may even draft a document which Mr. Jones and the B.O.T.
could then rework and edit into a living document as discussed at the September meeting,
according to their positions of responsibility and authority at the school.

Rachel Midgette asked how many present knew anything about the “Blueprint”. Very few
raised their hands. Mrs. Midgette has taken on the responsibility of reformatting this 30-page
document that was originally drafted by the B.O.T. to describe “what we see our school being
in a perfect world”. Mrs. Midgette is trying to make the document more user friendly and has
been impressed with the information in there, as she did not even know the document existed
until recently. She suggested the 5-year Plan Committee use the Blueprint as a springboard.

Mr. Jones commented that the survey results could also be used to guide this committee.
Another suggestion was made to locate the research done years ago regarding developing a
high school at WMPCS, i.e. the “High School Committee finding” and use these to help with
developing an initial draft 5-year plan. Sharon Main commented she would love to see such
information be used to provide a basis for building a gym with a capital fundraising campaign
versus out of the budget. Treva Maxwell Anderson commented that the draft 5-year plan
would be used as a tool by the B.O.T. and that the committee needs to be open to how it
works and that this may need to be changed as they go along.

Rachel Midgette agreed to be the B.O.T. sponsor. Ginger Gardiner agreed to be the leader of
the committee. Mr. Jones will present this to the B.O.T. at the next possible meeting and after
the B.O.T. has approved it, Ginger Gardiner will begin soliciting additional members and call
a first meeting.

Future of Community-elected B.O.T. Positions


and newly elected Trustee: Lisa Lawless
Treva Maxwell Anderson introduced Lisa Lawless as the newest member of the WMPCS
Board of Trustees, the winner of the recent election for the open community-elected Board
position.

Mrs. Anderson began by explaining a debate which has been ongoing within the B.O.T. for
the time that she has been a member: What is the best structure for the Board of Trustees?
Currently, the B.O.T. has 5 self-perpetuating members and 2 community-elected members.
Dale Baker gave some history at this point. Originally, the WMPCS B.O.T. had 9 members,
but Tim Selden at DPI requested that WMPCS reduce the B.O.T. size, which it did, down to
5 members. The 2 community-elected positions were added several years ago to help repair

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a large breach in the community by giving it a voice on the Board. Mrs. Anderson then led a
discussion, where it was agreed that all B.O.T. members are supposed to be treated the
same and do indeed have the same duties. Mrs. Anderson commented that in the past there
has been some confusion about “separate but equal” with respect to the community-elected
positions. Dale Baker commented that at one point there was not anyone in the community
who wanted to run for the position(s), so that was seen as an issue.

When the community was asked if anyone wanted to do away with the community-elected
positions, only Sharon Main and Stacy Roberson raised their hands. Sharon explained that
she wants neutrality and skill sets that vary among B.O.T. members. She believes that a
majority of community-elected B.O.T. members are elected due to a “platform” (e.g. getting a
bus, etc.) and often have an “agenda”.

Darwin Woolard commented that the B.O.T.’s goal is to pursue what is best for the school.
Ginger Gardiner commented that in recent, anonymous discussions with Joel Medley at DPI,
he explained there is no legal requirement for any specific structure of a charter school Board
of Trustees within North Carolina law. The only requirement is that it abides by whatever was
established in its bylaws. Mrs. Gardiner also presented data from the Colorado Charter
School Institute which stated that the most common model for school governance in Colorado
charter schools was a “shared” board comprised of parents and community members. This
was presented in response to comments that have been made that a B.O.T. with community-
elected members will not work and is not the norm. Mrs. Gardiner commented that a shared
Board may not be the norm among corporations, but charter schools are not corporations,
they are a unique mix of a private business model combined with a public education entity,
and thus, what works best may not be the same as what is common in the normal business
or education worlds.

Dori St. Amant requested clarification as to what “self-perpetuating” means. The response
was that this type of B.O.T. position is voted upon only by “self-perpetuating” members. In
other words, community-elected members may not vote on these positions. Thus, saying that
all B.O.T. members are the same is actually not true. Amy Smigel asked why community-
elected B.O.T. members cannot vote on the election of self-perpetuating members? The
response was that it was a legal definition and set up that way in the bylaws. Dori St. Amant
commented that she still prefers to maintain community-elected seats. It was asked what the
criteria is for B.O.T. members, is there something different required of self-perpetuating vs.
community-elected positions? The response was “No, the only criteria is that they cannot
have a felony conviction.” All B.O.T. positions are filled with a member who is elected from a
pool of whoever turns in an application during the election process for that seat.

Ginger Gardiner commented that she did not want to see the same situation arise in WMPCS
as has happened in San Diego and other school districts, where a Board came into power
that had an agenda which was opposed by the community and because all of the Board

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positions were self-perpetuating, that Board was able to affect election outcomes and
maintain its policies with the community having no recourse.

Elizabeth Oliveira asked how do we get the facts out about what is going on in our B.O.T.,
this ongoing debate, the details of what the B.O.T. plans to do with regard to changing the
structure of the board and the desire by some in the community to do away with the
community-elected positions? The response was that the B.O.T. minutes are posted on the
www.wmpcs.org web-site under Board of Trustees (among the heading on left of page) and
that the community members need to attend the B.O.T. meetings as much as possible. It was
also suggested to go to the monthly meetings with Mr. Jones and make your voice heard, as
he reports in to the B.O.T.. And finally, contact a Board member and explain your concerns
and desires for the WMPCS B.O.T. structure.