drawing of Deal Jr. High School

Alice Deal PTA Website

3815 Fort Drive, NW
Washington, DC 20016
phone: 202.282.0100

dealpta.org

MINUTES OF DEAL LSRT MEETING – 11/2/06

Present:
Administrators: Melissa Kim
Teachers: Cynthia Mostoller, Guy Brandenburg, Robert Geremia, Ginette Suarez
Parents: Sarah Whitener, Margot Berkey, Tom Israel, Charles Lawrence, Alison Wylegala (PTA Liaison), Malin Kerwin (PTA Liaison), Mary Podesta (Community Representative)
Guests: Michael Hughes, Judy Licht, P. Boos, Erica Ling, Maura Reynolds, Mary Lord, Mark Simon

7:30 am

AGENDA

1. Introduction of the new faculty member of the LSRT
2. Minutes of the October Meeting
3. Principal’s Report
a. Faculty and staff reductions
b. Midterm assessments
c. Feedback on parent-teacher conferences
d. Other
4. Meetings with Superintendent Janey and Councilmember Fenty
5. Updates on Old Business
a. 9th Grade Transition
b. Feeder School Outreach Meetings
6. Middle Grades Committee Meeting Report
7. School Plan & Mission Statement


1. Introduction of the new faculty member of the LSRT
A new faculty member will be elected in the near future.

2. Minutes of the October Meeting
The minutes of the October meeting were approved.

3. Principal’s Report

b. Midterm Assessments
Ms. Kim reported that these new assessments were created in English and Mathematics by Deal teachers over the summer to assist in assessing student strengths and areas needing improvement. There is information posted about them outside the main office. The percentages indicate class averages on the assessments.

c. Feedback on Parent-Teacher Conferences – Team Approach
There was discussion of the team approach to parent-teacher conferences which was piloted during the first marking period conference day. Parents present at the meeting reported mixed reactions: some positive, some who felt the team approach was less useful than the traditional one-on-one model. Ms. Kim reported that they have yet to gather teacher feedback, but will be doing so and will report back to the LSRT for further discussion about the approach for future parent conferences.

a. Faculty and Staff Reductions
There was extensive discussion of the faculty and staff reductions. Ms. Kim reported that ultimately there were three faculty positions that had to be eliminated because of the DCPS equalization due to Deal’s lower than projected enrollment this year. That resulted in the elimination of a position in both English and Science – both of which were vacant positions being filled by longterm substitute teachers. It was decided that the third position should not come out of core content areas. The LSRT had discussed at its last meeting how to prioritize program needs. Based on those discussions and other input, the decision was made to eliminate an Art position. An examination of class sizes also indicated a number of sections with 11 or fewer students: meaning that sections could be combined without creating inappropriately large classes. There are still two non-teaching positions to be eliminated, but Deal is awaiting final word from Human Resources on which individuals will be impacted. Ms. Kim stressed how difficult it has been to implement these reductions, but that the school had no choice based on the budget reductions from DCPS. She stated that she has heard from some parents who are upset about the loss of art and the transfer into instrumental music, and others who had concerns about the loss of 7th period with Mr. Klein. She reported that Mr. Klein and the guidance department had met yesterday with the impacted students in an effort to help ease the transition and to provide the students an opportunity to discuss the situation. Ms. Kim emphasized that Mr. Klein had met with the other teachers who were absorbing his former students, and was sharing lesson plans so that the medieval studies focus that he had been infusing into his English class would be incorporated into the students’ new sections. She stressed that the goal was for this to be “a teacher change, but not a curricular change”.
Several of the parent guests at the LSRT meeting expressed strong concerns about the teacher reductions. There was extensive discussion of the reasons for the reductions, the impact on the students and the instructional program, and ways in which the communication with parents could have been better. Several specific trouble spots were identified; including ensuring continuity of the medieval studies focus for Mr. Klein’s former students, the need to explain to those parents why those re-assignments were necessary, the need to ensure that the 7th graders who were transferred from art into instrumental music are fully incorporated into their new classes, and the need to provide clarity around the ongoing expectations for those students relative to before school instrumental practices. Ms. Kim pledged to follow up on each of those issues. And she reiterated her commitment to meeting one-on-one with any parents who wanted to discuss their child’s particular schedule changes.
Ms. Kim stated that they will continue to look for ways to improve communication with parents. She pointed out that the pending faculty reductions were discussed at the last PTA meeting, in the last LSRT minutes, in the last PTA newsletter, and that a letter was sent home to parents. Nevertheless, she understands that the lack of advance information about specific class changes caused some frustration and confusion.
There was also further discussion of how to improve the enrollment projection process. Ms. Kim pointed out that this was the first year in memory that Deal did not meet its enrollment projections and have a waiting list. Deal has already formed a committee to develop an improved enrollment projection plan for next year. Several LSRT members spoke to the challenges posed to Deal (and other DCPS schools) by families that opt for charter schools without recognizing the need to inform their in-boundary school of their decision not to enroll in their neighborhood DCPS school. Deal will also be working with its feeder schools to gather more accurate information on rising 7th graders.
Ms. Whitener shared some preliminary data analysis she had done on the new master schedule. She pointed out that due to a power outage at Deal over the weekend due to the recent wind-storm, that Ms. Kim had been at school until 3:00am on Monday morning finalizing the new master schedule that was distributed to students that day – the start of the second marking period. There was no way to provide earlier notice of the potential changes until the revised master schedule was run. And the school felt it was critical to implement the necessary changes at the start of the marking period and not later.
Ms. Whitener reported that – within 7th grade, @91 students had one teacher change, including @71 who switched from Mr. Beeler to Ms. Washington, remaining in art. @35 were transferred out of art, and many of them went into instrumental music. @26 students experienced two teacher changes, many of which included a change in gym teachers.
Mr. Israel emphasized the need for the entire Deal community to focus on the looming threat next year due to the loss of the 9th grade. He said that unless DCPS makes a commitment to exempting Deal from the standard equalization process, we will see a loss of faculty positions so devastating that this year’s experience will look good in comparison.

d. Other – Shelter in Place Drills
Ms. Kim reported that as part of Deal’s safety and security plan, the school would be conducting more ‘shelter in place’ drills this year. On December 5th, in conjunction with the District 2 Police, they will be conducting an actual simulation of an armed intruder in the building. The LSRT discussed the importance of communicating through multiple channels with parents to inform them of the simulation. A letter will be sent home, along with a phone call. It will also be discussed on the listserv and in the PTA newsletter. The police officers will be meeting with the students in advance to discuss the drill. Students will know in advance that this is a drill and not a real intruder. The LSRT suggested that a debriefing also be held with the students afterwards to give them a chance to discuss it and how they felt about it.

4. Meetings with Superintendent Janey and Councilmember Fenty
The LSRT discussed its plans to meet with both Superintendent Janey, Council member Fenty and some of the members of the Board of Education to discuss the impact of the loss of the 9th grade next year and to request a planning process to ensure that Deal does not suffer a loss of positions that would undermine the instructional program. LSRT co-chair Ms. Whitener will be pursuing scheduling of these meetings.

5. Updates on Old Business

a. 9th Grade Transition
Planning is continuing on the transition. A flyer was distributed announcing a series of open houses at Wilson HS for incoming 9th grade families. This will be sent home in backpacks to all Deal 8th graders. A “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet about Wilson’s 9th grade program, which is being used at the open houses, was also distributed. It was also pointed out that Wilson was impacted by the recent enrollment equalization as well, losing three teachers and one librarian.

b. Feeder School Outreach Meetings
The Deal administration has developed a master schedule of outreach events to feeder schools throughout the fall. These include buddy days as well as informational sessions at each feeder school. Parent and student volunteers willing to assist with meetings at their former elementary schools can contact Ms. Whitener.

8. Middle Grades Committee Meeting Report
Ms. Berkey reported on the ongoing work of the Middle Grades Committee to build a network among Middle School DCPS principals to advance planning for middle school programming within DCPS.
Ms. Kim reported that a DCPS community forum on the promotion/retention policy will be held at Deal on November 15th. She stressed that the policy impacts all grade levels: elementary, middle, and high. She encouraged parents and staff to inform others throughout the school community about this upcoming forum.

9. School Plan & Mission Statement
Due to the lateness of the hour, this item was deferred to the next meeting.

8:40 am - Meeting adjourned.


Submitted by Tom Israel.

Important Deal Numbers

Office: 282.0100

Nurse: 282.0252

Attendance: 282-1117
Homework Hotline: 282.0169

Fax: 282.1116

Deal Has a United Way/CFC Number!
Remember 8049, 8049, 8049, 8049, 8049*

If your place of employment participates

in the Combined Federal
Campaign of the National Capital Area,

you can make a donation to Alice
Deal JHS PTA!

Our donation code is 8049.

(For further information visit www.cfcnca.org.)