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Notes from the October Woods Charter School Board meeting

Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC - The Woods Charter School held it's 'October school board meeting on Thursday, October 7. Below are notes from that meeting:

 

Chairman Dee Dee Nachman called the meeting to order at 7:05 pm

1. The Pledge of Allegiance

2. Chairman’s Report
2i. Board training (minutes, public comment, policy development)

Ms. Nachman highlighted Ms. Kruft’s visit to conduct school board training. Ms. Kruft addressed questions from the Woods school board.

Three items the school board addressed with her were
1) Minutes: what our minutes should look like as a charter school
2) Public comment: what do we do when people want to include something written in the public record
3) Policy development: what and how should school policies be developed. How is the school board involved in the process.

What minutes should look like – legal requirements. Minutes should reflect what actions are taken, which board members are present. The minutes should reflect the business of the board. The minutes can include conversation and discussion germane to the topic being voted on. Jean thought that the best practice was that “less is more” and that they didn’t need to be a transcript of what transpired. Procedures could be audio or video taped and kept on file for people to be able to hear or to see. Minutes should not be a dictation of what happened.

There is no requirement to record individual votes unless a board member requested that their vote be recorded.

Public comment – what do we do with written submissions from the public.
Public comments should not be included in the board minutes. Board could keep public comments in a separate comments notebook. Comments do not have to be incorporated into the formal minutes.

At a previous meeting, the Woods school board has opted to go with a notebook that would hold people’s written submissions. Minutes could contain the fact that certain persons did make public comments during the school board meeting.

Public comments, either verbally or written, should comply with some kind of standards. Woods school board has started talking about what the parameters might be.

A Woods Community Input notebook has been started and was shown. It already contains comments from the last school board meeting.

Policy development – how we should go about that.
In the past the board appointed someone to write a policy as needed, with varying degrees of success.

One of the issues is the difference between policies and practices and procedures. Practices and procedures live in the realm of the administration, while policies belong to the realm of the school board. Line between these is pretty gray. School board must determine how much the board wants to be involved in the development of policies and procedures.

Number of things in the student handbook that need to be developed. Revised.

Maybe policies should be less specific? How that policy is implemented is done procedurally at the administration level. Policies are the general guidelines.

Open to that conversation of how to develop policies. We don’t want to be very specific but we do need to make the policies to be clear enough to make parents and community aware of what the expectations are.

A couple of items are fairly unique to our Woods community.

It is highly unusual to have a member corporation for a board. The DPI representative noted that the recommendation of the Attorney General today would be not to set up the school board that way.

DPI mentioned that Woods should also consider changing the fact that our board is made up entirely of parents. That is not done by most charter schools. The boards may be 50 percent parents and the other 50 percent are educators, community leaders, etc. The DPI rep did mention that the current Woods school board setup does seem to work well for Woods.

2ii. Employee list should be published every year and made part of the public record. New hires have been made public in the principal’s list but an employee list has not been public annually.

Mr. Madison added that the board usually is responsible for formally approving all the contracts. Each faculty member has a contract. The board signs off on the principal’s contract and the principal signs off on every faculty member’s contract. We now need to formally approve all these contracts as per the list.

2iii. Capital Expenditure Accounting Update –
Last month, for the first time, a capital expenditures report was prepared to show how this money was spent.

There is another report today that reflects changes from last month to this month in capital expenditures.

This information is not something that would be posted on the web page, but would be made available for inspection by the public.

Rentz began a discussion about mapping expenditures. Tom works on mapping expenditure to various pots of money. Mr. Rentz and Tom Williams explored a couple of issues. i.e. set up a separate checking account to track capital expenditures.

Seems to be more of a database issue. Kim Rossi is our connection to Arcadia. We would like to do more internal tracking. Mr. Rentz is working towards striking a balance between being efficient and being appropriately redundant.

Ms. Nachman asked for public comments about what went on at the training.

Joe Frances asked “If the parents don’t vote on the board members, then who?”

Ms. Nachman responded that it was self-perpetuating. Board members would appoint new members to take their place as they rotate off. This is not required by law.

Mr. Rentz mentioned that the Woods Foundation board is self-perpetuating.

Ms. Scholle mentioned that the history of the school is that it is a parent run school. The issue is that parents believe that they are voting for a board that represents them. Woods has a principal that is representative of the administration. That is the tradition. When it stops working, that’s when the discussion begin.

Ms. Scholle was not certain why would you want the board to appoint?

Ms. Nachman responded that the DPI rep mentioned that every board should have members to speak to different issues – i.e. legal issues, business, education, etc.

Woods may want to be more conscientious in future elections about pointing out that here are the needs that we have since certain members are rotating off the board.

While it might be appropriate to ask people who have certain skill sets to run for the school board, Ms. Scholle raised concerns about anyone saying that this is the person I would like to see fill this space.

Mr. Madison mentioned that it is not unusual for a board to offer a slate. Under the current system it could be conceivable that 30 or 40 parents could take this school into a totally different direction from what is. Using appointments can lend itself towards more stability.

Mr. Daw would support the idea of adding a community leader or a local educator to be on the board. Bylaws are written that school board members can only be parents.

4. Consent agenda.

August minutes and September minutes.

a. Mr. Madison raised some objections to the August minutes and thought some items needed to be struck from the minutes because they did not strictly address the business of the board.

Mr. Galin pointed out that the North Carolina Open Meeting Law (Article 33C, 143-318.10. e) requires that a public body keep full and accurate minutes so that a person not in attendance would have a reasonable understanding of what transpired.
Mr. Galin added that a review of his August 2009 school board meetings by the Assistant Director, Dale Harrison, of the North Carolina Sunshine Policy center has found that he have met his obligation as a public official in the state of North Carolina by providing a full and accurate record of the meeting. The minutes covered the major points of the discussions held during that school board meeting. Someone reading the meeting minutes wants to know what the major points were. Keeping a record of the motions made and acted upon are a minimum requirement.
Ms. Nachman proposed that there be a balance in the minutes between the minimum requirements and a transcript.
Ms. Nachman mentioned that there were missing parts in the August minutes concerning who made policy motions and who seconded the, Mr. Galin promised to review the audio record of the meeting and fill in these parts.
Mr. Galin made the motion to pass the August minutes as drafted minus the three amendments as needed. There was no second to that motion.
August minutes were tabled.

b. Mr. Madison moved to approve the September minutes as presented. Mr. VanHoy seconded the motion.

Mr. Galin raised a concern about the specifics of Ms. Scholle’s and Mr. Daw’s comments not being included in the minutes.

Ms. Nachman noted that the comments were placed in a notebook. The Woods school board has accepted the comments and made a note of doing so in the minutes.

September minutes approved. Four ayes (Perschy, Madison, Leinbach, and VanHoy) and two abstentions (Mr. Galin and Mr. Smith).

c. Principal’s report.

Mr. Madison asked if multiples take priority over siblings in the admissions process.

Mr. Rentz responded “no.” Faculty children and siblings take priority.

Multiples basically apply as if they were one child going into the admissions pool.

VanHoy asked one question about the admission update. He asked if the racial background question that was added was mandatory.

Mr. Rentz noted that the application information was not used in selection at all. A response is not required.

Mr. VanHoy noted that it should be made clear that responding to that question does not affect selection in anyway and that is for simply for demographic purposes.

Mr. Rentz noted that Woods does not use a computer for admission selection and uses a hat to pull those to be admitted.

Mr. VanHoy asked for clarification about twins and whether they get one or two numbers. Mr. Rentz pointed out that the twins would get only one number.

Mr. Madison moved to approve the Principal’s report and the elevator contract. Ms. Perschy seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

5a. No student update.

5b. Pre-Meeting Casual Discussion Report – Teresa Perschy

Ms. Perschy noted that there was a premeeting session.

5c. Faculty update

Mr. Trocki let the board know that the student rep will probably come out of the student rep pool. Mr. Trocki expected to see a student at the next school board meeting.

Elementary is having a visit from the fire department to discuss fire safety. Visit from Chatham County Transit to teach students about bus safety.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades will be going to Carolina theater to see hour theatrical show that teaches about the human body on October 27.

Family night on October 15.

Kindergarten through 4th grade will have fall festival event on October 30. Upper grades will have a written assignment to go along with that event.

In the middle school, the 5th grade teachers hosted a “Back to School” night with parents.

8th graders had a Shakespeare workshop.

7th graders are going on a two-day retreat to a 4H center in Reidsville, NC to work on team building, communications, and responsibility.

1st middle school band and chorus performance on the October 15 in conjunction with Book Fair Family night.

Went from one 12th grade advisory section two years ago up to three 12th grade advisory sections this year. Denise O’Gorman has been a big support for the college advising process.

College night for 12th grade students and parents.

Took group of juniors to UNC last Monday for college visit to get them thinking about college plans.

Faculty advisory meetings were held with peer evaluators and high school supervisor.

High school student council elections just took place.

There is a faculty consensus that larger class sizes are taking a toll.

Ms. Nachman asked how many juniors went to UNC? 26 juniors went along with some seniors.

VanHoy noted that Mr. Trocki said that larger high school classes are taking a toll. Mr. Trocki said that it is in some subject areas, in particular language arts and history.

What is the toll? Teachers are feeling the toll of extra grading and more students than previous years. In science there are some very large sections, in particular in the 9th grade level. The numbers are in the low 20s, which is high for Woods.

Mr. Bryant has not been able to schedule a day for the senior/frosh retreat.

5d. Treasurer’s Report – David Madison

Mr. Madison says that everything is on target and we are working within our reserve levels.

Ms. Nachman asked if there is a line item to show a “fair share.”

Mr. Madison noted that it should drop in as a revenue item. Plans to budget the item once enough information is gathered

Mr Smith asked about student allotments from the State. Mr. Rentz noted that the State gives allotments in July, November, and March. State fund numbers are reflected in the budget.

Count last month for Woods was 502.

VanHoy asked about the evenness of the state revenue flow. Mr. Madison explained that the money comes in “clumps” during various points during the year.

State starts to give money in July. County monies usually come later than state monies. County allotments can change if Woods students go back to their county schools.

Ms. Perschy asked about Foundation money. Mr. Madison explained that Foundation monies will eventually catch up by the end of the fiscal year.

Mr. VanHoy asked if it is the practice that the school pays for certain items and the Foundation reimburses for those? Mr. Rentz says that will depend on individual situation. Foundation money comes to the school as grants.

5e. WCS Foundation report – Carmen Laethem.

$444,419 in total donations. Open pledges to date is $51,404

Last month the foundation awarded grants of $44,848 for stage curtains, science materials, document camera projector, etc. These were the first grants made this year.

Balance forward of $131,282 of which $19,551 are designated funds, leaving an anticipated amount of $119,731 at the end of October.

5f. Facilities – Ms. Leinbach

We are getting four benches out front and two more for the back.

5g. Policy – Mr. VanHoy

Athletic handbook will be revisited after faculty input.

Policy about public input? Should we have one about public comment? Are we doing both guidelines and procedures?

Mr. VanHoy asked about drawing something up and bringing it before the board next month. A proposed guideline maybe that public comment can be submitted as written form, but will not be included in the minutes. It must meet certain parameters, such as not being slanderous. We will ask that inappropriate items be removed before inclusion in the comments notebook.

Ms. Leinbach asked about policy handbooks and procedures. How do we figure out where we are going with this? Handbooks, policies, guidelines?

Mr. VanHoy said that, for example, Mr. Rentz will talk to the faculty and then get back with Mr. VanHoy and come back to the board sometime after the beginning of the year.

Rentz recommended making a board policy followed up by administrative procedures. Approach would be that the board ratifies the policies. The student handbook could contain both the policy and the procedures. Board ratifies the policies. Faculty and administration comes up with the procedures. We can prototype it with the Athletic policy.

Ms. Nachman sees the board approving broad vision policies. How that gets implemented will be left up to the administration.

Mr. VanHoy asked about board policy and administrative procedures. Van Hoy thinks if the school board gives the administration the policy then the administration sets up the procedure.

Other business -

Mr. Galin mentioned that he had contacted NC DOT about a road sign on 15-501 for Woods Charter School. Mr. Rentz needs to send formal request in writing to NCDOT. Mr. Galin will provide the contact name and address.

Ms. Leinbach asked about traffic considerations for the new middle school traffic.

7. Closed session

No closed session this evening.

8. Adjournment

Ms. Leinbach made a motion to adjourn. Ms. Perschy seconded the motion. Motion was approved.

Meeting adjourned at 8:35 pm.
Present: Chair, Ms. Dee Dee Nachman, Vice-Chair, Mr. Michael Van Hoy; Secretary, Mr. Gene Galin; Treasurer, Mr. David Madison; Members, Ms. Adrianne Leinbach, Mr. Mike Smith, Ms. Teresa Perschy, Principal, Mr. Harrell Rentz; Mr. Aaron Trocki, Faculty Representative

 
Related info:
Woods Charter School
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Related info:
Woods Charter School
 
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