Monday, March 21, 2016, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School Board of Trustees Board Meeting
Monday, March 21, 2016
6:00pm – 8:00pm

161 Lower Westfield Road
Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 536-3201

Attendees: Bob Brick Absent: Morgan Healey
Ljuba Marsh Dan Zuckergood
Damaris Vega Genesis Santos
Tom Weiner Brenda Cepeda
Keith Purcell Ruben Sepulveda
Priscilla Baez
Heyda Martinez
Tom Gardner
Theresa Cooper-Gordon Non-Board Wes Jackson
Hazel Rosario Attendees: Bernice Kwade
Brenda Rodriguez Christina Cruz
Rhonda Soto Eduardo Gonzalez
Jacqueline Tuttle Myracles Garrett
Frankie Santos
Christina Cruz Scribes: Tom Gardner
Alex Cedano Irene Thornton

Meeting Agenda: 1. Public Comment (10 Minutes)
2. Review and acceptance of minutes from January Board Meeting – (5 Minutes)
3. Discussion (10 Minutes)
4. Finance Committee Report: (15 Minutes)
a) February Financials
b) Budget Projections
5. Parent’s Report (10 Minutes)
6. Student’s Report (10 Minutes)
7. Staff Report (10 Minutes)
8. Old Business (5 Minutes)
a) Grievance Policy Update
b) HCC College Student Experience
c) IEPs and 504s (the process)
d) Parent Portal Improvement
e) Board Information for DESE
f) College Advisory and Application Process
9. President’s Report (10 minutes)
10. Executive Director’s Report
a) Graduation Policy VOTE
b) DESE Site Visit Follow-Up
11. Principal’s Report (10 Minutes)
a) HCC Report
b) MCAS Report
c) Student Trips Report
12. New Business

Meeting was called to order at 6:04pm.

Public Comment (10 Minutes)

Wesley Jackson, PFSJCS Athletic Director:
• Boys Basketball Team won Championship
• Girls Basketball Team finished 2nd Overall
• Five (5) Athletes participating in the upcoming all-star tournament
• Looking to start a booster club.

Gabe Nieves’ Mother
¬ Presented a letter from six (6) parents on numerous concerns
¬ Belief that there are issues that have not been addressed.
¬ Statement: “Not a complaint. We are looking to work together with administration to resolve concerns”
¬ Parents want more involvement in the school.
¬ Board of Trustees has forty-five (45) days to respond.

Group of Students Presented: “A Dialogue of Uniforms and More” (see attachment)

Power Writing Class presentation by Myracles Garrett. Books will be available for sale at $10.00 a book.

Review and Acceptance of Minutes from January Board Meeting – (5 Minutes)

Minutes were briefly reviewed. A vote was called by B. Brick to accept the minutes.
Voting Results: Yes (6)
No (4)
Abstain (2)

A lively discussion followed the vote led by H. Martinez who questioned the accuracy of the notes. Dr. Martinez wants future meetings to be electronically recorded for accuracy. (This is now a NEW business item)

Finance Committee Report: (15 Minutes) – Keith Purcell, Treasurer

K. Purcell described the events this year as a “perfect storm” of challenges. They include:
• Loss of the school’s business manager (Cindy Landers)
• Acquisition of one (1) more school bus (65k)
• Costs are up.
• Reimbursement rate is lower than projected for this year’s budget

There was a lively discussion surrounding the budget, it’s report details (and presentation style) and a request for more participation by members in attendance at the monthly budget committee meeting. Questions/Issues Raised:
1) Reimbursement rate: What is the actual versus the budget? Answer: It is lower.
2) Can the report be printed in a larger format? (Too hard to read) Answer: Yes
3) Did we meet the target number for students this year? Answer: Yes, the number is 315.
4) Who manages the budget? Answer: Bob
(The school also employees a part-time accountant, part-time bookkeeper and a private consultant.)
5) Financial Reporting Question: What is the process? When is the audit done? – Answer: Yearly and published in our school’s annual report.

Bob explained the mathematics of the budget Projected rate per student was lower than guessed. Each sending district spends a different amount per student, which is why the budget is a best guess.

To counter the possible deficit, the following actions have been taken (more opportunities for savings are being explored and suggestions are being proposed by community members). These cuts will not take away from the needs of the students they come first:
1) Reduction of supply spending
2) After-school program dinner is now from Sodexo.
3) Staff reduction and reassignment.

Note: We do need to find more money. Fundraising will have to occur to meet this financial challenge.

What is the point of this committee?
Look at the budget data – a) What is the cause of losses and b) Cash Flow.
Issues: Disparity between Administration and Teachers – a) What do people earn? and b) Information is open to everyone.

Fundraising Questions:
1) Are the fundraiser events detailed?
2) Do we know what each fundraiser is for?
3) Where does the money go?

Open Questions/Requests:
Breakdown of Salaries Request
Where does the money go?
Explanation of money spent for non-education.
Volunteers haven’t been told when the next Finance Committee Meeting is.
Please add the following people to the meeting request: Heyda Martinez, Priscilla Baez, Hazel Rosario and Frankie Santos.

Note: Next year’s budget issues must be addressed (fiscally conservative) and there must be a cushion in the budget.

Next Finance Committee Meeting: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 12:00 noon in Bob’s office.

Meeting Publication needs to happen (Website, email, One-Call) – Action Item

Parent’s Report (10 Minutes) – Damaris Vega
Items Discussed:
Dual Enrollment at HCC
DESE Visit: Comments/Questions
Graduation Update
Student and Family Handbook – some parents got the book, others didn’t.
Dr. Juan Carlos Alonso replacing Gladys Rivera in the nurse’s office.
Food Issues: Microwaves (afternoon use is an issue)
School Security (Openness): Bob to resolve
a) People signing in/out office doesn’t always happen.
b) Visitor came to school and started a fight.
Focus Group Formed: Expressing themselves
Positive and Negatives
Senior Parent’s Meeting: Thursday, March 24, 2016
6:00pm in PF cafeteria
Graduating Senior’s Booklet Distributed
Calendar of events reviewed.
Graduation details discussed
Parent’s Letter: Request for clarity on what issues are under Bob’s position/role and what are the Board’s.
Action Item: Review and respond to the letter; identify what areas of responsibilities belong to whom.
When: Review of the letter will be the 1st Tuesday of the month (April 5, 2016). Board members to attend. (Quorum is 8 members)

Statement: The Board of Trustees needs to hear the views of the parents and the students.

Student’s Report (10 Minutes) – Bernice Kwade

Graduation Requirement: Proposed
Seniors who have completed their requirements by no later than the end of summer classes get to participate.
B. Brick Proposed, T. Weiner 2nd


How many students will need to attend summer school? The final number is not known at this point.

Statement: Graduation is more than walking. It is a celebration that says you have completed the work.

There will be contracts drawn up between the students who will need to complete work to receive their diplomas and the school administration.

Statement: This is a special founding class; they should be able to walk with their family.

Dr. Tom Gardner: Westfield State University permits seniors who are six (6) hours short to walk in the commencement.

Vote Take: Eleven (11) in Favor, One (1) Abstention.

Additional Items:
Students are learning to stand-up for themselves and learning how to advocate for themselves.

Staff Report (10 Minutes) – Jacqueline Tuttle

Jaq presented a review of The Senior Program at Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School. (Attached to the meeting agenda) There will be:
1) Information sessions held for the parents/guardians of juniors about the program
2) Information sessions held for parents/guardians of students who have IEP’s and 504’s
3) Prep classes for students who want to take classes and need to take the HCC placement exam.
4) Clearer defined application process and expectations this year.
5) Jen Swick has graciously volunteered her classroom time for the juniors to have a “College 101” class that will teach the basics of applying to college. Comment: Junior Parents didn’t know this.

Paideia: Considered a 3 for 3 Success. This year:
Seniors proposed classes
College Road Trip was bigger
A field trip to Puerto Rico
Ten (10) students went to Hawaii.

B.O.T. (Back on Track) Camp was created by Kim Kretzer. Started as a 1-on-1 program and has seen solid success. Is now both a “G” and “H” block essential course. There is a wonderful video on the school’s website.

What are the senior class numbers? 51 (46 will graduate this year)
What are the plans for the five (5) who won’t graduate? (Action Item for next meeting)
What % of seniors have been accepted into four (4) year colleges? (Action Item for next meeting)

Class of 2016 Information:
There are a diversity of majors
One student has gotten into the Westfield State University Nursing Program. Reason our student got in? The HCC Dual Enrollment program.

Old Business (5 Minutes) – Bob Brick

Grievance Policy Update – Bob Brick
The staff version is not in existence. Bob to draft one and send out for review.

HCC College Student Experience – Next Board Meeting

IEP’s and 504’s Process – Melissa Mirhej to present

Parent Portal Improvement – Next meeting

DESE Board Information – Complete

College Advisory and Application Process – Reviewed this meeting by Jaq Tuttle

(Due to scheduling constraints, the Agenda changed and the Principal’s report was presented next)

Principal’s Report (10 Minutes) – Ljuba Marsh

Three (3) reports were sent via email (and copies were shared at the meeting):
¬ Dual Enrollment Program with HCC
¬ Educational Travel Programs, Applications and Funding Details

College Program Discussion Points:
This year was one of “Take Your Best Guess”
Students struggled the first semester of college, which helped them to do much better the second semester.
College acceptance rate and scholarship programs were higher due to the HCC Dual Acceptance Program.
Sophomores (10th Graders) can possibly start college classes, one per semester.
Students, who didn’t complete the courses at HCC, are at PF to finish their graduation requirements.

Educational Travel Program Points:
Trip committee created.
One long trip per student’s career
Shorter trips by lottery (one per career)
Greece Trip – 2017
Puerto Rico Trips are both Heritage and Social Justice focused. History and culture have always been a part of these trips.

Question: How are Hawaii and Greece defined? (Action Item)

Question: Travel Grant Details – Ljuba
There is a committee that grants money for travel support. There are foundations that support our travel goals.

Question: Who are the two students already chosen to go to Greece? Answer: These students have raised at least $500.00 already. There are ten (10) slots open. Two students and two staff members have been chosen. (Name them – Action Item)

Question: What defines trip size? (Action Item)

Question: What are next year trips? (2) Heritage Trips (Puerto Rico), (1) Trip to Greece and (1) Trip to Quebec.

Question: What is the name of the foundation that supports the trips? Note: These contributions are in-line with the budget.

MCAS Information Points:
English is a huge focus (last two years). We were first in the state the first year. Finished very high the second year.
Math scores need improvement.
Science: Not at the level we can be. This is our last year with Physics.

President’s Report (10 Minutes) – Damaris Vega
Morgan Healy resigned from the board. Resume has been submitted.
Action Item: One-Call sent out about the open position, 2nd Tuesday of the month.

There was a survey conducted and Smith students compiled responses. Four groups surveyed. There were many issues with this survey; Rhonda Soto raised many. Among the issues:
You had to answer every question to move forward in the survey; you couldn’t skip answers.
Questions made students feel uncomfortable
Many people felt that their opinions were not heard and they felt silenced.
Not clear what the survey was about.

B.Brick – Smith apologized for what went wrong with the survey and they want to repair the damage. There is a new policy: Surveys must be signed-off by either B. Brick or L. Marsh. There was an apology sent to all students.

Response Statement: Social Justice Officer needed at school.

Executive Director’s Report (10 Minutes) – Bob Brick

Cliff Chuang visited PF the day before the DESE site visit. He said that the school was a model of diversity and was very positive about the school.

Site Visit went very well. We are waiting for the written report. Highlights:
All stakeholders understood the school’s mission and vision.
HCC program delivers proof of the mission.

Meeting Adjourned: 8:08pm

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