January 16, 2020 School Site Council Minutes (Draft)


  • JFK School Site Council Meeting
  • Thursday, January 16, 2020
  • Time: 4:00-5:30


Tracy Triplett (parent, member), Christine Copeland (Principal), Christian Dibble (parent, member), Ezinwa Nwankwo (teacher, member), Karen Perakis (para, BTU representative), Patrick Donovan (teacher, member), Caitlin Nelson (Lead Teacher), Megan Bernazzani (teacher, member), Sachian Mahon (teacher, member), Akua-Nia Francillon (teacher, member), Leah Doherty (Playworks Coach), Seth Kroll (parent, member)

Review and Approval of Minutes

The draft minutes from the December 19, 2019, JFK School Site Council (SSC) meeting were reviewed by all attendees, and no changes were made.  The draft minutes were approved by the SSC by motion with no objection.

JFK SY 2000/01 Proposed Budget Review

The Co-Chairs distributed to all attendees “SSC Budget Basics,” a section of the BPS School Site Council manual outlining a SSC’s responsibilities with regard to budget review and approval.  All attendees reviewed the summary.

Dr. Copeland distributed a summary of the JFK SY 2000/01 proposed budget to attendees for review and explained the key components.  The overall allocated amount, $4.041 million, did not change appreciably from the prior school year, as enrollment declined by only three students.  The majority of that amount, $3.86 million, is assigned for “personnel,” which covers the salaries and benefits of JFK staff.  The projected budget maintains all the “specials” we currently have (physical education, science, art, and music).  Ms. Nelson will continue to have similar responsibilities in her current “lead teacher” role, but her position swill switch to a BTU “instructional coach” from “teacher.”  That change will provide more flexibility to her work day and better aligns with the path that BPS has signaled it will be taking going forward—moving toward funding in-school instructional coaches.

The remaining approximately $186,000 is allotted for “non-personnel” costs.  The majority (approximately $101,000) of the non-personnel costs is designated by BPS as “Partnership Dollars,” which are provided through the “Partnership Fund.”  BPS uses an “opportunity index” to allocate Partnership Dollars.  The opportunity index is intended to allocate funds equitably to those school identified, by the index, as having the most significant need for partnership support, based on the socio-economic needs of the school’s neighborhood and student body.  Partnership Dollars must be used to fund services to a school through an external, non-profit partner.  For more information on the Partnership Fund and Opportunity Index, see https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Page/7191.  The proposed JFK SY20-01 budget allocates the School’s Partnership Dollars to City Year, Playworks, and City Connects, in a manner similar to previous years. 

Under the proposed budget, funding is sufficient for five full-time, in-school City Year members, plus an onsite impact manager (currently Zach McCarthy) and team leader (currently Jill Roth) both of whom are separately funded by City Year.  Thus, although prior to last year the JFK was able to host a larger City Year cohort (before BPS ceased funding City Year as a matter of course, without requiring schools to use their individual budget dollars, and switched to the opportunity index approach), the JFK can still able to fund a significant number of City Year members.  Separately, Dr. Copeland noted that this year two of the JFK’s City Year members have left for personal/professional reasons and have not been replaced, so the JFK does not currently have five (non-managerial) City Year members at the JFK.  However, because we have the benefit of two additional City Year members (Zach and Jill), we are continuing to provide the same portion of last year’s funding to City Year.    

The proposed budget fully funds a Playworks coach at the JFK, currently Leah Doherty.  There was a consensus among the attendees that Playworks has been an invaluable asset to the School and should continue to be a priority for funding.    

The proposed budget includes an allotment of Partnership Dollars sufficient to fund a social worker in the School through Boston College’s City Connects program.  Ms. Victoria filled that position in past years but resigned this fall.  Although Dr. Copeland interviewed several candidates to replace her (hiring through Partnership Dollars is not handled by the SSC Personnel Committee), to date she has not identified a suitable replacement.  Instead, Dr. Copeland, Ms. Nelson, and others have been covering the responsibilities previously handled by Ms. Victoria, including creating connections with the School’s outside partners, such as Rosie’s Place and Home for Little Wanderers, addressing absenteeism, and communicating with parents.  In addition, qualified students still receive social worker services through a separate in-school provider funded by the City of Boston.

Because funds were allotted for City Connects this year and a replacement has not been found for the remainder of the year, the un-used funds are being used to provide a yoga program for kindergarten and 1st grade through an outside partner.   

Because Superintendent Cassellius has begun implementing a policy of providing BTU (Boston Teacher’s Union) social workers to schools, it is likely to become increasingly difficult to attract the most qualified candidates through the City Connects program, as that program’s compensation structure is less favorable.  The social worker who worked at the JFK during Ms. Victoria’s maternity leave was excellent but ended up taking a BTU position at another BPS school.  The JFK may not qualify for a BPS-funded (non-Partnership Dollar) social worker for the next several years as the Superintendent is prioritizing adding social workers to the most underperforming schools and JFK, having been reclassified to Tier 1 this school year, does not fall into that category.

The remaining “non-personnel” portion of the budget is proposed to be divided among the costs related to technology, stipends, professional development, field trips, McKinney-Vento compliance, and supplies. 

The technology funds will be used to pay off the $20,000 BPS loan the JFK used to purchase (interest free) Chromebooks, and to maintain the School’s smart boards.  Dr. Copeland noted that the Chromebooks have a lifespan of three years (the same timeframe as the loan), and so the JFK will need to consider how best to replace them in the future.  Presently, the JFK does not have a Chromebook cart for every classroom, but there is one for at least every grade.  Several teachers noted that the JFK should consider whether it makes sense to continue to use the smart boards.  While some teachers rely on them a great deal and use them effectively, many have been using them largely as projectors and would prefer a projector and writeable screen, which would likely be less expensive to purchase and maintain.  Ms. Sach recommended consideration of Promethean boards.  It was agreed that the teachers should be surveyed as to their preferences to determine how to allocate next year’s and future year’s technology allotment. 

With regard to field trips, Dr. Copeland noted that the funds are generally used for bus expenses as she would prefer to avoid having students take mass transit for field trips.  Stipends cover additional pay for staff who serve on various committees at the JFK throughout the year.  Professional development will include not just staff training, but also licensing fees for educational software and materials.  The federal McKinney-Vento Act addresses the rights of homeless children to equal public education opportunities and the budget allotment will ensure that the JFK can provide school supplies, clothing, transportation, meals, and other support to such children in our school.  The allotment for supplies will include paper, printer cartridges, etc.

Ms. Triplett asked, given the limitations of the BPS budget provided to the JFK, what the JFK’s priorities should be for seeking outside funding through grants and fundraisers.  She noted that the School Parent Council (SPC) is seeking guidance on this front in relation to the Frogmore Fundraiser planned for the spring.  Dr. Copeland stated that improvement of the outdoor play space is a priority but is too large a project to handle through typical fundraisers.  She is researching a City grant that a different BPS school obtained for construction of a new playground.  It was suggested that creation of an outdoor classroom might be a more realistic goal to work toward.  Ms. Triplett noted that Home Depot offers a $5000 grant that could assist in such a project.  Dr. Copeland also noted that funding a salaried “interventionist” in the school, who would be able to work with small groups of students requiring additional support, is also high priority, but that such a position would require a teacher’s salary and benefits, and could be in the range of $100,000.   

Dr. Copeland noted that financial assistance toward providing yoga more broadly within the School would also be a realistic fundraising goal, given that the price tag is in the range of $5000.  Such programs provide huge social and emotional benefits to JFK students, especially those covered by the McKinney-Vento Act.  It was also suggested that renovation of the auditorium is an additional large project that could be a priority in particular removing the raised stage to make the space more useable.

JFK SY 2000/01 Proposed Budget Approval

All SSC members present voted to approve the proposed budget.

Review of Bylaws

Dr. Copeland distributed the proposed SSC bylaws to all attendees for review.  Ms. Triplett noted that the SPC would be voting at its February 7 meeting to add an additional Parent Member to the SSC, as the BPS SSC Manual requires the number of Parent Members to be equal to the number of Teacher Members plus one.  She will revise the current draft to reflect that there are currently five Teacher Members.  It was agreed, as proposed in the draft, that the new Parent Member will serve the remainder of the SY 2019/2020, and be subject to re-election for next year, as proposed in the draft.  It was agreed to insert updated language from the JFK’s website in the locations noted in the draft bylaws, and to remove all references to the JFK as a “STEM” school, as the SSC has decided not to maintain that focus as the school is no longer an Innovation School.  Mr. Kroll suggested, and it was agreed, that the requirement of “operating by consensus” should be moved from the Article II scope of the SSC’s work, to Article III’s description of the expectations of each member.  Mr. Kroll suggested, and it was agreed, that the bylaws should be modified to require that the draft minutes from each meeting be posted publicly (with a “draft” label) directly after the meeting, rather than waiting until they are approved at the next month’s meeting.  No other substantive changes were suggested for the proposed bylaws.  Ms. Triplett requested that attendees send her any typographical or grammatical changes electronically and stated that she would distribute the finalized draft for approval by the JFK staff and SPC, prior to our next meeting (if possible). 

Working Groups

Due to a shortage of time, it was agreed to table the breakout into Working Groups for the next meeting.  However, Dr. Copeland relayed that, based on her recent meeting with representatives of the SPC, the JFK plans to host a “movie night” in the auditorium on Friday, February 28, that will be open to both the School and broader community and the annual “Beach Party” on March 19.  Ms. Triplett relayed that the SPC intends to host a fundraiser at the Frogmore in April, which will be open to both the School and broader community.  Ms. Francillon reported that at least $700 was raised through the Spirit Week fundraiser.