Council Minutes: January 17, 2019

Council Minutes

January 17, 2019


Hospitality provided by: 7-8 teachers, Catriona Dowling Davis, and Jonathan and Nina Rogers

Childcare: Keren Slepeck

Minutes: Emmy Kurtz

Facilitators: Monica Fitzgerald and Lauren Tracey

Consultant: John Brendza, Colorado League of Charter Schools

6:30 Welcome and introductions

6:40 Council agreements, procedures, concordance

  • Responsibilities of council (see slides)
  • All here are voting members

6:45 Open forum

  • Celebration of submission of school goals (UIP): John Irving School of Excellence, strong student achievement growth this fall, goals written based on areas of growth determined from data. Will be made available to for families to review
  • 2 former students competed in World Cup as freestyle skiers, 1 former student competing in DU gymnastics
  • Thank you parents for your fundraising, especially in preparing for winter sports and arts/movement/music curriculum
  • 7/8 and 3/4 shared overnight to Snow Mountain Ranch for winter sports
  • Game night on 2/1 for grades 1-6, family event
  • Appreciation for 7/8 teacher response to student request; gratitude for empowering students to bring forward their ideas and suggestions

6:55 Board introduction for informational meeting: concerns and opportunities

  • Board concerned about admin turnover (Lauren here for 1 yr 7 months, Cece for 7 months)
  • Board hearing there are challenges to leading our school, this is the reason why other leaders have moved on – as a board how do we address these issues and structures to support our kids?
  • Some non-functional structures include lack of clarity, roles that are unclear, teacher-led culture not well defined, concordance model (board and council level) restricting, bylaws
  • Concerns shared by board members
    • Growth of school population – growing pains
    • Conflict of interests in our bylaws
    • Concordance can work, but not in the council model we currently have
    • Leadership turnover in last decade
    • A lot of work to get done
    • Sunshine laws
    • Fear of reactionary moves
  • Opportunities shared by board members
    • Charter will be welcomed
    • Careful and detailed review and revisions of bylaws before submitting charter renewal
    • Consider whether concordance model is best for our school’s decision making process
    • Define council budget
    • Look at what has worked in bylaws and what has not worked and revise
    • Revise concordance procedures and policies
    • Hire a seasoned head of school for stability
    • Get faculty input and perspective throughout process
    • Redefine and depend upon our shared commitment to teacher-led/teacher autonomy and relationship based
    • Keep the rich needs of our students in mind throughout the coming changes
    • Opportunity to move forward with grace by analyzing the basic structures as they are now

7:10 League overview – John Brendza

  • Top 2 reasons for charter schools running into trouble: poor governance structures and financial trouble/instability
  • Governance: creating a system within school by which decisions can be made in the the best interest of the children and families served in the school
    • In HK8 model, council has final say. That’s a significant responsibility and can cause challenges with making decisions at the school
  • League members reviewed HK8 Bylaws in detail and provided feedback. All separately indicated there are significant problems in our bylaws and governance structures.
    • Interferes with leaders ability to lead and school’s ability to make decisions
    • Council as final say is a significant challenge
  • Every indicator that we are a high performing charter school
  • Look carefully and critically at our structures and eliminate what isn’t working
    • Outcome of this work should be to pinpoint who is ultimately responsible for making decisions

7:20 Administrative perspective and hopes for new leadership – Lauren & CeCe

  • Gratitude for extra work and time of volunteer board members
  • Lacking in systems and structures in deference to legacy and evolving our foundations
    • Need to strengthen connection between culture/history and forward thinking
    • Need for accountability structures
    • Need for defined roles and responsibilities
    • How do we make decisions – when are decisions autonomous and when does decision making go to oversight?
    • Need for building trust
    • Resistance from some teachers regarding data, coaching, new things
  • Hopes for new leaders
    • Structures that support defined roles and decision making
    • Instructional leadership from teachers, provide relief for teachers in other roles and responsibilities
    • Support teachers in being best instructional leaders focused on student outcomes
    • Hope for more clearly defined head of school roles and responsibilities
  • Not reaching full potential as leaders currently, not a match for the culture of the school

7:30 Discussion

  • Where is resistance being felt by leaders?
  • Urgency of how much work involved in the charter renewal
  • Concerns regarding timeline and need to move fast
  • Why and how was the choice made to hire an interim principal?
  • Charter renewal timeline?
    • Work done by end of this school year
    • Recommended to have a strong draft by July 2019
    • Meeting with district in September 2019 and negotiations begin
    • Negotiation period
    • Board of Education reviews, final say in January 2020
  • What’s the plan to get faculty voice and perspective?
    • What has already been done:
      • All board members (4 Faculty members) had 101 Governance Training with John Brendza during December 2018 Board Meeting
      • Faculty and Staff Governance Model Overview Training was held with John Brendza on January 7, 2019
    • Plans for future:  
      • Board scheduling a Faculty meeting, without administrators, with Board members invited to gain staff voice, perspective and facilitate discussion. John Brendza facilitator.
      • Continuing to encourage faculty to reach out to Board members and attend Board Meetings, Board work sessions, and possibility of scheduling more Council-type meetings.  

7:40 Board’s hiring plan – This topic was briefly covered during the Discussion section of the meeting above. The hiring process begins immediately. Board will draft job position description and search committee will be formed. There are opportunities for community to be involved on this committee work.

7:50 Update on Charter Renewal process- Bylaws, policies, – this topic was discussed during the discussion (see notes above)

8:00 Leaning into our strengths, our vulnerabilities, and opportunities for improvement

      Governance, decision-making, strategic planning, accountability  –this was discussed during the discussion as well.

9:00 Close appreciation for the large turn out, offer of support of members and gratitude that members stayed beyond the scheduled meeting end time (830pm) given the long discussion and offering as much time for community to share ideas and ask questions.


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