Minutes for 2016-01-11

Le Monde Parents
Regular Meeting
Monday, January 11, 2016
about 4:00 – about 5:00 p.m.

Lucky Lab Brew Pub
915 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, Oregon

In attendance: C. David Maxey, Phil Duong, Kristen Meyers, Le Monde Executive Director Shouka Rezvani, and several other parents

Le Monde Parents Business

Introductions of attending parents
french culture and parent education

Parents identified desire for more French culture and education events. Shouka mentioned that our interns and a teacher need to do a French culture presentation as a part of their Visa requirement.

3 parents identified interest in helping to coordinate the presentation(s) with the interns: Jennifer, Kirsten and Meredith. Some suggestions and details included:

  • Family Fun Night with varying themes in classrooms.
  • Share culture nights between two different schools like Spanish Immersion, Arco Iris.
  • Consider childcare, donations/fundraising opportunities, and possible weekend event.

A parent suggested more use of the visible bulletin boards in the school to make Le Monde Parents events more visible since Le Monde Parents does not have a calendar of events on it’s website. Le Monde Parents clarified that the most efficient way to learn about Le Monde Parents events is to subscribe to the Le Monde Parents email posts where events are announced regularly. This has been identified as the most efficient way to share information that is cost and time effective.

A distinction was noted that Le Monde School has a calendar on their website that is current. Le Monde School generated events (e.g., Dine Out, Family Dance) can be found on the school bulletin boards (except for some events that are simply announced at too short of notice to create a flier).

spring potluck 2016

Date is set for Sunday, May 22, 2016. Plan is to reserve Wallace Park @ 1600 NW 25th Ave, Portland, OR 97210. Reservations for Portland Parks begins in February and the site will cost $63 to reserve. Donations were requested and $41 in donations were received. Kristen Meyers will reserve space once enough funds are raised.

Vote on term limits removal amendment

The Governance Committee has discussed how to deal with our association consistently having few nominees for the Council (i.e., Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary), and the Governance Committee decided to propose an amendment to Section 4 of Article IV of the Le Monde Parents Policies and Procedures (see below), so that it will be possible for C. David Maxey to help our association avoid Council vacancy by serving another term. The amendment was officially proposed in writing at a Special Meeting on December 4th, 2015. A vote was called by C. David Maxey, and the vote was approved unanimously. See the text of amendment below:

Article IV. Section 4. Terms of Office. Council members are elected for one year (term starts September 1st and ends August 31st) and may serve no more than two (2) consecutive terms in the same office. Each person elected shall hold only one office at a time. From the date the election results are announced until the official start of the term, the members of the outgoing Council shall train and mentor the members of the incoming Council.

Adjourn Le Monde Parents’ business

Q&A with Le Monde Executive Director Shouka Rezvani

Shouka Rezvani was one of the group of founders of the school, and previously served 4 years as a volunteer Board President for Le Monde. She continues to serve as volunteer Board President, but this academic year when the board decided to hire an Executive Director, she competed for the position and was hired this year as ED for Le Monde Immersion, the nonprofit that runs the school and associated programs.

Q-What is the structure of fundraising for Le Monde?

A-There is no separate fundraising entity for Le Monde. Le Monde Parents does not fundraise as it does not have a bank account and is not a legal entity; therefore, fundraising is a school based function only. In her Executive Director role, Shouka coordinates fundraising projects for the school. The school relies on parents to help with fundraising ideas, and parents also often help to run fundraising projects. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact Shouka with any fundraising ideas, even if you don’t have time to pursue it or run the event. The school is happy to review all fundraising ideas to see if they are a good fit.

Q-What is the financial stability of the school?

A- The move to the new building has significantly increased rent and other expenses, and the school needs to generate more revenue, whether by fundraising or increasing enrollment. Currently, the school is under-enrolled by approximately 15 kids. Shouka strongly feels that with all of the fundraising ideas and work this year that we will make it, but this year and future years that are growth years, operations more expensive. Parent and community donations are the most quick and effective means to raise funds.

The bottom line is that while school finances are very tight, they are not dire, and if that were to change the school would effectively communicate that with the Le Monde community.

Q-Please provide more details around finances. (This is in reference to and email sent on 11/12/15 titled “Le Monde needs your help!”)

A-At the time of the email we were operating at 80K projected deficit over the course of the year (due to under-enrollment) as against budget. Although with projections it is hard to make fixed assertions, we estimate that we are now operating at approximately 60K deficit as against budget. However, we started the year in a cash positive position. Simply put, we do not anticipate failing, but this budgetary deficit eats up our cash reserve.

Q-Are we building a financial cushion via other resources (grants, capital campaign)?

A-That is the goal and the school does have a modest reserve fund. However, it is hard to build an appropriate cushion when the school is trying to grow. One drawback is that Le Monde does not qualify for most federal grants. We are fundraising and trying to apply for available grants. Parents are encouraged to notify Le Monde Board of any grant funding ideas that the school could apply for.

Q-Where does the school plan to locate in the future?

A-The goal since inception has been to have a school that is centrally located, preferably on the Westside, near downtown and as close as possible to major thoroughfares and highways. When looking at new sites, the decision will be weighted against cost, long term viability, and the desirability of the facility (playground, etc). Le Monde currently works with a committee that includes board members, a parent who is a realtor/broker, and a parent who is an architect, to assist with understanding growth and development downtown and to review potential properties. Currently, PPS has advised that it will not rent any vacant PPS properties to Le Monde (or any third party).

Q-What is Le Monde Board vision for the school in the next 3-5 years?

A-The vision remains the same—to educate children in a French immersion environment that honors the best international academic traditions and develops students who are inquisitive, reflective, communicative, and caring. Currently we are working on developing our middle school program and determining where our facility will be longer term.

Q-What are the strengths and challenges of Le Monde?

A-Strengths: We have a sound academic program and have a highly-trained and educated staff.

A-Challenges: 1) Figuring out the structure of our middle school program. 2) Finding a facility that we can afford while we are in growth mode. 3) Continuing to fundraise at the pace required so that we can meet all of our academic needs. 4) Continuing to find qualified teachers with the requisite French language proficiency.

Q-Can new students be added in the middle school grades?

A-Charter schools can not test/screen students for language acquisition since it is a lottery based system only. We are considering how and whether adding new students in middle school might work. The facility will play a big role in this decision.

Q-Will there be plans for after school sports programs for middle school kids?

A-This is not the primary focus of the Board since there are already several programs in the community to meet these needs and the focus is on ensuring academic and other programs during the school day. Students can access their local schools programs. That said, if parents want to start specific programs they should feel free to contact the Board to discuss possibilities.

Q-Is Le Monde considering changing the start time/end time for middle school?

A-The Board is taking into consideration several factors when determining start and times for current elementary school and middle school. The Board will most likely create a survey when appropriate to get a better understanding of the needs of the Le Monde community.

Q-Will Le Monde hold school assemblies?

A-Yes, this is a goal, but we need the space to do this.

Q-Will Le Monde consider TAG programs?

A-TAG programs have been reviewed from a lens that the programs must add value for those students who qualify for TAG. So far, the programs do not appear to add more value to the current programs already offered at Le Monde. Teachers have reported that they feel confident in being able to challenge students appropriately to their high level in the classroom. PPS will no longer evaluate students from Le Monde for TAG.

Q-What was the outcome of the Senate Bill 819 and Senate Bill 820?

A-SB 819 did not succeed. This was a bill to ensure that charter schools would receive 95% of state, local and federal funds rather than the current 80% rate of only state funds. SB 820 did succeed that will allow charter schools to weight the enrollment lottery in favor of historically underserved communities (students of color, low income students, etc). The Board has not received any guidance on how this bill will be implemented so the current stance is to wait until more information is available.

Q-Does the Washington State Supreme Court decision that determined charter schools as unconstitutional affect Oregon charter schools?

A-There is no known risk for a similar case in Oregon and no known pending cases regarding this in Oregon at this time. Oregon charters are operated in a different manner as compared with Washington charters, so there is a reduced risk of the same constitutionality challenge here.

Q-Can a student leave Le Monde and then come back?

A-Short answer, if it is after 2nd grade, the student could not return since the school does not admit students after 2nd grade. If you leave prior to 3rd grade, and do not return in the same year under a granted leave of absence, you would have to re-apply and go through the lottery process again if there was an available space. If a student starts the year and then needs to leave for a period before returning in the same year, then they must apply to the Board for a leave of absence.

Q-Is the Le Monde Board looking at possibilities of adding High School?

A-It is always an option, but the board is focused on K-5 and Middle School at this time.

Q-What are the functions of the Le Monde Board?

A-The Board is comprised of 7 volunteers. Some were founders of Le Monde, some are parents, some are community members otherwise unrelated to the school. The Board primarily focuses on recruiting volunteers that are experts in areas that the school needs (finance, education, curriculum). The primary Board function is to develop policy and govern, while the staff (and, on occasion, volunteers) implement those policies.

Q-Is there a geographical boundary that Le Monde students must live in to attend Le Monde?

A-Students must be Oregon residents. Once admitted, students can move throughout the state.

Q-How will we fit for the next 3 years in the current building?

A-We are working on that. It is anticipated that current classrooms will be divided.

Q-Will there be looping (when a teacher moves with there class to the next grade)?

A-That decision has not been made yet for next year. Staff input drives this decision based on whether or not the teachers want to stay and build their teaching proficiency at current grade level.

Q-What will Kindergarten enrollment look like next year?

A-It is unclear if we will have 1 or 2 Kindergarten classes next year. A number of factors will guide this decision, including but not limited to the facility itself. As a charter school the charter contract has a cap on the total number of students that may be enrolled during the term of the contract.

C. David Maxey, Chair; Phil Duong, Vice-Chair; Kristen Meyers, Secretary