Committee to Study the Mission of CHS
March 9, 2006
Attending: Anne Freske, Lee Kounovsky, Sharon Heater, Ken Donner, Terrie Chrones, John Moran, Jan Ophus, Sue Bowers
Anne Freske opened the meeting at 6:45 a.m. The group approved the proposed agenda and the minutes of the February 24 meeting.
Anne shared a couple of recent commentaries from the Register-Guard, one about high school dropouts and another contrasting education and attitudes about learning between our system and what is happening in China. She also reminded the group that she will be attending a meeting on Expanded Options at Lane ESD on Friday, March 10. Mrs. Zacharias plans to attend this as well. (Likely postponed due to Friday’s snow.)
Anne has talked with both Jennifer Heiss and Dr. Adler about sources of funding that might help with counseling or Skills for Success staffing. She has learned there is a resource person at Lane ESD who may be able to help and will work to connect that person with our administrators. Dr. Adler is watching for grant opportunities, though they will be fewer with less federal funding available.
Anne has also followed up with Hugh Turnbull about covering the activities of this committee in The Chronicle. He was not able to attend today’s meeting, but plans to review the minutes to get caught up with the group and is interested in helping share information about the effort.
Terrie described the survey vendor (Zoomerang) and process that she used with her culinary group. The cost was $60, with results nicely summarized and available quickly. She sent emails to the target responders asking them to access the survey via computer. She suggested allowing a week for responses. The first step would be formulate questions, which Terrie volunteered to collect, if committee members would provide suggestions.
Thinking about survey questions led to a bit of meandering discussion by the group:
· One objective for a survey would be to educate the community, as school today is not like parents remember it being for them.
· Students today are different, often with very complacent attitudes toward school. Ken described some of the groups he works with at the Middle School, where students clearly understand that school is important but still don’t seem interested in applying themselves. As an example, they don’t bother to study for tests.
· John suggested that as long as the school buses are running, homework shows up at least occasionally, the basketball games happen, etc., many community members sense that everything is going along just fine in the schools.
· Lee commented that the students he works with today at Churchill’s Alternative School have different attitudes than they did 10 years ago.
· It would be interesting to understand if there are differences between students who are enrolled here throughout their school years and the many who transition through for a relatively short time.
· Mr. Ophus shared that he had been interviewed recently by one of the participants in the Ford Foundation-sponsored Community Improvement group. He was surprised that she was not aware of the community assessment work done here last year by Professor Weeks and his U of O students. We need to do a better job of converging these parallel programs and getting them connected with school needs.
Terrie asked to be reminded of this committee’s charge, as we think about how a survey might be useful. Anne responded that we are to re-evaluate the mission of CHS, looking forward. From the discussions so far, critical pieces of that are how to support the kids who are having trouble with school and the allocation of available funding. Jan reiterated his view of the need to personalize education, which is difficult with high numbers of students per teacher.
Steering the discussion back to the survey idea, Anne said she was in favor of proceeding and asked for everyone’s response. Most of the group agreed, with a couple questioning that as the most logical next-step. Comments included:
· We would need to clarify our objectives first.
· Community members do need to be educated. Too many of our kids are not feeling good about attending CHS.
· The atmosphere in the hallways is uncomfortable for some students.
· The community does not hear enough about all the good things happening.
· Creswell’s growth is bringing changes.
· We don’t have enough parent involvement. Would the 13% who attend the Open House likely be the only ones who would respond to a survey? How would we reach those who don’t have access to computers?
· The personnel transitions of CHS principals and campus supervisors have resulted in some uncertainty about expectations. There are ways we can “raise the bar.”
· Any survey effort would need to be coordinated with a possible survey or other public involvement work planned by the Middle School Bond effort. If a PR firm is brought in, they could give us some guidance.
· The Finance Committee is planning some kind of Open House/Information event in April. Perhaps we could tie into that and include a “put your dots where you think we should focus” or other kind of public input activity regarding CHS there.
· Before proceeding, we would need to have a plan for using the data collected. People can get upset if they participate in a survey and don’t sense any results coming from the effort.
· Would we be likely to discover anything we don’t really already know?
· Johnny Lake, who is studying the issue of parental engagement, is a resource person who would be willing to come and meet with us.
The consensus after this discussion was to seek some of the available “expert advice” before proceeding with a survey. Lee suggested that a larger group (all CMS and CHS staff?) be convened if we want to invite Johnny Lake to meet with us. Anne said she will contact Hugh Turnbull and Ed Weeks and invite them to be a part of our next meeting and help provide input on this question.
As time for further discussion was running out, the following information was shared:
· The 4J district is applying for a continuing grant available through the Workforce Investment Act (I think that’s the right name?—Acronym is WIA) that provides funding for incentives that connect students with work opportunities. It would be hard for Creswell to prepare a full application by the April 3 deadline, but if we were able to join with South Lane’s effort, we might be able to get started with this program.
· It looks like Perkins funding (federal money that has supported vocational education) may be decreasing. This could increase the need for fundraising by teachers involved in these classes. Is that appropriate, or should programs offered by funded by taxpayers?
· When “good” student take part in our more hands-on classes, the atmosphere and learning improve for all the participants.
The next meeting of the Committee was set for 6:45 a.m. on Friday, April 14.
Respectfully submitted, Sue Bowers, Secretary