LSC meeting updates: January 18, 2021 6-8 PM

By Megha Khemka, Copy Editor

Overall: Essential Updates

  • Access to Moody Field for Payton use
  • Semester 2 brings new position to Payton staff: Director of Student Engagement. 
  • Attendance across Payton and CPS has dropped, and some KN95 masks and rapid tests have been received for faculty. Masks are also arriving for all students. 
  • Candidate review for principal selection, guided by the results of feedback surveys from faculty, students, and parents, will begin after the job posting closes on January 26.
  • Donations from FOP’s Annual Appeal have typically supported a number of faculty positions for the upcoming school year, but the recent five-day gap in instruction has contributed to worryingly low levels of contribution from frustrated parents (equivalent to three faculty positions)

Community Representative: Mary Young voted in to fill position

Mary Young was a Payton parent starting in 2011. During that time, her roles included serving on the FOP and being a ‘Parent PAL,’ among involvement in other parent committees. She had previously served two terms on the LSC, with the first in 2016. Outside of the school community, she has worked as a tax attorney, taught at a number of colleges (including Loyola and Columbia College Chicago). Following a short closed session for discussion on the candidate, the LSC overwhelmingly approved Young.

Principal Updates: Semester 2 brings new admin position, access to Moody Field

In updates for Semester 2, Payton has hired a Director of Student Engagement, who will be starting in their role after Finals Week. After extensive negotiations, Dr. Shabazz-Anderson also said that the school has finally gained access to Moody Field. Course selection will be organized earlier this year, beginning in February and ideally ending around April. Some teachers may be offering dual-credit courses (with City Colleges of Chicago) at Payton for SY22-23. Additionally, as college applications wrap up, Dr. Shabazz-Anderson emphasized this year’s senior scholarship challenge, and the upcoming SAT testing date for all juniors and any seniors who haven’t taken the test for graduation credit.

As Omicron causes a surge in cases throughout the city, Dr. Shabazz-Anderson noted that attendance has dropped significantly throughout the school district, with Payton’s at around 93%. The freshman on track rate has also dropped to 98.8%. In response, most public schools have asked that, under the circumstances, attendance be ‘no harm’ this year, as that statistic typically factors into a school’s quality rating. In the aftermath of the new agreement negotiated between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools, some KN95 masks and rapid tests have been received for faculty. Masks are coming for all students, and a contact tracing team is being put together. 

Principal Selection: Student/parent survey, job post closing

A survey weighting important qualities in Payton’s next principal has gone out to all students and parents, and closes January 28; data from that will be presented next meeting to anchor scenarios and questions for the interview process. The job position is open until January 26, after which candidate discussion will begin.

Fundraising: 5-day instruction gap means significant funding concerns

The President of Friends of Payton (FOP), Chris McGowan, shared serious concerns regarding FOP’s Annual Appeal, one of the most significant fundraising events at Payton. Launched in early November with the goal of raising $575,000 by January 31, the Appeal was only at 53% of it’s goal as of January 14, $100,000 behind historical numbers. In fact, although the weeks after Winter Break are typically the busiest weeks of fundraising, McGowan shared that almost no money has been incoming since January 1 this year. Rather, the FOP has been receiving numerous texts and emails from Payton parents expressing their frustration over the five days of school closures from January 5-11, and two long-term parent volunteers have quit.

A number of action plans are being discussed by Dr. Shabazz-Anderson and LSC leadership in order to reach parents across grade levels, but the Appeal will almost certainly have to be extended into February. Although emphasizing that it’s much too early to draw conclusions about budget and staffing for next year, McGowan pointed out that a dramatic increase in funds would be necessary for the FOP to be able to support of 4-6 faculty members as it has historically; the current $268,000 gap-to-goal represents 3 faculty members.

Budget Committee: 2022 committee established, members voted in

6 people have volunteered to be part of this year’s LSC budget committee: Dan Sullivan, Fareeda Shabazz, Amma Nantwi, Kathryn Person, Megha Khemka, and Rem Johannknecht. The committee is currently open to interested candidate volunteers. The group’s first meeting will be set for early February. 

FACE Report: Parent resources

An upcoming presentation from FACE will equip parents to navigate social media with their teens; a link to the workshop can be found on Payton’s website as well as in the weekly Payton Pulse sent out by Dr. Shabazz-Anderson. Based on results of a prior interest survey in that newsletter, a committee has been formed to work on creating an equity statement for Payton.

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