LSC meeting updates: Transfers, new course offerings, principal selection: February 15, 2021: 6-8 PM

By Megha Khemka, Copy Editor and LSC Correspondent

Overall: Essential Updates

  • New teacher representative: Ms. Childress-Price will be observing, but likely not eligible to vote in, the principal selection process.
  • Principal selection is fully underway, with both students and teachers working on developing interview questions and scenarios for the candidates that the LSC chose to move forward with.
  • Budget committee updates include increasing freshman enrollment and formalizing a request for Payton to accept transfer students.
  • Course selection town halls were held for grades 9-11, with new course offerings including dual credit options for next year.

Principal Updates: 

Attendance is at an average of 92.97% and freshman on track at 99.5%, with COVID-related quarantine continuing to contribute to lower-than-usual attendance rate. Administration is working to get quotes from three vendors on replacing the recital hall lights. One consequence of the lighting issue is that the Payton Players’ spring production of Twelfth Night will be held in the school’s Blackbox Theater. A previously raised issue, Hill Street faculty parking, has been brought to City Council. Meanwhile, Payton administration is continuing negotiations regarding the terms of our new access to Moody Field. In schedule updates, testing dates have been finalized, with SAT testing on March 23 and PSAT on April 19; these are days of nonattendance for students who aren’t testing.

In course selection news, Dr. Shabazz-Anderson shared that the process will be open to students earlier this year, following a townhall on choosing courses for each grade this week and next. New course offerings will include dual credit courses being offered by eligible teachers (those with a Masters Degree in the subject) in conjunction with City Colleges. These classes will offer students transferable college credits. Another new student opportunity for next year will be off-campus internships for seniors, offered in partnership with Urban Alliance.

Dr. Shabazz-Anderson also discussed updates from last week’s budget committee meeting, including a future appeal to the LSC to amend Payton policy to allow transfer students. All budget-related updates are discussed in depth here. 

Besides principal and budget decisions, the LSC is also responsible for updating the Continuous Work Improvement Plan to guide their school every two years. Although this year marks the end of Payont’s 2020 CIWP, Dr. Shabazz-Anderson said that administration hopes to revise the existing CIWP rather than creating a new one for scratch, since virtual learning meant that Payton wasn’t able to fully implement the 2020-22 plan. The CIWP Committee in charge of making those revisions is being formed, starting with reaching out to the team who worked on the plan last time.

Budget Committee: Per-pupil Funding (enrollment, transfers), One-time Funding Sources

The LSC’s budget committee (a subgroup in charge of allocating funding and aligning each school year’s budget with Payton’s Continuous Improvement Work Plan) met for the first time on February 8, 2022. Following Ms. Person’s decision to step down from the committee, the members are as follows: Dan Sullivan (Parent, Chair); Amma Nantwi (Business Manager); Dr. Shabazz-Anderson; Megha Khemka (Student); and Rem Johannknecht (Student, Secretary). Any student, faculty, parent, or community member may apply to be part of the Budget Committee, and all Budget Committee meetings are open to the public. 

As discussed by both Dr. Shabazz-Anderson and Mr. Sullivan, one of last week’s biggest takeaways was the need for concrete funding solutions for next school year. This year, Payton faced a number of unexpected budget issues, such as a fundraising shortfall from Friends of Payton, hiring more substitute teachers than usual to deal with teacher absences, and continued COVID-safety measures. Although CPS has not yet given Payton its budget for next school year, we do know that some of the funds that were used to compensate will not be available next year, including money from the open Assistant Principal position and federal COVID-relief grants. Another consideration is that Payton is currently under-enrolled by 32 students. Causes of the enrollment gap include a general exodus of students from public to private schools due to CPS COVID policies, as well as the fact that Payton doesn’t have a waitlist, so every student that rejects an offer results in an empty seat.

This is a significant issue because much of a school’s funding from CPS is on a per-pupil basis, and its 20th-day enrollment figure determines how much money it receives the next school year. Payton’s 20th-day enrollment this school year was 32 students fewer than last year, meaning that it will not receive 32 students’ worth of funding for SY22-23. Dr. Shabazz-Anderson stated that she is planning to appeal to CPS and ask them to allocate funding based on Payton’s capacity instead due to the extenuating circumstances of this year. 

She also listed two primary means of increasing Payton’s enrollment next school year, thus securing funding for SY23-24 and beyond. The first is to slightly over-enroll next year’s freshman class, or give more acceptance offers than available seats with the expectation that some students will opt to attend a different school. This addresses the waitlist issue, but not enrollment gaps in the other grades. As such, Dr. Shabazz-Anderson told the LSC that she would be requesting that Payton start admitting transfer students. Once a formal proposal is submitted by administration, the LSC will vote this spring to approve the acceptance of transfer students for SY22-23.

While details have not yet been completely fleshed out, Dr. Shabazz-Anderson said she hoped to admit approximately 10-20 rising sophomores and 10 rising juniors, as those will be Payton’s most under-enrolled grade levels. The discussed process is as follows, but will be subject to much debate and amendment. 

  • Only students who did NOT previously apply through the CPS selective enrollment process would be eligible to transfer into Payton. Applicants must have recently moved into the district, or have been attending a private or parochial school in Chicago. Dr. Shabazz-Anderson said she was advised that would be the best decision for the Payton climate, but suggested that the scope of eligibility could be broadened if not enough applications are received with the current criteria. 
  • The application process will be thorough, including high-school transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, interviews, and more.
  • Application decisions will not be made by the Principal alone, but by a committee of school officials, including the counseling chair. 

PPLC: New Teacher Representative, Ongoing Diverse Learner Efforts

After Mr. Wiggins stepped down, Ms. Tiffany Childress-Price was elected to the LSC as Teacher Representative. Because she joined after the principal selection process, including trainings and workshops, had begun, she will likely be able to observe and participate in closed candidate review and principal selection meetings, but not be able to vote in the final decision.

The PPLC report emphasized the ongoing need for effective collaboration directly between general education and Diverse Learner teachers. It was brought up that teachers would benefit greatly from Diverse Learner-specific guidance and professional development for the next school year, in order to be better equipped for lesson planning and fostering inclusion.

Student Report: Vandalism and Flooding in Bathrooms

This month’s student report focused primarily on concerns regarding the state of bathroom facilities around the school building. Vandalism and defacement of property have continued, and students and faculty members alike have dealt with flooded restroom floors, clogged toilets, and out-of-order stalls on a regular basis. In partnership with Interim Principal Dr. Shabazz-Anderson, the building engineer, and StudGov, QR codes will be placed throughout the building to enable a quick and easy method to submit issues to the building engineer. The “Help Ticket” can be accessed here.

Principal Selection: Candidates Selected for Next Steps

The job posting for the principal position officially closed on February 16, meaning no more candidates will be eligible for review. LSC met in a closed session on Tuesday, February 22 to discuss the received applications and determine which candidates will be invited for the first round of interviews. 5 of the 7 applicants were chosen to move forward. Accordingly, data has been compiled from surveys that asked parents, teachers, and students to rank the relative importance of certain traits in a principal. Keeping that information in mind, representatives have begun work on questions and hypothetical situations for candidate interviews. The PPLC, for instance, is holding open meetings for faculty to develop a few scenarios, while student government, SAC, and other students are meeting with the LSC’s student representatives to come up with questions of their own during enrichment on 2/28. Principal selection is being guided by the following 6 competencies: 

  1. Leading for Learning – A principal who leads for learning at Payton…
    1. prioritizes equity by identifying who is most underserved and demonstrating an understanding that addressing this issue requires a systematic approach;
    2. can articulate a plan for navigating challenges with co-teaching and educating students with diverse learning needs;
    3. is committed to providing a range of learning experiences – dual credit, enrichments, seminars, diverse courses (e.g., Asian American Lit, African American Lit).
  2. Leading for Equity – A principal who leads for equity at Payton…
    1. prioritizes creating a holistic view of a patient through multiple data sources to identify barriers to academic, identity, and SEL barriers to equitable outcomes;
    2. values investing in outside NPO to develop faculty in creating a more equitable learning environment;
    3. creates feedback loops to gather institutional knowledge, understand challenges to creating equity, and to mirror real-time progress and setbacks to achieving equity (i.e. accountability measure)
  3. Resource Management – A principal who effectively manages resources at Payton…
    1. can articulate a transparent budget development and allocation process;
    2. understands how to leverage parent and community resources to accomplish school-wide goals;
    3. gives departments agency in seeing and managing their budgets.
  4. People Management – A principal who effectively manages resources at Payton…
    1. prioritizes getting to know faculty and their departments ahead of making school-wide decision;
    2. makes clear administrative roles and responsibilities for members of their administrative team;
    3. is available and responsive to faculty, students, and parents in-person during the school day and via email (i.e. 48 hours response time).
  5. Collaborative Leadership – A principal who leads collaboratively at Payton…
    1. is committed to transparency in their decision-making by communicating their rationale (why) behind each decision(what);
    2. values the input of pre-existing faculty groups (e.g., ILT, SLT, PPLC) when making school-wide decisions;
    3. serves as the instructional leader of the school.
  6. Culture and Climate – A principal who creates a healthy culture and climate at Payton…
    1. prioritizes hiring someone whose job is to center culture and climate;
    2. can assess the strengths and weaknesses of a school culture before implementing solutions;
    3. can articulate a clear approach to addressing issues of harm and discipline within the community.

Public Comment Summary

  • One parent suggesting speak with Jones College Prep, which has implemented a successful transfer process. Many of the transfers are siblings of students already at Jones.
  • Official 2022-23 Course Guide has been made available to the community.
  • Payton’s new website design will go into use at the end of the month.
  • Suggestion to conduct an equity audit of courses (especially AP classes) to reduce gaps in AP enrollment among students of color and lower-income students.

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