LSC 1/17 meeting updates: new teacher reps, SAT prep, annual appeal

By Megha Khemka, Junior Editor-in-Chief

Overall: Essential Updates

  • Mr. Terrence Murphy and Ms. Erika Stevens are the two new Teacher Representatives
  • SAT and PSAT test prep upcoming
  • Course expansion in the works, programming to start soon
  • Opportunities to connect with Payton alumni
  • FOP Annual Appeal lagging, asking more families to contribute
New Teacher Representatives

Both previously vacant teacher representative spots on the LSC have now been voted for and filled. Mr. Terrance Murphy, the co-chair of the Diverse Learner Department, was present at the meeting and introduced himself. This is his first year at Payton; he previously taught at Phillips Academy and completed a residency at Solorio Academy. The other teacher representative, who was not present, will be Ms. Erika Stevens, who is in her second year as a Payton math teacher. Once the Chicago Board of Education officially approves their appointments, they will be able to participate as voting members of the LSC.

Chair Report: mid-year principal evaluation survey

Mid-year surveys that were sent out to parents/guardians and faculty closed on Friday, January 20. Data from these surveys will be examined in detail by a focus group of interested LSC members, presented to the LSC in a closed session, and used to inform the end-of-year principal evaluation. Ms. Murthy reported that relatively few faculty and parent responses had been received as of the 17th. A second principal evaluation survey will be sent out towards the end of the year.

Principal Report: Upcoming test prep options, Semester 1 grade data

In response to earlier LSC discussions around test-prep options for Payton students, Principal Shabazz stated that she contacted both Academic Approach and the Princeton Review for SAT prep materials. Both proposals cost around $250 per student, and Principal Shabazz said Payton will most likely be partnering with Princeton Review. The organization will administer live online classes to interested students, offering both SAT and PSAT prep, and will likely be held during enrichment (perhaps running slightly over 3:30) to ensure minimal conflicts with sports and other out-of-school student activities. Financial aid will be offered on a need basis. 

The programs are expected to start in February; as the PSAT course is 18 hours, and the SAT course is 15, this ensure the courses end before SAT and PSAT testing in April. She also highlighted that Princeton Review thoroughly vets their instructors to ensure quality, and that they offer student one year of access to their online student portal as part of signing up for classes. This portal includes 28 full-length online practice tests, score reports, drills, and more. Regarding a question about testing format, Principal Shabazz reported that Payton plans to switch to an online SAT next school year. At this time, there is no information about whether the essay portion will still be required..

Principal Shabazz also presented broad grade data from the first semester. Underclassmen had a 99% on track rate, a statistic which measures attendance and number of classes failed to gauge whether students are on track to graduate. Of the five underclassmen who were not on track for Semester 1, Principal Shabazz reported that four are diverse learners. 

In regards to building improvements, Principal Shabazz said that while some work, such as toilet repairs, was completed over Winter Break, other planned repairs will have to wait until Spring Break. Payton is also still waiting for enough contractor bids – CPS regulations require at least three – to install new recital hall lights.

Course Expansion 

Mr. Gould, Ms. Murthy, and Ms. Hansen met with administration to examine Week 10 data provided by our Network. Principal Shabazz shared that work is being done to create a pathway for Diverse Learner students that would slightly differ from the General Education program in order to have classes better serve their needs. 

A desire was expressed by multiple parent representatives to have more advanced math and science courses, such as Calculus 3, to provide more options for academic center students or others who complete Calculus BC by sophomore or junior year in math and science. In response, Principal Shabazz shared that she hopes to expand Payton’s college-level course offerings. One option to do so is through more dual-credit classes, in which Payton teachers administer City Colleges curriculum. To be eligible to teach such a class, a teacher must have a Masters degree in the content area of the course (rather than in curriculum instruction). The two dual-credit courses currently offered at Payton are Spanish V and Calculus. In response to the discussion, a concern was raised about how expanding advanced offerings at Payton might add additional pressure on Payton students to take extremely rigorous course loads.

PACE: Return to Payton event, opportunities to connect

Payton hosted a successful Return to Payton alum event on Wednesday Dec 21, the school’s first since the pandemic. PACE reported good turnout despite the snowstorm warnings that day,  with around 50 students performing, food, photo opportunities, and more. Ms. Murthy, referencing an inquiry from the previous meeting from student representative Sareena Shah, asked whether there was a way for Payton students to get in touch with alumni willing to mentor or answer questions. PACE responded that they are aiming to expand these options in the future. They also directed the LSC to, the current searchable database of alumni who entered their emails. Moving forward, they hope to work with Principal Shabazz to increase the percentage of seniors adding their information to the website. Additionally, it was suggested that having Mr. Grant, the College and Career Counselor, organize more panels in which students can speak with alumni, or having alumni speak at a senior town hall.

Friends of Payton: Annual Appeal, call for donations

Friends of Payton reported that their Annual Appeal is currently at 30% of their total goal of, compared to 50% this time last year (representing a difference of around $80,000). Their total goal for the year is $585,000, and they hope to be in a significantly better position going into the Spring Gala (which will be held March 24th 2023 at The Geraghty in Pilsen). The Annual Appeal hopes to end around the end of January, and FOP emphasized that, with 170 families having contributed so far, getting the word out there for donations is crucial. There is no “superhero” contributor who can save the day if FOP’s goal is not met, so every bit counts. 

New business: CIWP, programming

Work will begin soon on Payton’s Continuous Improvement Work Plan, which must be updated every two years. Principal Shabazz tabled discussion around the process until February’s meeting, but said that a committee of interested LSC members would be formed. At the moment, Principal Shabazz explained that administration and faculty are focusing on programming; they aim to begin the course selection process in February. 

Principal Shabazz also reminded those present that CPS will be taking feedback on the proposed SY2023-24 academic calendar; details are also in the Payton Pulse.

Public Comment

Addressing a question from Ms. Hansen about disparities in fundraising for different athletic teams, Mr. Lara raised the possibility of creating wishlists for teams and coordinating team fundraising with Boosters to ensure that all teams’ needs are met.

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