Whittier PTA Board Meeting
December 14, 2021
7:00 pm via ZOOM
|Board Members Kristen Ramer Liang Megan Wildenradt Sara Lukas Kellie Pecoraro Leah Lansberry Austin Renee Hartnett Kate Scher Brad Nelson Stacy Rose||Guests/Community Members Damian Mayo Cindy Watters Sandra Klay Anjean Vanden Bosch JoLynn Berge, SPS Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance Becky Asencio, SPS Capital Projects Carlos Del Valle, SPS Executive Director of Technology Jake Milstein, volunteer, Schools First|
Meeting Called to Order, Land Acknowledgement without Quorum 7:02
Voting on the following issues was delayed due to not having quorum:
- Approval of November 2021 Meeting Minutes
- Approval of Nominating Committee for Recommendation to Community
Our first speaker was JoLynn Berge, SPS Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance. She taught us about school funding and the operation levy. She gave us a rundown on how schools are funded in Seattle, and how the levies contribute. This is SPS’s 2nd largest revenue stream after the state. This year the EP&O is up for renewal, and this levy bridges the gap between what the state provides and the district needs. Some things it covers includes: children nutrition, special education services, mental health counselors, athletics, music, nurses, etc. The levy would generate $646.8 million over 3 years. State law dictates how much they can collect from tax payers, and it’s always lower than what tax payers are willing to pay.
Next we heard from Becky Asencio, SPS capital projects, who covered the upcoming BTA levy, which will be a replacement for the previous version. This is for large projects like new buildings, technology funding, major maintenance, small renovations, improvement projects for the buildings, etc. She told us about how the project lists are created. Consultants come to every school building to assess where the greatest need is, in addition to guidance from the board. This levy includes the Memorial Stadium replacement where earthquake safety repairs are necessary for the grandstands, along with some basic planned maintenance. Some other examples of what is covered are: playground repairs and replacements, asphalt and stormwater repairs, replacing old windows and doors, seismic safety improvements, fire security, plumbing, electrical, HVAC lighting, clean energy, secure entries, ADA accessibility, gender neutral restrooms, etc.
Then we heard from Carlos Del Valle, Executive Director of the Department of Technology Services. He shared with us that 85% of technology funds come from the levies. The BTA levy aligns with board guidance in three major areas: student learning and support, district systems and data, infrastructure and security, and the staff to support all of this. There’s also a significant increase in tech costs in the last year due to becoming a 1:1 device district. These devices also need to be managed and supported, including cyber security, routers, etc etc. Lastly, the funds also go towards the digital equity program.
We came back to Becky Asencio to talk about academics and athletics funding. We have current needs for special education modifications, turf field replacements, arts and science equipment, and are looking to supplement $783 million over 6years, which is a similar process to other levies in terms of deciding how to prioritize projects.
Lastly we heard from Jake Milstein, a volunteer for the nonprofit organization School’s First. He let us know that SPS employees can’t tell you how to vote, but School’s First can! They are asking that our PTA endorses the levy publicly, and encourage donations to Schools First to help raise awareness. They are hoping for $1 a student.
Principal & Staff Updates
General Updates from Principal Watters: 85% of kids have received their first shot. The plan is for 80% of kids to come back in Jan. fully vaccinated. Looking to move more of lunch inside because the kids are really starting to get cold.
Upcoming in Jan: We’re hoping to see more volunteers, but planning to still be very conservcative. Parents won’t be in classrooms regularly, but perhaps some one-offs. Massive monkees, Salmon program, both are still able to come. We’ll lean into public health and SPS guidance. We’ve been able to hire an operations person to help with some of the roles we’ve been missing with no parent volunteers. Mr Mo, Kinder teacher will not be coming back, so looking for a replacement. Parents asked about security after the recent shelter in place orders at other schools. We are one of the only schools with a buzzer at the door. The campus will remain closed forever even after pandemic. Gates are locked during school hours and we do safety drills with kids. Whittier is lucky to be one of the few schools with a totally closed campus.
Special Education Presentation: Principal Watters gave us a presentation on the Special Education services at Whittier, so we can all be more familiar with what our school offers. All students have access to all types of support. We have a continuum of services, depending on students’ needs. We’re going to meet kids where they are at and support them as they need. We have a lot of diversity in our learners, and they all need some support at some point.
Spring Fling Check-In:
Sandra Klay, our Spring Fling chair, led a discussion about the possibility of making this year’s Spring Fling a block party style event. The goal is to make it welcoming and accessible for all, and to just have the community feeling we’ve been missing.
Helping Hands Update:
We raised $4200 for community and 220 pairs of socks!
Meeting Adjourned 8:47