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October 2009 Futures Meeting Notes
Attending the meeting were: Teri Buda, Karen Campbell, Leanne Clancy, Russ Endo (by phone for the latter part of the meeting), Wilson Felter, Emily Fisher, Emily Harmar, Nita Hopkins, Koof Kalkstein, Ed Marshall, David Moos, Sharon Mullally and Kathleen Walls. Beverly Roberts has had to increase her commitment to her work and so has withdrawn from the committee.
We opened with a few moments of worship.
After a moment of silence, Koof summarized the evening’s agenda and reviewed the process for the upcoming work of the Committee, pointing out the intended integration of the master planning process into our work. Representing the facilities sub-group, David updated the committee on the process of selecting an architect to undertake the master plan work and provided detail on timing as well as how the master plan would fit within the Futures Committee work. We are hopeful of having a firm working with us by the beginning of the year, with the master planning process continuing through the spring and, possibly over the summer.
Visit to the Philadelphia School
The administrative team summarized their visit to the Philadelphia School, a Pre K (formerly 3 year old) through 8th grade program in downtown Philadelphia. TPS was founded approximately 40 years ago with a progressive education philosophy. Its enrollment has grown substantially over the past two decades. The school has a total enrollment of 360 students, the large majority of whom are in the lower school. They have acquired property recently and are working through a facilities master plan.
3 -Year-Old Program
Leanne led the group discussion of several other programs for 18 month through 4- year-old programs (St Peters, Abington Friends and GFS.) The group discussed the potential for a 3 year old program at Greene Street. It may benefit the child to begin a Quaker education at a younger age. Concern was raised about the demographic impact on the school if we, too, did not offer financial aid in that a larger share of our families require aid than at these others schools. It was felt that the work had reached a point to get input from the broader community.
Two Sections per Grade, PK - 4
Wilson and Leanne described for the committee how continuing two sections per grade would work throughout the lower school, identifying classroom and teaching needs as well as impact on schools resources and facilities (such as the lunchroom.) In short, two sections in each grade through 4th grade are achievable within the current facilities of the school, although it would involve shifting of the location of several classes and the possible conversion of the computer lab. There would be additional stress on the cafeteria, which already is used in three shifts, and we would have to reconsider rosters and schedules for specialist teachers.
As the Committee discussed this, a number of benefits to the expansion were voiced, including: teacher partnering benefits of two sections per grade, potential to further widen the range of students we can work with (slower learners and gifted), greater social advantages to having larger grades as kids have a broader circle of friends. A question was also raised as to whether the 5th grade should be placed back in the Lower School.
Two sections per grade, Grades 5-8
Relative to the Lower School, the issues surrounding moving to two sections per grade in the middle school are more complex.
Expansion to two sections per grade would require the development of additional classroom space at some point. The Armat Street building was designed to be a middle school, with sufficient classrooms for one section of 5-8th grade., but additional space would be required for 4th and the current ¾ vertical. Two sections per grade would allow for greater flexibility in teaching approaches, including the potential for full departmentalization after or by 5th grade, along with sufficient enrollment to support additional programs (e.g. second foreign language, two teams of competitive sports and greater partnering activities, etc.) If tied to additional facilities, such program enhancements could foster increased enrollment in the middle school. As with the 3 year old concept, the committee felt that we had reached a good point to get input from the broader school community. As an additional next step, Teri and Koof will develop with the rest of the Administrative Team’s assistance a framework and set of estimates to evaluate the financial impact of such changes.
The committee discussed next steps regarding outreach to the community. Sharon summarized the discussion that the co-clerks had with the Green Street Monthly Meeting on the previous Sunday. In that discussion the attendees brought up a number of priorities for the school and possible facility additions. The priorities were very similar to those discussed by the committee in September, including: maintaining intimacy, socio-economic diversity and access; a desire to participate in the master planning process and for collaboration with our neighborhood. They are supportive of some of the initial ideas for the school’s facilities needs and added a desire for new/additional space for first day school, an improved cafeteria/commercial kitchen, handicapped access to the meeting and the maintenance of easy access to parking. Russ and Sharon will meet again with members of the Meeting to pursue these discussions further in the next month or two.
Koof described the upcoming discussions with the parents association and teaching staff, which are likely to follow a similar format as the meeting with Monthly Meeting. The committee agreed that these meetings should be followed up with an additional discussion or two with parents, teachers and, perhaps further in to the future with alumni.
We closed with a few moments of worship.