Despite last summer’s official removal of the Indian symbol from Lane’s name and merchandise, the Lane Local School Council (LSC) will not announce a new mascot until the beginning of next school year, Chairperson Emily Haite said at the council’s May 18 meeting.
Additionally, in the school budget presentation, Principal Brian Tennison said that the school’s enrollment dropped by 74 students, and the school is in deficit pending additional funds from CPS.
Read the full recap below:
Haite said she received two emails before the meeting. One asked if athletes and musicians could use lockers inside the building, to which Haite responded that the prohibition of locker use was a CPS guideline and beyond the purview of the LSC. The other email asked if students would be returning to school in the fall. She said that that, too, was a question for CPS.
There were no live public participants.
Principal Brian Tennison said that his report was primarily composed of the school’s budget presentation, which he would give in the meeting’s “New Business” section.
Professional Personnel Leadership Committee (PPLC) Report
Teacher Representative Katherine Gomez reported that the administration had purchased the book Grading for Equity for staff members, which they will ideally read over the summer in order to present ideas and suggestions for more equitable grading in the fall.
Friends of Lane (FOL) Report
Friends of Lane President Nikki Pesch said that the organization has raised roughly $70,000 through recent actions, a number comparable to pre-pandemic earnings. The group has also hosted college enrichment events for parents, according to Pesch.
Additionally, with three board members with graduating seniors leaving their positions, Friends of Lane is voting for the new election slate in June.
Finally, Haite added that the school store, which FOL runs, is open in-person on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Symbol Naming Committee
Haite informed the council that the Symbol Naming Committee, an LSC subcommittee charged with finding a new mascot since the removal of the Indian symbol last summer, would not meet its end of the school year goal. Instead, according to Haite, the new symbol will come at the beginning of the school year in August.
Haite said that students would receive a survey this week to contribute their input to the selection process.
School Clerk Jill Woods presented three checks for approval:
$13,364.49 to Fisher Scientific for lab supplies to put in Lane’s new chemistry lab
$15,224 to Follett for 100 statistics textbooks, including a six-year e-book license
$13,723.13 to Grainger for supplies that will enable Lane’s technology and building departments to finish their work around the school
All checks were unanimously approved.
The Friends of Lane (FOL) auction fundraiser, which ran from May 7-14, was approved unanimously.
Tennison announced prior to the budget presentation that he spent three weeks working on it, and he has requested an appeal regarding the budget to bring back staff positions that have been cut. Tennison said if this appeal is rejected, the current budget will stay the same.
He said that the school is currently in the red by about $500,000, but will become balanced pending an influx of roughly $800,000 from CPS.
The overall takeaways of the budget presentation, according to Tennison, are that because of the decrease in student population — 4,502 to 4,428 students — the school was adjusted based on these 74 students to have the budget remain the same. Staff positions were also altered and cut to abide by the budget. The difference of $719,000 provided by CPS was an increase of 2.76% from the previous budget, but this was a deficit for the school due to the decrease in the student poverty rate and contractual salary increases. Tennison said that there are expected funds that will soon be given to the school, so he’s confident the school will be able to cover the difference of the deficit.
CPS gave Lane credit for this enrollment adjustment because they said they were holding all schools harmless, so they based the budget on the same amount of students (4502) for the $26,691,000 of funding that the school received.
The school is allocated with eight security guards and one of the guards allocated by CPS is earning a lower amount of money in comparison to an officer that the school would pay for. Tennison saw the opportunity to switch these two officers. CPS said all he could do was close a position in order to open it at “the rate that it will be moved over.” The two officers will be able to be switched, which would change where their salaries would be provided, and ultimately save Lane money, according to Tennison.
In addition to these position changes, five positions were closed to balance the budget. Three teacher positions were closed because a teacher was either resigning or not needed in the area. A student advocate position was closed as well, but the responsibilities held by this position are being transferred to the new school clerk position. There is also a school nurse position that was previously opened but is now being closed by the school. The school originally had three nurse positions; two positions whose salaries were provided by CPS and the other position whose salary was provided by the school. Due to the school nurse position being closed, there are now four nurse positions that are all provided by CPS.
The school also gained new positions that are budget neutral. One of these positions is a diverse learner teacher position. The school will need 5-6 more diverse learner teachers, but CPS would only “load in” one, so there needs to be an appeal process to obtain these teacher positions. “We know we’ll get the positions because we have the students, and these are students that come into the building that need the support due to their Individual Education Plan,” Tennison said.
Lane gained a case manager, which is also budget neutral, because of the large number of students in the school with IEPs. There will be an increase of students with IEPS in the following year and there are more IEPs being provided because “this is a move by CPS to create greater equity across all schools, and so all selective enrollment schools are in the process of gaining a greater percentage to come into line with the rest of the school in terms of the percentage of students in the building that have IEPs.”
The school clerk position opened because the previous school clerk is retiring and is at the higher end of the salary scale. He was forced to cut the school clerk position and then open up a new school clerk position at the intro salary.
The extra money left outside the budget totaled $562,750. Tennison said he doesn’t know the spending guidelines, but he anticipates that those costs (building operations, furniture, copier machines) will come from this remaining amount. $348,000 was used of this amount for “out of school time funds” for tutoring, SAT prep, and any other services that are provided to help students.
These budget allocations were approved unanimously.
At the end of the budget presentation, Haite said, “I know this has been challenging to say the least, but I appreciate and I’m sure the staff appreciates all the, as Patricia said, chess pieces you’ve moved around to try to save as many positions as possible.”
The LSC included the principal evaluation in the community feedback survey to have participants evaluate Tennison, as well. Parent Representative Patricia O’Keefe said the survey served to “glean insight into a really unusual situation.”
Following the budget presentation, Haite announced that the community feedback presentation would be presented in next month’s regularly scheduled meeting to save time.
Instead of presenting, LSC members gave a timeline for meetings to come in the following month. There will be a meeting June 1 regarding hiring a new principal and it will be open to public participation, but is mostly a closed session, and the regularly scheduled meeting will be on June 3, which will discuss the community feedback survey.
The position for Lane’s principal was posted last Wednesday and will close May 26, and the LSC has the names of potential candidates. Haite said that the plan is subject to change, but there are several qualified candidates within the building, so it is unlikely that the position will need to be reposted.
Haite said that the LSC is confident in their capabilities to hire a qualified candidate, as they were able to hire Tennison in nine weeks with 17 candidates. They will adjust the hiring schedule if necessary, but Haite reiterated that they will be able to choose someone who is qualified.
“We feel like we know what we’re doing,” Haite said.
Following the position posting, interviews will be held to determine Lane’s new principal. June 8 and 9 will be the first round of interviews which will be conducted virtually and June 15 will be the second and final round of interviews which will be held in person. On June 21, a forum with finalists will be shared (format not decided at this time) and finally there will be an LSC open session on June 23 announcing a new principal.
Tennison won’t be able to attend the LSC’s next meeting, so Haite thanked him and was emotional while expressing her gratitude. She said that she is grateful for his leadership, his friendship and his kindness. She commended him for his hard work and the changes he was able to make in the Lane community during the five years he served as principal.
“The school is a much different place than it was five years ago, and in my opinion, a much better place,” Haite said.
Haite said that in the LSC’s closed session, the council would discuss the interview questions and scoring rubric associated with hiring the new principal.