LSC Meeting Jan. 19

Discussing New Programming, Homework Policy, and Budget Approvals

By Esther Babawande and Tommy Kreutz

Lane’s Local School Council (LSC) held a meeting Jan. 19 to discuss resolutions, check budget approvals, and resolve the concerns of the public.

The committee started the meeting by honoring and awarding the Lane Organization of Womyn for their achievements supporting homeless women in Chicago, and their impact in the Lane community. Co-presidents of the Lane Organization of Womyn, Sabrina Lopez, Div. 751 and Grace Coudal, Div. 779, were moved by the honor of being awarded for their efforts by the committee.

Principal Brian Tennison followed the council’s resolutions with a report of his own, where he addressed the planning of the de-stress art event for freshmen and sophomores. The event was created because of the administration’s concerns for students’ stress levels and was held Jan. 23 in the cafeteria.

The council went from the discussion on the report to a discussion on programming, which included commentary from Lisa Borelli, president of Friends of Lane. Recently, there was a parent meeting on programming led by Tennison. The purpose of the meeting was to give parents an opportunity to have their questions concerning programming and course rigor answered. According to Borelli and Tennison, the meeting was a success.

“There was great focus,” Borelli said. “Parents came with questions and they’ve been answered.”

Everything discussed at the parent meeting can now be found in the Programming section of the Lane website. On the website, there is more description about each class, from class rigor to student and parent expectations. A “major shift in programming,” according to Tennison, is that every student has to meet with their counselor now to discuss their proposed classes.

“Every student is being walked through the process,” Tennison said.

Many classes are often “capped” before it is time for students to pick classes, and Tennison assured the council that every course cap is discussed.

“The goal is inclusion, the inclusive approach to course selection. Some classes will naturally be closed. You have to set some limits but [it’s better],” Tennison said.

There were many budget approvals that were addressed during the meeting, all of which passed through the committee unanimously. The budget approvals included $17,735.79 of funds to be put towards new combination locks for upcoming school year; $52,236.00 to purchase 26 Apple iMacs for computer science department’s new incubation program; and $28,199.97 to supply three new Chromebook carts (36 Chromebooks each) for all-school use and instruction.

Representatives from Friends of Lane used their portion of the meeting to explain their plans for fundraising events that will be held in the near future. The Green and Gold Gala (April 21) and the The Friends of Lane Commonwealth (Feb. 24) were two of the main events which Friends of Lane reported on.

The fundraising project Friends of Lane focused on most was funding the installation of lights for the parking lot. This is a topic which was discussed in the Nov. 17 LSC meeting as well, and seems to have picked up ground in terms of planning. Friends of Lane said they will create a GoFundMe and a promotional video on the parking lot lights, with hopes to extend past the Lane Tech Community for primary funding.

The meeting was opened up to public input, which mainly gravitated around Lane’s lunch and homework policies.

According to school policy, current freshmen will be granted open campus lunch starting second semester. A parent spoke from the audience, identifying her concern for the idea. She said that freshmen who are shy and have trouble developing friendships will be at a greater disadvantage because of this change in lunch policy. The parent said that the open lunch policy will leave fewer people in the lunchroom and make acquiring friends harder for those students who frequent the cafeteria. In response to this, the committee said that, in actuality, the cafeteria is even more crowded now that students are allowed to leave and that the policy was created to stop students from sneaking out for lunch.

The No Homework Policy garnered the council and the audience’s attention, sparking a discussion. The discussion was led by a parent representative on the council who praised the No Homework Policy implemented over Winter Break and the possibility of the same occurring over Spring Break. The parent representatives all agreed that they were grateful for the No Homework Policy and understand if the same cannot be done over Spring Break. But the parents suggested to Tennison that the homework over Spring Break could be minimized.

Tennison replied by mentioning that the homework policy was not an executive decision made by him but a collective vote made by all staff. Seventy-three percent of teachers agreed to the No Homework Policy over Winter Break, according to Tennison, and he promises to continue the conversation with the teachers to see if such can happen again. The teacher representatives on the council weighed in on that note. Mr. Gonzalez shared how when he first became a teacher he thought he was expected to give projects and work over break. He admitted that the recharge time over break was not solely beneficial for the students.

Overall, there was no final decision made on the option of having no homework for students over Spring Break but there was a consensus on the recent one’s benefit.   

“This was about students first, and I hope it helped the faculty as well,” Tennison said.

The topic of homework and other school issues were not left for the parent representatives alone to discuss, but the discussion will be open to all Lane parents through the annual community feedback survey. The survey, drawn up by Julie Coffman, will ask parents their thoughts on their child’s academic track, amount of homework, the progress of the school and the LSC. The survey allows the LSC to gather feedback and information on important decisions made last semester and plan for the new semester. The optimal date for sending out the survey was discussed, and Feb. 6, after the first semester final exams, was chosen.

Another survey being sent out soon by the LSC is the Lane teacher survey. The council discussed how to word the survey to evaluate whether current teachers are considering other employment options.

The council also gathered their thoughts on CPS cuts, like Professional Development Days. Currently, teachers have lost their Professional Development Days, and will not be receiving pay during their time off.

Though the LSC agreed with Tennison that the financial implications are not staggering, teacher representatives weighed in on the impact losing out-of-class prep time has on all teachers. Furlough days don’t impact students’ instructional time, but sporting events that fall on those days will be cancelled and coaches will not be paid. Sport facilities are also closed on those days. Teacher representative Mr. Gonzalez, who is also a track coach, verbalised on how inconvenient the furlough days are since they fall on the day of his team’s track meet.

The January LSC meeting consisted of discussions in the council and opening up discussions to people outside the council. The main focus of these discussions were students and the school’s relations with parents and the community. The coming plans for the rest of the school year are sure to reflect the feedback the council received.