School Leadership Team Minutes 1/21/2016

In Attendance:


Gale Reeves, Superintendent

James Dekeles, DOE Office of School Planning (OSP)

Richard Bocchicchio, DOE Office of School Planning (OSP)

Stephen Meinschein (Faculty)

Micah Hasegawa

Tina Glover, CB9

Sherry French (Parent)

Mark Kerman (Parent)

Janet Miller (Parent)

Andi Velasquez (Parent Coordinator)


Parent Members:

Kevin Daly (PTA Delegate)

Amy Gillman

Karen Kaapcke-LePique

Rhonda James

Kyle Pfortmiller (Chair)

Faculty/Admin Members:

Dmitriy Faybyshenko (Faculty)

Erin Flaherty (Faculty)

Miriam Nightengale (Principal)

Naeta Rohr (Faculty)



Ayesha Haniff

Jenna Kerman

Eleanor Prickett-Morgan

Memphis Washington

Woody Chang

Nissa Bisguier

Akiyl El


Meeting called to order at 5:00 pm


  1. Discussion with Superintendent Gale Reeves and Office of Space Planning


  1. Principal Nightengale thanked Superintendent Reeves for joining the SLT meeting to discuss a letter sent by the SLT to the DOE regarding the school’s facilities concerns. CSS is struggling to grow, continue to excel, and provide needed services to students in its current shared facility. We were sited in this building without a community meeting or long-term growth plan, and without considering the impact of CSS on the other schools in the Ralph Bunche campus that span ages from 4-18. The DOE has helped to address some issues over the years, but there are hard feelings and tensions around priorities and the use of space among the three schools. In addition, there are currently significant questions to address around the growth of PreK and Special Ed and how the DOE is planning for these needs.


  1. Specific issues presented include:
  • No library space despite a state requirement.
  • Extremely constrained cafeteria space with lunch hours beginning at 9 am and ending at 2 pm.
  • Lack of adequate classroom space for extended time for testing.
  • No separation of counseling space for high school vs. middle school.
  • Lack of adequate space to accommodate different testing schedules of high school and middle school.
  • Insufficient gym space that is used every period with CSS maxed out at 50 students at one time, and PS 125 receiving low priority for the space due to high school PE credit requirements.
  • One small room on the 5th floor used for SETTS, testing and counseling which compete for the space, causing some services to be delivered in a closet.


  1. OSP shared that the building is currently laid out according to the original long-term plan and that based on their recent space evaluation CSS is currently “above footprint.” Administration and parents responded that the space formula doesn’t account for the unique needs of a middle school/high school that requires separate counseling areas and testing accommodations. In addition, CSS has been receiving a growing number of special needs students that has resulted in increasing needs for pull-out services and a required self-contained classroom whose students must move to a different room each period because of a lack of a space.


  1. It was recognized that OSP has responded to CSS requests to address several space-related issues over the last few years, including renovated bathrooms, new lockers and a PA system. However, it was noted that this was an accommodation of year-to-year projects, but not a long-term plan. OSP acknowledged that space issues related to serving a growing number of special needs students was not part of the original plan.


  1. Another significant issue presented is the funding gap that CSS faces as it is far below fair student funding. Principal Nightengale also asked for advice on how to pursue portfolio standing for our school, which we should receive as an engineering school and would provide a 12% increase in funding. It was noted that CSS currently receives $3,000 less per student than the CUNY High School for Math, Science and Engineering. Superintendent Reeves indicated that the fair student funding percentage for each school is set by the Chancellor, but offered to speak with the DOE budget team about the issue. She also offered to help CSS advocate for portfolio funding, asked Principal Nightengale to forward our previous requests to her so that she can follow up.


  1. Parents asked for an opportunity to sit down as one campus with all three school principals, parents, and DOE representatives from Enrollment, Space Planning and Borough Facilities who can help facilitate a discussion and answer questions about how we can create a long-term plan that accommodates all of our needs and takes into account expanding enrollment of PreK and Special Needs students.


  1. Parents asked about the use of the 6th floor as a library or other common space to accommodate the needs of the three schools. Superintendent Reeves responded that it is a community space that is used for professional development almost every day but that the schools can sign up to use the space when it is available.


  1. Administration and parents also raised the issue of growing CSS to enable more students to benefit from its success, especially in places like District 5 that lack comparable alternatives.


  1. Superintendent Reeves thanked the SLT for the transparency and tone of the discussion and outlined next steps:
  • Principal Nightengale will forward previous emails on portfolio funding and the Superintendent will help move this request to the next step within the DOE.
  • Principal Nightengale will work with the other principals to set up a shared space meeting and let the Superintendent know which DOE offices and staff should be present, and she will ensure they are there.
  • The Superintendent will send an email to the Chancellor indicating that CSS has broached the issue of growth, which requires a new facility.


  1. Principal Nightengale expressed appreciation to the superintendent and OSP representatives for coming to the meeting and helping us figure out next steps for addressing the issues raised.


  1. The Black Student Union invited our guests to the CSS Black History Month celebration in February.


  1. Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Presentation


  1. The GSA presented its interest in sponsoring a Q Plus Awareness Week that would include student-led meetings and discussions and guest lecturers on gender and sexuality, health issues, bullying, and other potential relevant topics. The concept is to have the event be both educational and celebratory. A discussion followed about informing and involving parents and different scheduling and format ideas.


  1. The students indicated the need to put together a planning committee with parent volunteers. Janet Miller volunteered for the committee. Andi Velasquez agreed to put a notice out to parents to seek additional volunteers. The GSA will put together a budget and seek funds from the PTA to cover the costs of the event.


  1. Community Service Focus Group

Due to a lack of time it was agreed that the planned student focus group would be deferred to the February 11th meeting. The students agreed to return to participate.

Approval of Previous Minutes

The minutes from November 2015 and January 14, 2016 were approved.

Old Business

There was insufficient time to discuss the Grading Survey or Political Outreach.

New Business

There was insufficient time to discuss New Business items including preparation for the February SLT meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 7:30 pm

Next Meeting: February 11, 2016