Safety, symbols and remote schooling: Lane LSC September Meeting Recap

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The Lane Tech LSC at their virtual September meeting on Thursday (Screenshot from Lane Tech LSC Zoom meeting Sept. 17)

By Alex Burstein and Finley Williams

The Lane Tech Local School Council (LSC) held their first meeting of the 2020-21 school year on Thursday night. Most notably, the council formed the Symbol Naming Committee, which is tasked with creating a process for naming the new mascot since the old one’s abolishment last month. Chairwoman Haite also announced a plan to meet with Mr. Tennison, 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin, and DePaul College Prep Principal Dr. Megan Stanton-Anderson, among others, to create a plan to keep Lane safe before and after school in the wake of the removal of the school’s school resource officer (SRO).

Additionally, the school will have 581 seniors on campus on Sept. 23 to take the fall SAT, and Lane will host another SAT on Oct. 27. Read more highlights from the meeting below.

 

Public Participation 

Public participant Robyn Donner asked about GoGuardian, an extension CPS uses that “allow[s] for teacher monitoring and classroom management while a student is logged into Chrome using their CPS credentials,” according to a Sept. 11 email CPS sent to parents and students. “The tracking of these apps is limited to the browser history of the logged-in CPS account, and gathers no information about the other Chrome users on the device.”

CPS continued, “The only account data that is being collected is limited to the specific Chrome browser where the CPS student is logged in.” However, Donner expressed concern about whether the extension can gather information from personal devices even when a CPS account is not logged in.

Principal Tennison did not know much about the program, but said that CPS uses the platform for all schools, and it seems that Lane does not have the power to stop it. The program is supposed to stop when a CPS account is logged out of, according to Tennison, but he reiterated that he does not currently know much about the program.

 

Reports

Principal Report

Principal Tennison reported that Quick Start — Lane’s student registration — went smoothly with the exception of distributing student planners that say “teacher planner.” Tennison also said that the school has distributed 677 Chromebooks to students, and will continue to do so as requests roll in.

This was followed by a recap of teacher Professional Development days, which occurred the week before school started. Teachers discussed education equity, remote learning tools and ways to ensure that students are not overwhelmed with homework. Tennison said he asked teachers to keep homework to 60-90 minutes a week, and said that a teacher must provide an explanation if their homework load exceeds that.

Tennison addressed the concern of students having too much screen-time and mentioned that CPS has not allowed him to change Lane to a block schedule, which would result in fewer per-day instruction hours. He added that the school was “out of options.”

Other announcements from Tennison included the hiring of a social worker who will work for Lane three days a week. This brings Lane’s total count of social workers to “two and a half,” according to Tennison — two full-time and one part-time.

He also discussed the installation of 95 new cameras surrounding the school and inside the building, which brings Lane’s total to 121 cameras. He concluded by reminding the council that the SAT that is set to take place at Lane next week.

 

Professional Personnel Leadership Committee (PPLC) Report

LSC teacher representative Katharine Gomez gave a brief report, mainly concerning the PPLC elections that are on Oct. 2. She said the PPLC will continue emphasizing “balanced assessments and grading with a focus on grading for equitable access across all students,” and that they encourage teachers to apply to run in the election.

 

Friends of Lane Report

Friends of Lane representative Nikki Pesch reported that the organization currently has about $250,000 in the bank. She also announced that Friends of Lane’s largest upcoming purchase will be furniture for the ThinkLab, and also items from the teacher request list, which include headphones and monitors. Friends of Lane also helped Lane pay the $8,000 fee for Pear Deck, an interactive learning program, Tennison said.

Friends of Lane is also getting ready for its annual fundraising appeal, which this year is mainly for remote learning technology for students and teachers, according to Pesch.

Friends of Lane has additionally organized parent proctors for the upcoming SATs.

 

New Business

Check Approvals

School clerk Jill Woods asked approval of a roughly $17,200 purchase of Vernier Software, which will allow 400 students to do virtual labs in their science classes. Tennison described the software as reputable and high-end.

Woods also presented the proposals for more security camera equipment and monitors, which will cost $10,261.36, and for 30 wood tables and stools for the Computer Science Department, costing $19,860.45.

The LSC unanimously voted to approve all of these purchases.

 

Open Position Approvals

The LSC approved Tennison’s request to hire a new special education teacher in order to meet the state quota.

 

Old Business

Symbol

A three-person Symbol Naming Committee was created to come up with a process for naming the new symbol. The Committee will be made of Student Representative William Cashman, Chairperson Emily Haite and Community Representative Maureen George.

Safety

Tensions rose near the end of the meeting when the LSC discussed safety following the removal of Lane’s SRO last month. Parent Representative Matt Beaudet questioned the rest of the LSC over the decision to remove the officer from school. Beaudet echoed his arguments from the vote and spoke of fears of an active shooter situation. Haite argued that security cameras will deter a school shooter, but Beaudet was not sold on that idea. 

Beaudet went back and forth with Haite, Tennison and Parent Representative Anne Lokken on the issue. Tennison said that CPS was supposed to send him a plan for security a couple of weeks after the SRO decision, but says he has not received anything yet. The arguments eventually reached a stalemate and Haite decided to leave the topic with emotions still running high.

 

Announcements

Haite announced that applications are now open for the LSC elections, which will take place in November, and that Friends of Lane has moved their community meetings from the first Tuesday of every month to the first Wednesday of every month.