1/18/22 – PTSA Meeting Summary

The second PTSA General Meeting of 2021-22 featured discussion of how SPS plans to spend $1.4 billion in Levy funds, an overview of the GHS College and Career Center, and school updates from Principal Tarance Hart.

Update from Principal Hart

In the wake of yesterday’s school closure because of staff shortages, Dr. Hart pointed to the increasing burden on teachers as the pandemic continues. “I’m concerned about the burnout of our staff,” he said. “This is a hard time.” He asked parents and caregivers to be conscious of this reality.

Dr. Hart said that the school has done everything possible to remain open, including shifting multiple classes to the gym when substitutes are not available. The District, not the Principal, determines when a school is closed or goes virtual. [See SPS information. https://www.seattleschools.org/news/covid-19-update-january/] He said he would welcome volunteers to help relieve shortages, if existing rules can be relaxed.

The Principal also noted:

– The lost day is likely to be made up at the end of the school year.

– Contact tracing of COVID cases has not ended (as has been rumored), but most of it is being handled by building staff, not the District.

– No additional counselor and security staffing has been secured, despite requests to the District in December. Dr. Hart said he supports parent volunteers handling some security tasks, such as having “eyes” on part of the GHS campus at certain times, but it is not yet clear how this will be coordinated. He would appreciate community advocacy to the District regarding these staff additions, noting that regional Director of Schools Laura Davis Brown would be one contact: lldavisbrown@seattleschools.org.

– A GHS student was wounded in a drive-by pellet-gun shooting on Thursday evening (Jan. 13) while waiting at a bus stop at Jackson Street. Police believe that the incident was random, he said.

– Mask enforcement continues to be a priority at GHS, but some students continue to require reminders and sometimes are escalated into the discipline process.

Levies Presentation

The Levies presentation by Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance JoLynn Berge and Schools First Seattle Board President Melissa Pailthorp elicited many questions from the attendees. Full information can be found at at https://www.schoolsfirstseattle.org and https://www.seattleschools.org/about/levy. The PTSA Board later endorsed a vote for both levies: https://garfieldptsa.org/ptsa-board-endorses-levies-election-is-feb-8.

College & Career Center Overview

Ms. Bigham, the lead for Garfield’s College & Career Center, presented a wide variety of ideas that will help students to have great options at the end of their high school education. She noted in particular, the value of starting in Grade 9.

“Build relationships with teachers and mentors,” she said, noting that these are the adults who will write the letters of recommendation required by some colleges and employers. Among the many other topics Ms. Bigham discussed, she noted the declining importance of the SAT, and said that SPS has not yet committed to provide a mid-week free SAT this spring, as has normally been available. Students who definitely wish to take the test may want to investigate options for Saturday testing at locations other than Seattle, she said.

Ms. Bigham’s presentation from last night is available at:  https://garfieldptsa.org/college-and-career-prep,  and many more materials, including videos about the college application and financial aid processes, are available on the YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRzpuWmdc-fnmsXASBKehtQ?view_as=subscriber.

In addition, she is hosting a series of online events next week:  https://garfieldptsa.org/virtual-financial-aid-night-next-week