ECAC Meeting Minutes – Oct. 9, 2018

In Attendance: Kim Mousaw, Jeanne Sosnow, Hisa Zha, Carey Merrill, Genghis Khan, Matt Cutler, Humera Khan, Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian, Dara Weingarten, Tammy Weingarten, Karen Behrman, William Anders, Camille Harrelson, Vicki Wyld, Alyssa Zelkowitz, Matt Grimes, Sam Bloem, Eva Jones, Cosimo Tangorra

Rabbi Cutler calls meeting to order at 6:30.


Dr. Eva Jones stepping in as co-chair.  Matt Cutler will fill one more year and then a new community person will step in – staggered terms for community and school reps.


Equity Coordinator: Introduction and Areas of Focus

Equity Coordinator Matt Grimes gave a personal introduction and shared his three main focus areas for this year. They are student support, staff development and community outreach.

Sub Committee Updates/Goals

Mental Health and Wellness

Updates/Goals for the year:

  • Tried to meet monthly
  • Counseling Center at Craig is in the works, a partnership with Parsons/BOCES
  • Discussion about restorative justice
  • Try to do a presentation at 8th grade transition night to add mental health aspect
  • Looking into participating in the Schenectady Health Fair
  • Talked about teacher training to deal with students dealing with stress, anxiety, etc.
  • Want to work on specific policy recommendations, new focus on calm rooms for each building
  • Set meeting dates for rest of year- next one is Oct. 18 at Van Antwerp


Goals for the year:

  • Increase visibility by attending PTO meetings
  • Plan and execute a family night for families of color to build communication and trust
  • Continue to listen to parent, student and community stories.
  • Work with Equity Coordinator and continue to advocate for expansion of that role (in terms of budget and finance.)
  • Biggest need would be to work with the Events committee to create the Family Forum night.  Need help with communication to reach the appropriate audience and help with logistics of an event space.  Would like to see the Family Forums happen bi-monthly, but recognize that time of day may have to shift to allow access.


Goals for the year:

  • Cultural Fair at the high school, similar to Craig- looking to have finalized day soon, potentially in February. A day-long event that students can attend during a particular class.
  • Diversity week at the high school, in conjunction with World Language Week
  • Collaborate with Film Club to make a diversity video to show at school events

District Progress and Goals – Dr. Tangorra

  • One of our goals is to ensure we have a safe, warm, welcoming, inclusive environment
  • The calm room addition at VA, securing the space in Craig to pilot a mental health clinic to service 25 families, step in the right direction.
  • Multiple pathways also supports mental health and provides students with multiple opportunities that are equally valued
  • Two years ago we started advancing equity with the issue of poverty at the administrative level
  • Participation in Diversity Symposium (NYSCOSS) in December and July.
  • This year’s professional learning is supported by Generation Ready – 8 day training and Equity walks through our school buildings.
  • Two members of faculty from each school to help create professional development
  • Faculty and staff learning around trauma informed schools.
  • Reviewing Codes of Conduct to ensure we look at through the lens of restorative justice
  • How can we make sure our Code of Conduct allows for a positive environment?

The Superintendent’s goals for the BOE are reflective of the Environment and Culture pillar of the Strategic Plan. They are:

  • Code of Conduct review through a restorative lens
  • Develop a mentoring program with diversity subcommittee and diversity liaison
  • Establish a timeline and benchmarks for achieving a trauma informed school
  • Work with students and staff to find concrete solutions to address mental health concerns

Feedback and Initiatives Needing Support

Dr. Jones asks if the sub-committees need support.  Dr. Anders mentions that having an event at NHS requires some logistics, but they have already met with Dr. Jones.  Also would like to discuss participating and possibly hosting Study Circles.

Jeanne mentions talking to the counselors about the 8th grade transition night.  What could we be researching in terms of policy?

Dr. Jones suggests a moment to reflect and celebrate on the gains that have been made by the Environment and Culture Committee.

Next meeting is not scheduled until January 14, but sub-committees will be working. What support or needs do they have? Rabbi Cutler asks that sub-committee keep him and Eva in the loop on their work, so that they don’t overload any one committee or building as they plan.

Question about Calm Room at the HS – is there a stigma to stopping in there? Eva doesn’t think it is getting enough use as of yet. Asks students if they have a sense. As of right now, the students present do not think going in the room is noticeable. How is it advertised? Announcements and on scrolling TV monitors. Staffing is inconsistent at this point..

Suggestion from student for teacher training. Matt Grimes addresses what he is currently working on for faculty. Eva also restates that 16 teachers are participating in Generation Ready and they will be part of planning for the next year.

Question about elementary “time out” rooms and whether yoga and coping strategies are being taught. Alyssa addresses Calm Rooms vs. time out rooms and how mindfulness plays out in the different schools.

Awareness of classrooms space configured to meet multiple student needs. Are holidays an opportunity to have hard conversations in school? What happens between middle school and high school? Opportunities should be standard, not building based.

Suggestion to teach kids how to deal with tough situations: drug use, bullying, etc.

Events committee can use more members.

Future ECAC Meetings:

  • January 14 – Prof. Dev. Room in District Office
  • March 11 – Prof. Dev. Room in District Office
  • June 4 – BOE room