PRINCIPAL CHAT with Mr. Kohn

Notes from the Chat on November 13, 2015:

Construction Update

The multi-year campus construction project has already produced some long overdue, truly wonderful results, making our entire campus and facility more user friendly. The studio theater should be done by January as should the tech shop and the first floor of the main building. So all work in the building with the gym and the Dan Kryston Memorial Theater should be done by January.

The second floor will be the focus in 2016, with new classrooms and a new library. The second floor rooms will be emptied out by the time we leave for Winter break. Therefore, students will get new schedules (just new class locations, not new classes) because if they have a class on the second floor then that will change starting in January.

The first floor construction will be the focus over the summer, and all construction on campus is scheduled to be done by the time we return in august 2016. At that point everybody should be back in their permanent spaces. The construction crews may still be cleaning up details, but the bulk of the work will be finished.

Audition / Application Phase

We are currently collecting applications for the 2016-17 school year. Our outreach teams have visited many middle schools, but we are mainly focusing on a few middle schools that are underrepresented here at SOTA. Each art head is tasked with figuring out a way to get out to those schools and interact with the kids. We are simply trying to get on the radar of kids who may not be aware of this school or aware that it is a possibility for them. We are not an outreach organization; we are a school -- so this is tough project. But we’re doing the best we can to reach the students who are keenly interested in the arts.

WASC Review

We’re at the end of our six-year cycle with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This is the organization that provides accreditation of our school as a high school for up to six years. We are currently doing a self-study in preparation for the Spring visit and evaluation by the visiting WASC team. I’ve met with the director of the visiting team, and they’ll make recommendations for our focus at SOTA over the next few years. We need to come up with 3-5 goals through self-study, and the visiting WASC team will talk to our school, verify that the goals are on target, and make recommendations for other things to consider. Those goals then become our action plan, which then drives our work for the next six years (assuming we get a six-year accreditation). All schools go through WASC

accreditation. It is the most significant aspect of school improvement in a multi-year capacity. It’s a good process because you spend a lot of time reflecting on every aspect of the school – safety, facilities, attendance, academics, etc.

FOSOTA

They are currently working on annual fundraising with a goal of achieving a high percentage of families donating to SOTA. They are at 38% of families now. At the end of last year 56% of SOTA families had donated to the school. So they are trying to push early and hard to get the percent of families who donate each year up – regardless of the amount that is given.

Art & Architecture

The new art and architecture department is going well as expected. The kids are currently doing wearable body sculpture. There are photos up on Facebook. It’s an interesting project. 

"Next chat is Friday, December 11, at 8:15 in the principal's conference room."