LSAT Meeting Minutes – May 2021


As a reminder, Principal Byrd challenged us to assist in two separate areas: 

1. Build Payne’s community, in part by addressing the challenge of gentrification and with an eye to ensuring that all members feel included/supported. 

2. Help Payne overcome its technology challenges. 

OK, let’s get started. Below is a UPDATED list of the ideas and initiatives we discussed and possible next steps. 

1. Challenge: How to spend additional American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding: LSAT heard from Principal Byrd’s delegate for the meeting, Mr. Eskay, that the pre-COVID vision for Payne involved increased focus on project-based tasks, math/science, and mining staff interests for use in the classroom (school newspaper, etc…). Mr. Eskay described that focus on these areas is still possible but there will also need to be time for remediation to catch kids up after COVID. LSAT also heard that Mr. Eskay and Principal Byrd have not yet heard details on the amount or specifications for the ARP funding. LSAT had a healthy discussion on the utility of spending more money on social/emotional support vs. academics post pandemic. Some teachers observed that the kids have shown resilience since back in school. 

Possible Next Steps:  LSAT agreed that a simple survey of the community’s preferences for how to spend the additional funding would be a good idea. 

Action:  Becky Bell, Liz Aloi, Mr. Gordon and I provided input which Mr. Eskay endorsed. Survey and email are ready to be sent. 

2. Challenge: Recruitment and Retention. LSAT members got a readout from Liz Aloi who organized a successful event at the RFK Fields where Payne LSAT and volunteers spoke to numerous families that are matched with Payne. Mr. Creef and another volunteer organized a subsequent event though there was less traffic for that one, perhaps because of shorter notice. 

Possible Next Steps:  LSAT could consider organizing one more event before the end of the year, perhaps early June? 

Action:  Mr. Creef described an outdoor science event he is planning to do, could that be on a Saturday and double as a recruitment/retention event?

3. Challenge: Communication During COVID. LSAT members briefly touched on previous discussions around communication between the school and parents and how all our inboxes are slammed. 

Possible Next Steps: There was agreement that making these LSAT notes public, in addition to Principal Byrd’s more recent zoom calls and the improved Payne Post format/content could help make parents feel more connected to Payne during the pandemic. 

Action: Principal Byrd/Mr. Eskay- please have a look at these notes in the next few days and let me know if you have any adjustments before i send to the Payne community and post on the Payne PTA website. Principal Byrd/Mr. Eskay/Liz–can we include the POC chart as a standard addition to the Payne Post and post it other places like the PTA website, etc…? 

4. Challenge: Address gentrification to build school community

Possible Next Steps:  Chris Tissue provided a summary of the Payne Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) group’s various initiatives. Good to hear that Ms. Bannister will play a central role in Payne’s DEI efforts for next year. DEI group has had some success in finding a more diverse group of parents to join PTA and consider running for PTA and/or. Another idea surfaced on big brother/big sister programs, possibly around reading help or other useful mentoring opportunities.

Action: All:  PTA President Deidre Duffy, Ms. Bannister, and Becky Bell raised their hands to work on what a big brother/big sister program at Payne might look like. Payne’s DEI group will continue to report back to the LSAT on activities and for more ideas. Others are welcome to join. Please contact Chris Tissue from our LSAT at 

5. Challenge: LSAT Organization for Next Year. LSAT members discussed timing of next LSAT elections and considered 2 year terms. 

Possible Next Steps: LSAT members approved postponing LSAT elections to the Fall (same as PTA) to take advantage of parent excitement regarding return to school/in person learning. LSAT members considered merits of making two year LSAT terms noting that it would be great for consistency and an even more experienced LSAT cadre, though there may be some risk in not finding enough volunteers. 

Action: Further consider the merits of 2-year terms, perhaps for Payne staff as well and chime in with your thoughts. 

6. Challenge: Find community representatives to provide advice and support.  LB and Robyn from NRG which runs “The Roost”  on Penn Ave and 15th SE– are willing to work with Payne. 

Possible Next Steps: Bekcy Bell is willing to assist Liz Aloi in contacting NRG about a “Payne day” fundraiser and to ensure that we are spreading the word about their generosity in our community (PTA newsletter). 

Action All: Please think about other local businesses we could partner with. Safeway? 

7. Challenge: DCPS computers are not working for Teachers. Thanks to Ms. Randolph we know that teachers are using 2-3 devices and more often those are problematic personal devices. We have recruited an “IT Squad” of 4 dads who are willing to help right away. 

Possible Next Steps:  The IT Squad is still willing to help teachers. Let’s please keep spreading the word. Any teacher who is having IT problems you can email them at and one of the dads will contact them. 

Action:  Principal Byrd/Teachers–Please continue to encourage your fellow Payne Staff to take up the IT Squad on their offer and let’s think of what else we might do to help.