Welcome

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The Parent Teacher Association is a 100% volunteer organization made up of Parent volunteers that supplies valuable resources and funding to support all types of school programs.
(Check out our Made Possible by HorsemanPTA Contributions Page for some examples.)  This web site was created to provide information about the PTA, its officers, events and programs. We invite you to join our organization and make your child’s experience in school an even more memorable one for yourself and your children.

April 20, 2018 Meeting Minutes

HORSEMAN PTA MEETING
Friday, April 20, 2018 8:30 AM

Attendees:
Juliana Aloia
Christina Grillo
Phyllis Arduino
Dancy Balestrieri
Karen Kuhn
Angel Rafter
Mitch Sylves-Berry
Nitasha Kumar
Kevin Miller
Amada Reimundez
Fiona Galloway
Jen Povman
Leah McVey
Nama Lamoux-Welch

Mini Grants

Trying to keep amount of money dispersed down as fundraising is down. Also have 9 applications, which is fewer than usual.
JP $300 for Pre-K outdoor toys (requested $500)
WI $300 Special needs field trip, $340 for math curriculum development, $1070 hockey set (request looking for better price)
Morse $1000 for 2nd grade field trip (try and partner with Foundation for additional $1000 needed)
$3000 total

Last-Minute Fundraiser Ideas

Suggestion for spirit night at a restaurant. Don’t need volunteers – just get the word out that if you go during one night you get money back from the restaurant. Chipotle, Applebees, etc. Only work is to get the application done and flyers out. Suggestion to try with a local restaurant to support local business. Phyllis will ask Hollywood Pizza and others, Angel will ask Bridgeview. Capri good option. Nitasha will take the lead on this one. We will pick one place and one night for the entire district.

Coupon books – removing the books and doing apps next year. Has a ton that we can get and sell at a discount so they can unload them. We can sell at existing events. 50 books. Tabled.

Facebook Posts

Christina and Nitasha have been posting on the Horsemen Facebook page. Needs likes and shares. Please send photos and information on any school events, or other programs to promote.

Rivertown Parents
Last event: Angst showing in Ardsley.

Mindfulness with Dr. Christopher Willard from Harvard Medical School Weds 5/2 7:00-8:30 pm at Hastings High School. Will look to get translated and information distributed in schools/an email blast sent out.

Family Tinker Night at Irvington High School May 18th 6:30-8:30 PM. Registration opens May 1 8 PM (sold out last year). Appropriate for K-5. Space is limited.

Partnership with Center for Global Engagement is being discussed. Can bring people in to do the Model UN program, perhaps for 8th grade. Can bring in international kids to schools. Fall 2019 having 20 teachers from around the world coming to the States for 6 weeks and want to show how involved parents are in education as this is not the case in other countries.

Book Fairs

4 book fairs sold over $41,000 in books. Get 25% of pre-tax dollars – made about $9,000 once expenses removed. Can make more in scholastic dollars and apply towards other purchases – worth considering next year. Dancy is stepping down from running book fairs next year and needs a replacement person. This is a great experience because it’s not just our biggest fundraiser, but is a real literacy and community event.

2018-19 proposed dates. VPs need to contact principals to confirm and let Dancy know ASAP so it can get on the calendar.

WI – 11/26-11/30 (emailed Ms. Bretti already)
Morse – 10/15-10/19
Middle school – 1/21-1/25
JP – 3/11-3/15

District Calendar

Please make sure that any school events are added to the calendar – speak to the principals.

Photos

Considering going to a different company than Irvin Simon. WI was an organizational nightmare.
They give a lot of scholarships and do a lot of the bookkeeping. We also do our WI yearbook with them. We make money on the photos, but not the yearbooks. Not sure that other companies will be ask giving with the scholarships. Will speak to Ms. Bretti about spreading out the picture day to a day and ½. Will give them another chance. Amada is booking the dates for next year.

Web site and Emails

Set up position-specific email addresses for everyone. Karen to look into options with the ISP.

2018-2019 PTA positions

Need to know who is returning next year. Also looking to set up coordinators to chair school events. Will start now so that we can reach people before they leave for the summer and look to get new people involved. Opportunities include: getting a few minutes in every classroom at Back to School night, Class Parent Teas and JP incoming parent orientation. Dancy will write a script to share with people for use at events.

Farmer’s Market

Contacted again by TASH. Sold Spirit Wear but didn’t get a lot of interaction for PTA. Need a new lead as Christina Grillo is stepping down from this lead role this year.

SCHOOL UPDATES

JP – No rep here. Need to know about Teacher Appreciation lunch coordinator and date and Field Day. Question about re-opening Tappan Hill?

Morse – Melissa Miller handing Teacher Appreciation 5/11. VPs will manage Field Day. Trip Around the Community 5/4 and flyers sent out looking for parent volunteers/backpacks ordered. Book swap at the end of May. Still working on getting the library space running for kids.
Square One complete and needs to be delivered.

WI – Movie Night for all elementary schools 5/4 (doors 6, movie 6:30) at WI. Waiting on approval for Despicable Me 3 before starting promotion. Need volunteers and baked goods. FYI: Boosters in high school set $2/chips or candy and $1/water consistent pricing for events, which works well for management. Elementary schools have different rules and no food in the auditorium.

Incoming 6th graders start with a language. Frequency increasing so that it’s daily in 8th grade.
World Languages is dead.

State testing issues were reviewed with the principal – we will not computerize unless mandated. More opt outs as the kids age. Were scheduled for science testing and now we are no longer doing that.

Teacher appreciation coming up. Food drive very successful. Box tops submitted and very successful with $822 raised for the school – thank you Laura Richardson! 1st and 2nd place class winners will get a pizza party.

Book clubs wrapping up when it’s warm in the next couple of weeks.

5/10 blood drive – 5th graders dress as doctors and distribute snacks. Goal of 34 pints from adults.

Circus Arts happening now. Writing up something on the WIN program for the district newsletter mailing – enrichment program in the school.

SHMS – Meeting is next week. DC trip going on now – checking to make sure everyone who wanted to go, was able to go, regardless of their ability to pay.

Need volunteers for staff appreciation. Mitch will help. Date to be set.

LGBTQ Advisory

Jen would like to start this kind of group for support and working with the community. Suggestion to open to all. Goal – information, support, resources.

Dress Code

Schools met with students and got feedback. Looking to incorporate comments into rewrite. At least meeting discussed training for teachers on how to manage new code. Parent group waiting to hear back from administration on next steps to prepare this for the School Board.

Staff Appreciation Lunches

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Did you know that the Horsemen PTA organizes STAFF APPRECIATION LUNCHEONS during Teacher Appreciation Week (which happens to be next week)? We need your help to show our teachers how much we appreciate them!

Please sign up to help your school using the SignUp Genius links below:

John Paulding:
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0444aea82aa7f94-john2

Family Movie Night May 4 at WI!

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 8.19.16 AM

Come enjoy family fun watching Despicable Me 3, Friday, May 4, from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM at Washington Irving School auditorium. Admission is free and doors open at 6:00 PM!

Adults must stay with their children for the duration of the event. Snacks, baked goods and spirit wear will be available for sale!

Banana!

 

January 19, 2018 Meeting Minutes

PTA Meeting
January 19, 2018

Attendees

Amada Reimundez
Donna Gates
Mitch Sylves-Berry
Daphne Uviller
Brianna Staudt
Leah McVey
Karen Kuhn
Dancy Balestrieri

New VP – JP

Welcome to Brianna Staudt!

Resignation

Karen Kuhn, Secretary, resigned due to child leaving the district and work commitments. Brianna can help with the WordPress web site. We will post position via Jean O’Brien and via Phyllis. Karen will work up a job description with Amada.

Next Meeting

Friday, February 16 at 8:30 AM.

Dates for February Superintendent meeting TBD. We’ve had postponements due to snow days.

Morse

Meeting postponed due to snow day – scheduled for next week.

WI
Photo Days

We’ve had issues with the photography company. There are a lot of children to move through the process and in moving people through the company representatives did not use printed labels for photos. Now we have had mismatches of names and portraits. This is a major issue for the yearbook and identification in the school system (kept last year’s photos for the moment). Yearbook deadline is March and as everything is linked, it will mean an incorrect yearbook.

• Recommend not using Irvin Simon again unless this gets resolved and we are confident it will work more smoothly in the future. Brianna will ask which company Irvington uses.
• Working with the company on support, especially with yearbook. Donna will call to ask what they need to fix the problem and then will work with the school (teachers?) to get corrections.
• Parents directed to contact company directly.

JP

Book fair hours worked out. Ms. Barnett connected PTA with families who volunteered. Sign up Genius going out today and flyers in backpacks. March 12-16, Monday evening event, Weds and Thursday breakfast. Karen will talk to High School musical about volunteers for bringing Beauty and the Beast crossover. Have costumes and need helpers to wear them. Suggestion made to look for diverse people for these opportunities.

Thanksgiving feast went well. Received some complaints from parents that during sing-along not everyone could see their child. Looking at options for next year.

Looking to add more information on pre-school program on web site when it’s re-launched. Want to provide information easily – hours, transportation options, program information, registration. (February launch for new web site!)

Add Communications Committee updates on monthly meeting agenda.

Spirit Wear

There were some issues with parents not happy with timing of delivery of the spirit wear. Andrea is working on resolving the issues. Some chatter on Facebook . JP and Morse orders need to be picked up and distributed.

Middle School

• Adding an advisory period in 2018-19 to have a home base and address issues coming up with social workers: studying, social issues, etc. May send out a short survey to parents.
o Discussion of teaching study skills to students in preparation for high school.
o Joshua also looking at some other programs (AVID).
o Suggestion of using Cahoot to quiz at home
• Hidden Mischief program at high school February 1 to teach parents about drug abuse.
• Busing issues are resolved.
• Reviewing sports and space issues with modified sports (too many kids). Looking to add intramural program so that people have an option that is less competitive and solves numbers issues. Will not approve MS games being played at WI in the future.
• New screen in entrance of Middle School as an information center for students.
• Winter recess more successful with ping pong tables, etc. 7th graders don’t get the gym for indoor recess due to scheduling.
• SRO is outside during lunch period in car making sure students are not leaving the school for lunch. No longer going between the two cafeterias. Will contact Mr. Borsari about this issue in the next superintendent’s meeting.
• Book fair next week. Need help Friday night and Saturday morning.
• DC trip has a wait list due to 4th bus being mostly empty last year. Good funding from Foundation so this is a space issue.
• Issue with employee taking funds last year is being resolved in court. New accounting procedures in place now.

Rivertown Parents Update

• May 2 Hastings offering an event on mindfulness with a Harvard doctor.
• May 18 elementary Tinkering night in Irvington. Limited spaces. Could use support for carpooling with families in need of transportation.
• Looking for Rachel Simmons (author “Odd Girl Out”) for the fall, but negotiating price as it’s very expensive.
• Our contribution for Rivertown Parents is $1000/year.
• “Wilderness” presentation in RiverArts in Irvington this weekend.
• Working on updating the Rivertown Parents web site with information and events.

HorsemanPTA Meeting Minutes – December

PTA MEETING
December 15, 2017 8:30 AM

ATTENDEES
Amada Reimundez
Christina Grillo
Danny Balestrieri
Daphne uviller
Donna Gates
Jennifer Polman
Karen Kuhn
Lauren McBride
Mitch Sylves-Berry
Natasha Kumar
Phyllis Arduino
Samantha Ford

Next meeting January 19th at 8:30 AM
Then February 12th 7:00 PM
Amada will email Nelly to set up January and February superintendent meetings.

FUNDRAISING
Wrapping paper
Did well, but didn’t make as much money as in the past.
WI – 28 orders made $1,718.40
JP – 27 orders made $1,531.20
Morse – 25 orders made $1,306.00
MS – 16 orders made $1,075.20
Total profit $5,630.80
Made over $10K in the past

Timing of the year an issue?
Are people tired of the fundraiser?
Some people didn’t get catalogs
We need to look to find something else.

Square One art
– Announced January with art collection by February.
– Reps are Lauren – Morse, Amada – WI unless someone wants it, JP also covered.
– Art arrives around Mother’s Day.

Other Ideas
Bulbs, seeds, plants and baskets fundraiser has been suggested in the past. Donna will look into this again to see if a spring fundraiser would help recoup expected income from wrapping paper. Mitch will check with Dobbs Ferry. They used a company that shipped directly to the home and had a successful fundraiser.

WI did Kids Stuff coupon book for the circus last year. Did a walkathon this year and raised more money. Not interested in the coupon book this year. It was a lot of work to put them together and timing was not the best. Had over 300 books not returned and made little money. Perhaps we can sell a number of books at events or online – 50% profit. Amada will contact the company to find out minimums and what we sold. Be careful not to cannibalize other sales.

Smencils are also popular with the younger grades.

Chipotle 50% back day. Can sign up at http://chipotle/fundraisers. Can do by school if we want. Amada will follow up with VPs on interest in running this. There is one in Dobbs and one at the Kmart shopping center.

SUPERINTENDENT MEETING
(Thank you Daphne Uviller for the notes.)
Present:
JP: Sara Scipioni
Morse: Christina Grillo
WI: Dancy Balestreri and Daphne Uviller
MS: Phyllis Arduino
HS and Rivertowns PTA: Mitch Sylves-Berry

I. Update on SNAC

Parent representatives from each building (except for WI) have been selected as representatives on this nutrition committee. SNAC is different from the Wellness committee; SNAC focuses only on food in the cafeterias, whereas Wellness will address social/emotional/overall health. WI still needs to pick someone, ASAP.

Reps are:
JP — Sara Scipioni
Morse – Sheila Murphy (a holistic health coach)
WI – to be determined
MS – Jean McLuren (nutritionist)
HS – Katherine McKinley

There will also be two kids selected, one from the high school, to offer a more reflective perspective, and one from WI.

First meeting will be 2nd week of January

II. Federal Tax Bill
– Hurts states that have higher state/local taxes and will impact our district in the not-to-distant future
– Would like PTA to help produce and circulate an info sheet on any issues at budget time to educate voters. Asked us to check with National PTA on advocacy on this issue.
– With more possible options to afford private school, we want to retain our families.
– District has essential, but unglamorous improvements to make like LED bulb and window replacement and blacktopping and three or four of our government bond funding options are likely to disappear with the new tax bill. He hopes to push these improvements through in this May’s budget while we can still take advantage of those options.

III. Other
• There was an update on FLES (foreign language in the elementary schools) – Spanish instruction has begun for all students in K, 1, 2, and will include 3rd graders next year. Discussed how this will change Middle School curriculum in the future (6th grade World Languages may be eliminated)
• Enrollment in the district is more or less steady, with some grades consistently higher than others, but with the range being 194-229 per grade (largest is current 9th grade)
• Discussion of some wishing Dual Language was bigger led to discussion of Dual Language in general, and how it’s being coordinated better than before. Working to improve transition to 5th grade and middle school. Downside of increasing the program is keeping equity in the room (50/50 native English and Spanish speakers) and the cost of teacher hires (special training).
• The district is working hard to operate as a K-12 school, something that can fall through the cracks with our Princeton system (official name of having each grade together, rather than feeder elementary schools). Namely, transitions, or what is sometimes called “articulation,” need to be refined.

Action Items
– Jen will look into what National PTA is doing for advocacy.
– Amada will email DL parents to get some testimonials of the program.
– Branding – communications, web site design, looking to sell the district. DL is one of the crown jewels of the district and uses what could be perceived as a disadvantage as an advantage.
o INCLUSION direction would be smart. Mitch/Jen will look to contribute something for language and culture with Rivertown consortium
o Challenge/Enrichment program is impressive to other districts and parents as well.
o Drama program is also a big deal.

GIFT GIVING
Purchase gifts for families in need.
School VPs took list of families from Amada and will work out purchases/volunteers to purchase items as there are a couple lists running at the moment.

Bus Drivers
Nitasha talked to Transportation Manager about possibly doing something nice for the 40 bus drivers e.g., “adopting a family”. The union manages all of the support staff so there are many more people – more than 100. Suggested that going forward for next year we can do something inclusive like giving out raffle tickets for everyone to get something (if we get donations for items for them). Bus drivers are the least paid in the community.

SUPPORT FOR PTA VPs/PROGRAMS
We need to recruit more people in the PTA. We need to increase the number of VPs, get more bodies to do all the things that we need to do. People sign up to do work and don’t show up.
Put on agenda ideas on how to bring on more people, increase visibility of the PTA and what we do.

BOOK FAIRS
WI book fair was a success – over $15K (keep 25% of pre-tax amount)
Lot of enthusiasm from parents and kids, successful opening night with support from teens for crafts and ice cream
Major problem with people volunteering and not showing up to help.

Middle School – January 23-26
Needs list of volunteers and times. If we don’t have people, should be limit hours of the event if we do not have people
Dancy cannot be there on her own the whole time
Need to get word out about the event and to get volunteers
Phyllis can input people into Sign Up Genius
Get Jean O’Brien to email blast all middle school parents
Consider options for limiting hours, locking up books, etc if we don’t have enough volunteers.

No spring book fair.
Next year consider one bigger event instead of many of them

Meeting adjourned.

HorsemanPTA – November Meeting Minutes

Friday, November 17, 2017 8:30 AM

Attendees:
Amada Reimundez
Andrea Gottschall
Angel Rafter
Christina Grillo
Dancy Balestrieri
Ella Londono
Jennifer Povman
Juliana Aloia
Karen Kuhn
Leah McVey
Mitch Sylves-Berry

Meeting Schedule

Discussed keeping to morning meeting schedule and working on a once-a-quarter evening meeting. Treasurer, Fatima Gianna cannot attend in the mornings but will communicate with her when needed to set up meetings.

Budget completed. Amada will ask Fatima to email it out.


Superintendents meeting

SNAC is a new program to review the lunch menus in the schools. The committee includes a representative from each school and is led by the Athletic Director.
• We have a rep from all schools except for WI.
• Meetings anticipated to be twice a year, with maybe a couple more meetings at the start.
• Ideally 2nd week of December for first meeting, but can do start of the year. First meeting is educating the committee on what the federal rules are for school lunches and then the committee will work to tweak the lunch program under those rules.

Wellness Committee focusing mission on overall wellness – not nutrition-related.

Book Fair
Morse book fair went well – over $10K in sales.

Need to talk about how we take the profit from Scholastic (receive 25% in cash, 50% in scholastic bucks). Can use bucks for resources for schools and maximize the profit you get.
PTA only breaks even so the money we do get from book fairs is already earmarked for other things that the PTA has committed to district-wide. Book fairs support the full district budget. Libraries need hardcover books and there is concern about the titles available but the online teacher catalog is huge and might have more options.

We can do an additional book fair and sell it as a stock up for summer reading at the end of the year. Can be one fair for the entire district to get bonuses or can do buy-one-get-one-free.

WI Book Fair runs the week of November 27, Monday through Friday.

Photo Day
Morse retake coming up
WI changed to January 4
JP 11/28

Rivertown Parents
• Speaker about finances and kids for December may not happen (Ardsley).
• Looking to do a tinkering night in Irvington, looking for space. (Maybe Mercy).
• Biggest interest from parent survey is wellness and resilience
• Talking best practices between the PTAs to support each other. A district did a read-a-thon and made $13K for the PTA. Ran online. Worked it out so that every kid got one sponsor and one prize. (Dobbs Ferry)
• Mercy runs STEM programs on Saturday.
• Angst was our event we shared with everyone. We had over 100 people show up to the evening event. Mr. Whitham shared with 7th and 8th graders first and now wants to show to the 6th grade in the spring. Other districts want to do a screening of it because it got good feedback and press. Panel discussion was really informative and Mr. Borsari did a good job moderating.
• Jean O’Brien’s online safety course in the school was very well-received. We tried to do a safety program that is district-wide, might be good to do in the schools and tailor to the age group. Presentation is on the resources section of the district web site.
• If there is something that is a need to communicate to parents to help them, Jen and Mitch are available to help with that.

Middle School Recap
• Kids getting hungry before the late 12:45 lunch period, especially those who get in super early. Mr. Whitham letting the teachers allow kids to have a snack, be respectful, and use their best judgment.
• 7th math honors change happened and has been beneficial. Working on consistency between classes.
• Working on consistency between English teachers in 7th grade honors.
• Career Fair is 11/28 and is in a new format where parents t tables and kids come around and choose who they want to visit with. Parent Yvonne Ibelli is coordinating. About twenty adults signed up already.
• Parent Portal: Teachers not updating as per guidelines and there are some other issues, such as a possible need to standardize grading criteria among teachers. Would like to find a way to let parents know when portal is about to close for grading week. Student access to the portal is coming.
• SNAC initiative: Generally agreed that middle school food holds up well, but service and time allotment is an issue.
• Bussing issues – sometimes overcrowded in the afternoons. Teachers asked to report any changes to afterschool schedule that might affect number of kids going home, and the MS office will get info to transportation immediately. Also, a rep from the high school will be dispatched to keep an eye on their students as they board. Transportation said they can get an extra van to the middle school in five minutes if told there’s a problem.
• Fundraising – wrapping paper: all orders in; deliveries Dec 7th. Thank you, Donna Gates! Some concern about the variety of paper in this year’s catalog as it was mostly kitchenware.
• Fundraising – spirit wear: order info coming out imminently. Online ordering will be available. Spirit wear can do school-specific items with proceeds going to the school’s budget. MS will have an item.
• Fundraising – Stop and Shop: MS enrollment underway. Using funds from the program for a general activity fund with the first project being a clean up of the recess area around the aqueduct trail.
• Fundraising suggestion that we look into Target frequent shopper program.
• Halloween Monster Ball: Looking to make some improvements for next year.
• Movie night was decently attended and costs were covered.
• Still looking for donations of ping pong tables. Already have two air hockey tables. Very committed to bringing back more fun to recess and offering options to non-sporty types.
• Teachers getting trained on new website, which will roll out end of December/beginning of January.
• Jean O’Brien will hold ½ hour parent training sessions on Google Docs, which all teachers will be using by next year. Dates TBD, but one morning session, and hopefully some concurrent with parent/teacher conference days.
• Suggestion of district-wide family movie night up on the football field in the spring. This would be a fundraiser hosted by a school, then would rotate to another school.

WI Recap
• Staffing: Hard to find qualified applicants for dual language leave replacement.
• Would like more Principal’s Chat theme ideas. The one on internet safety was a HUGE success. Ideas? These could be shared across buildings.
• Afterschool programs: WI is looking to better handle the music programs, library help, play rehearsals, sports practice, etc. in terms of staffing and space and would like to ensure a manageable afterschool schedule for children in 3rd-5th grade.
• District Communications Committee will solicit feedback, probably in form of survey, on how Parent/Teacher conferences went, given new trimester reporting schedule
• Back-to-School night was chaotic and we discussed different ways to manage in the future, including having separate night slots for 3rd grade families and 4th/5th grade and parent volunteers to greet and direct parents.
• WI working with safety consultants on how to keep improving. New color-coded lanyards coming, which visitors will also have to wear.
• $2,005 raised last week at WI clothing drive!
• $1,492 raised by kids at Walk-a-thon
• Class parent tea will be renamed and revamped to be more efficient next year
• WI Stop&Shop dollars will go toward the greenhouse and garden.
• PTA principal funds spent on safety vests, We’re All Wonder books, batteries for translators, and crayons
• Assistant principal is out for a new adopted child in his family.The interim AP is known to the district.

JP

No one in attendance.

Morse

• Wrapping paper went well and submitted. Online orders can still happen but you must pay for shipping.
• Indoor recess program – not enough space for it and it’s a lot of effort for the small group of kids who are interested. Decided not to run this year.
• Working on school communication and outreach via social media. Will wrap school efforts into larger district communications plan in February/March 2018.

Dress Code
A group of parents met with the administration, Dr. Smith and Mr. Whitham about the middle school and high school dress code. Looking to bring to the steering committee and then to work with student groups to talk about options to bring to the Board of Education in the spring.

SEPTA
We should invite them to meet with us, not many come to their meetings.
Mitch will send information on a possible word-learning program that Bonnie has been discussing with her.