January 23, 2015 PTA Meeting at Administration Building
Welcome and Introductions:
Our meeting was started at 8:07 A.M. by Jacki and Angel. Angel distributed a volunteer sign up form for February 4 Transition Meeting being held by PTA in conjunction with Rivertown Parents. The meeting will cover time management skills, and other important topics for students moving from W.I. to the M.S. as well as those moving from the M.S. to H.S. Volunteers are needed to make copies on February 4th, to help facilitate various speakers that night, to man the Spirit Wear table, as well as other important tasks. Jacki also asked each PTA member to personally invite 5 friends.
The PTA Board introduced themselves to Dr. Clouet and he was good enough to spend an hour discussing the following topics, along with some Q&A time with the board. Dr. Clouet spoke of the importance of integrating technology into our education program and the revamp of our district website. The goal of the website is to be more responsive to the parents and more user-friendly. Dr. Clouet mentioned that he would appreciate some feedback from the PTA Board. The website committee would like to see more of the older kids signing in to see their class assignments and discussions. He also mentioned the Imagine Learning program that can help students with their reading skills, as well as helping teachers to track students’ progress. He also highlighted the “Read 180” program, produced by Scholastic and the System 44 program, a computer program designed to help special needs children with their reading skills. Dr. Clouet also spoke about the millions given in government grants to the I3 (innovation) and ENL (English as a New Language) Funds. Katie Scully was mentioned by Dr. Clouet, for the work that she and her husband have accomplished in bringing the Peabody Preserve to our district. The outdoor classroom has been a big hit with the children, and the Dr. recommended a PTA field trip through the preserve as soon as the weather permits. Dr. Clouet also discussed the importance of the district’s writing program. There is a committee of teachers creating a model of exemplar texts i.e.: samples of written paragraphs to show their students for analysis and discussion. The Dr. also mentioned “Habits of Mind” a book written by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick. The authors share their research on habits of successful people across a variety of professions. Dr. Clouet talked about blended learning and the importance of our teachers blending digital technology with traditional teaching methods. The effectiveness of showing students video clips of math problems and use of digital tutorials to analyze problems, with the teachers acting as “coaches”, pausing and rewinding the clips to help the students understand the problems. Dr. Clouet also discussed Albany’s contingent budget. The budget may depend on implementation of various law changes. For example, a law was introduced that would make state tests 50% of a grade 3-8 teacher’s evaluation, with outside evaluators used to help determine a teachers performance. Greg Galloway asked Dr. Clouet about coding courses that are being offered in our district. The Dr. mentioned courses being offered at the A.P. level in High School, and agreed that we need to bring some basic version of this to W.I. and the M.S. The Dr. finished his discussion with a wish list that included more foreign language exposure in our district. Perhaps we could hire a specialist teacher and find a way to manage the student’s busy daily schedule to fit these classes. The idea of a summer Spanish immersion camp, partly funded by grants and paid for by the parents was also discussed with the board. Lastly, the board asked about cyber bullying and Dr. Clouet spoke about digital citizenship, and its importance in cutting off cyber bullying. Possibly setting up an in school meeting for the kids and then for the parents. Similar to the meeting put on by the JCC recently.
Direct Donation Campaign
The board agreed that the letter being sent for direct donations needs to communicate our bare bones budgetary needs exceeds $32,000 annually. It also should include an itemized list of some of the grants and other accomplishments the PTA has provided to the district in the past. The letter is being prepared to go out before the February break.
Spirit Wear Update
Spirit Wear merchandise will be sold at the Aladdin production Friday and Sunday. Spirit Wear will also be sold at the February 4th transition meeting.
Jacki advised the board that some version of Draft C will likely be selected with some adjustments. Jacki promised to forward more information as she receives it.
Andrea announced that movie night is being moved from February 6th to mid-March and that flyers will go out.
M.S. – Mitch mentioned that their meeting went well. They are working on not having recess taken away as a punishment. Angel agreed to find the clause in the districts by-laws that forbid this from happening and will forward them to Mitch and Julia. Mitch also discussed a survey to be distributed to the students in class to determine if they go outside and what might motivate them to go outside for recess.
W.I. –Leah mentioned that their meeting will be a week from today. They will likely be discussing Circus Time.
Morse – Leah advised that the book fair will be the first week of March, and that additionally, Mr. Holland is determining the prize for the Box Top Contest winner. Leah and Meg advised that space in Morse is very limited, specifically for special services and the Book Club. Often there are services given for special needs in the middle of Chess Club time, compromising the privacy of the special needs children. Mr. Holland said that there are only 2 hours a week that the gym is not being used. Additionally, Morse students only have 20 minutes for book club. In the meeting they also discussed whether or not the students are allowed to go on an outside walk if the temperature is between 15 and 27 degrees. Angel said she will discuss with the Board of Ed. Lastly, morning drop off and dismissal has improved, however safety at the drop off area is still an issue. The crossing guard is being ignored in many instances.
J.P. – Jen reported that they were in the middle of their Box Top campaign. She also mentioned that the principal will have her own fundraiser with bag sales and that it will not conflict with any PTA fundraisers.
Our meeting adjourned at 10 AM.
Next Meeting scheduled for Friday February 13th at 8 A.M.