HorsemanPTA Meeting Minutes – December

December 15, 2017 8:30 AM

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.

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.

(Thank you Daphne Uviller for the notes.)
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.

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.

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.

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

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.


No one in attendance.


• 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.

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.

HorsemanPTA Meeting Minutes – October



Amada Reimundez – President
Dancy Balestrieri – VP WI 3rd grade
Christina Grillo – VP Morse 2nd grade
Juliana Aloia – VP Morse 1st grade
Karen Kuhn – Secretary
Lauren McBride – VP Morse 1st grade
Phyllis Arduino – Membership
Fatima Gianni – Treasurer
Daphne Ulliver – VP WI 4th grade/SHMS 7th grade
Nitassha Kumar – VP Morse 1st grade/SHMS 6th grae
Toya (parent)
Sheila Murphy – VP Morse 2nd grade

Meeting Schedule

Discussion about alternating between morning and evening meetings to allow those who work to join some meetings and to help with family engagement.

Proposed dates/times for remainder of 2017 are:

11/20 – 7:00 PM
12/15 – 8:30 AM

Budget Discussion

The fastest way to reach Fatima is via text.
Reviewed 2016-17 budget and actuals from the end of the summer to determine needs for 2017-18 year.
(NOTE: Budget was approved but then final budget numbers were reviewed in a meeting after this one and will be provided separately.)

Notes and action items:

*VPs need to ask their principals how they want the library fund to be allocated (per class, school library). Fill out the form to request the money needed in the allocation needed.

*VPs need to send a form for what’s approved for the Principal’s Fund and Fatima will write checks.

*Fatima needs receipt even if something is donated to know how much things cost.
*Need to get word out to parents about A+ with Stop n’ Shop to fund PTA. Schools must register every year.

*Mini grants need information and allocation to all the schools.

Publishing Center no longer needs funding as done in-class.
Morse should use Box Top money to buy pizza party pizza.

Math madness no longer running
Looking for someone (contractor) to take over the plantings in front *Need info from Leah McVey
Principal’s Fund is $750 *Asking Principal Bretti what it was used for last year. Do they need $750?
*Circus funding is different this year and needs to be reviewed.

Middle School
Separate account so it has income listed
*Need to review money for staff luncheon. Leaving $250 to be safe.
Holding money for IRS due to taxes not being paid in the past.

Library Fund/Book fairs:

– Idea of person in charge of books for the school could come select books from book fair instead of getting the $100 per grade checks. (Check with principals)
– $50 line item for people missing money (sales tax) allocated in budget. $200 for the drawer.
– Scholastic Bucks available

Chess Club WI and Morse:
– Instructor will send information on how much the program costs. Apparently we are underpaying and we should be charging more per child. *Amada will give an invoice to Fatima
– Also have scholarships and donations for the program

Superintendent’s Meeting Agenda Items

Communication and having advocates from the PTA in the community
Borsari needs points of contact in the community to help bring him information and to direct people to facts and to communicate with the schools

*Facebook page for HorsemanPTA send to Lauren

Science Night

November 8 at the high school
PTA provides some financial support

Meeting adjourned early due to closure of building.