Meeting Minutes

December 2014 Approved PTA Meeting Minutes

December 12, 2014

Attendees:

Jacki Geoghegan

Angel Rafter

Paul Pirozzi

Andrea Gottschall

Donna Gates

Tara Schatzel

Meg Greenburg

David Neilsen

Jennifer Bayliss

Leah McVey

Fiona Galloway

Greg Galloway

Mitch Sylves-Berry

Welcome and Introductions/Advocacy Letters:

Our meeting was started at 8:10 A.M. by Jacki and Angel.  Advocacy letter samples, opposing mandatory stand alone “field tests” as well as the repealing of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) were distributed to the board and are being put on the horsemanpta.com website.  Information desks are being set up & manned by EPTA members this week at the school concerts to help with distribution of the letters to the community.  David is asking if a box can be set up in the lobby of the Warner library for submission of the signed letters. The board is hoping for a large number of these letters signed by parents and members of the community, so that they can be sent to Albany before year end.

Mini Grant

A grant has helped subsidize the price of the Morse school field trip to Stone Barns.  The Mini grants will also help with the following: ESL Lending library at Morse; books and sensory tools at JP and Morse; Razz kids-for children in need in 3rd grade at WI; a new binding machine at Morse, and supplies for the 5th grade mural project the art teacher at W.I.  Others not listed will be awarded too. Notification to grant applicants will be done the week ok 1/5.

There seemed to be interest in using the remaining funds from the mini grant to help finance the Random Farms Production of “New Kid” Anti-bullying play to W.I.  It is a 45 minute show starring 11-13 year olds and the cast sits with the audience after for a Q & A session.  We would need another $300- $400 to cover the remaining cost of the play. The board voted to use the remaining funds from mini grants and approve funding the remainder of the costs to sponsor this anti-bullying play.

Book Fairs

The Morse book fair is the first week of March.  Tara and Meg reported that the Morse book fair has many volunteers for their March date and they will be ready to go.  WI book fair was a success.  Because more books were sold than the previous year by more than 5%, the children earned a no homework day bonus.  MS book fair reported problems with restocking of inventory by Scholastic. Our Scholastic rep is trying to make improvements for future sales.  Andrea reported that the fair wasn’t very well attended the evening of parent-teacher conferences, and that maybe they should consider moving it from the 3rd floor to the lobby that evening for better sales.  Jackie and Julia are looking for another book supply company for better book content, and better inventory management for the Middle School.

Thanksgiving Pie Sale

Donna reported that 106 pies were sold and they netted $530.  Pie pickup went well and Donna is sending a follow up thank you email asking for feedback from the community on how to improve the process.  One idea already discussed was making the pie pick up earlier in the day.

School Updates

M.S. – Did not have their meeting this month.  However, Mitch advised that they have been receiving a lot of feedback from parents after completion of the 1st marking period, on how the children are graded.  Citing examples of children that have been testing high on weekly exams and still only receiving 3 ratings on their report cards.

W.I. –As previously mentioned, the book fair was a success.  Advocacy letters will be explained and print outs will be available for signatures at the WI winter concerts next week.  The hat and glove drive is going well, and the boxes have been overflowing at the school.

Morse – Leah and Meg advised that the crossing guard is still being ignored by many drivers at Morse, and there is still no police guard helping out at this crossing.  Angel and Tara agreed they will meet with Mr. Holland, emphasizing the safety concerns for the children, regarding the timing of the drop off and making sure that the doors are open prior to 7:55 to avoid backups.  Angel volunteered to be present at the discussion if needed.

J.P.– Jen reported that Stop n Shop rewards was initiated and people are starting to sign up.  Jen will speak with Donna about the box tops program.  Literacy night had a small parent turn out.  The teachers did a great job, the board agreed that maybe moving it to January at a less busy time of year and possibly changing the name from literacy night will help with attendance going forward.  A food chain is being started for the donations to help a child at JP who lost a parent recently.

Our meeting adjourned at 9:45 AM

Next Meeting scheduled for Friday January 23rd at 8 A.M. The change in date is so Dr. Clouet can be present for our meeting. He would like to come and talk with us.

Meeting Minutes

March 20, 2015 PTA Meeting Minutes

March 20, 2015 PTA Meeting at Administration Building

Attendees:

Jacki Geoghegan

Angel Rafter

Paul Pirozzi

Pamela Louis

Andrea Gottschall

Tara Schatzel

Jennifer Bayliss

Leah McVey

Fiona Galloway

Greg Galloway

Mitch Sylves-Berry

Katie Scully

Julia Reimer

David Neilsen

Jennifer Povman

Donna Gates

Welcome, Introductions and Budget Items:

Our meeting was started at 8:02 A.M. by Jacki and Angel.  The budget copies will be sent via email to the board members.  Jacki reminded everyone that receipts cannot be accepted after the last day of June.

Direct Donation Campaign

The Direct Donation letter was sent and received via backpack mail the week of March 9th.  All schools were combined and the letter mentioned the benchmark amount of $32,000.00 that needs to be raised annually to operate all of our activities at the elementary schools.  Email follow ups will go out after Spring break.  The board members agreed that these letters should be going to high profile alumni as well.  The overall goal for this campaign is $10,000.00.

Movie Night

Andrea announced that movie night is being moved from March 13th to April 24th and that flyers will go out.  The movie of choice will either be; The Lego Movie, Big Hero Six or Alexander and the no good very bad day.  There will be a bake sale and a Spirit Wear table at the event.  Doors will open at 6:30 and the movie will begin at 7PM.

Square 1 Art

Due to the unusual amount of snow days, some of the art work has yet to be completed.  The final product is expected to be ready before Father’s Day.  The board agreed to forego sending a notice to the families regarding the delay.

Spirit Wear Update

Andrea advised that Spirit Wear supply invoices were paid, with a slight profit and will reopen after the break.  Merchandise will be sold at the aforementioned Movie Night.

Cyber Safety

Donna Gates attended the Cyber Safety Presentation at the J.C.C. in February, hosted by an F.B.I. agent.  When Jacki and Angel met with Dr. Clouet, they expressed the interest of the PTA to host a presentation for students and one for parents in June for M.S. and W.I. students.  They are considering hosting one in May for the parents.  Dr. Clouet has given us his support and agreed that hosting one for the students in a town hall type of setting would be beneficial to the WI & MS students. Ideas and suggestions regarding this should be forwarded to Donna Gates.

MS Playground Initiative

A survey is in progress with the MS children to determine interest in an outdoor grassy seating and designated recess area.  Feedback has been positive and preliminary results are showing that the children definitely have interest in a small field/area behind the school.  An email communication was sent by Jean O’Brien on March 17th informing the community and asking for ideas and volunteers.  A community meeting will be held Wednesday April 8th from 7-8:30 PM in Room 101 South in the MS, with some time spent out in the open space.  A committee has already been set up to help with this initiative, but more volunteers are needed. While this great initiative is being spearheaded by Julia Reimer, Katie Scully and Mitch Sylves-Berry, who are PTA representatives, this is not a PTA effort. The PTA commends them on taking this project on.

School Updates

J.P. – Jen Bayliss advised the board that the ziti dinner was canceled due to snow.  Monday and Tuesday March 23rd and March 24th, a breakfast is in place and there are volunteers that will be coming to help facilitate.

Morse- The book fair has ended.  There were more than 40 volunteers and the event was a big success.  In spite of all of the snow days, they sold over $10,700 in books.  An additional $500 is going to the Mr. Holland book fund because they surpassed last year by 5%.  The parent feedback on book variety and quality was very positive.  Next year the event will probably be moved to a more “weather friendly” April or October.

Meg and Rosemary suggested that we start a book drive for children in need at Morse. Jacki has met with Mr. Holland regarding this, and we will start a  book drive in first two weeks of June to help get books to kids in need. The third week of June, we will need volunteers to help sort the books. The books will be stored at Morse so the teachers can distribute them throughout the year to children in need. Jacki gave a special thanks to Tara, Fiona, Greg, Meg and Jen B. for all of their hard work.

W.I. – The principal chat took place on March 5th and focused on “The Habits of Mind” and the transition from W.I. to the Middle School.  The booklet is being written at the MS and a video presentation with a map and virtual map will be included.  The P.T.A. will be providing locks for the incoming students and peer planning is being discussed, where 7th and 8th graders would help the incoming 6th graders.  One possibility would be to designate 1 mentor per class.  The yearbook committee needs more pictures, specifically of Halloween, and any classroom pictures.  Please send to Andrea.  Pam will work with Andrea about chairing the yearbook committee next year.

M.S. – Friday March 13th was the school dance.  The dance went very smoothly and there was very positive feedback on moving the end time from 6PM last year, to 7:30 PM this year.  Thanks to Mitch for helping make this a great experience for all of the kids.

State Testing

An advocacy email blast went out on Thursday March 19th with links explaining that the governor needs to release state aid A.S.A.P., and education reform should not be tied to the budget.  The HS social studies department chair, Ms. Jessica Hunsberger visited the meeting and spoke to the board about parent’s options regarding taking or refusing to take the state tests.  Jessica mentioned the website NYSAPE.org as a great resource for parents looking for information.  There are forums for parent’s statewide rights for kids testing, and that as of now, no school has lost funding as a result of refusal to take the tests.  Generally speaking, she said that the testers are looking for growth and improvement from 1 test to the next.    Dr. Clouet agreed that we can release a statement to all parents as to what their rights are.   The position of the PTA is that parents have the right to know what all of their options are, but will not make any specific recommendations regarding testing and links will be posted on our horsemen website with backpack letters to be distributed after the break.

 

Our meeting adjourned at 9:54 AM.

Next Meeting scheduled for Friday April 24th at 8 A.M.

Meeting Minutes

Approved January PTA Minutes

January 23, 2015 PTA Meeting at Administration Building

Attendees:

Jacki Geoghegan

Angel Rafter

Paul Pirozzi

Pamela Louis

Andrea Gottschall

Tara Schatzel

Meg Greenburg

Jennifer Bayliss

Leah McVey

Fiona Galloway

Greg Galloway

Mitch Sylves-Berry

Amada Reimundez

Katie Scully

Julia Reimer

David Neilsen

Kelley Anniccherico

Virginia Lustyik

Jennifer Povman

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.

Dr. Clouet

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.

Calendar Discussion

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.

Movie Night

Andrea announced that movie night is being moved from February 6th to mid-March and that flyers will go out.

School Updates

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.