September 21, 2018 Meeting Minutes

September 21, 2018

Horsemen PTA Board Meeting

  • Angel Rafter – President
  • Kevin Miller – WI 4th grade VP
  • Christina Grillo – Volunteer Coordinator
  • Mitch Sylves-Berry – Rivertown Parents co-Chair
  • Alison Madrigal – WI 3rd grade VP
  • Tara Scheller – WI 5th grade VP
  • Allie Scherich – Morse 1st grade VP
  • Leah McVey – SHMS 6th grade VP
  • Amy Knowles – Class Parent Coordinator JP
  • Sharon Kirschner – Basics
  • Daphne Uviller – WI 5th grade and MS 8th grade VP
  • Shaina – visiting from Jersey City
  • Lauren McBride – Morse 2nd grade and JP Kindergarten VP
  • Amber Dasilva – WI 3rd grade VP
  • Brianna Staudt – Paulding Kindergarten VP and web site
  • Jen Povman – Rivertown Parents
  • Karen Kuhn – Secretary
  • Phyllis Arduino – Membership and SHMS 8th grade VP
  • Julie Fiore – Paulding Kindergarten VP
  • Dancy Balestrieri – WI 4th grade VP

Who We Are presentation (Angel Rafter)

Presentation on who the PTA is and our connection with the national PTA.

  • Trying to get merchants from TT and SH to provide discounts to members using their card. Trying to form a commission between Foundation, PTA and CoC to work together. Jen Povman volunteered to help with this.
  • Awards available for increasing membership.
  • Branding – people confused between us and the Foundation
  • Have a grant writer working with us

Sharon Kirschner  – The Basics program

Presentation on the Basics program being rolled out in our district.

  • 80% of brain development in first three years. Opportunity for early preparation for learning for school.
  • Educate community on what you can do to take advantage via experiences to help your child learn.
  • Gaps – racial/ethnic/socio-economic. This program is geared towards everyone
  • Five fun simple ways to help children – maximize love/manage stress, talk/sing/point, count/group/compare, movement/play, read/discuss stories
  • Ossining, Yonkers, Peekskill, Nyack, and more working together on this initiative
  • Will brand for our district.
  • Joint effort Foundation, District, community members, Phelps, stores, etc. – immerse and apply
  • Looking for steering committee to get it out to the community – if interested contact, (will have a local version linked to district web site)
  • Mobile friendly materials and videos

Superintendent Report (Chris Borsari)

  • District-wide evacuation drill is October 5.

Very important for district preparedness. This drill would have been really useful with last year’s lockout, if it had been needed. Previously the MS and HS didn’t fully evacuate (went to field) but now is contracted with the Community Resource Center for MS (last year was first year) and St. Theresa’s School for the HS and the church for Morse (used to go to school). This year first year where HS will evacuate.

  • Communication matrix for parents on school contacts
    • Putting together matrix on how best to solve things by sending people to the source where the best likelihood of solving the issue lives
    • Will go out with a letter
    • Living document – will continue to update and to distribute

Volunteer Update

  • Chairs still open: WI Book Fair, MS Book Fair, Halloween Costume Drive (will ask Pam Louis and some parents might do it on signup list)
  • Please go into volunteer list and look for strong people and recruit them (with friends!)

Fundraising Update

  • Coupon books – Voted no. We felt it was a lot of work previously and didn’t make enough money.
  • Karen to notify company of vote results.

Newsletter Proposal

  • Voted yes to form committee to explore starting a newsletter.
  • Lauren McBride has offered to help with this.

Travel Day

There is a grant from NY State to host a Travel Safety Day at districts around the state. Idea presented by the NYSPTA.

  • Free event with races and activities to raise awareness about safety and to provide materials to families.
  • Materials, costs and support will be provided by the NYSPTA.
  • Check car seats, check bike helmets
  • Maybe coordinate with YMCA Healthy Kids Day in April.
  • Voted yes to participate

Facebook Updates

  • Christina Grillo happy to do the updates but needs information from the schools and committee heads to know what to post.
  • Need to determine if we want to have a VP per school be an administrator to or send all things to Christina to post.
  • VPs should send VP notes out to Christina after meetings but remove things that are sensitive and uncertain and make it clear what should be posted/published.
  • Decided to funnel through Christina to keep consistent rather than having admins from every school contribute.

President Update

  • Bylaws are updated – expired last year. This will allow us to get awards and grants and would be kicked out for 3 years.
  • Budget is done. President and Treasurer make it, hold meeting to discuss, then the board must pass it before we spend money. Will pick an evening sometime in the next two weeks to review and vote for whoever can join. Cannot spend money until this is voted in. ADDENDUM: Budget was discussed and approved 10/1/18. Available for review upon request.
  • Principal Fund is money we give to principals to do what they want. $250 per grade. No longer allowed to give the checks to the principals. The checks will go to Joy, the Business Manager. VPs no longer do this – Treasurer will hand to Business Manager. VP should still request a letter from the principal on what they spent it on.
  • Need someone to step up for President (shadow) by the end of 2018.

School Updates


  • Read-a-thon interest, wants to hear from other schools what they are doing and then will coordinate timing. Issue timeline is during Dr. Seuss’s Birthday and that’s when book fair happening. Don’t want to cannibalize our sales at the book fair so we need to talk dates if everyone participating.
  • Meeting with Ms. Barnett next Tuesday
  • First day of school went well. Thanks to everyone who volunteered to help.


  • New principal – Mr. Wally. He’s extremely organized.
  • Have a chair for the book fair
  • Buses have had a problem – told because coming late from WI (15 mins late at first but yesterday only 5 mins late). Issue was picking up bus monitors after WI where there are no bus monitors.


  • Split up 3rd and 4th/5th back to school nights and it was successful. Able to tailor initial presentation to needs of each group.
  • No movie night on the calendar but agreed on Friday, March 8. Checking on conflicts and adding to calendar. Discussing time to start things and determined 6:30 PM and will Google vote 6 or 6:30.
  • Reading level caps discussion
  • Readathon fundraiser: Mr. Holland likes idea, approved dates, wants to understand funding structure so we are getting more information.
  • Some concerns that teachers are not responding to emails quickly enough. Should be 24 hours, 48 max. Report to Mr. Holland if there are issues but there is a cultural issue about naming names so we are working with the district on how to handle this in general.
  • Fall YMCA play cancelled and it was a surprise. No one knew this was happening – why and if another director could be found.
  • DARE program – Detective Burns is retiring in January and unclear if this will continue. Trying to get some lessons done before he leaves. Officers are going for training and looking to see if vaping is in the DARE curriculum. Will add it to the 5th grade health curriculum for sure.
  • Confusion surrounding Remind and use – what communication are we using for what? Discuss with principals at principal chats? Determining when happening.


  • Smooth start to school year as it’s the 2nd year for the administration
  • FLEX program. Electives where teachers teach interests. Lego robotics. Taking the place of a second ELA block. Seems to be excitement about this so far. Every 6th day is a homeroom wellness, support period.
  • Pregnant 8th grade ELA teacher – discussed plans for replacement.
  • Evaluation of the honors program with support from our interim curriculum director.
  • More education for rising 6th grade parents to alleviate fears
  • Back to school Wed 9/26
  • $7K program group for “One Book” program where whole school reads the same book – one in fall and one in spring. Discussion, no testing. Integrated into school programs and Warner Library.
  • Book fair confirmed
  • No one eats alone Friday 9/27
  • Dress Code is updated and on district web site.
  • Vaping concerns discussed. Not yet hearing chatter about kids vaping but please let school know if we hear talk of it. Some concerns about Snapchat use by minors to get vaping from individuals old enough to purchase. Mobil is a concern. Angel working on some support from other towns/resources on how to handle this. Student assistance counselor could also bring in speakers, etc. We will work on getting this done as a lot of kids don’t understand the dangers.
  • Concern about crowded 8th grade gym class – no alternative
  • Cell phone update – if student caught with a phone then the teacher needs to manage it and will be held accountable. Not doing pocket checks – phones cannot be seen. Looking to help kids use phones responsibly. Jean O Brien digital citizenship program. Accountability doesn’t seem to funnel down. There is a grant for chromebooks – 1 every 3 kids will get new chromebooks in elementary to remove need for use of cell phones in a classroom.

Rivertown Parents

  • Bri and Kevin joining RT Parent meetings with Jen and Mitch
  • Program in conjunction with Hastings, Ardsley, Irvington Dobbs Ferry to consolidate and economize funding for programming in addition to what is done in schools
  • Speakers, events and panels
  • Tinkering Night very popular – with Curious on Hudson’s outreach arm, like Science Night but bigger. $1500 price tag and we’d need to fit all the kids.
  • Irvington hosting Digital Values and Raising Children program first. Information being finalized and will be distributed to us and then to families.