PTO Meeting Minutes – August 24, 2017

8:15 Call to order

In attendance: Amy Carpenter, Monica Mortenson, Colleen Harvey, Marina Diaz, Nicole Benjamin, Ginger Barnes, Ann Goldwasser, Tina Hirshland, Diane Jones, Tracy White, Kristen Smith, Molly Scarbrough, Kim Decker, Erin Vito, Jen McDiarmid, Leanne Fisher, Meredith Nguyen, Diane Harpold, Jill White, Madeleine Pollak, Alex Mason, Cori Chavez, Stasi York, Wendy Barinek, Vivian Curl, Aarin Holmes, Elizabeth Olivas

Welcome and Role of PTO

Amy welcomes everyone. We will be very time sensitive at meetings. We introduce ourselves to two people we don’t know.

Each month we will try to have a speaker come to meetings. If you have any ideas, please email Amy Carpenter. We may have speakers from PEN (parent engagement network), the School Board, maybe our school resource officer, etc.

The role of PTO is to support our school and with new leadership this year it will be very exciting.

Introduction of Coordinators

A lot of PTO work happens in smaller groups. Vice president is Kim Decker. Secretary is Nicole Benjamin. Amy Shoffner is our Past President. Erin Vito does all our marketing and communications. She works with staff in the office to improve upon e-blast. She does our website and logos. Jill Zender is in charge of fundraising. Fundraising will be the focus of the next board meeting. Special events is Sue Gehlert who coordinates the winter party, graduation, 8th grade promotion party. By donating to PTO, we are getting money to Sue to spend so we don’t have to constantly ask parents for donations in kind. Cori Chavez does our Lucky’s Cards. Lucky’s is a huge donor (7%) to Centennial! Kim Decker is our SAC representative (School Accountability Committee). We want to collaborate more with SAC. Tina Hirshland does our Welcome Back Coffees and helps oversee honor roll breakfasts and staff appreciation events. New Family Welcome Committee is Stasi York and Wendy Barinek. Marina Diaz helped last year. Parent book club coordinator is Liza Weems. First book club is 9/1. Honor roll 6th grade breakfast coordinator is Ginger Barnes, 7th grade is Michelle Christenson, 8th grade is Tina Hirshland. Many hands make light work. Bike and walk to school program is Natalie St. Denis and we will try to reinvigorate the program. Julie Frieder is our Green Star School coordinator. We are trying to get away from compostables because we can do better. We’ve got coffee mugs purchased already and are working on plates. We throw away about 1000 forks a year and we are trying to reduce waste. Spirit wear is Kristy Westnedge. St. Baldricks dodgeball tournament and fundraiser for cancer research is lead by Jessica Coulson. Diane Harpold is our treasurer. We are a stable and fiscally responsible organization. Alex Mason will shadow and look at the treasurer role for next year.

We have a couple of open positions and one of the biggest is representative to PEN (Parent engagement network). Interested? Let PTO know!

Thank you in advance to everyone who is helping!

PTO has a separate website from the school and it is a great place for information. It is also how you access the student directory. PTO blast is a monthly e-blast specific to PTO. So, please sign into the sign up sheet so we can be sure to get information out to you.

Approval of the minutes from last meeting

We table this item.

Principals report

John McCluskey says good morning. He is grateful for the opportunity to be with us. Our reputation as a PTO precedes us in terms of involvement and participation. 99% of the time, an involved parent community is a good thing. Only 1% of the time can it get tricky. Where to start is an interesting thing. This has been a great start to the school year. John says they did three assemblies yesterday and he let the kids know how nice it has been. Kids have been so welcoming. He was covering for Kendall Heinrich’s class last week and was 10 minutes into introducing himself and one of the kids said, “oh, you are the new principal?” And then, that same student said, “why are you subbing?”

Energetically, there is a presence and we want to shift and move forward together. The whole front scene has been hugely helpful (Geoff, Kathy, Elizabeth, Laurie, etc).

A few things to dive in on:

John met with David Wolf very briefly yesterday who is on advisory SAC and we are definitely looking for more participation there. He wants to bolster that committee up a bit. How might the work of the SAC and PTO support each other? There is also a DAC rep that we are needing. That is an interesting role. You go to district meetings and meet with the superintendent. This person is helpful to John because that person can connect with him on what they heard that is relevant to CMS. SAC meetings used to be Mondays. We are going to meet Tuesday the 19th of September and then we’ll decide as a group what night is the best. Right now, the focus is involving more Latino families and what are some strategies for getting more involvement multiculturally.

A few things he thought might be interesting:

John’s summer work was how do I bring the faculty together and do some collective visioning. First day with the faculty was at the Rayback. Second day they met in the gym. The second half of the first day after team building they dove into an activity involving eight or so questions. Everyone heard the question and then everyone got 2 sticky notes and was to write down: what’s going well, and what’s our work to do in this regard. We will prioritize these. Here were some of the questions: What do we most value about CMS? What do we want to continue to nurture? What instructional approaches do we believe in across content areas? How do we support our RISE values? What does adequate student growth look like? How do we address the needs of our diverse students? What other questions should we be exploring? We had 50 of us in the room. We are gathering information and there are several activities we will do to sift through to establish priorities for first year, second year, etc. We went around and did a gallery walk on the posters and had a discussion. For people who have worked together for such a long time, it was good to see where we are aligned and where we aren’t. For the 12 new faces in the faculty they observed and noticed and shared how they could contribute. The second day, we dove into some things that came up the first day.

Unfortunately, you get only 1 hour and 15 minutes to meet with faculty a week. When you are trying to turn a big ship, that is not a lot of time.

So, we dove into how do we make decisions here as a faculty. How should PTO interface with that process? We agreed on an A,B,C, decision making process. We must know where decisions get made organizationally. There are administrative decisions that teachers don’t need on their plates (“A”). For “B” decisions, we will create a big picture team with representatives from every area of school. “C” decisions are consensus decisions where we will stay in the room with all 60 people until we get consensus. John’s preference is that we stay in C-level decisions. We thumbs-up’d that model yesterday. So, before we dive into issues, we will decide if it is an A,B, or C decision. We have a good shared leadership team in place. So, now let’s take on the work of the school.

What does it mean to pull this off in an hour a week? They will give him the first couple months of Wednesday mornings to meet as a large group!

Amy Carpenter says her son is confused by no bells. Many parents say the same thing. John wondered what would happen if they didn’t have bells. Yesterday he reports that we spent a good 35 minutes of our hour together talking about this as a faculty. Philosophically, this is interesting. How do kids internalize moving from one class to another? There is also the logistics of moving these kids around. We couldn’t get consensus but we had a really interesting discussion. Once you normalize not having bells, it can be really nice. The end of period bells can be really disruptive to teachers. We will at a minimum end up with a much nicer sound.

John talks about lunch. There was a bit of “inmates running the asylum” in the lunchroom. John heard stories. We are moving almost 320 kids per lunch period through there. It is a big endeavor. They are leaving a terrible mess. He is in there to build relationships and to show that we are serious about kids cleaning up after themselves. We have to get them conscious. One strategy was to say there is an end to your lunchtime and then you will go outside and get fresh air. This is not working so we will role that back. He has gotten a few emails from parents saying their kid need more time to eat. John says we will ask those kids to move to a different part of the cafeteria if they want to stay in, but will allow that. We will start that today. We have reliably three people out there. We are hiring another para, however, John feels like we need 6 realistically.

Amy Carpenter thanks John for coming.

Treasurer’s report – ’16-’17 actuals, ’17-’18 budget vote

We would like to approve the budget. We looked at it last year as a board and it reflects our current goals. We are a little ahead of the game for various reasons. People were very efficient in their spending. There were a few activities we had planned on that didn’t end up happening and some of the larger gift planning conflicted with what may be covered by the bond. So, we have a bit extra as we see how the bond issues get worked out. Diane asks if anyone has any questions. Jill Zender asks on annual report about “corporate”- is that Amazon Smile? No, Diane responds, it is a variety of things, including Amazon Smile, matching gifts and the Nutcracker fundraiser. We have almost a year’s ($7500) worth of reserve. Fiscal year starts 8/1. The other document shows we have many of the same programs, and we’ve added funding parties for the end of year for 7th and 6th grades and perhaps some professional development spending. We are way down in terms of our incoming income compared to how we normally do at this time. Colleen Harvey asks what are the expectations in terms of donations. Amy Carpenter says it is different from the elementary schools. By law we must have different fundraising buckets for PTO and for the school. You have to donate twice. The recommended donation amount for PTO is $50 per student and for the school $125 per student. In the end, our money goes to the same bucket for school support but legally it has to be separate. Diane says we also like to be responsive to student council’s needs. They come to our meetings and bring up concerns and needs.

Amy Carpenter says the way the budget works is we approve the budget and any spending needs within those categories and parameters, we just fund. For example, Kathy in the office needed snacks for diabetics and kids who don’t have snack. We have $100 in the budget. If requests goes beyond that $100, we must get approval.

Diane asks if there are any issues on the numbers on the budget? Cori Chavez says we may need more money for grocery cards in the budget. Diane says of the $300, we have already spent $250. Amy Shoffner. moves that we pass this budget with an additional $200 towards grocery card program. Erin seconds. All are in favor. None are opposed. The budget is approved.

If you haven’t donated to PTO, please do so. If you are unsure if you have done it, email Diane Harpold or email Laurie in the office. You can also check on Rev Trak.

John says he and Laurie were talking at check in day and they made a relatively intentional sense of not pushing for fundraising during check in day so it wasn’t the first thing people were faced with when coming to school right off the bat. Now though we want to strategize.

Unfinished Business / Goals of the Year

In sum, our goals for the year include engagement of our community, better communication, rolling out our new spirit wear and getting some for the staff, passing bylaws, and new fundraising strategies

Julie Frieder says last year in a big push, Green Star School at CMS got a grant for $200 to replace disposable cups with 50 ceramic mugs. We now have 38 of the 50 we expect to get. We are going for zero waste. John and Julie are meeting in late September to see where else we can improve. Alma in the cafeteria will help us figure out the dishwasher.

Elizabeth Olivas, our community liaison, is here! She is the bridge between the community and the school. If families need help, she gets resources. She is working on a Latino group this year. For example, if a family is in need of food, she will refer to EFAA. She helps with insurance. John and Elizabeth will be doing home visits for some families in the evenings. Elizabeth also helps with parent teacher conferences and schedules translators when necessary.

John met Elizabeth for about 20 minutes and thought how do I get her more hours? She is amazing. She is helping us with the lunch time. It is a good time to track the community and have conversations. Not everyone says yes to lunch duty!

New business*

Sometimes, material for this heading comes out of discussion with the principal (for example, today’s discussion about lunchroom).

Amy Carpenter asks: What do we think about welcome back picnic? What if we did that prior to back to school night? Should we have one? Is it too much in the beginning of the year? Back to school night starts at 6, so picnic could be 4:30-6.

Stasi likes the idea of sharing and combining events. Amy S. asks if we have money to provide food. John says we could entice staff with food. John says it can be pretty festive but it is early. Teachers are wanting to give 15 minutes per class. So, back to school will go to 8:45. We assess all in attendance. The response is mixed.

•UPDATE: After the meeting, it was decided that there is not enough time to pull off a successful picnic at back to school night this year. However, we will continue to assess interest).

Presentation and discussion with Centennial Counselors Jason Giguere and Leah Taylor

Amy introduces the counselors.

Jason says they made a presentation but there is no audio visual, so…

Their professional organization put together a two page handout that is available. Fun reading.

This is Jason’s 4th year at CMS and he is counselor for L-Z last names.

John says he’s been doing this a long time and he’s never worked with a team that has the level of balance that this CMS team has. He says Jason and Leah are an amazing duo.

Leah Taylor introduces herself. This is her first year here at CMS and first year as a counselor. This is her 10th year in education. She was in Peace Corps and at New Vista High School. She is very excited about being here and feels it is a good fit.

What do we do all day? ASCA (American School Counselor Association). We both attended the national conference this year. There are three main areas we deal with:

  1. Social Emotional (social conflict, identity, family issues). We are a good resource if your child is having a hard time. We are not set up to do one on one long term therapy, although we are both trained as therapists. We do a lot of quick check-ins with students. Our goal is 80% of our time to be doing school wide programming (more of a preventative model as opposed to a reactive model). We do a lot of back end work to reduce the number of crises that happen. We do conflict resolution, peer mediation too. This is first year that BVSD has elementary school counselors. There is now one in every building on a part time basis. Goal in 3 years is to have 1 full time counselor in every building. There is so much to be done in our K-5 schools to intervene early. Big goal for us is to collaborate with teachers in the classrooms. Leah says so much change happens in a student in their middle school years. How can we support brain development in these kids?
  2. Career and college prep. Goal is getting kids to think about their values and interests. Starting conversations about why you are here. We want to open up and expand opportunities. We do field trips to our tech ed center. We have ideas about doing some career lunches. A lot of our kids know what their parents and families do but they don’t know what else is out there. In high school, all students get career and college lessons quarterly. At middle school, it is encouraged but not written into the legislation as it is in high school.
  3. Academics. Scheduling is a big part of our job. There was not one teacher who said they wanted to know more about how scheduling works. Now that that’s done, we help students with support in their classes.

John says the scheduling piece is not totally done. Enrollment went up by about 30 students over the summer. That added a whole section. John went to the district for more FTE (full time equivalents a/k/a teachers). We will get to hire a half time social studies/ language arts teacher. That will change a pretty good handful of kids’ schedules. We have to fix that. We will probably build it out and let families know. The good news is this will mean smaller classes.

Amy Carpenter asks how do students know that the counselors are a resource. Jason says they are in the hallways every passing period. They try to pass through the lunch periods. Kids can always approach us in the halls, outside in the mornings and at the end of the school day. Students can come down during passing periods. We will have paper slips on our door, so kids can put their names on the slip and a brief statement of what they need and slide it under their doors and counselors will call them down. We will be going into sixth grade classrooms to introduce ourselves and explain what we do.

Kids should come to us with friendship conflicts, home struggles, 504 plans, academic stuff, organization, self-advocacy. It would be great if students contacted us on their own.

Amy Carpenter thanks the counselors for coming.

Counselors will be at back to school night.