PTO Meeting Minutes — January 26, 2017

In attendance: Nicole Benjamin, Amy Shoffner, Robin Keys, Ginger Barnes, Kristy Westnedge, Jennifer Donahue, Susan Everett, Liza Weems, Sarah Schulte, Amy Chan, Erin Vito, Jessica Coulson, Dana Ellis, Cori Chavez, Diane Harpold, Susie Bosley, Sue Gehlert, James Margulis, Avery Dahl, Patty Lydic, Julie Poyton, Julie Frieder, Stasi York

8:15 Call to order
Amy calls meeting to order. We pass around a condolence card for Mrs. Scherer. Mr. Johnson is planning for Mrs. Scherer’s science classes and Ms. Heinrich is planning for her social studies classes and they are all grading Mrs. Scherer’s students papers. Please add your email to our attendance sheet as we’d love to be in touch with you. How is the sign-up genius working? Ginger, as 6th grade honor roll breakfast coordinator, asks if there is a way to use sign-up genius to send thank you notes to the volunteers? Jessica says yes. Feedback is that everyone loves sign-up genius. It is easy to use and automatically sends reminders!

8:15 Student council report – STUCO!
James and Avery are here. Stuco reports that the skateboard closet is very disorganized. Perhaps we could get shelving in
there? They also say they need more water fountains especially by the old gym. Also, can we find more storage for band instruments instead of in the orchestra room, as instruments are getting broken. Amy mentions that we may be looking into skateboard racks but they are very expensive. Jessica suggests that perhaps TIDE could build the rack. Diane and Mr. Sandfort can look into this. Water fountain has been on the list for awhile. PTO did pay for a lot of them. We weren’t aware that the project wasn’t totally rolled out and finished so we will look into this also! Thank you Stuco!!!

8:25 Introductions.
We go around the table and all introduce ourselves.

8:30 Susie Bosley, Health Teacher, to tell us about the health curriculum and answer questions:

  • Susie talked with Ali yesterday and they prepared an overview of the course outline for us.
  • 7th grade – Our health focus is on disease prevention, nutrition, substance abuse prevention, and personal safety topics including cyber safety, digital citizenship and healthy limitations.
  • 8th grade – Our health focus is on social media, sexual assault prevention, dating violence, sexual harassment
  • Amy asks what conversations are like in the classroom. Is there talk about confidentiality? Ms. Bosley says group norms are set at the beginning of the year.
    Confidentiality is always part of those norms. However, what they learn in health leaves the room but what is shared personally in the room stays in the room. Although Ms. Bosley does have some legal exceptions.
  • Erin wonders how big a component social media issues are. In 7th grade, Ms. Bosley tells us it is about 4 days worth of conversations. They don’t have 6th grade health. Some things we have to rely on parents for. The universal message is “tell an adult.”
  • Sarah thanks Susie and Ali for doing such a fantastic job with health. Is the health curriculum set by the district? Ms. Bosley says broad topics are set by the district but how we teach is up to us.
  • There was a 6th grade living skills/health component in the wheel in the past. But the wheel has been modified. Bringing music to be full year changed the wheel. This year a semester of health was added to 7th grade. There is a semester required in sophomore year of high school. Some kids opt to take it online but Ms. Bosley advises against it explaining that health is experiential.
  • Amy Chan asks if there is a way for kids to ask anonymous questions. Ms. Bosley has a question box but it is rarely used. Her classroom has a couch, stuffed animal and it is totally comfortable and safe.
  • One of our health goals this year is to get a website (Ali is very tech savvy). Ms. Bosley has a paper she hands out on “dinner conversations.” It would be great if all this could go on a website.

8:45 Business – Approve December meeting minutes

Amy moves to approve the minutes from December’s PTO meeting. Erin seconds the motion. All are in favor of approving the minutes. The minutes are approved. Ginger asks when do we sign up for conferences. Amy Carpenter says in the spring it is different and it is arena style. All teachers are sitting in the gym and you go around and talk to them.

  • Treasurer’s Report: Diane – We purchased black party lights as part of our capital fund. We will purchase a spirit wear display cart to help with sales.

9:00 Marc Schaffer, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools.– Information about the Principal transition process and timeline plus questions and feedback from PTO.

Dana has announced her retirement so Dr. Schaffer is embarking on a search for our next principal. Process is standardized across the district but we will customize for unique needs of individual schools. The position was posted last week. We are doing a national search on the CASE website, Top School Jobs and a local website. We will get 50-100 applications. We will screen and vet down to about 4 to bring forward to the school for final interviews. Now, he gets daily updates as applications are screened by the human resources department. From about 100 people, there are about 50-60 that are viable and then from that, Dr. Schaffer will reduce it to 12 or so and do prescreening and Skype interviews with them. What helps pare these down are listening sessions so he knows what the school and parents are looking for. He meets with staff, students and the parent community and conducts listening sessions and gets characteristics and “Look fors” and things important to stake holder groups. He intends to bring forward 3-4 finalist candidates to the final interviews which are March 9th. Ultimately, Dr. Messinger will make final recommendation to the Board of Education. Multiple stakeholders will look at the candidates. We don’t “do” principals to buildings. If the committee rejects the 3-4, we will start over again. It is a high stakes decision. We won’t settle. The timing is good. He doesn’t feel like we will have to do an interim principal.
Philosophically, he is looking for a principal who wants to be at CMS, not just wants to be a principal. He has implemented site visits. Dr. Schaffer will go to the finalists’ place of work and will spend time with that person there. We have a vested interest in wanting to have a great principal. Dr. Schaffer is a former English teacher.

Feedback is that we hope he finds someone who will stay at CMS. Dr. Schaffer says stability is very important. Resumes do tell a story.

Jessica asks if they sign a multi-year contract? Dr. Schaffer says no. The contracts are year to year.

Robin asks how do you screen for chemistry with existing assistant principal. Dr. Schaffer says assistant principal sits on the interview committee. Dr. Schaffer talks to the applicant’s existing assistant principal. Amy Carpenter asks if we are getting a new assistant principal. Dr. Schaffer says he is not aware of any changes in assistant principal. Dr. Schaffer does not know of Mr. Sandfort’s plan to apply for the principal position or not.

Jennifer Donahue asks are candidates getting a realistic picture of the community they  are walking into? Dr. Schaffer says if candidates do their research they will know this. We look at previous communities they have worked with. Is this person having authentic relations? What is the climate feel there? We don’t have a crystal ball. We hire people first. There is an authenticity. We want that discerning eye. So, we want huge interview teams. This community has high expectations for their school, leadership and teachers. Dr. Schaffer thinks that it is awesome to have such a connected community. How do you galvanize a group in the interest of students?

Jessica says she filled out the survey. How else can parents get involved? February 9th is the community listening session. Dr. Schaffer will be at CMS that whole day. 40-50 people have responded to the online survey and Dr. Schaffer has read every one of them. There are trends and themes that are coming back. Another way to get involved would be to express interest in being on the interview team. Amy Carpenter asks if we are competitive in compensation? Dr. Schaffer says yes. We are at the top. Boulder is expensive. Some administrators live within the community and others commute but we are regionally and nationally competitive.

Robin says we have had a lot of fluctuation in leadership and she wonders if Dr. Schaffer has found commonalities in reasons why people are leaving? Candidates will ask under what circumstances is the principal leaving. Sometimes it is about retirement, fit, opportunity. Good candidates will ask the right questions.

Amy Carpenter asks with assistant principal turnover is that because they choose to leave or they are reassigned? Dr. Schaffer says it varies. There are 2 types of assistant principals – those looking to be a principal and those who are career assistant principals. We support both of those groups.

Amy Shoffner says assistant principals are so important in that they have such close relationships with students. Dr. Schaffer says the position is a bit of an intermediate position so we do see some turnover.

Dr. Schaffer says the Cherry Creek School District rotates principals and assistant principals regularly. There are different philosophies. The nonnegotiable for him is high quality.

Kristy Westnedge is curious about the whole advanced LA question. How is that being addressed? There is a stake holder group starting and first meeting is tomorrow. Dr. Schaffer recognizes the importance of engaging parents and getting an avenue for parents to provide feedback. We want to ensure we are being responsive to needs of students first and foremost. We also want to be responsive to our community, parents and staff. We are open to getting feedback and looking for ways to improve. Dr. Schaffer will be attending at least one of these stakeholder groups.

Amy Carpenter asks why there are different curriculums in non charter middle schools. Shouldn’t the district say there is advanced LA or there isn’t? Dr. Schaffer says curricula is standardized across the District. In terms of advanced LA or regular LA, the curricula is the same. From a pedagogical standard those do look different. Quality and consistency is important. They are doing the same novels and same thematic units. But, from class to class even within the building it may look different based on teaching style and outcome. Really good teachers are responsive to the needs of students and parents. Amy asks what is up to the principal and what is not? Dr. Schaffer says curricula is standardized and centralized. There are site based decisions made and then supported by the district. The nonnegotiable are “minutes”. How you divide and slice and dice those minutes is entirely up to the school.

Sarah says that curricula is set by the state. Standards have been raised in the past 5 years. How that is taught is decided by the school. They can decide if they want an advanced class, if they want to teach in a block method, etc.

Diane asks if he sees with new administration what new challenges we will face educationally? Dr. Schaffer says assessment and accountability and how do we measure students is always on the forefront. Bigger paradigm is preparing students for a different educational experience than we all had. Transcendence of content. Moving beyond rote memorization and getting kids to ask questions and be able to work with groups. Challenge is to take a very talented work force and move them towards a 21st century mindset. Our kids are super compliant and they do very well. Pushback from teachers is why should we change things if kids are getting 5s on AP tests, getting into ivy league schools, etc. But, employers are saying we need problem solvers. Jobs are requiring different things today. We have to create new 21st century learners. Dr. Schaffer commits to being tenacious to finding the best person for this job here.

Announcements:
Amy Shoffner says Exec committee meets once a month. We always want to know what the greater PTO community wants from us. Members of the PTO include anyone who has a child at CMS or is a staff person at CMS. We want you all to be empowered. Spread the word, you don’t have to be on a committee or be an officer to be a member of PTO. We are all PTO members. Just showing up at a meeting entitles you to vote! Everyone has a place at this table. If you have an issue to raise, let us know.

Sarah says an issue is PARCC testing and all the testing that happens in the spring. Sarah would like to see education around testing schedule and pros and cons. Amy Chan agrees.

Robin says the data from the testing is used at SAC for unified improvement plan. Someone adds that PARCC is not a true measure of how the kids are doing but CMAS is. It is valuable perhaps as a test taking experience.

St. Baldricks: Jessica. The St. Baldrick’s event is a go! It will be held on Friday March 17 following the annual dodge ball tournament. If we raise $30,000 this year we will have totaled $250,000 in money raised for St Baldrick’s by CMS since the inception of this event! Jessica needs another volunteer treasurer to work with Sue Gehlert and her and a parent or two to help with recruiting “shavees.” They can reach Jessica at 720-771-3470 or jessacoul@gmail.com. The site will go live soon at https://www.stbaldricks.org/events/Centennial

NEXT PTO MEETING: February 23rd, 8:15-9:30. Do you have a topic for the February 23rd meeting? A question you have been wondering about? If so, Amy Shoffner would love to hear from you! amyefs@gmail.com