PTO Meeting Minutes – March 23, 2017

8:15 Call to order

Amy calls meeting to order. Everyone introduces themselves.

In attendance: Amy Shoffner, Sue Gehlert, Erin Vito, Ginger Barnes, Robin Keyes, Tina Hirshland, Stasi York, Sarah Schulte, Marina, Amy Chan, Jen McDermitt, Julie Frieder, Amy Shoffner, Dana Ellis, John McCluskey, Margot Brown, Cori Chavez, Liza Weems, Julie Poyton, Michelle Christenson, Diane Harpold, Jill White

8:15 Green Team / Green Star Schools Update — Julie

Last year we became officially Green Star Certified. Ecocycle sponsors the program (Michelle Melio). Main focus now is to get our waste stream segregated. Composting is the biggest change. It has taken some time and is a process. This year we are in full stream and there is a team of 8 kids who are on the team and empty the compost. They work every lunch. We have the benefit of receiving free compost (Ecocycle will deliver compost April 10 and 11). Come bring a bucket and augment your gardens back home. There will be announcements in eblast. We are part of a waste free lunch challenge. Everyone is familiar with problems of plastic in waste stream and in our oceanx. We will stream a National Geographic documentary in the cafeteria during waste free lunch. 5 trillion bits of plastic are in the ocean. Let’s build awareness. This contest is between 9 schools in BVSD and St. Vrain over a week long period. Ecocycle weighs the waste. Winning school gets $400. We have a plan to swap out plastic and disposables for parties and purchase durables. We are working with PTO to be able to do that. Goal is to reduce waste and increase our durable fork supply. On average, there are 1000 forks that disappear from a school per year. Schools often have a fork drive. There will be bins. People can bring in durable forks. We will issue a challenge to the TIDE class to see if they can design a system to capture forks before they disappear forever. (maybe magnetic rings on trash bins)

We got a community service grant from City of Boulder and we made reusable sandwich bags. We will do another incentive 4/12-4/20. If kids pledge to bring waste free lunch, they get a reusable sandwich bag.

8:25 Principal report — Dana Ellis

The pool is reserved ($600) at Elks club for 8th grade promotion. Kids can use current lunch account money or bring money to buy what they want from food truck, or they can pack a lunch. We will have desserts, a cake. We will bring water. There will be games. Ali and Dan will dj. 8th grade teaching team are working on finalizing details. Awards will be first thing in the morning in large gym. After that, 8th grade day is a mix of getting yearbooks and an 8th grade slideshow including some kids-to-kids awards. 6th and 7th grades will also have awards that day by grade level and teachers are putting that together. We will get info out to parents. 6th and 7th graders will have lunch at CMS. 6th and 7th grade parties are at end of day and we will do popsicles for them. Teachers are working on setting up stations within our fields of different activities. There will be music and yearbook time too. There is sidewalk chalk, kickball competition, etc. Whole school will be moved outside for the end of day. We put in newsletter asking for $5 donations from families. Last year it cost us $800 to rent chairs and tent. This year we won’t do the tent, but we do need more chairs. We are trying to take the over $4000 budget from last year and try and get it down to a more reasonable sustainable amount this year and moving forward.

We are working on scheduling. Almost all kids cards are entered in the computer which tells us what electives they want. We get staffing right at spring break. We can do appeals if we need more. Hoping to meet with scheduler with Boulder H.S. to offer 8th graders next year opportunity to take German or Latin at Boulder High School. It would be their parents responsibility to get their child to BHS at 8:00 for that class. Then, when the class is over, those kids will get on a school bus that will drop Casey kids and CMS kids off at their respective schools. They will return in the middle of CMS’s first period so they will have a bit of study hall time and will go to 2nd period as usual.

We will start hiring right after spring break. Some school districts have already started advertising some positions.

Honor roll breakfasts are coming up in April.

Margot asks about PARCC. Dana says as of last Tuesday morning (2nd day of testing for 8th grade), school overall percentage was 33% opt out. 8th grade percentage was 56% opt out. She knows that percentage went up since then as she personally helped parents opt out recently.

Dana guesses 8th grade opt out will be close to 60%. Families did a better job of letting the school know early about opt out preferences.

Julie F. asks about homework on testing week. Dana says there is no school-wide policy on homework. Students who take the test and students who don’t take the test can neither be rewarded or punished for their decisions. Julie says there kind of is a disadvantage for those who are testing because homework levels have not changed during testing. Because we offer so many levels of math, we have kids not in grade level math classes, they are accelerated. So, if parcc math test today is 7th grade test and I’m a 7th grader who is not in 7th grade math, they don’t take that test. They take the 8th grade test. Ideally, they would test with their class. So, right now, that is out of sync.

Cori asks who determines how much time they take for each test. Dana says it is all determined by protocol. Cori says her daughter finished several books during testing time. The only thing kids are allowed to do when they are done with testing is read a book or put their heads down. Schools are not currently allowed to modify the times given for testing.

8:40 Business

  • Approve February meeting minutes
    No additions or corrections to the minutes from February. Sarah moves to approve the minutes. Julie seconds. All are in favor. Minutes are approved.
  • Open Positions for 2017-18 plus upcoming elections — Erin and Amy 
    Next month we are scheduled to have an election. We are trying to pay more attention to procedural stuff. We have a number of open positions. This is also on the website. There is a contact person listed. Best way to fill positions is word of mouth. Ask your friends! Send any ideas to Amy Shoffner or Amy Carpenter! If there is an asterisk next to the position, those are positions that MUST be filled since they are on executive committee and are essential to the structure of a PTO. Amy Carpenter is our volunteer coordinator and she is great at connecting people that way. Margot suggests advertising at Crest View or Foothills. Amy Chan volunteers to hit up Crest View and Stasi will send info to Foothills.
  • SAC Community Night — Robin
    We are holding jointly with PTO a family community night as a tactic to achieve one of our UIP goals to create more solidarity in community. Thursday, April 27. Starts at 5. Starts with pizza and bottle flipping in cafeteria till 5:30 and then the movie, Moana (English with Spanish subtitles) starts at 5:30 sharp. Popcorn will be provided. Everyone is welcome. We are advertising with signage. There is a flyer at front desk. We are asking for RSVP. There is a link to Google signup. There is an analog platform where people can sign up manually at front desk in office. We are encouraging RSVP so we know how much food to buy. RSVP closes on April 20th. This is a kids and family and siblings event. Everyone is welcome! Gluten free options will be available. Erin asks if kids can come without parents? Dana says yes, if they are behaving. Erin will put this on PTO website.
  • 8th grade promotion — Sue
    This year we have revamped it a bit and we got the BVSD food truck to come to the Elks. We are in the process of getting kids to vote on their 3 top foods. We will have a modified chocolate fountain in crockpots.

9:00 Special guest: next year’s Principal John McCluskey!

Mr. McCluskey will tell us a bit about himself, with time for questions and conversation.

Dana has spent many hours helping John transition. John thanks Dana for her partnership. John and Dana went to CSU together.

John is the youngest of 8 kids and his 4 sisters basically raised him. He thinks that served him well. John is impressed at attendance at our PTO meeting.

John is so excited to be here. Two days ago he met about a third of the faculty. He met with the design team and yesterday spent time with Geoff and met some kids at lunch. He intends to do some more kid time.

This process moved quickly. This is his 26th year in schools. He has been thinking a lot about this transition. He has 18 and 13 and 3 year old children. his 13 year old daughter is at Westview in Longmont. She advised him not to talk too much and not to tell stories about her. His 18 year old is a junior at Longmont High. He has downs syndrome. He has done lots of time in special education. What does it look like to create cultures and school communities that are really inclusive? That’s a big thing he brings to the table – everybody belongs! Our CMS website says “A place where everyone belongs.” That is an underlying theme for kids here. Good brain research shows us if kids don’t feel like they are in a nurturing environment and that they belong, then they don’t learn as well. We need to be intentional about inclusivity. His gut tells him it feels like a community here. Places feel cozy. 10 million dollars in bond money will help. There is something about these great old wood chairs and that low ceiling and we should celebrate these things. Faculty is talking to him about “Here’s how long I’ve been here…. Here’s what I need you to know about the impact I’ve made…..” He is so happy to have staff who have stories to tell and who have such a commitment. Having been a classroom teacher for 14 years, he never really knew what principals did. He does have a lot of respect for teachers. He was an assistant principal first and he was shocked at how much he didn’t know. You get in it and realize there is very little transferring from experience as teacher to administrating. It took him a few years to fall in love with it. But, during the last 3 or 4 years he has fallen in love with being a school administrator. He’d love to still be able to teach a little bit but his time as a classroom teacher is over. You can make a difference. He’s been reading articles about the importance of school leadership and the difference it can make in a school. We get undersold and undetrained. But, in BVSD there is a tremendous amount of support. We do book studies together. Having colleagues is awesome. He is very excited to be rejoining school district and putting efforts toward bigger picture about what good neighborhood schools can look like. He did a couple years at Watershed. What has come clear in this process for him is that it matters to him that public school system thrive and be a great place to send our kids. At Watershed and Horizons, his interest was to have autonomy and blow the lid off pedagogically at private and charter schools. He did that for awhile and now will take some of those nuggets of wisdom to the public neighborhood schools.

He did 5 years at Horizons. Prior to that he was at Jefferson County Open school. Open school is a pre-k-12 school. They started with a profound commitment to student self direction. Kids ended up creating their own curriculum. They took trips that they planned themselves. He taught special ed there for a year and was an assistant principal there. Prior to that, he was at Watershed School in Boulder. He learned about integrated learning, project based, expeditionary, etc. Prior to that, he was working with primarily at-risk students (has been a shop teacher, special ed teacher). He was at the Cherry Creek School District for his first 5 years. He has moved around a bit but always intentionally. It feels now like he has landed in a place where he can bring a lot of things together and have a lot of fun. Most of us that want to do this are eternal 8th graders and we are all a bit crazy. We worry a lot as adults about this time in our students’ lives because we have a lot of anxiety about high school. Kids are worrying about that guy or girl looking at me. We have to attend to this and not pretend like it’s not happening.

He’s really excited to be here and is curious about how he can help and support great teachers.

Michelle Christenson asks how we can help him with the transition. How will kids be supported through this too? Tina says there is a welcome back coffee on the first day of school. John says it is like kindergarten all over again. (maybe with less crying, says Ginger). Dana says we advertised in student announcements about opportunities for kids to participate in selecting the next principal. We advertised that John would be meeting with some kids over lunch. We will continue to advertise. Dana’s goal is to set up John so he is really ready to go in August.

John says he has the master calendar and is looking at things he can attend. He is still on contract till June 24th at Horizon and he has to transition over there too and assist with hiring there. He is taking his family to Harry Potter World in June before his kids are too old for that. John will try and attend as many events here as he can before the end of year.

Julie F. thanks him for coming. John says it has been really nice. Teachers have been emailing and it is so nice to feel so welcome. Change is hard and transitions are hard. He tries to be really mindful of not going too fast. Getting to know folks and creating the space for new ideas is a priority.

Ginger says her friends from Horizons tell her that we are so lucky to get John!

John says he feels like he is leaving Horizons in good hands.

Robin says there is some stuff that is not always so nice and neat here. Robin hopes he is being practical. There are some challenges and we need to talk about them. We have a great community and a powerful, intelligent community. That can be harnessed. A lot of the positive changes that have come to this school have come from Dana’s efforts. Robin says she knows the culture of the school very well. Dana put a lot of personal time and effort in to helping Robin’s son. Dana has done so much around the culture in our school. She also found a lot of rules that were simply being ignored and she brought them to the surface and fine tuned things. Dana is so skilled in what she does and we are losing her powerful, intelligent voice. Robin is so grateful for the momentum we’ve gained with Dana.

John understands he needs to dive into what needs to be fixed. John has nothing but respect for Dana. For Dana to take on what she did and hold up a mirror to habits that were that old is very courageous.

Marina asks how he can help the Spanish speakers. John is worried that his Spanish is not that good. John watched the kids come in this morning and that was a question that came into his mind. He loves kids. He wants to make sure he is attending to all of them equally. Kids are kids. With the wonderful differences that culture bring us, adolescence comes to them all. He has thought of calling one of his former students (who was one of 5 Spanish speakers at Horizons in her grade and who is now at Fairview) to ask her what she needed in middle school.

Amy S. presents John with his first CMS sweatshirt.

9:30 Meeting adjourned