PTO Meeting Minutes – September 28, 2017

1. Call to order: 8:15 am

Amy calls meeting to order. PTO is its own nonprofit here at CMS. We function like a 501(c)(3). We have a board. Membership of PTO includes any parent, guardian or teacher.

2. Welcome & Introductions

In attendance: Ginger Barnes, Nicole Benjamin, Amy Chan, Diane Jones, Stasi York, Natalie St. Denis, Cori Chavez, Jessica Coulson, Kristy Westnedge, Amy Carpenter, Kim Decker, Tina Hirshland, Amy Shoffner, Hilda Del Rio, Aarin Holmes, Sue Gehlert, Madeleine Pollack, Jill Zender, Erin Vito, Megan Boyle, Jeremy McGee, John McCluskey, Geoff Sandfort

3. Approval of the minutes from last meeting

Amy asks if there are any additions or corrections to the minutes. There are not. Ginger moves to approve minutes. Kim seconds. All are in favor. None against. Minutes are approved.

4. Conference Teacher Food & Staff Survey—Tina Hirshland

Tina surveyed the teachers. The majority of the staff want food when they are here at night. For the last two years we did not provide food for back to school night so we will do that this year and for conferences. Dish Gourmet provided food for Foothills Elementary at a cost of $300 for 20-30 sandwiches. So, we may do that for winter break lunch for the teachers. Please look for a link for food contributions for parent teacher conferences in October. Jessica says her husband’s company uses Bridge House Catering. We might want to look into that. Tina says there are 4 dates and sometimes it is hard to get parent donations for all four, so we will look into that. Amy Carpenter thanks Tina for surveying the staff. Tina says some of the comments were that food allows the teachers and staff to connect and is greatly appreciated.

Amy indicates we also gave the front office staff Lucky’s Bakehouse pastries last week. After the first or second week of school each year when it is super busy in the front office, it would be nice to recognize them.

5. Bike to School Day—Natalie St. Denis

Bike/Walk/Skateboard to School Day is Wednesday October 4th! Natalie has done a bang up job getting this rallied again. She has prepared a map on the white board. Ms. Dunn will have the band up on the plaza near the bike corral At the pull up area in front of the main door, Boulder Cycle Sport will bring mechanics in their van and will be doing free tunes. Full Cycle may also have a van there and will have a tent and will do fix-a-flat clinics. There will be a food table of some kind. Geoff Sandfort may try to get some skateboard folks there. In the newsletter, you may have seen we need some parent help. We want to be set up by 8:30. Event is from 8:30-9:30 on late start day. Geoff’s idea was let’s get the parents coming too in order to build community. At the doors the kids will be going into school from, we’d like to gather names. We need maybe two parents at each door to make sure all incoming students put their names in a “hat” for raffle prizes and to assess the numbers of kids who arrived at school without a motor. We can do it with paper inputs or ipads. We need a couple people to work a food table. We may need other parents to help with traffic control. Erin suggests we put the raffle next to the food table. The group decides it may make the most sense for kids to add their names to a numbered list and then we will draw a number. For kids from further away, we could encourage parents to park and drop off at the tennis courts and then walk to the front of the school. Bus kids are included!

This is a BVSD-wide event. It is officially called “Walk to School Day” on October 4th. Geoff Sandfort asked the district if it was ok that we encourage biking, skateboarding, etc. We got approval.

Sue Gehlert, Kim Decker, Amy Shoffner and Ginger Barnes all volunteer to help!

6. October Community Event—Kim Decker

October 10th is the Fall Family Picnic! Centennial Fall Family Picnic will run from 5-6:30 at the northeast side of the school by the bus circle. We encourage people to  bring their family, blankets, food, and water bottles. We will have Domino’s Pizza available for $1 per slice or $10 for a whole pizza. Kim will take reservations by email and text. Cookies, water and lawn games are provided by PTO. This event will lead directly into the parent technology talk with counselors in the auditorium from 6:30-7:30 where child care will be available. (please make reservations). Game night will be available for older kids and childcare for younger kids. Please spread the word!!! There will be a sign-up genie to get volunteer help.

John says Jeremy will do about 15 minutes of the tech talk and we are looking at the possibility of guest speaker (may be too pricey). Leah and Jason and Geoff and John may create their own internal piece as they feel ready to give a talk on that.

7. Spirit Wear Update—Kristy Westnedge

We are working on designs for new swag! We are trying to find a way to get kids involved. There are two different versions of a new design for shirts. John will get a survey out to the kids for them to vote. We also have a sample of a new more athletic shirt for kids and adults. Colors will be white and black. We will have women’s cut and unisex. We will have hoodies too. Super cool hats are already up on the website (two baseball hat options).

Rather than lugging bins out and trying to staff events with product, Kristy put together a cool hanging display rack. We put the rack out for people to touch things and check them out and then they go home and order online.

8. Principal’s Report

John says the teachers and administration feel really supported by parents. There is a positive vibe about how active and supportive our PTO is. Thank you for coming. Regarding nuts and bolts with big picture team, our work is focused (after doing a crowd sourcing activity around our priorities) on our unified improvement plan, our state school performance framework and our priorities and how we put those things together. 76% of our families opted out of state testing. We are not unique in that regard particularly here in Boulder. We are now seeing how those opt out numbers are affecting our state school performance framework. Right now our data puts us into the priority improvement category, which is one category above the bottom category. This category though only reflects a small portion of our student body. Our achievement scores are pretty good but our growth scores are more concerning.

We are bound by law to give these tests and to tow a line. As parents, you get to not be neutral. John thinks it is worth knowing about this aspect of opting out in that it is impactful for school performance framework (SPF). Jessica asks if the school or district can publish our opt out numbers. On the school performance framework there is a little asterisk that says CMS did not meet 95% participation. Erin asks if John can, without voicing an opinion, factually state what testing affects. She also asks if so few of our kids test, might we lose one assessment of whether the new language arts program is succeeding or not? John says it is probably on him to put something out to the community in the fall about the SPF and testing. He assures us that the staff is tracking how our kids are doing. They have programs like iready. John says we are working on developing a district wide writing rubric for advanced and regular language arts. So, this is happening internally, even without PARCC testing. A request for proposals has gone out by the state to look for the next testing vendor for the state. PARCC is going to change. So, PARCC data may be unreliable a year from now anyway. Kim asks if our scores affect funding. If we are at the bottom rung, do we get more or less money?

Jessica asks if there is any value and would it be legal to poll parents as to why they opted their kids out of testing. John says there is no way as a school to message that without getting into hot water.

Could we offer pros and cons to testing so that people could meaningfully decide? Amy Carpenter reminds us that we had someone come in to talk about testing. We could do that again. Diane says Foothill consolidated their testing. Is there a way to do that? John says there is a really great job (school assessment coordinator) you get as an assistant principal and turns the question over to Geoff. Geoff says we are as tight as we can possibly be regarding time. We were also up against restrictions around the numbers of chrome books and bandwidth in certain locations of the building.

John says they had their last meeting on bond improvement efforts. All final design recommendations were made yesterday. There are some design boards available to look at in the library. Teachers will need to purge the building beginning in April and May. So, there will be that on their plate. Kids may be helping with that. We will come up with great strategy and timeline for it. We are getting an all new roof, flooring, etc. There will be a big garage door between the cafeteria and outside plaza. Also, we may get a possible maker space.

Fuel the Cylones effort: John says the spring effort last year wasn’t as robust as we were hoping. Idea now is to reengage this fall. Huge thanks to Amy, Erin and Jill. We have an amazing flyer. John says it is important to know that as soon as he starts to say to staff that we will get them some money, educators start thinking through a different lens about what is possible. Money pushes innovative thinking. It is a driver and is motivating. The lists that are on the flyer are pretty close. There are some other ideas coming too. We will do a fundraising push lasting from October 1-31. Later, we will talk about whether we will do spring campaign or fall campaign moving forward. We will do a robo- call. There will be updates in e-blast. We will have a fundraising presence at conferences. We will continue to monitor our progress toward the goal and will communicate that progress.

Early next week, John will do a call asking for contributions. The jump in the per student ask is digestible. We’ve also given an option for families who can do a bit more.

You can log in to rev track to see if you’ve already given. You can give again!

John says we did research about gift giving across the district. We are asking for about 2/3 of what Platt brings in each year. So, a bit of a push is reasonable. John and Amy had talked about pushing to $200 per student. But, since we have two asks (for CMS and PTO), we went for a total closer to $200. People are thinking about new space and new ways of doing things with the bond, so this new fundraising is perfect timing.

We will be asking every student to complete a student reflection sheet – how are you doing with regard to RISE values and then there is a box next to every class they take. What am I learning? What am I passionate about? All LA teachers the day before conferences will fill out the reflection forms. Talk to your kids about this. Encourage your kids to share that google doc with you.

9. New Business

If you have grant writing skills or interest, talk to Kim!

Amy introduces Megan, our new PEN rep! We may expand PEN as there are lots of people trying to bring events to school. Megan says after getting together with Jason and Leah and speaking about Charlie (the guy with the hefty fee to do the technology speech) she wants to speak to PTO about budget. Megan says she is new to CMS this year. She has a 6th and 7th grader. There will be some coffee talks on Fridays (there will be 5 of those and John will join for some of them), but we also need topics for discussion. Megan wants to know what is important to parents and to our kids. What do you want to learn about? Is bullying interesting to you? Transgender? What do you want an expert to come talk about? Amy Carpenter says we thought about doing a survey to our parent community to assess areas of interest.

We need to promote the October 2nd “Tweens! BFF v. Frenemy” talk from 6-7:30 pm in the auditorium.

10. Presentation and discussion with Centennial’s School Resource Officer Jeremy McGee

Jeremy is assigned to CMS and Casey. He will serve a five year stint. He volunteered for this position. He has been with Boulder Police for 17 years. There is a whole School Resource Officer (SRO) program. There is a security aspect to what he does. SROs work with administrators and the district in conducting emergency preparedness drills. If information comes out with a concern in the neighborhood, SRO knows about it. This includes wildlife concerns. Jeremy works with the Columbine, Crest View and Foothills elementary schools a little bit. He sees his role as almost like a counselor. He wants to build good relationships with this next generation. The police department sees value in this. Our youth are a bit underserved. Talk to the kids. Be human with them. Listen to their concerns. He gets a lot of questions. He can eek out what is worrying kids. They don’t always ask it directly. He looks to see what their stressors are. He meets with them. Kids like to use his handcuffs. Sometimes kids are in physical altercations. He is the contact for that. He has never had to arrest a middle schooler. He has charged kids for crimes, including theft. He does his best to try and teach and mediate and resolve issues short of justice system involvement. Kids have to be accountable for their behavior. He carries a big blue book with all the statutes and laws. For example, he sometimes has kids read what “harassment” is.

He is worried about social media. He is a parent of a 14-year old and a 10-year old, a cop and a citizen. Bullying can be persistent. Internet safety is a big concern. Kids need to not share too much information. There are predators out there. There are laws recently passed that address bullying, cyber bullying in particular (Ariana’s law). Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about these things. You have to ask and push and get in their business. It is too early to say “oh, I trust you.” There are so many mistakes that can be made that can be permanent. Sexting is surprisingly prevalent in the middle schools. Some aspect of that may be developmentally appropriate according to some research but the potential for misuse/abuse is huge!

New laws went into effect this summer regarding teen sexting. It used to be that a felony charge for sexual exploitation was the only option. Now, there are laws saying it is illegal for two people to share nude pics if they are underage but it does not rise to a felony. Instead, these laws carry civil penalty and have an education component to them as opposed to lifelong sex offender designations.

He has a body cam. He turns it on himself. These are brand new.

Parents can reach out anytime. We do have traffic officers assigned to schools. They were out here at CMS a few weeks ago. There is a social contract here with consequences.

Jessica runs the St. Baldricks event. She says that police and fire have often been involved in the event but is has become increasingly difficult to get them to participate. Jessica asks if she can use Jeremy as a resource. He agrees.

If a “safe to tell” comes in, Jeremy gets a text and an email. His Sergeant and dispatch will also get it. It is pretty useful. John also gets them. Kids do know about it. Kids and parents have used it.

BVSD sent out a flyer about a program called Effect – how to talk to your kids about drugs and drug use. John, Leah and our school psychologist and Katie Hines went to the first training. The plan is for a series of parent talks (2 per year over the next 3 years). Keep an eye out for this.

Meeting is adjourned.