Minutes: April 10, 2013

Muddy Brook (MB) PTA MEETING MINUTES – April 10, 2013

Susan Higa called meeting to order at 7:03pm

Welcome and Introductions
In Attendance: Susan Higa (President), Michaela Dohoney (Vice President), Jennifer Knopf (Treasurer), Kim Bradway (Secretary), Jennifer Bailly, Krisztina Koval, Jennifer Simms, Rebecca Gold, Susan Smith, Bill Rand, Glenn Chamberlain, Cathie Kavanaugh, Thad Dingman, Michele Sirois, Tom Sirois, Elisabeth Smith

February Meeting Minutes: Michaela Dohoney motioned to approve, Cathie Kavanaugh seconded
March Meeting Minutes: Michaela Dohoney motioned to approve, Jennifer Knopf seconded

Treasurer’s Report
Jennifer Knopf gave the treasurer’s report to date, will be posted on web site in completion. $100 was approved at last meeting for Movie Night. Mud Day received $100 sponsorship towards a booth by Great River Walk. Spring Family Dance did not bring in as much as hoped, roughly $500, with lowered ticket prices this year. Waiting for money from rewards and the fall auction. Grants from teachers for field trips have come in, only spent $22 to date because of refund last year for books. PTA offers $5500 for classroom stipends. Community Events still $4863 to come in. PTA did not do a script program this year. Right on track for income and expenses for the year. Closed cd and put into savings account.

President’s Report
Susan Higa stated that for projects that the PTA does, we try to put them up against this statement, providing access for all to all things, trying to do community events, really bringing the whole school, teachers, and community together. We want to improve communications, and will introduce School Collabo software to assist with volunteer opportunities, parents helping in classrooms, growing the community.

According to the PTA bylaws, 2013-14 Officer Nominations need to be in today, and will be voted on at the May PTA meeting. Will have ballots as well as exploring electronic voting, not for a heated contest, but to get the word out as to what is going on in the PTA.
President position: Michaela Dohoney nominated Susan Higa and was seconded by Susan Smith
Vice President position: Susan Higa nominated Glenn Chamberlain and Liz Smith for co-vice presidents and was seconded by Susan Smith
Treasurer position: Michaela Dohoney nominated Jennifer Knopf and was seconded by Cathie Kavanaugh
Secretary position: no one nominated at this time
Abby Tovell will be moving to School Collabo software project administration and training, looking to co-chair
Kim Bradway will be moving to Communications Coordinator, looking to co-chair
Kerry Manzolini will be Teacher Coordinator
Coordinator positions open, among others, are Rewards Coordinator, Classroom Parent Coordinator, Membership Coordinator, Winter Wonderland Event Chair
In order to vote at May meeting, people must be a PTA member, please see form at meeting and online.

Funding/Grant Requests
The PTA supports each grade level with $1000 for field trips. Grants may be submitted for funds that may be needed exceeding this amount. Mrs. MacVeety, Pre-K teacher, is applying for half of the expense to Hancock Shaker Village which fits into science and social studies within her classroom. Susan Smith moved to approve and was seconded by Michaela Dohoney. The 4th grade is applying for a field trip to the Connecticut Science Museum, fees and rates for going out of state exceed the $1000 and they are looking for $600 extra. Michaela Dohoney moved to approve and was seconded by Susan Smith. The 3rd grade is applying for a trip to Mumbet, approved last year, $625 cost, relating to English and Social Studies in the classroom. Michaela Dohoney moved to approve and was seconded by Susan Smith.

Project Connection, presented by principal Thad Dingman, stated that about 50% of k-8 community are taking the after school classes, as part of the 21st Century Program, a larger grant involving all 3 schools. MB is open until 5 o’clock which his a huge benefit to families. Thad Dingman wanted to break down barriers for those students who don’t have access to after school care and education normally. Open to teachers for passion projects, and gives the opportunity to extend the classroom day. A big part of expense is transportation, offering busses home every night, though really powerful. The grant will extend funding to 2015, hoping that we will become an exemplary site, so the state continues funding. Important to get support from community so they fund the future and it becomes “just what we do.” Will look different in the fall, don’t want it to be for those who can’t afford it or need extra school work. Thad mentions that there will be hurdles we haven’t expected. Conscious not to leave money on the table this year, started early and brought in PTA programming, since they had done this, and will need partners to continue. Lots of feedback, listening to all, appreciate it. 65% of students are low income, yet a high quality programming offered to all. May need to scale down, but want programming desirable. Request for additional funding by Thad Dingman for the PTA’s $2500 that had been spent last year on iPads. He says the $2500 pays for 2 2-day 8-week courses for 17-18 students, or impacts 40 kids, and is 1% of total budget for year of programming. Extremely important. Transportation is biggest hurdle for kids to take advantage of after school. Snacks, materials, programming/teachers/paraprofessionals are all part of the budget. Cathie Kavanaugh said last time Thad was here at a meeting, he had changed gears on us, wanted to support through January 2015.  She also asked how did the second session start out? Thad said more kids enrolled and we have more partners, mentioning that the co-op is new, and that IS183 stepped up to 4 days from 2. The school community is always looking for grants, Glenn Chamberlain and Amy Salinetti, wrote and received one through Leows, brought $5000 to k-2. This is providing a service learning project for 22 kids who are helping them create a raised bed community garden at MB. Thad Dingman adds that we will constantly have a need to have this, want the vision to continue k-8th, 9 years and will take energy and creative thinking.

Thad Dingman reported that the iPads previously purchased by the PTA came on the coattails of a great experience of 10 teachers last year, what was underestimated was the professional development that would be needed to carry this further. School energies are now on Project Connection, rather than this. It is not going away, technology is important, just not making it a priority right now. Liz Smith asked if there is a deficiency or are they looking to build a relationship? Thad Dingman answered “both.” What the PTA classes had built over a few years, we are now offering free to kids. Thought to bring them into this grant project and continue relations built through the PTA over the years. Tom Sirois asked what is population effected, and was answered %50 of elementary school population. Tom Sirois expressed that this was not the best way to leverage fund raising, when %100 of kids benefit from field trip, of money that was raised and attributed elsewhere. He added that he doesn’t see the financial need, though agree to the relationship building. Thad Dingman said he had thought a lot about this, and opening the school until 5, is huge, unbelievable thing to. He encourages the PTA to be behind this, could benefit every child over time, could improve programming in schools, if leverage gains, will bring up overall experience for all within classrooms by bringing up quality, gets kids in the right seats, adding that he sees it differently than Tom. The financial request was motioned by Michaela Dohoney, seconded by Rebecca Gold, with 2 no votes. Cathie Kavanaugh mentioned that an opportunity was missed with the original orientation. Thad Dingman says eventually everyone will know that it is targeted for low income, and must be careful, don’t want to turn into resentment or create a stigmatism. Thad Dingman stated that he knows %100 of where kids are at within the classroom and that there is an achievement gap. MB has 36% free/reduced lunch, largest population within 3 schools. Making opportunity for also supporting families, working parents, feeding kids, keeping them safe, and encouraging physical activities. Won’t always be formulaic, Cathie Kavanough would like positive spin put on it to families. Susan Smith, afraid of scaling back, comments, would like to know the PTA’s expected piece in budget, if federal government is suppling 99% of investment. Thad Dingman answers that they want to hand it off to us, all partners we have are good at raising grant money, all want our kids, we are saying lets find a way to support kids here and at the places, such as Flying Cloud. They have insight into funding, therefore these are purposeful partnerships. He loves the range offered, but will need to say no soon, need more math, more engineering. IS183 offers high quality, meets the 21st Century mission. Others are fun, changing the culture, kids are excited about, but won’t eventually be offered. “What percentage of 60% of 200 are in target range?” Jennifer Knopf asked. Thad answered with the school is calling homes, door-to-door, recruiting those in the target. Jennifer Knopf suggested slots of how much you would like to pay, voluntarily, a sliding voluntary scale. Thad Dingman said that after meeting with the state, they are concerned about our size, too big, would like us to pick and choose more. But he doesn’t want to do that. The whole routine has changed for kids after school, in a positive way, he sees them proudly going about their business of getting to the programming. The $2500 will go to instructors for this 8 week session. Susan smith asked “are you going to look for this amount next time?” Thad answered he would like to come back and have that conversation. Susan Higa stated that this is a one time for our budget this year. Used figures to a proposed draft, which would impact 90 kids k-8, but there are holes because more kids are taking advantage of it and summer programming will be offered. Tom Sirois asked what does $230,000 come out to be per child? Thad said he doesn’t know, and added that there have been no breaks from the bus company, but that Farmington River kicked in for van transportation. Berkshire South has been great about using their bus. However, with contract, bus company may be giving us a break by allowing us to use alternatives. Tom Sirois suggested that PR needed to be done. Idea that it is a barrier-free group, about bringing kids together in different programming, careful about how we sell it. Michele Sirois asked what the term high-need means. Thad Dingman explained that it is those identified in targeted subgroup, IEP, 504, specialized services, free reduced lunch, second language, other things like physical, and cognitive disabilities.

Spring Family Dance re-cap: Jennifer Knopf reported that it was 3 months of preparation, another 50 people baked, another 20 volunteered that night, and 403 attended, 85 more than last year. Also, from the photo company, we receive the majority of money from any prints donated. $533 profit, overall $930 profit.

Spirit Wear deadline held off through next week. Need to get back to Fridays in Blue.

Junior Mudders have 23 in class, and are very excited to be working towards Mud Day. Susan Higa showed the quilt created by Mrs. Melville and the first graders, along with volunteer stitchers and embroidering done by Andrea Montondo, Kim Bradway, Krisztina Koval, and others. It will be raffled at Mud Day, 3 tickets for $10.

Teacher Appreciation Week, we need ideas to work on for that, a few people signed up, will send emails as to what is decided. Something should be done every day, a lunch one day that week, need help deciding what to do.

Thad Dingman will return in May to talk about a project that will start. Many schools adopting a new set of standards, changes dramatically, MB story is collection of 4 village schools that came together, doing multiple things, aligning to common core standards, thinking about growth and assessment for kids, sharp focus on growth, teachers college, teachers working extremely hard to change to this. Foss developed hands-on sand, silt, clay large part of 1st grade science even with a visit to Sheffield Pottery to see where clay comes from. Pulling in Flying Cloud for rocks during 3rd grade hike. Nearly 100 books read in 1st grade per student. Writing benefiting from high quality. Also teams, align content in classroom. In addition, he will come back to talk about communications.

Please fill out sign-up sheet that went around to help with Mud Day or Teacher Appreciation Week, also Book Fair is returning May 20th, please sign up to help, it will be BuyOneGetOne.

Tomorrow evening there is a fundraiser organized by Sheela Clary, who developed Crocus Fund, though focused more towards middle and high school for at-risk kids. She fundraised for 4 kids to go to summer camp last year. Goal of 20 kids this year. She is working with guidance councilors to identify those kids. Improv Night at the Mahaiwe, 7pm, $25 adults, $10 for students, tickets can be purchased at door or through Susan Higa.

Susan Smith, asked about the school survey, will results be reviewed, where are the results going? Thad Dingman answered that they are putting together white paper with results, will share globally once there is a plan. 267 responses. 437 students at MB. Overall take-away for Thad Dingman was thinking about communication, families that felt strongly, there was direct connection to those receiving communications from the school. Those not coming to school, connection no communication. Jennifer Knopf asked what did sex of student mean to you? Thad Dingman said it was interesting, perceived experience of a boy vs a girl. Survey developed by Harvard Graduate School of Education. Questions all linked to break data down within sub groups. Interested in how low income families are interested in school. They may be disengaged and not as interested in where their kids are, Jennifer Simms added.

Next meeting May 8, at 7pm.
Meeting adjourned 8:41.

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