PTA Meeting Minutes 1/22/2018

William Diamond P.T.A. Board Meeting - Minutes of Jan. 22, 2018


We met at 9 am in the Library.  Attending: Asst. Principal Liz Sharp,  Karen Griffiths, Sarah Kuli, Viki Deardorff, Herna Gandhi, Joyti Justin, Martha Kurland, Kelly Littlewood, Manisha Patel, Kate Murphy, Craig Sandler, Marie-Tristan Rago.


--Thank yous were extended to the Hospitality Committee for the principal coffee (see below) and a thank-you card was received from Johanna Rodrigues for the PTA grant she was awarded for professional development.  


--Asst. Principal Sharp and Karen G. reported on the Principal Coffee on Friday.

--The school department has a new director of technology, Jennifer Judkins.  She’s recommended an FY 19 that focusing on equity across schools, and upgrades to technology where it’s needed.  The department is replacing most of the ipads kids use with chromebooks, because 80 percent of what they do works best on chromebooks, and ipads will still be used and available when they’re the best choice.  The switch will be phased in by grade, starting with 9th graders, and over time there will be a 1-to-1 ratio of chromebooks to high schoolers.


Mona R. gave the SEPAC/Town update.

--We continue working with SHAC on stress reduction and building a safe, open, affirming environment in the schools.   The School Committee has its budget hearing Tuesday night.  The MLK talk was well attended and advanced the discussion around disparity in suspensions and general Special Education trends.  We’re moving toward deploying our survey in February and we’re looking for testers!  We are blessed to have Maureen Kavanaugh, the schools’ director of planning and assessment, who does such a fine job and underscores the reality that this community is favored with wonderful administrators across the board.  Karen echoed the sentiment.  She added that Chris Lyons is taking over for Asst. Supt. for curriculum and instruction Kelly Chase.


Assistant Principal Sharp gave the Principal’s Report.

--We’re in the last stages of HVAC construction, and going through the last phase of moving teachers.   It’s exciting and really good to have it wrapping up.  Of course, we have to find out if the whole thing works - the moment of truth is at hand!  Teachers are also moving into the new faculty room.  We’ve got one more pack and shift to go, and the teachers have been great

--Jen’s (Principal Turner’s) started a scheduling committee.  Right now classes are driven by a 33-block system, and five school days are not easily divisible by 33 - so the committee is looking at whether  - classes are driven by 33 blocks in a week.  Not easily divisible!  Committee will look at whether the time should be broken up differently.  The target for implementation is the 2019-20 school year.

--D.C. Trip: $14k was needed for scholarships.  The tour company helped defray some of what was needed.  We raised $3350 through cookie dough sales and  $1,800 through straight donation.  We still need to fund about $5,000 to pay for the busses to get kids and staff from the school to Logan and back after the trip.  This is a more expensive year because six groups are going as opposed to five last year.

--Kate M. asked if the trip, while certainly valuable, is worth the expense given the high cost.  Ms  Sharp said she’s been told the trip gives participants memories for a lifetime.  And the cost is all raised with fundraising.  

-- 40 kids have chosen not to go; this is a similar percentage to last year.  Field trips are being planned for the children who remain local.  The adults are staff volunteers and most of the eighth-grade teachers.  

--Marie-Tristan asked why travelers fly instead of driving.  Ms. Sharp answered flying saves a day, and the cost is similar; busses are actually starting to cost more.  

--March 20 is the D.C. trip parent meeting.


Joyti gave the Treasurer’s report.

--We’re continuing to transition from Michelle to Herna and me and our new ways of accounting expense and income categories.  The matching of old and new categories is close to finished

--It appears we’re running short on grant money.

--We’re running short in the water line item.

--Overall we’re in good shape.

--Karen asked about the concern over grants.  Is that driven by categories shifts?  After meeting with Michelle, Joyti will update and report exact balances.


Grant Request:

--Sideman/Thrower/Jackson - $300 for a bus to transport ILP kids in a peer-mentoring program during WIN blocks to King’s Bowling, to do some real bowling….the ILP kids and peers have been practicing in the hallway.  The request was enthusiastically approved.


Martha K. gave the SHAC report.

--The Wellness Committee is examining ways to promote a positive, less stressful environment, as discussed by Mona.

--Clarke is planning a showing of “Screenagers” April 3, with compelling panelists lined up.  Karen pointed out Diamond is partnering in that night.  

--Parent Academy is coming up March 24.

--Martha K. brought some brochures from SHAC’s Teens-and-substances work; Craig brought them to Counseling.


Viki D. gave the Hospitality report.

--Planning underway for Teacher Appreciation week.  Volunteers are needed.

--We are working on a breakfast for the 6th grade parents and lunch for the 8th grade parents as part of the week.  The committee is wondering what the budget is for those events.  Marie-Tristan said she thought there were leftover funds from past events.

--Karen said there’s some confusion over titles and categories from older events.  Funds for some Teacher Appreciation activities might be sitting in other line items.  But the money does exist to put on the events.  

--Viki and members said it’s time to get the network of room parents activated to get Teacher Appreciation organization and assistance rolling.  It was thought sending a list of board members would be a good idea.

--World Language Week activities: Karen got an email asking for volunteers 2/15 for the dinner and film festival.  There’s also a need for money for prizes at the festival, and beverages at the dinner.

--Viki asked whether, after the PTA secured the donation of a coffeemaker through Kureg, whether there’s a need for pods now that the pods have been depleted.  Jen T. supplied some, but what’s the long term plan?  Ms. Sharp replied that teachers bring their own and don’t expect them to be supplied.  Nonetheless, hitting Kureg up again for pods is a viable option, Viki said.


Karen gave the PTC Update.

--The superintendent search is continuing.  The three finalists each had an full-day interview last week, a very long day for each.  The final vote is this very night.

--There’s a School Committee candidates’ March 1st at 9 am in the library … there are only two people running for two slots, so it’s really just more a chance to have a conversation.   Our own Deepika Sawhney is one of the candidates.

--Next year’s budget: The superintendent has presented her FY ‘19 proposal … public hearings are going on.  The budget proposes level services though it is not level funded.  We had 152 new children enroll this year. Skyrocketing enrollment is driving capacity issues.  In a recent analysis, we were found to to rank 10th of 16 communities in student achievement for what we spend per student, but we outperform many districts that spend more.  The only new proposed spending is two new SSI floaters (fill-in aides) for kids who need special services.  Keeping up with enrollment consumes all new funding.


Other topics:

--Principal Meet and Greet 1-22.

--LHS parent forums are upcoming.

--Kate M. asked if she’s on track thinking about organizing some outside 8th grade events - ice skating?  Indoor rock climbing?  An Olympics party?  Is there any concern about liability?  Ms. Sharp said those would be outside events, and not an issue for the school - the school only gets involved in the the Canobie Lake trip and the dance, so liability for those new outside events is not a concern per se.

--Kate also asked about the $400 appropriation in our budget for social activities.  Is the $400 for the eighth grade?  Karen replied yes, Each grade has $400 for grade-level social activities.


We adjourned at 10 to meet again at 9 am on Feb. 12.