WES PTO Meeting Minutes
May 2, 2017
Present: Laura Staneff, Jenna Dickinson, Hailey Rinaldi, Steve Miller, Kristen Mabey, Sloane Torres, Lindsay Neathawk, Cecilia Hirsch, Kelly Paul, Joelle Brookner, Liliana Sills, Chris McAlister, Geraldine Shen, Dan Randall, Kathy Hughes, Matthew Baya
Meeting called to order at approximately 8:45am
1. Introductions: Several new and occasional members were present.
2. Sunrise Spanish: To accommodate several people who needed to leave by 9:00, this item was moved up the agenda. Chris, aided by Joelle, gave an update on the history of the Sunrise language program (Spanish and Chinese) that used to take place in the mornings at WES. Through a generous donation, Mandarin Chinese was established as part of the WES curriculum, however those funds were exhausted and there is not currently a foreign language class offered. Recently the community has expressed interest in re-establishing the sunrise program for Spanish.
The group discussed logistics including whether it should be a sunrise vs. a sunset program and how the program will be funded (parent funding vs. donation). Liliana Sills has expressed interest (a native Spanish speaker) in helping to start the program, but doesn’t feel as if she can take on the master teacher role. Joelle and Geraldine have met to discuss logistics and whether or not we could utilize Williams college students as teacher support for the program.
Most likely the teacher(s) would need to come from the parents/community. Cecilia suggested forming a subcommittee to discuss further and plan. She also pointed out that in the past there was concern about making sure the program was available to all—bussed children are unable to participate in before-school programming. Joelle mentioned that interest may well be much higher than capacity, in which case a lottery is usually held; the group felt that there are so many after-school activities that this would help to naturally limit participation. Some people felt, though, that morning would be more successful because childrens’ attention is so much better at that time of day.
Joelle remarked that the old structure worked well and could be easily adapted. The group agreed that Joelle will continue to work with Geraldine and Liliana to get the structure and details in place before the end of the school year. Joelle will send out a school wide email looking for volunteers to help coordinate/teach the program. Joelle and Sloane will be listed as contacts.
3. Staff Appreciation (May 1-5th): This weeklong event is a chance for parents to thank WES teachers and staff for their dedication to our students. Breakfast was provided on Tuesday morning, a lunch will be held Wednesday and massages will be provided on Friday. Additionally, the staff lounge was cleaned and drinks and snacks will be provided throughout the week. Nancy Garrity has coordinated this effort for the last several years. As Nancy will be graduating out of WES this year, Samantha Livingstone has been shadowing and will assume the lead for next year. Nancy is putting together a document to add to our PTO archives. Nancy was unable to attend, but Sloane shared some ‘lessons learned’ that she provided in advance.
4. Faculty Meeting Snacks (1st Thursday monthly): At its last meeting, the PTO agreed to provide snacks for the monthly faculty meetings. Jenna did it last month and expressed willingness to continue to lead the effort. Sloane reported that several teachers expressed appreciation for the snacks, but mentioned that more sustainable snacks like fruit or cheese would be wonderful. Currently snacks are reimbursed by the PTO, but it is possible that in the future this could be a parent contribution. After a brief discussion, Lindsay agreed that she could help coordinate as social committee lead.
5. Clothing Sale (May 20th): The WES children’s clothing sale was voted the Best Consignment Sale in the Berkshires. Laura, Cecilia and Jenna reviewed the current state of planning for the upcoming sale. They are finalizing the SignUp Genius document for volunteers for sale preparation and sale day. Laura relayed that, at a recent Co-coordinators’ meeting, the need to have perpetual outreach to new families was highlighted; she asked whether this is something the PTO could help with. Sloane suggested including an item in the Kindergarten parent packet she is working on (see below.) Laura and Cecilia also described how the Clothing Sale can be considered as at least two projects: one being the on-going collection and processing of donations throughout the year, and the other being the month or so prior to the “Event” of the Sale itself. They emphasized that it is always difficult for the Co-coordinators to manage both of these aspects and that it may be desirable to involve the wider PTO Board in the Sale planning stages.
6. Kindergarten Packet content (Incoming Parent Informational Meeting June 6th): Chris briefly explained the Kindergarten meeting and the fact that the PTO used to do more with incoming Kindergarten families but has scaled back. Sloane said she’s happy to compile the contents of a packet but needs input as to what to include. Discussion of items to include: school map, school calendar, PTO calendar and information (general and specific), parking/drop-off rules, Words Are Wonderful information, Clothing Sale bookmark, Wednesday early dismissal information, Lost and Found, etc. The group discussed if it would be appropriate to include CORI check information, but it was decided that this would be too cumbersome and instead we could have a CORI table at Open House in the Fall. Sloane requested that any other ideas or items for inclusion be sent to her.
7. Field day/Walk for WES (Monday June 19th): Kristen Mabey reported that she is waiting for more information from Sue Kirby (PE teacher). She has a SignUp Genius ready to go, but was waiting for other WES PTO events to wrap up. Joelle confirmed there can be no popsicles, but water is fine. In a prior planning meeting the idea of adding a 2nd bounce house (outside for older students) and possibly a dunk tank was discussed. The group discussed asking for one of the bounce houses as a donation from a local vendor (Carr Hardware). Kristen pointed out that it does often rain on the Field Day/Walk for WES and that’s one reason why we usually stick with an indoor bounce house. However, if the 2nd were donated then it wouldn’t matter – if it rains, we just don’t use it.
Kathy reported that Lauren Gottlieb has coordinated Walk for WES in the past, but is no longer involved. Chris and Kathy will reach out to solicit help from others and begin pulling the necessary pieces together. Chris will contact Mark Santella about DJing and Kathy will reach out to Elinor (The Print Shop) about printing the brochures. Chris has discussed the idea with Monica Alvarez and is hoping to involve the “Girls on the Run” volunteers as well.
Last year there were two complaints from neighbors about the noise of the music during the Walk; one of them suggested that the neighbors should “at least be notified that this is happening!” Lindsay suggested doing this through the Town bulletin, and she agreed to facilitate the notification.
8. Bike to School Day: Joelle has been contacted by several outside people hoping to schedule a Bike to School Day for WES. Some of them are with organizations that are working on similar events in other towns and want to support and spread these efforts. She is happy to do one—WES has had them some years in the past—and there are two teachers would be interested in helping. A good number of WES students already bike to school, but for this event there needs to be coordination for drop off locations and enough adults to bike with the kids (at least 2 adults per group) to WES. The group discussed past locations and merits of each. Lindsay Neathawk and Steve Miller volunteered to help and will be the main coordinators. In the past the police have been notified but not directly involved. Sloane pointed out that we need to set a date that does not conflict with the other planned programs in June. The first day of summer, Wed. June 21st was suggested and agreed upon. Returning the bikes at the end of day was also discussed; most likely kids will bus home and parents will have to come pick up the bikes. Steve Miller reminded the group that volunteers will need to have current CORIs on file with the school; this sparked a larger discussion of CORIs as they relate to parent outreach (see above).
9. Spring Parent Social: Lindsay announced that this next event will be a family event to be held at WES, on the playground, on Thursday June 15th from 5:30-6:30. The timing is hopefully convenient for people picking up kids from the Youth Center. She floated the idea of having a bounce house but others thought that it would require too much parent supervision when the point is to be “social” with other parents. The PTO will provide beverages (possible chips/snacks) and maybe popsicles for kids. People will be encouraged to bring snacks or picnic items if they want. The group agreed that there is no rain date; if it rains, the event will be cancelled.
10. School Garden: The Garden program will be changing as Linda Wagner is retiring. Joelle explained that there is no money in the school budget for this contract, enrichment position; this year it was funded by the PTO and by a grant from the Fund for Williamstown, but at this time no funding is in place for next year. Joelle reported that they are going to try to preserve the K-3 educational experience, as those years are the best fit with the new State curriculum frameworks; she has asked Linda to provide what she can of her curriculum to aid in this effort. Geraldine offered to try to help coordinate additional Williams College student help. Sloane discussed further that Joelle and Geraldine have been in contact about arranging the teaching through WC students, but that a parent coordinator is needed especially for the work that needs to happen over the summer. Laura expressed concern about attempting to make a program of this complexity function without a point person tasked with leading it, and she asked about the possibility of seeking outside funding. Joelle said that it would be possible to seek funding, and that she acknowledges that relying on the WC students to teach is hit-or-miss, however she would like to have input on the selection of that person as it will need to be someone the school can work with and have confidence in. The group discussed how to structure a paid position, possibly using Adventures In Learning as a model. Joelle still needs to determine the total cost of the program.
11. Signage Update: Dan showed a rough sketch of possible signs and their locations. Size will be something like 18×24 inches and they will hang from the ceilings at the main entrances, as well as smaller ones strategically placed on walls and other entrances. Lindsay presented estimated costs which are projected at less than $1000, including installation. The group unanimously agreed that Dan and Lindsay should move forward with finalizing a formal proposal to present to Joelle, at the June PTO meeting and to receive School Committee approval.
12. PAC update: Dan is unsure of the last PAC meeting details and believes he will be away the date of the next one.
13. School committee update: Chris was not able to attend the last meeting, but Joelle gave a brief update. John Skavlem was recognized and thanked for his six years of service on the School Committee. The Committee discussed the new food policy regarding alternative lunches that are provided for children with outstanding lunch accounts. The WES policy is now re-written to Joelle’s satisfaction and is non-punitive toward the children. There will be no “alternative.” Students whose families are in arrears will receive the same lunches as other students. The 2017-2018 Calendar was approved and is now online with the first day of school for the 2017-2018 year beginning on the Tuesday after Labor Day; February and April vacations are as usual and preserved even if there are many snow days; and two fall Professional Development days are scheduled. Joelle reported that there is some discussion about changing to a March vacation along with long holiday weekends for Presidents Day and Patriots Day, but that there wasn’t enough time to explore this option for next year. Many of the PTO members voiced a desire to consider this option for future years. The school committee also approved the combining of two bus routes into one due to both busses being significantly under-utilized and travelling the same roads. The new routes will require at most a 10 minute time difference for families and will save significant funds for the school. WES will be advertising the new bus route and will plan to make the change effective 5/15, which will save significantly more money than waiting to make the changes in the fall.
14. Budget Review: Kelly reported that the budget is right on track. Current balance is $17,136; Remaining expected income is (+) $7,745 for a subtotal of $24,881. Remaining commitments this year total $13,587 for a projected year-end balance of $11,294. Last month’s outgoing money totaled $1,984 (classroom support $1,127; nutrition $211; playground chains $486; camp fair $160) and deposits totaled $1,750 (Camp Fair $636; 3rd Grade Pancake Breakfast $1,114).
15. New Business: None reported.
Meeting Adjourned at 10:27 am
Minutes submitted by Laura Staneff, Acting Secretary