December 2015 – General Meeting
Tuesday Dec. 1, 2015. Meeting started at 6:36 in the school library
Come to two consecutive meetings at PTO and you are a voting member!
Principal: Kristen deFrancisco (KD)
President: Cedrine Bell (CB)
Treasury: Lee Powers (LP)
Recording Secretary: Sarah Evans (SE)
Communications: Jill Swilling (JS)
Meeting called to order by President Cedrine Bell at 6:37p
Attendance: There were 16 number of members in attendance.
Guest: School Committee members: Bill Hayner and Jennifer Susse
School Committee Update / 6:37 – 6:55
Bill Hayner : Enrollment task force (10 people) met. Next is on 12/9 and then 12/16. Last night, most of talk about Thompson since they need extra class space in 2016-17 school year. Hardy will need extra space in 2017-18. At this point, discussion without decisions. Throwing out options. One suggestion – temp modules for Thompson for stop gap or melding class sizes.
Right now, at Thompson, lunch starts at 10:30 and gym is double classes (like Hardy but our gym is larger). Not just about classes. How big is cafeteria? Extra kids also means more social workers, reading teachers – lots of peripherals. How about Gibbs taking 5 and 6?
A question was asked about Mugar build and increase in residence. A Mugar rep said 15-20 new kids is reasonable. Ha! said people. We anticipate more than that entering Hardy should the build happen.
Q: Doesn’t the number go down at some point? Or stop growing?
A: Prediction is 1000 more kids in next five years. Not births but old people die and their kids leave then newbies move in to replace that population with school age kids. So numbers won’t go down but will plateau.
KD: 515 is projected Hardy amount in five years. She would like to see a build out. The cafeteria is too small. May do something with the stage, which isn’t used, this summer. Big performances are taken care of in the gym since entire school can’t sit in cafeteria.
BH: Another suggestion was to do away with neighborhood schools – redistrict because some elementary schools have space. Or what about a Hardy Thompson blend? That won’t work because these are the two big schools!
Special town meeting January 25 was scheduled initially to acquire money for Stratton modules but finance wants to get all this done at once. So that is why discusstions are going beyond temp modules. Minuteman fix will be 40mil and new high school will be 85-110mil. Lots of money being spent over next few years.
Q: What schools are not at capacity?
A: Pierce and Dallin are okay. Bishop is big but not slated to grow (no two families and far less old people about to move out and bring in more folks). Brackett is big. Stratton is getting a new school but growing.
Q: Why is Thompson which is new now too small?
A: Size reduced based on finances. And numbers they had supported the decision at the time. They were worried they couldn’t fill it once it was done. Changed how growth prediction – not based on census. Based on demo data (age and ownerships, etc).
7:00-10 Principal Report
Long/short of playground. This Monday Ruthie Bennett – in charge of public school facilities – and Bobbie are meeting at 9:30a with the company is replacing the 75% of stuff – the stuff which have new parts already sent. 25% of other fixes to do will be completed when parts are at the school. Fixes include rubber pads, bolts, poles in ground, swings, benches, and buddy bench will be installed.
Progress reports are coming! Standard based reports. On Thursday 12/3 KD is sending an explanation about how to read cards since the format is different than last year. How? Narrative comment gone. Replaced with subject area specifics.
-In the rubrics, teachers need to get out certain standard space specifics about subjects. That narrative is time intensive and teachers would rather spend conference time talking the narrative with parents. The progress card concentrates on the skills.
Q: What is the exemplary category?
A: Days of comparing kids are past. Now individual rubrics per child. The exemplary means child is beyond expectations. Progressing is not a bad thing. A ‘meeting’ indicates child is on target within the expected range for grade.
Q (JS): Progress report is different for middle school?
A: Yes. KD prefers the progressing vs I’m a B vs an A in elementary. But in middle school, the grades start.
Sign ups for conferences were different this year because the public school couldn’t structure the Hardy time slots correctly. So teachers were given the choice of Google doc or Doodle. The private Doodles had issues because parents couldn’t go back and check on their time so several parents at meeting mentioned they had to email teacher for a reminder of time. Next year, KD will most likely standardize – either with Google doc or Sign-up Genius.
7:10-7:20 Treasurer REPORT
Brief! We are doing well. We had successful book fair. Another Appeal letter plus passive fundraiser alert was sent home via backpack mail. We haven’t hit 20% of families yet in terms of Annual Appeal contributions.
Hardy Giving Wall. Deadline? Friday Dec. 4. Families can go in on one gift together. Please visit the stars by the front office!
President CB says “Thanks to the Book fair organizers!”
JS: Fun to see kids figuring out what they could buy. Some kids were sharing money if they needed it. One kid brought in $5 because he wasn’t sure a friend would bring in cash. Great generosity from students and parents.
Total $2100. Highest in recent history. Margaret spent a bunch on books from sale racks – because those books are 40% off price. Great night thanks to Katie Garrett because lots of people came out to free café. 126 books purchased for teachers by families.
Other PTO-funded events:
Gate Lighting – Thursday Dec. 10 at 5:30p. Yes, on conference night (conferences are from 6-8). But then parents will be around. Nice community event. Neighborhood loves the lights!
Movie Night – Capitol is donating popcorn. Screen. Do we want to purchase a screen? Is there a way we can paint or purchase something to mount on gym wall. Projector paint! Looking into options.
Dance Beach – Feb 26, 2016 on a Friday.
Special Guest: Jennifer Susse – School Committee
Enrollment Task Force. A facilities sub-committee so talk to Cindy Stark, Cathy B, Bill H, etc.
>productive discussion about East Arlington
>Thompson needs two classes for 2016-17
>Hardy needs help in 2017-18.
East Arlington growth models are ringing true in terms of four kindergartens for near future.
Issue: conservative finance folks. Not always a bad thing. But depending, if you want something done, we’ll need to advocate. She will let us know when and if. A lot of finance challenges – need to go to voters for solution. Highschool rebuild, Minuteman and override are all up for voter ballots = $600 extra dollars on everyone’s tax.
Arlington pays for 35% of Minuteman but won’t contribute unless governance changes and we get more than one vote. Because we only get one vote though we pay more. Selectman’s position is we need a governing structure change before July or we say no!
The override we will need by 2021. That is crisis. May go to voters before crisis time.
Email: Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org to be on her school committee information list.
January 7 is a community meeting to talk about vision for Arlington. So people on taskforce hear from community. But we still need the principals/teacher voice.
Q: But should we include principals/teachers in another meeting?
A: Organization at building level employees like principal and teachers – we might have meetings with them.
We have 45 days so lets just deal with Thompson for next year and think about next step.
MCAS will be scrapped in spring 2015-2016? Or do we do PARC. PARC is timed/MCAS is not.
PARC gives us time to play with system while being “held harmless’ and it doesn’t count.
One of the issues with PARC – teachers didn’t get detailed results. MCAS 2.0 might give data.
2017 – all schools will use MCAS 2.0 (a hybrid of PARC and MCAS questions)
2019 – all districts will be computerized. Tests are on iPads.
KD: Hardy feels like we should do PARC but on paper. So we should do it in a year it doesn’t matter. Not computer phobes but the iPads often don’t work all at the same time.
IEP – they are untimed. No untimed option for IEP in PARC. Special ed director thinks we might have some wiggle room with IEP kids.
Superintendent up this year – so that decision will be considered, too.
Trying to go to finance committee and long range planning to get 50% vs 25% per student over enrollment. January is budget time! That will help with some of the schools at capacity to know we can properly deal with needs like special ed and such.
Next meeting is on January 12th. This is the second Tuesday after holiday break !!
Meeting adjorned at: 8:01