Groveland PTO Meeting Minutes
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Attendance: Kendra Beaubien, Deanna Lillemoe, Tiffany Dreher, Kiersten Loose, Sue Tomczak, Jeff and Kari Hitchcock, Justi Leroe, Kate Ostrem, Megan Jacobson, Susan Medina, Ben Lang, Neha Lang, Karen Hielsberg
1. Review and approve minutes from 09/23/2014 meeting
2. Opening Questions
Was there a decision on Open House?(ie. getting staff input on a different format for next year)
Becky was not able to talk to the staff about this in time for this meeting.
Given that we can no longer use the Amity for Spanish Class in the morning, would our money be better spent toward a scholarship for the new format of Spanish classes? Can we support students in being able to afford the new classes?
We spend about $5,000 on the Amity Program per year with the money going toward the Institute and the amity’s stipend. The Program is a selling point for families, given its language and cultural offerings, and it has evolved over the years. However, with the recent changes in program laws, the amity can no longer teach in the classroom and must instead be with a licensed, supervising teacher. This has limited the program’s effectiveness. Currently, the amity is going into gym, art, and music, and the grade levels use her in different ways.
Although there was a significant jump in price, the Language Sprout program is much more effective, with lots of positive parent feedback. Language Sprout did offer scholarships this year. One parent also negotiated a price, and another got a 10% discount, but this is a resource that children from lower income families may have limited ability to take advantage of. Scholarships would be beneficial for this reason. Becky cautioned on giving scholarships, given the factors and judgment involved in determining who gets the scholarships. We will wait until further into the school year to evaluate the current amity program at that time.
How can we recruit people for open committees?
We will need another FOG Treasurer and FOG Co-Chair in the near future.
3. Recap of meeting with Placement (10/6/14)
Becky reviewed the purpose of the meeting, and Sue explained some takeaways from the meeting, including:
What is a split?
A split is a classroom that contains students from two grades, such as 50% of the students are in Grade 4 and 50% of the students are in Grade 5. Some people like them, and some people don’t, for split classrooms can be challenging and hard for teachers to effectively teach and manage. For example, when would a split class go to lunch? Would half the class go when 4th Grade is in the lunchroom, and the other half when 5th Grade is in the lunchroom? How would the teacher manage two differing schedules?
We don’t know at this time if these are the grade levels that will be impacted.
Parent Comment: We have the data to show the loss of a teacher. We should start to address this now.
Becky discussed the competing factors of low class sizes and of funding teacher staffing. Too low of class sizes can be problematic. We are currently down by 12 in Grade 4, and we need to focus on building class sizes.
Should this go to the Parent Advisory Group?
Ultimately, this will be decided by licensing, which involves a lot of factors about staffing and may involve bumping. This is out of our control, so we should really focus on increasing class sizes.
4. Principal’s Report
There are numerous tasks in mind for this group, including giving advice for the school budget, reporting to the PTO, working on SCIP (school continuous improvement process), and making more of the big picture decisions. However, there was very little parent response to Becky’s initial posting about the group in Panda Paws. She will include information again about the group in an upcoming Panda Paws mailing.
Given the loss of the Enrichment teacher position last year, Becky shared how the grade levels are incorporating enrichment into their curriculum.
K – Stacy Forbes, literature study
Grade 1 – Stacy Forbes, author study
Grade 2 – Midwest Foods, Stepping Stones Theater, variety in Math
Grade 3 – still deciding
Grade 4 – settling on an artist through Compass
Grade 5 – Northern Clay
These programs are all funded (except math) by Friends of Groveland , which is $1500-$2500 per grade. FOG will be evaluating this, given the change in Enrichment this year. Without Michelle coordinating Enrichment, FOG will be more active in overseeing spending.
What does Enrichment look like for Grades 3-5?
Amy and Kiersten do enrichment now as well, which looks different from last year.
Kiersten spoke about Math Masters, which is once a week with Grades 3 and 4 and involves higher level math thinking. Teachers select the students to participate in this.
We also consider Lego League, Destination Imagination, music, and offerings after school as other enrichment choices. We do need more parent volunteers in order to provide more offerings, such as for Lego League for Grade 3.
We should advertise more to get more parents involved. Maybe we should promote more. One suggestion was at the Artists and Writers Fair, which will be held later this school year. DI and Lego League costs are covered. We just need more parent volunteers to make more offerings available to students.
This is the MDE Report Card on school performance, and it is based upon annual MCA test results. Becky brought up the web pages with Groveland School data and discussed the school, area, district, and statewide results.
http://rc.education.state.mn.us/ (Type in Groveland Park for My School)
Groveland tends to stay with statewide trends and higher than district numbers.
Science has improved, went up over 10% from last year, likely due to the increase in instructional time over the past year.
When looking at the data over the past four years, there are noticeable downward shifts. This is due to the test versions changing and becoming more rigorous and aligned to standards. Are teachers notified of this? It doesn’t seem fair.
There is a notable achievement gap. The Achievement Gap Reduction for Groveland is 29 points.
The Parent Information Fair will be held again in January, and Becky asked for parent volunteers and support in staffing the Groveland Park table at the Fair.
5. Friends of Groveland update
Kate Ostrem discussed the FOG report and budget. She explained that FOG’s revenue comes in from various fundraisers spread throughout the school year and that expenditures are distributed at various times throughout the school year as well. She then commented on different items on the budget. Truberry as a fundraiser has not worked out, and grants are payments to classroom teachers for classroom supplies/libraries. Green Mill was suggested as a possible new fundraising source.
Susan Medina shared about Celebrate Groveland and its new Minneapolis Dancer’s Studio location. It will need a little TLC for help with set-up. She is considering the timing of the event, possibly spring for warmer weather.
Can we start developing Gatherings? A lot of Gatherings happen outside, but some gatherings are good for indoors, such as culinary events. Outdoor Gatherings can include winter activities too.
Please begin connecting with others for auction items. It would be beneficial to start collecting things/setting things up now, rather than waiting closer to the event.
6. Classroom Villages
Neha Lang shared about her concept regarding Classroom Villages, of creating the dynamic of a village in a classroom. Given that we have Room Parents in place already, we could start with classrooms meeting once a month to connect, exchange information, and families joining together on a project-based activity. Neha also spoke about having family buddies, that can connect and sustain support over the long-term. Neha shared that we could distribute information about the classroom villages at Conferences and then begin meetings in December.
It may be helpful to do it by grade level. You might find it more difficult with Room Parents (since this role is seen as more do-it-at-home.)
It may be more manageable with a smaller group.
This generates more relationship building and is similar to Parent Academy. Very advantageous.
7. Lost and Found/Other Items
Can we donate what’s there? We have so many families in need.
There are challenges with giving clothes to other children in the same building. We could trade with other schools.
We could also supplement the Giving Tree this winter.
Jen Fakuda and Dave McDonald want to start the Run Club in the spring. They will have info to families three weeks before the Club begins.
Send to Becky. Deanna can also send out an all-school email when needed.
8. Groveland Family Movie Night (Friday, November 14)
The purpose of the movie night is to bring families together and share in some levity/have fun getting together. It will be held in the school cafeteria.