PTO Meeting Minutes for May 14, 2019


President: Terry Holt

Treasurers: Kate Leary and Andrew Malone along with Aletta Tibbetts (end of year tax review)

Secretary: Roslyn Fitzgerald

VP of Fundraising: Patsy O’Brien

VP of Committees: Stewart Ikeda

Principal’s report – Kate Peretz:

Kate continues to meet with School Council and the playground designers (Weston and Sampson) to ensure that the Chandler Street playground renovation plans stay on schedule.

We received hundreds of responses for the playground input survey from parents and students (which was due May 10th) and the playground committee will be discussing those results with the landscape architects next Thursday. It was noteworthy that many of the survey responses were close; no strong preferences emerged for particular equipment. They are hoping to have the plans finalized by the beginning of June and parents will be notified of the schematic updates before it proceeds. The playground inspector also came out this week and gave a preliminary inspection of our existing equipment and there is a chance that some of the equipment is still viable.

MCAS update – Kate reports that the teachers did a wonderful job supporting all the students during what can be a stressful time. The message throughout the school was that “we expect you to do your best, but not be stressed out”. The kids felt ready and the growth mindset curriculum was reinforced.

Teacher Representative’s report – Laura Ribiero:

The end of school year is feeling busy, yet teachers and students are feeling relieved that MCAS are mostly finished. End-of-year activities include field trips, field day, fundraisers and wrapping up the curriculum. Teachers are busy working on student placements for next year, as well as ordering their supplies. There is a sense of loss and sadness to say goodbye to their classes; but in the same way that teachers worked to build community and routines at the beginning of the year, they are also working to create closure for students.

During the recent flower sale, it was delightful to see the 5th graders show their emerging leadership skills while acting as “runners” to help shuttle younger kids between their classes and the plant sale.  

Thank you for teacher appreciation week! The highlight was “dessert day” (a buffet of homemade treats provided by one parent, Cathy Suarez!). A new thing they did this year instead of door decorating was “room service”, where teachers could pick from a few snack options that were delivered to them.

Laura asked the PTO if there is any specific information we want to know from her at these meetings? One parent commented that it has been really helpful to have a teacher representative at meetings to act as a liaison for coordinating enrichment activities organized by the PTO.

Another parent suggested that Laura email the teachers in advance of the meeting to ask if there is any information they want to pass on to parents.

Information session – Kate Leary:

Kate shared that there is an important vote on June 11th, for questions about the Arlington High School debt exclusion and operating override. See the website for FAQ.

If the AHS exclusion is voted against, we will likely lose state funding permanently which will mean that Arlington must shoulder the burden of renovation/rebuild alone and taxes will be even higher than if the exclusion is passed.

How does the operating override affect our schools? Typically the Arlington school governance only plans ahead one year in advance, but currently they have a 5 year plan to address staffing and cultural deficiencies if the override is approved. Some of these plans include adding more librarian/digital learning specialist positions, purchasing more curriculum materials and library books, adding computer science instruction at the middle schools, addressing gaps in special education programming, adding more social workers and counselors, increasing professional development and making APS salaries compatible with state averages. Many of these plans will not be funded or guaranteed if the override isn’t approved.

Debrief past events:

Green team (Earth week festivities)  – Martha Ingols:

Three successful events were held all within one day: a garden cleanup, vermiculture demo, and a seed planting activity. The town-wide textile recycling drive generated about 6 tons of textiles, with Hardy coming in second place (assessed by pounds per student). Four new trees were planted by the second graders and the tree warden. There are also some high school seniors coming at the end of the month to fulfil their volunteer requirements and they will help with garden cleanup/weeding.

We are also replacing the materials of some of the raised garden beds, costing approximately $600. The garden budget has about $450 left and will reset June 30th.

Teacher Appreciation week – Patsy O’Brien:

On Monday we gave out succulents, on Tuesday Cathy Suarez brought in a load of desserts, on Wednesday we provided lunch, on Thursday room service, and on Friday we had a Principal’s breakfast. Thanks for all our teachers and volunteers!

Upcoming Events:

Kindergarten Orientation/School tours – Terry Holt:

On Tuesday 5/28 from 1-3pm we need at least 4 volunteers. All of the incoming Kindergarten classes and their parents will be coming in for a visit. The kids do activities in the classrooms while the parents get a tour of the school and there is a PTO presentation. Last year it took place in two shifts but year it will be all in one shift. Terry will have floor plan maps, including everything you need to know. This is our big chance to recruit new families into the PTO.

Field Day (5/31) – Lisa Fuller:

Out of 76 volunteer slots, we only have 3 left to fill! Permission slips and lunch order forms are ready to go out. Supplies have been ordered, and we are within budget. T-shirts: orders keep coming in for spirit wear t-shirts, and there is box downstairs for t-shirt recycling.

Craft days for Fox festival parade (6/15) – Ellen Pfeiffer/Terry Holt:

The theme for Hardy is dolphins. Craft workshops will take place on Sunday June 9th at the Fox Library, Tuesday June 11 after school and during the Hardy picnic on Friday 14th . The parade is on Saturday June 15th and kids will be able to use the animals they made during the craft times for the parade.

Hardy Picnic (6/13, rain date 6/14) – Terry Holt:

This year we will be holding the event at Hardy school and families should bring their own food as there will be no food for sale, although Terry is trying to organize an ice cream truck.  Terry requested $2500 to cover dunk tank fees, table rentals etc. A motion was put forth to spend $2500 for the Hardy picnic and it passed unanimously.

There will be a suggested donation ($5 per family) to cover the rental fees.

PTO/School Council Elections:

The nominees are:

PTO president: Patsy O’Brien

VP of Fundraising: Kate Leary

Treasurer: Carrie McKinnon

Secretary: Lidija Bosnjak

School Council: Ginna Smith Reeder, Martha Ingols, Laura Swan, Ryan Jacobs and Tom Wilhelm.

Although all positions are uncontested, Terry will count the votes at the conclusion of this meeting. Thanks to everyone who volunteered!

In past years, school council consisted of 4 members, but it was decided that since we have 5 parents on the ballot, we will increase the team to 5 members. The only reason there were previously 4 members was that there had to be equal numbers of SC members and faculty. Kate Peretz has agreed to increase the faculty number to 5 members.

The next PTO meeting is June 4th.