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October 3rd, 2017 in the school library
President: Terry Holt
Treasurers: Hemant Verma and Aletta Tibbetts
Secretaries: Rebecca Saff and Roslyn Fitzgerald
VPs of Fundraising: Kate Leary and Patsy O’Brien
VP of Committees: Volunteer! – Open Position
Principal’s report – Kristin DeFrancisco
Kristin introduced the PTO to the newly elected school council members, who will be responsible for advocating and meeting over the course of the new classroom additions/renovations. They met with the architects to review what the new classrooms will look like, locker placement, ensuring new exterior will match existing one, ensuring construction site is safe for entry/exit, logistics of construction vehicles, and discussing the new playground. The architects and council are trying to cohesively coordinate all aspects to ensure that the best possible job is done. The school council would like to conduct parent surveys in the near future to obtain input from parents about the renovation.
Kristin also noted that there will be a new electronic copy of “Just the way we do things” school handbook, and that teachers are participating in cultural competency trainings (eg. Being aware of what we bring from our own cultures and what lens we look at the kids through). Kristin would also like to continue with her initiative from last year – Parent Coffee mornings where she answers questions from parents, and she will be reaching out to parents to ask about what topics they may like to hear about.
Back-to-School night open house was very well attended, and good feedback was received from parents. One particular question was about the new fencing on the Lake Street side – some parents would like to decorate it to make it look better, which Kristin will address during her next email to parents. She will also be including a timeline for the classroom build construction in her next email to parents.
Another question asked during the PTO meeting: is there a set of emails that we should be getting? It was noted that not everyone is getting Kristin’s emails.
Answer: You have to sign up to the Hardy public list on the Arlington public school website – http://public.arlington.k12.ma.us/mailman/listinfo. Not all new parents know this, so room parents are actively reaching out to try and inform all parents in their classes. Some people are assuming that their email will automatically be included on lists but this is not the case. Another website to sign up for school newsletters and PTO updates is Hardyschool.com.
At the bottom left corner is a button to click, “Stay informed” where you can sign up for email lists.
Main playground update (Chandler Street): For the very first time, Jon Marshall (Director of Arlington Parks and Recreation) came out to assess the playground and decided that the maintenance of the playground will be performed by the town, probably using some school monies. Some new parts have been ordered and will be installed in a timely manner so that further deterioration of the structure doesn’t occur. Extra wood chips have also been ordered.
Teachers’ report – Julie Harrington (4th grade)
The transition to the new school year continues to go well. By now, students and teachers are well underway into their curriculum.
Treasurer’s report – Hemant Verma
Cash inflow – $30, 767.27
Cash outflow – $12, 268. 12
Old Business – Terry Holt
Library funding increase – Margaret Muirhead:
Margaret Muirhead (school librarian) is requesting an annual increase to replenish broken books, which follows the suggested recommendation of replacing 1 book per student per year (approx. 400). The library receives no funding through the public school system and is solely funded by the PTO. In past years the budget has been $2000 annually. Ms. Muirhead is requesting an annual increase to $3000. From researching how the funds are used, it seems a reasonable request, especially in light of the fact that she sources many of her books secondhand from the Book Rack in Arlington, or purchases them from a supplier at a 40% discount. In the last 6 years, there has been an increase from 315 to 459 students and so there is more demand for books. It is important to note that Hardy families can also sign over any credits they have at the Book Rack in Arlington for use by the library, or if families donate books that can’t be used by the library then Ms. Muirhead can use them for credit at the Bookrack. Hardcovers are preferred.
The motion to increase library funding was unanimously passed.
New business – Terry Holt
Teacher support committee update – The PTO needs to decide what we can do for our new teachers. There have been inconsistencies where some new teachers apply for a $250 grant to purchase supplies for their new classrooms while others don’t know about it. There is also something called the “Red Backpack” initiative, which is a red backpack that new teachers are given which they can take on field trips to carry epipens, first aid kids etc. Again, some teachers know about it and others don’t.
We need to have an official policy in writing, so that all teachers know about the grant and the application process, especially since we’ll be hiring a bunch of new teachers with the new classroom additions.
Some questions that were raised about the new teacher grant: Would this grant apply if a teacher new to the school was taking on a classroom that was already set up by a former teacher? Would someone be considered a “new” teacher if they weren’t new to the school, but transferring to a new grade? Please be thinking about this and we will take a vote in November about writing an official policy.
In the meantime, a motion was put forward to approve both a $250 new teacher grant and a red backpack for three new Hardy teachers this year: Ms Dulong, Mr McCormick and Ms Merson. The motion was passed by most.
Arlington Education Foundation and Arlington EATS Updates – Kate Leary
AEC is a non-profit which funds grants for schools, and Kate Leary is the Hardy rep. They fund a lot of new initiatives in the Arlington school system, such as curriculum grant to the Gibbs school, and innovation grants (continuing scholar’s awards). Their goal is to support innovative and creative projects. So far, 100% of current funding requests have been granted, which is a good reason to make sure people are aware of the program and submitting grants for any ideas they have. Parents and teachers can collaborate on ideas to write a grant. The deadline to apply for a grant is Nov 15th – if interested, email Kate Leary email@example.com.
EATS – 4 or 5 year old program started by a Thompson parent to help kids in food-insecure homes. They hold weekly community dinners at Thompson and are looking to expand the program. Everyone is welcome. They currently provide snacks at the Hardy school for anyone who wants them (stored in the nurse’s office). Other Arlington elementary schools have more student/parent involvement in preparing and distributing food and EATS wants to move towards a parent run donation program/food drive that parents can contribute rather than EATS paying for snacks. Kate Leary and Ann Chhabra will be the parent liaisons for Hardy. Backpack mail will go out to let paren
Committee Updates – Terry Holt
Sports and Action Committee – Walk to school day is Oct 4th..
Spirit Committee – Harvest Fest update – Moya Charig
Harvest Fest is October 14th, 1-4pm. Hardy school fills the front yard with pumpkins and sells donuts, cider, flowers, etc. It is more for community building than for profit. We need ideas for this year because with the new fence out the front on Lake Street, people from the street can’t see into the yard as they are walking by. Looking for people who can create artwork/poster to advertise the event. Aimee Miller will find out who can help with this and we still need volunteers to help run the event.
Link in signup genius – http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0f4fafa82aa0ff2-5thannual.
We will also put on Hardy facebook page and in the newsletter. We still need volunteers to help on Friday afternoon to help up set up tables. Rain or shine event.
Fundraising – Direct Donor Drive – Kate Leary & Patsy O’Brien
Backpack mail to go out tomorrow, advertising the annual PTO donation request. We spend about $100 per student using PTO funds each year, which pays for field trips, enrichment events, library and technology supplies and many other things which aren’t covered by public school funding. Kate and Patsy will be sending weekly updates and backpack mail with how we’re doing towards meeting our funding goals. Volunteers will also be out on the playground at various times with card readers for parents who want to use their credit card to donate.
There was also a question about getting funding for bulletin boards, etc for publicizing funding updates, especially in the school lobby.
Other future fundraising events are:
– Nov 9th – Helena’s clothing store, which donates a portion of their sales back to Hardy from sales made during the event.
– Restaurant partnerships to be announced (eg. eat at restaurant, Hardy gets %)
Harvest Fest Oct 14 – Look for updates and Sign Up genius to volunteer
PTO is still taking nominations for VP of Committees through the end of October. Vote will be at the November meeting. If interested, please send Terry Holt an email – Hardyptopresident@gmail.com
SEPAC Meetings (special education parent advisory committee). SEPAC is a non-profit organization which tries to guide special education in Arlington schools. Currently, the Hardy presence at SEPAC is minimal and we are trying to increase participation. Future meetings include: Oct 10th 7-8pm at Ottoson media center and Nov 14 8:30-9:30am at Jefferson cutter house.
School committee Meeting on Oct 12 from 6:30pm-10pm at Arlington High, School Committee Room, 6th floor.
The NOVEMBER PTO meeting will be Tuesday Nov. 7, 6:30pm in the library.