PTA Meeting Minutes 10/16/2017

We met at 9 am 10/16 in the library.  Attendance: Wendy Byrne, Martha Kurland, Craig Sandler, Jennifer dos Santos, Asst. Principal Liz Sharp, Teacher Lonamae Shand, Principal Jennifer Turner, Teacher Joanna Schlegel, Kate Murphy, Viki Deardorff, Karen Griffiths, Miranda Clarke, Alix Fox, Marie-Tristan Rago. Yumio Saneyoshi

 

Thank yous were received for the Hospitality Committee/PTA’s contributions to the 6th Grade Social and for the coffee machine.

 

Principal Turner gave her report:

 

--Back to School nights were a success.  JT is continuing to get feedback from participants but signs are good.  Logistics (i.e. parking) went great.  Breaking the event into two nights seemed to help.   And the kids were helpful too, serving as sherpas as parents explored the building and found their way around.  The question was raised as to whether 10 minutes per teacher can be extended, but JT said it’s a contractual consideration and there’s really no good way to extend each parent’s allotment.

 

--Parent conferences are coming up.  They’ll be booked via the usual Signup Genius process.  JT said bells will be rung to signal the end of each conference, which might be problematic, but we will see.  She asked board members to spread the word that parents need to sign up for conferences with t their kids’ off-team teachers separately- some parents expect to see those teachers at their P/T conference, but that’s not how it works.  And JT asked us to share that the conferences shouldn’t be thought of as compartmentalized conversation - given the short time, parents should go in for a comprehensive, group conversation with all four teachers jointly.

 

--D.C. meeting is coming up.  Fundraiser is being modified to raise more funds.  Scholarships, then cost reduction.  Helps with kids who can’t afford it.  Fundraising for trip will begin in the 6th grade, which will help because the costs of the trip are higher than in the past.   The school is not allowed to hold money - PTA does it.  Cookie dough and tumblers

 

--There’s a PTA Coffee with the Principal on 10/20.  Staff of the counseling department will be on hand to talk about their work with students.

 

--Construction is moving along.  One wing is closed for HVAC installation; when that’s open, a new and much-anticipated teacher workroom will open as well.   And a new art room will go online… focused on digital art.  Other renovations are happening in the art spaces.

 

--The Youth Risk Behavior Survey executive summary is available.  The YRBS went well, and JT will present findings to staff 10/30.  Stress, self-harm, suicide ideation continue to be concerns.  In other areas, JT feels the school and system are doing well, with programs like the DRUM initiative.  Various experts on resiliency, tolerance, problem solving and related issues are meeting and working with staff.  Counseling staff keeps data on kids who come to them for help.


 

Alix Fox gave the Directory Update: We now have 487 memberships, and they’ve generated approximately $30,000  Print directories are on the verge of going out.  Kudos to Marianne Slight for shepherding the print directory through proofing, printing and distribution!

 

Joanna reported a simple message from the teachers for the dinner the PTO provided at Curriculum Night: thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

There was no formal treasurer’s report, but Karen did say we are ahead of our revenue goal from donations.

 

Marie-Tristan expressed some concern she’s heard from parents forced to use the overflow area during 8th-grade graduation.  Other meeting attendees said feedback from Clarke about the same system was good, and that the overflow arrangement is better than having nothing.

 

Kimberly Blakemore of the Foundation for Metrowest gave a presentation about the new-to-Lexington Youth in Philanthropy Program, a 15 week program in the middle and high schools designed to help kids understand the needs of their community and opportunities to help meet those needs.  There’s space for 20 kids, and Kimberly asked for our help spreading the word.  The YIP will meet from 7-8 once a week at the Community Center.  Kids will get the chance to distribute $10,000 to local non-profits.

 

SHAC Update: Martha is our liaison to the Student Health Advisory Committee, which meets four times a year.  And our PTO will need a new liason next year, because Martha’s kids are ageing out of Diamond.  The YRBS was a major topic at the last meeting, Martha said.  The committee is helping to support a NARCAN training Nov. 13.  At the special town meeting this week, it’s expected that TM will vote on an opt-out of recreational retail marijuana sales in Lexington.  While the committee can take no formal stand on such sales, Martha noted Lexington voted no during the legalization referendum last year, and is encouraging residents to email town officials to make their opinions known.   Anyone wishing to speak at TM should contact Deborah Brown, town moderator.  The committee is seeking a new date for a forum on substance abuse prevention education for parents

 

Stoplight petition: Discussion turned to the presentation we heard about a petition for a traffic light at Adams and Hathaway Streets.  Can PTA endorse this petition, or similar?  Karen noted there is no policy in our bylaws or Mass. PTA’s on taking formal positions on such community campaigns.  Board members expressed a sentiment that it’s best not to take a formal position on a matter on which residents appear to hold differing, valid points of view. The board decided that we are comfortable publicizing the petition in the weekly newsletter, but we will not take a vote on whether to sign the petition as a board.

 

Dates for the next “Going to LHS” event have tentatively been set as Feb. 26 and Feb. 28.

 

The PTA is seeking a rerun of “Screenagers,” perhaps April 3 at LHS.

 

Social events: The Hospitality Committee is working on some plans for parent get-togethers.  

 

PPC Update:

 

  --Debt exclusion - KG pitched endorsement and donations - from individuals

  --Coffees on “How to Raise an Adult” are ongoing

  --A community forum on school start time is scheduled for Nov. 15 at Cary Hall

  --SC hearings:Equity and funding for Int’l Field trips - 10/26...11/7 HW policy

 

Wendy Byrne appeared before the board to gauge interest in a computer programming class she’s running in Winchester.  She emphasizes programming in “real” languages, specifically PYTHON and from that to Java.  It’s gone well.  Karen pointed it that it’s very difficult to organize such outside programs as school-based, and the recreation center would probably be the best place for Wendy to turn.  

 

Mona submitted her town/SEPAC update via email:

 

Community Coalition (https://www.facebook.com/lexcoalition/) welcome coffee is this Wednesday morning only (due to town meeting conflict in the evening).  Please spread the word.  Hoping that PTAs will particularly promote.  

 

School Committee Mtg.

Replacement for Dr C — Eileen Jay and Kate are on the search committee and have been told to cast a wide net for candidates —

LHS graduation requirements — still in discussion as to whether it will be done with a working group with various stakeholders in it or if SC (via policy subgroup or curriculum comm — also still being discussed ) will first do some research and then present it and ask for feedback — Goal is to have that resolved by December of 2017

#1 priority — YES campaign

 

Lexington Human Rights Committee — working on survey about the disparity of suspension rates for African American students and special education students  vs other students  (http://www.schooldisciplinedata.org/ccrr/docs/suspended-education-web-032317.pdf).  I think it is something like over 3x for SPED students and over 4x for AA students as opposed to white students — this is Lexington’s own data.  

 

SEPAC — October is Dyslexia awareness month and was marked with a movie at LHS, monthly meetings posted on https://lexsepta.org.  

 

We adjourned at 10:07 am to meet again Nov. 20 at 9 am in the Library.