West Towson Elementary School PTA Meeting

February 23, 2016

WTES Library, 7:00 p.m.

In attendance: Holly Henson, Jacqueline Piercey, Stefanie Weir, Cynthia Boyd, Monica Leigh, Mary Beth Lovas, Karma Quinn, Lori Preston, Erin Cheikh, Samantha Apel, Lynn Crooks, Sue Hershfeld, Theresa Bassett, Aline Lin, Stephanie Hemm, Jennifer Stokes-Reichert, Pam Chen, Hilary Roxe (18)

President’s Report (Hilary Roxe):

  1. The PTA bylaws need to be passed. Last year we discussed getting more specific roles defined, but this topic dropped and we’ve left it more open to interpretation. If there are any suggestions for changes, please let Hilary know.
  2. Question – Is the 2-year term limit standard from the state PTA, or can it be shorter? Answer – It can be specified to our needs for our school as we see fit. Perhaps we can have the next “President in training” on board before the sitting President leaves, to minimize the learning curve.
  3. The bylaws will be posted and need to be agreed upon within 30 days.
  4. There is a Nomination Committee to replace the current Board, which Melissa Johnson is running. The committee needs more people to discuss nominees, Board needs, and goals. Please volunteer to help out!
  5. All is going well with the budget.
  6. There is a program being hosted by the school on 3/15/16 at 7:00pm called “Innocence Stolen: Protecting Our Kids Online”

Principal’s Report (Sue Hershfeld):

  1. Here’s the latest on our school calendar – 8 days have been lost due to snow, now we’re counting hours. During the April Board meeting, the Superintendent can appeal some days based on the state of emergency, so we’ll know more then.
  2. The last day of school will be the day for the 5th grade farewell celebration – stay tuned for changes.
  3. We received our PARC assessment scores. Overall we’re pleased, although we thought we would have done better in math. Overall we’re on par with other high performing schools in Baltimore County. We also thought the writing scores would have been stronger. We’re analyzing the scores to see what improvements can be made to our instructional programs.
  4. Question – Has Mrs. Hershfeld talked to other principals about their experiences? Answer – Yes, they are sharing best practices and ideas.
  5. An update on staffing for next year. We have been approved for an additional Kindergarten teacher, so we’re projecting 78 students with four teachers.
  6. For grades 1 & 2, we have seven teachers for 155 students. We’re going to be taking a closer look at this and creating a plan that works for them.
  7. For grades 3-5, we currently have 10.4 teachers, which is not enough – we need at least 11 teachers, so we’ll be applying for .6 more teachers.
  8. We will be losing our Behavioral Intervention Specialist, but no other positions.
  9. We will get another ½ day of special area time.
  10. Later this month, teachers will be meeting to talk about placement for next year.
  11. A letter will be going home from Mrs. Wachs with updates on student guided reading levels. There has been lots of growth since last time, kids have been very motivated to build their skills.
  12. Save the date of 4/28 for Kindergarten registration.
  13. Our Black Saga team tied for 4th place county wide – congratulations!
  14. Mrs. Lansinger is on medical leave for an emergency hip replacement. Mrs. Gaddy is subbing for her.
  15. Dr. Dance’s contract has been renewed. His budget still includes computers, although we may not be able to have one per each child as planned for Kindergarten – we may set up stations for sharing instead.
  16. Associate Principals have been here Jan / Feb and it’s been a great learning experience for all. Mrs. Hoffmaster is still on her Principal internship at Essex Elementary.
  17. An update on where last year’s Westy’s Walk money is being spent – a contractor came to the school to measure for safety blinds for the door windows in the classrooms. We’re looking for blackout blinds that are very easy & quick to pull down. We’ll start with the 21 classroom doors, then move to the other room doors. Money was also used for new batteries for older laptops.

Teacher Report (Lynn Crooks):

  • Thanks to the PTA, the most recent Cultural Arts assembly was great! Brandon Lee White, of Youth Movers, talked about taking risks, doing things that might be scary. It was very impactful.
  • There is a whole committee now for Cultural Arts – including Mr. Malefsky, Mrs. Donovan, Ms. Jewel, and of course Mrs. Osborn and Mrs. Hershfeld. They would love more people to get involved, and their next meeting will be held on Monday 2/29 at 4:00.

Wellness Committee (Samantha Apel):

  • The committee has been talking about changing the format of Westy Wellness night – the old format has seen decreased attendance and participation. They are looking to do something in April, and are considering a night at Rockin’ Jump that would include activities for the kids as well as for the parents. The current price quoted is too high, but they’ll go back and see if they can get a better rate

Social Committee (Erin Cheikh):

  • The committee is considering moving movie night to the spring and holding it outside. They are also considering another winter event, possibly roller skating or ice skating. The above Wellness event may overlap a bit with Social, so they’ll work together if needed.

Hospitality Committee:

  • Teacher appreciation week will be the week of May 2-6, with their lunch on 5/4. This year we went back to the all-in-one-week format instead of spreading out through the year, but we are open to other things. Suggestion – make May teacher appreciation month and do something every week.
  • Suggestion – do something for Mrs. Vanderwal during Nurses Week, which is the same week. Jenn Stokes-Reichert will connect with room parent coordinator Pam Coleman to discuss ideas.

Generations Day:

  • The event will be held on Friday 3/18 from 9:30 – 11:15. There will be a photo booth, coffee station, and an assembly, as well as the book fair. Suggestion – do some sort of rotation to make the crowds more manageable.

School Kits (Theresa Bassett):

  • This year the service will be completely online. The committee is working with teachers to get updated class supply lists. Suggestion – can we add a surcharge to each order to fund something for the school? Theresa will look into this. Suggestion – we need to streamline the delivery system.

5th Grade Pool Party:

  • This event needs organizers from 5th grade parents!

Yearbook Committee (Aline Lin):

  • The committee is putting out a request for photos, which can be uploaded online. Order forms will be coming out soon. There is a slight price increase, from $20 to $21, which will allow 16 more pages to be added. Ms. Jewel & all of the students have collaborated to do an amazing cover this year.

Environmental Committee (Monica Leigh):

  • Our next clothing drive will be on April 30th from 10am – 2pm.

Westy’s Walk (Holly Henson):

  • This year’s walk will be held on Sunday 5/1, and our fundraising goals are for books to support the guided reading levels, arts programs, and enrichment programs.
  • Just a reminder that the Walk is not a PTA sponsored event – it operates separately with the School Improvement Committee, and all of the money raised goes into a fund with the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Schools.

New Business:

  • Karma Quinn shared articles that adding recess time to the day significantly improves student performance and mindset. There was discussion about breaking recess into two sections instead of one. Mrs. Hershfeld shared that BCPS gives us guidelines required for instructional time for subjects. This could be pursued further with the County Board of Education.