Final Meeting Minutes December 5, 2017
HSA Presidents Virginia Marentette and Elisa O’Keefe called the meeting to order at 7:04 PM on December 7, 2017 in the media center of Murch Elementary School at Murch@UDC.
- Executive Board Members present: Virginia Marentette (Co-President), Elisa O’Keefe (Co-President), Ashley Webb (Co-Vice President), Joanna Brown (Co-Vice President), Chris Cebrzynski (Principal), Meredith Grindrod (Teacher Representative), Diane Beasley (Secretary), Sharon Bennett (Treasurer), Nisa Gosselink-Ulep (Asst. Treasurer), Maurice Werner (Budget and Planning), Jason Levin (Ways and Means), and Stephanie Owens (Personnel).
Other Members in Attendance: Christine LoCascio (SIT Representative).
- Approval of prior minutes – Diane Beasley
Diane presented the minutes for the November 7th meeting, which had been posted on BaseCamp for review on November 14th, and sought the Board’s approval of the minutes.
Diane made a motion that the Board ratify the previously posted minutes for the November 7th meeting as the official record of that meeting. Nisa seconded the motion, there was no objection, and the motion passed by unanimous voice vote.
- President’s Report – Virginia Marentette and Elisa O’Keefe
- Screenagers Movie Update. Elisa noted that the Screenagers movie screening went very well, with about 75 to 100 Murch parents and students in attendance. Based on the success of the screening and subsequent panel discussion, Elisa and Christine had talked about the potential of doing similar events on other topics, such as bullying, and asked that the Board reach out to them with other topics of interest.
- SOS Campaign Wrap-Up. Virginia stated that the official SOS campaign is wrapping up and that approximately $113K has been donated to date with 34% of families contributing. An email went out this week to families that have not donated and so far, the response to that email has been very good. There will also be another donation request to take advantage of end of tax year contributions.
- Staff Holiday Gifts. Elisa said that the HSA has started the school-wide gift collection for resource teachers, special educators, security guards, custodians, etc. Room parents have been sending out emails (although not all classrooms have been contacted), and a PayPal account has been set-up for the donations.
- Thank You/Tax Letters for In-Kind Donations. Elisa posted a template for a Thank You letter that can be modified for specific donations to BaseCamp.
- Stock Donations. Elisa and Joanna have been looking into the process for the HSA accepting stock donations, which would be immediately sold for cash. Wells Fargo has a mechanism for doing so, but there is some set-up required. Virginia noted that the ability to donate stock in lieu of cash could be very attractive for many families and that the HSA would need to delineate those benefits once this method of donation is rolled out. Discussion ensued regarding the level of effort and timing of setting up the stock donation capability. Sharon stated that she would work on setting up the mechanism through Wells Fargo sometime in the new year.
- Amending Articles of Incorporation. Virginia reminded the Board that we voted not to join the National PTA during the November 7th meeting and noted that the official name of the HSA includes a reference to a PTA. She said that Sue spoke with Peter Wolf about the processing of updating the HSA’s official name to remove this reference and he stated that a quorum vote is required to do so. Virginia recommended waiting until the election meeting in June to take the vote as a quorum is required for elections as well.
- Deal Principal Meeting with HSA. Elisa let the Board know that she and Virginia were contacted by Deal’s interim Principal, Ms. Neal, regarding her attending the February HSA meeting, although they did not know for what purpose. Mr. C stated that in past years, the Deal principal has met with 4th and 5th grade Murch parents to talk about Deal and the 6th grade experience. Mr. C took an action to contact Ms. Neal to talk about the purpose of the visit and work out the details.
- Principal’s Report – Mr. Cebrzynski
Mr. C talked about a recent decision the school made in conjunction with the HSA Budget and Planning Committee to roll the HSA-funded aides into the school budget for the 2018-19 year. This will free up a large portion of the HSA operating expenses as well as allow the school to take advantage of DCPS resources for the aides. Mr. C spoke with the aides about the decision and it was well received. The school will advertise aide positions and the HSA aides can apply for those positions and their years as HSA-funded aides will count towards DCPS experience. Both the Board and Mr. C expressed excitement regarding the use of the HSA funds that formerly went towards the classroom aides. Several potential options were floated, including using the funds to help with the transition to the new building, offering expanded after school enrichment activities led by the teachers, and bringing school-wide performances to the school since we will have a space that makes this possible. Both Mr. C and Virginia noted that the HSA budget for next year will ultimately be determined by the Budget and Planning Committee.
Discussion ensued regarding additional uses of the funds, whether there was a risk of losing the classroom aides by rolling them into the school budget, and the number and types of positions that would potentially be funded under the school budget. During the discussion Maurice note that one of the advantages of covering classroom aides under the HSA budget was that it gave families a tangible thing to grasp when the HSA solicits for donations, so the HSA will need to consider this from a communications standpoint.
- Treasurer’s Report
- Monthly Financials Summary. Sharon provided a summary of the monthly financials. She noted that the cash situation on the balance sheet is looking very good and talked about how she is working to clean up the liabilities section of the balance sheet to make it easier to read and understand (which Virginia thanked her for). As part of the clean-up, the “Hands on Science” line item was zeroed out, and she will be zeroing out the “Funds Held by School Request” as well. She noted that doing this will free up those funds to be spent elsewhere. Sharon said that no expenses for off-budget purchases (approved by the Board at the November 7th meeting) are included in the Income Statement yet, but that Nisa just made one such purchase and it will show up under the Operating Expenses section when it comes through.
- Paddles Up 2015. Sharon stated that in previous auctions, the Paddles Up donations were earmarked for specific issues, which limits how the funds can be used. The direction going forward is to not focus on one specific use, but leave the Paddles Up fund more open-ended. In 2015, the Paddles Up money was earmarked for science but two years later there is still approximately $10K left in the fund. She asked if the Board wanted to revert those funds or if Mr. C thinks that there is enough need and opportunity to use those funds as intended. Mr. C recalled having put in an order for science related supplies last year (3D printer, Makerspace kits, etc.) but noted that the order was never made, to which Nisa responded that she recalled that as well and that it may have come down to space issues at the temporary school location. Mr. C would like to talk to the science teachers about their needs and put together an order. He will work with Nisa to figure out the timing of the purchases. Elisa asked about the possibility of spending down the Paddles Up 2017 funds, which were marked for experiential learning, this school year and Meredith responded that she thinks this is doable and took an action to email the teachers reminding them of this opportunity for HSA funded field trips and the like.
- Off-Budget Purchasing Process. Nisa outlined the proposed process for making the off-budget purchases that were approved by the Board during the November 7th meeting. She stated that most of the purchases are anticipated to go through Amazon, so she is working with Mary to set up an Amazon wish list that the school can add to, through which Nisa would make the purchases.
- Budget and Planning Committee Update – Maurice Werner
Maurice did not have a committee update at this point, but said he would address some budget planning topics that came up during the December 5th LSAT meeting later in the evening.
- Communications Update
Amy was unable to attend the meeting, so Virginia presented the committee update Amy provided via email. The Screenagers attendance was very good, and the Communications team is working with Kirsten to get some related resources up on the website. The team is also promoting the Festival of Lights, starting work on the Auction website, and updating the Camp Registrations page on the Murch website.
- Ways and Means Update – Jason Levin
- Future Restaurant Nights. Jason is organizing a “Sip and Shop” event at Whole Foods in January/February and is planning a restaurant night at Italian Pizza Kitchen for the spring. He is also working with Van Ness Main Street to look for other fundraising opportunities with local businesses.
- Giant A+ Rewards. The Giant A+ Rewards program applies to Giant stores in DC-MD-VA, as well as Delaware. Enrollment is up to 55 families and Jason will post the totals for last month on BaseCamp once he receives the numbers (around December 10th). He also had Giant order flyers to provide information on the rewards program, which will be put in Friday Folders.
- Professional Sports Days. Jason is working with DC United to set up a couple sports days (late spring and early fall) and potentially a clinic. He is also contacting women’s soccer teams in order to be more inclusive.
- New Business
- Avalon Movie Screening (Ashley Webb). The Murch HSA will present a screening of the movie “Sing” at the Avalon Theatre on January 20th from 10am-12:30pm. Ashley is working on getting a contract in place with the Avalon and will reach out to the Communications team to promote the event.
- Old Business
- SIT Update (Christine LoCascio). Christine reported that the design for the 1-5 playground was sent to the Grounds committee a few days ago. The committee will review the design and compile a response with comments and suggestions. The design for the early childhood playground has been finalized and has been posted to the Murch website. Christine remarked that the ground surfacing will use a synthetic material (not the recycled tire material used at Janney) since the Janney surface recently failed a shock absorption test. Finally, she talked about artwork at the new building, noting that $150K has been allocated for this and that multiple local and national artists will be submitting applications by the December 31st deadline. Semi-finalists will be announced on January 13th. On a related note, Virginia mentioned that a former Murch parent offered to donate a bejeweled Panda statue to be displayed in the school, but Mr. C stated that the school will likely decline the offer as there are some complications involved with accepting and moving the statue in.
- LSAT Update (Maurice Werner). Maurice attended the December 5th LSAT meeting, held just prior to this HSA meeting. He briefed the board on the discussion points which largely focused on the school’s budget process for next year and how to increase transparency into that process. Ultimately, the LSAT decided to create a mechanism to get feedback from families on what they would like Murch to provide to their children (e.g. increased technology use, more art or science time, etc.). The LSAT is working options to solicit this feedback from families through carefully crafted questions that would be sent out through a number of potential sources (room parents, “homework” sent with children, online forms) in order to gain an understanding of the general needs and values of the Murch community. For the community feedback to impact the school budget, Mr. C will need the responses by the end of January, so the LSAT plans to send questions out to families by mid-January. The LSAT would like the HSA to assist with getting the feedback mechanism promoted through the Murch website and newsletters, and Virginia and Elisa said the HSA can definitely help with that and for Maurice to reach out to them when the LSAT is ready. Discussion ensured regarding the types of questions that would be submitted and expected responses, whether this type of feedback would be solicited each year, and how the polling process would work. Mr. C noted that the ultimate goal is to find out the general values of the Murch community and determine if there are some needs/desires that can be achieved by the school and are still in line with the Chancellor’s strategic plan.
- Brick Sales (Ashley Webb). Ashley asked Virginia and Elisa when the best two-week period would be to solicit additional brick sales from Murch families. Virginia stated that since the official SOS campaign is about to conclude, she can kick-off sales next week. Ashley noted that Elizabeth Mettler has been working with her team to set up an online form for the brick inscriptions, and that she will be sending out reminder emails for those that have already purchased bricks to submit their inscriptions.
Virginia and Elisa adjourned the meeting at 8:17 PM.