BEN W. MURCH HOME & SCHOOL ASSOCIATION/PTA, INC.
Meeting Minutes December 8, 2015
Co-President Martha McIntosh called the meeting to order at 7:04 pm on December 8, 2015 in the library of Murch Elementary School.
1. Executive Board Members present: Martha McIntosh (co-President), Maggie Gumbinner (co-President), Brendan Holland (Secretary), Alicia Garfinkel (Teacher Representative), Chris Cebrzynski (Principal), Ron Eckstein (VP), Patty See (Communications Chair), Karissa Kovner (past HSA president), Lisa Stone (Budget Chair), Jennifer Landry-Jackson (Ways and Means Chair), JoAnna Graham (Treasurer), Sharon Bennett (Asst. Treasurer), and Garrett Fletcher (Asst. Treasurer).
2. Approval of prior minutes – Brendan Holland
Approval of the November minutes was tabled until the January meeting. Ratification of the minutes from the November 10, 2015 meeting was postponed until the January HSA board meeting so that belated edits to the November minutes could be incorporated and considered by the board members in advance of ratification.
3. Principal’s Report – Chris Cebrzynski
a. PARCC Results. Mr. C. reported on the results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) tests. According to Mr. C., the test results show that Murch students scored better than 92% of DCPS elementary schools in ELA, and better than 95% of DCPS elementary schools in Math. Mr. C. explained that the PARCC test is based on a five point scale, with a 4 or 5 equating to on track for college level work, a 3 equating to average, and a 2 and below indicating unprepared for college. Mr. C. noted that the PARCC results were higher than Murch’s results on the previous test, the 2013-2014 DC CAS, and the results indicate that our students are keeping up, which is great.
Discussion ensued regarding the fact that some schools, particularly charter schools, may include a “3” score as a positive result, making their results seem higher. So there may be a few differences in the way PARCC results are tallied and presented. Mr. C. intends to put something out with more info on the test and results, perhaps a summary an upcoming newsletter or a report home to parents. It is expected that the scores will go out to parents via mail by Jan. 4th.
Martha recently attended a meeting of the Ward 3-Wilson Feeder Education Network (W3EdNet), which also discussed PARCC results. Martha noted two interesting issues from the W3EdNet meeting. First, that the achievement gap appears larger under the PARCC than under the DC CAS, raising a question as to whether the gap has changed, or if the test is perhaps measuring differently. Discussion is apparently ongoing in the DCPS community to figure out differences in scoring and the fact that the testing may result in more nuanced information at the top of the range, but may not do as well at showing variation at the bottom. There is some question as to how to show growth at the lower end of the spectrum, among those who scored 1s and 2s. Martha also noted that there seemed to be a lot of focus on the numbers, but that there appeared to be a larger issue that, according to the testing, some of the high schools would appear to not have a single college-ready student, which can’t be quite right.
Mr. C. noted the primary focus in looking at the test results is to measure growth, so the focus is on getting students up to a 3 or better. Mr. C. noted that one issue that has come up in reviewing tests and testing methods is that some schools (such as Janney and Mann) spend additional time on typing skills and working with computer tools, and their scores are higher. Interested to see if there is a correlation between the two, and whether that indicates that Murch should spend some additional time on how to take the test, and not just the subjects. But of course it is always a challenge to balance “how-to” take the test with teaching the actual subject matter.
b. Budget Process. Mr. C. and Leslie Scott (from the LSAT) met with the Chancellor’s team, which presented a timeline for budgeting. Mr. C. reported that the budget process is almost a month this time instead of a week, which is very helpful. He noted that they are going into the process without the total number of students, but they are projecting the same number as this year, if not more based on our enrollment. Need to give projections by this Friday (Dec. 11), which is before we will know where we will be with respect to the renovation. DCPS has targeted 619 students, which Mr. C thinks is close, but should actually be slightly lower. DCPS advocated for ten lottery slots for Grade 2 and lower, which he wants to push to zero. Mr. C. thinks a realistic goal is around 600 students. Mr. C. reports that the budgeting is a large task, and that much work remains once they have final enrollment numbers, but this time they are working on a two-year budget plan rather than just one year. Mr. C. reported that there is great, in-depth, and on-going discussion going with the LSAT staffing and budget. Mr. C. suggests reading the minutes from the recent LSAT minutes for more specific information. One of the big challenges for the next two years is having sufficient flexibility because there are few, if any, useful examples to guide/compare what happens to enrollment when a school moves its campus or undertakes a renovation like Murch is facing.
4. Presidents’ Report – Maggie Gumbinner and Martha McIntosh
a. Auction Update. Maggie provided an update on the Spring Auction. The Auction is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2016, and Courtney Carlson, Virginia Marentette, and Jill Shallett are the three co-chairs. The theme is “Blue Jeans and Bling”, and it will again be at the Washington Hebrew Congregation on Macomb St. Maggie reported there will be a few notable changes this year, particularly that bidding will be electronic, resulting in fewer items on tables, and easier/better bidding. The co-chairs’ idea is make things simpler, requiring less work, in part to reduce the burden on auction chairs (both current and future) and to make the event more enjoyable. The intention is to continue to have a third-party outfit, C2 Auctions, which specializes in running such auctions, give us tips on best practices. Given the change to electronic bidding and other tweaks, some things may not be as successful as others, which may result in a shortfall in revenue, but in the long run, it is anticipated that the changes will be beneficial. Another change this year will be no paper catalog. Instead, you’ll be able to make a wishlist online, which can then be accessed by smart phone. The bidding software will also allow bidding by phone, and to set max bids and receive alerts when you’ve been outbid. More information to come before the auction.
b. Book Fair Review. Martha reported on the Book Fair and thanked Kristen Fletcher and April Richards for their hard work. The revenue from the Book Fair had dipped last year, and this year they reduced the hours but upped the fun with pizza sale and bake sale, and by moving a “coffee on the bluetop” indoors to the Book Fair on the second day. The results look to be successful, as the revenue is back up the 2013 level. Gross revenue from this year’s Fair is estimated to be $7,300, which is over $2,000 more than last year, and was achieved in a shorter period of time. The Fair resulted in net proceeds of about $1,500, which does not include the proceeds from the pizza sales. Martha expressed the Board’s thanks to Kristen and April for their efforts. Alicia noted that the teacher wish lists worked better than last year, and could perhaps be improved further by using a bag for each teacher with a list attached to keep things organized. Alicia also suggested perhaps providing more time for teachers to come pick out books before hand.
c. Talent Show update. Martha reported that a meeting for those interested in the Talent Show was being held after school on December 9th. The Talent Show will be 6 pm Friday, Feb 5th, and Brendan Canty is organizing.
d. Restaurant nights. Jennifer Landry-Jackson reported that Murch made $400 in proceeds from the restaurant night at Pete’s Apizza, and that there will be another restaurant night in December. December’s will be on Monday, Dec. 21st at Macon Bistro, and the Bistro will donate 10% proceeds for the night regardless of whether or not the diner specifically says they’re from Murch. Others are in the works, including hopefully one with Potomac Pizza for February.
e. Murch Spring 5k. Martha reported that it is still in the planning stages, but that we are planning on having a Murch 5k fun run in the spring, probably in late March or April. More information to come; start training now.
f. LSAT Update. Manolis Priniotakis sent an LSAT update, which Martha delivered. The most notable update – beyond the ongoing work related to the budget that Mr. C. noted – is that the LSAT selected a community representative. The new community rep is a former Murch parent, Richard Nugent, who was quite active in the Murch community when he had children at the school.
5. Treasurer’s Report- JoAnna Graham
JoAnna provided a monthly report on the HSA’s financials. [See handout materials.] JoAnna reported that SOS revenue continues to come in, including $21,000 received in November, bringing the campaign’s total to approximately $68,000 in hand, with another $20,000 in pledges, bringing the projected total to $88,000 as of now. With respect to the HSA’s expenditures, the largest recent expenditures – besides ongoing salaries – was for teacher grants totaling approximately $5,800. Lisa asked if there was more info on teacher grant data. Martha noted that she did not have all the numbers immediately available, but will provide more information for the January meeting. Also noted that there will be another round of grants in January.
Alicia suggested giving the teachers a timeline and explanation so they know the timing and steps. Martha also noted they are discussing ways to streamline the purchasing process. A brief discussion ensued about why there two rounds of funding, with the answer being that this year the HSA has made more money available for teacher grants, and having a round of grants in the spring in addition to the fall allows for those grants that got rejected in the fall (e.g., for lack of sufficient detail) to reapply, and also for teachers who realize they missed something and need additional materials.
6. Personnel Report – Chris Cebrzynski
Mr. C. reported that the school is hiring an aide. After interviewing a few candidates they had identified a main choice, but the candidate wanted to use the position as their student teaching and also get paid. It’s not the school’s policy to pay someone to do student teaching, so another candidate will be selected. The second candidate is presently coaching and such, and Mr. C. is evaluating where they will fit best within the school.
7. Old Business.
a. Holiday Tree Mulching and proposal to set up sports uniform fund. Discussion continued on the issue of using the proceeds from the Christmas recycling to establish a fund for sports uniforms for basketball, cross country, and track, which was raised at the last meeting. Martha noted she had posted more information following last month’s discussion online. The reason this issue came up was that basketball doesn’t have a present need for uniforms right now, but will in the future. So the question was how to organize the uniform purchasing and whether we can still legitimately ask the basketball teams to handle the mulching fundraiser if they don’t have an immediate need.
Discussion focused on the approach to the issue, and whether it was preferable to create a reserve fund dedicated specifically to team uniforms, or alternatively, whether uniforms should be budgeted as a regular expenditure in future budgets. And, further, if the expenditure was just a general line item, could we still in good faith request/require the basketball teams (or all sports teams) to assist with the holiday tree mulching fund raiser if it is not specifically allocated to fund uniforms or team expenditures. Some members noted a reluctance to request that specific teams lead the fund raiser if there is not an explicit link to a benefit for the team(s) involved. It was noted that the mulching event previously was a “green scene” activity and just a general fundraiser.
Discussion continued regarding the fact that the need for uniforms and team-related expenditures is not consistent year to year, but given that it is a reoccurring issue, the thought was to streamline the process and establish a ready source of funding. It was noted basketball previously had more significant expenditures, and the tree mulching fundraiser was used primarily by the basketball team to fund their activities, but the basketball expenditures have lessened in recent years. The Board generally agreed that the activity was a good fundraising and community building activity, regardless of the amount of money it raised.
Several different approaches for funding the irregular need for uniforms were discussed, including buying uniforms for different teams on an alternating cycle, using money from the DCPS budget to pay for uniforms, or changing the activity to a pure community service event. It was further discussed that the needs of the sports teams, for uniforms or anything else, have typically been addressed by the HSA on an as-needed basis.
Ultimately, the motion to create a specific, set-aside fund to facilitate the purchase of team uniforms was tabled, with the end result that the basketball teams will again be asked to lead the holiday tree mulching event with the money raised going into HSA miscellaneous fundraising.
b. Facilitating staff gifts. Discussion continued on the issue raised at the November meeting regarding whether it would be possible and/or advisable to set up a PayPal account for collecting holiday gifts for staff, including resource staff and others besides classroom teachers. Given the upcoming winter break and desire by many to give gifts at the holidays, the intention was to act quickly if there was a decision about whether and how to facilitate such a collection by parents.
The discussion noted that what is being proposed is not an HSA action, but rather a mechanism to facilitate the collection of gifts by room parent. The discussion also noted the collection of staff gifts would continue to be organized by classroom parents and the room parents and any messaging related to gift giving would be careful that it not appear to be a solicitation by the HSA. Discussion continued about the possible mechanism that could be set up via PayPal.
Karrissa made a motion that as a service to the parent community, the Board agree to facilitate the voluntary contributions to resource teachers and non-teaching staff through the establishment of a financial mechanism for holiday and end-of-year gifts. The motion is contingent upon this financial mechanism being separate and distinct in all aspects from the HSA funds. Garrett seconded the motion, and there was no further discussion. The motion passed unanimously.
9. New Business
a. Spring Musical. Lisa Stone reported on the upcoming Spring musical. The parent who directed last year’s musical no longer has a student at Murch and is taking a break from musical productions. The HSA has sought input for a new director, but currently have only one strong lead, which is Adventure Theater. Adventure Theater has put together a proposal and they are meeting with Lisa and anyone else who is interested on Thursday, December 10th to go through their proposal.
Among other things, the Adventure Theater proposal includes a director, choreographer, set design, assistance with selecting and adapting an appropriate play, and would cost $12,529.25. Lisa noted that the budget for last year’s spring musical was $8,000 and that total spending was in excess of that, and an additional $4,200 was raised last spring. Based on comparisons, $8,000 is a tight budget for a school and production of this size. In the current year, we have budgeted $3,000 and there is an additional $4,500 in the Peter Berry Fund for Musical Productions. So it is believed that Adventure Theater’s proposed amount is in the ballpark of what is reasonable, and it is also the starting point of discussions. In addition, discussions with those involved with last year’s production confirm that this is a labor-intensive effort, and that professional help would be a tremendous asset. Accordingly, parents from last year were supportive of the notion of employing outside expertise. Lisa noted that Adventure Theater provides this service for other schools, some of which have defrayed the costs by having the participating students make large contributions. It was agreed that Murch did not want the students to shoulder the cost to produce the musical. And the goal is to have 50 students total involved, and limit participation to Grades 2-5. In addition to any fees for Adventure Theater, we would also need to coordinate and pay for the rental of Deal’s auditorium. Based on the Board’s generally positive reaction to the idea, Lisa will meet with Adventure Theater to continue discussions and hope to have a specific proposal to put before the board at the January meeting.
b. Update on Renovation and Swing Space Options. Maggie gave an update on the ongoing renovation and swing space decision, noting that detailed information about the three current options is available on the website. Members are encouraged to attend the meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17th. It is expected that the SIT team will convey to DGS/DCPS the community’s frustration with how things are proceeding and the limited options that seem to be in play. Discussion continued regarding the fact that these three are not the only options available and that there will hopefully be further information available at the meeting regarding other options. Maggie noted that they plan on setting up a link for interested parents to submit comments on the Murch website in advance of the meeting.
Martha adjourned the meeting at 8:25 PM.
BEN W. MURCH HOME & SCHOOL ASSOCIATION/PTA, INC.
Meeting Minutes November 10, 2015
Co-President Martha McIntosh called the meeting to order at 7:02 pm on November 10, 2015 in the library of Murch Elementary School.
1. Executive Board Members present: Martha McIntosh (co-President), Manolis Priniotakis (VP), Brendan Holland (Secretary), Alicia Garfinkel (Teacher Representative), Ron Eckstein (VP), Patty See (Communications Chair), Karissa Kovner (past HSA president), and Lisa Stone (Budget Chair).
Other HSA members in attendance: Stefanie Harrington; Lindsey Glayner; Dave Wakeman; Donna Aggazio; John See; Christine LoCascio; Maggie Boys; Ambika Ananad Prokop; Elizabeth Mettler; and Carolina Valdiviezo.
2. Approval of prior minutes – Brendan Holland
Brendan presented the draft minutes for the October 13, 2015 meeting and made a motion that the Board formally approve the minutes as the official record of the October 13, 2015 meeting. Ron seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved.
3. Principal’s Report – Martha
Update on Paddles Up spending for science. Martha noted that Mr. C. is at a meeting with Chancellor Henderson at Deal tonight. Martha provided an update (on Mr. C.’s behalf) regarding the spending of the “Paddles Up” funds from the Spring Auction on science curriculum. Prior to the Auction, the money earned from the Paddles Up campaign was earmarked for science curriculum and activities. Mr. C. and Scott Colman (Murch’s science coordinator) are working to develop hands on experiences that match with Next Generation science standards. The funds raised will be used to purchase items throughout the school year. They are also working with parents who are scientists to have them advise on projects. Expect there to be exciting projects as the year goes on, including making/observing slides, minerals and rocks, possibly a planetarium, fifth grade kits building simple machines, rockets, etc.; plan is to have students doing hands on stuff. So watch for that over the course of the year as they begin to spend the Paddles Up funds. Goal is to mesh with the Next Generation science standards and these activities will hopefully help to accelerate/integrate the standards. They are also working on where and how to store equipment that might be used again. A brief discussion ensued regarding the idea of a one day science day, which had been discussed previously, but the decision was made to spread the science spending and activities across the year.
4. Presidents’ Report – Martha McIntosh
a. Martha noted that Maggie is out tonight recovering from shoulder surgery.
b. Bookfair. Martha announced that the Bookfair this year is December 2nd and 3rd. Reminder will go in the newsletter and on the website. This year the hours will be compressed, but we’re hoping to generate more excitement. The fair will open with a pizza night, and instead of coffee on playground, there will be coffee in the gym, and then the fair will be open for a second afternoon/early evening. Co-chairs April Richards and Kristen Fletcher will coordinate teacher wish lists.
c. Auction. Auction is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2016. Courtney Carlson, Virginia Marentette, and Jill Shallett are the co-chairs. Watch in next few weeks for more information. The co-chairs are working on themes and also looking into the feasibility of electronic bidding. More to come.
5. Treasurer’s Report- Martha McIntosh
Martha (filling in for JoAnna Graham) distributed and presented the current financials. Martha reminded the Board members to review the financial materials on a regular basis and contact Joanna, Martha, or Maggie if there are any changes, questions, or issues. Martha noted again that although the tax deadline is Nov. 15th, the accountants will need additional time this year due in part to the change in the HSA’s fiscal year. So they will be filing an extension of time until January 15, 2016. They will be sharing the tax return with the Board before it is actually filed (as required by the IRS regulations), so the extension will give us all more time to review and consider the taxes. The accountants and then JoAnna/Martha/Maggie will let the Board know when the draft filing can be accessed. And as always, please let Martha or JoAnna know if there are any issues on the financials.
6. Personnel Report – Martha McIntosh
Martha (filling in for Melissa Hawkins McInerney) reported that one of the instructional aides, Caroline Bottelier, is leaving in February 2016. Very sorry that she’s leaving, but it is great that she gave such notice, and Melissa is advertising and actively working to fill the position. In addition, Martha noted that she is also going to talk to Melissa about the fact that Mary Eckstien is having a baby.
7. LSAT Update – Manolis Priniotakis
Manolis is the HSA rep to the LSAT. After reminding folks that the LSAT is a local school advisory team, composed of faculty and parent reps elected to advise the principal on budget and other decisions. The LSAT handles issues beyond the purview of the HSA, typically dealing with issues related to curriculum and the school’s budget. Manolis noted that there is a wide range ways that LSATs can operate, but Murch’s meets monthly and has convened a couple of times thus far this year. By way of an update, Manolis reported that Mr. C. is currently (the evening of Nov. 10th) at a principal’s meeting with the Chancellor regarding the FY 2017 budget for the schools that feed into three high schools, including Wilson. There will be more info to come following a public session Thursday (Nov. 19th) discussing various issues, including when enrollment projections will be released. The LSAT is also still looking for a community representative, so if we have any suggestions of people please send them to Manolis. Community rep needs to reside within the Murch boundaries. The most recent LSAT meeting discussed areas for the LSAT to focus on in this coming school year, which is still developing. Also discussed the possibility of a way to increase understanding about parent and family engagement. One possibility is that the LSAT would conduct a survey to assess and improve family engagement. Still early days and hope to flesh out. A brief discussion ensued about the community rep position and how to fill it including who/where the rep might come from. Any questions about LSAT and/or want to have input ask Manolis or Martha, lots of current and former HSA members have served, and they’re often looking for new members. Meetings are also open to the Murch community and folks are welcome to attend.
8. Old Business.
a. SOS update. Elizabeth Mettler passed out a financial report of current status of the SOS campaign, which reflects that so far it has generated $74,000, with 124 families contributing. 56% of the contributions have been at the asked amount, 5% above, and 39% below ask. The campaign has now moved to encouraging participating at any level via email. Elizabeth reported that some folks are using the payment plans, so that seems well received. [See handouts for further details.] Most payments have come electronically online, with only a few checks; and electronic has the advantage of speeding tax receipts, which are going out immediately when a contribution is made. Elizabeth gave an update on the marketing plan and how the campaign is proceeding. Page 2 of her handout breaks out the contributions per week in relation to the marketing efforts. The Fall Fair week was the biggest for contributions, and the 100 tickets to the Fall Fair was a big motivator. The plan going forward is laid out on page three, detailing the method and schedule to encourage participation before the campaign wraps up Dec. 7th. Goal is for targeted outreach and to avoid pestering/duplicating folks who have given already. Small snail mail push planned for after Thanksgiving, but small and targeted. After that, maybe a kid-level push (perhaps with a Murch merchandise prize?). Last year towards the end of the campaign they did a hard sell with an electronic message, which was pretty effective, but likely make that the very last message of the campaign.
At this point, we are dead even with last year in terms of contributions and participation level. We had been ahead, but things have now drawn even with this point in the campaign last year. It has been a good test/comparison with last year to see/learn what works in the campaign and how the donations have reacted to certain activities, messaging, etc. Hope to be done by Christmas. We’re about half way to the budget line goal. 124 families participating out of about 425 total families. Last year 235 families participated in total.
Martha noted the huge benefit of data and the tracking of what works and where to focus energy and timing. Discussed highlighting participation, maybe with a big graphic or the like.
b. Fall Fair review. Martha offered a tremendous thank you to Maggie Boys, who was in attendance to provide an update on the Fair. Maggie has been terrific and managed the Fair for the last three years, but we’ll be looking for folks to assist next year, as Maggie’s son will be a fifth grader next year. Maggie reported that it was a fun, well-attended event, thanks in part to the large number of volunteers. Maggie noted that Martha and Maggie G. had helped solicit volunteers, which helped with the running of the event. Revenue for the Fair was a bit over $17,000, with expenditures at about $10,500 so far. $12,000 was budgeted for the Fair’s expenses, so looks like we’re a bit under but there may still be some remaining invoices to pay. The Budget had projected that the Fair would generate $20,000 in revenue, but that was a bit aspirational as it was known that $20k would be a challenge. So even at $17,000, the event was quite successful. Going forward, the HSA may lower projected revenue, which would take some pressure off, especially next year with the renovation. Would love to be able to make it fun without placing undue emphasis or expectation on generating revenue. That, in turn, might allow us to sell food cheaper and make the Fair even more accessible and enjoyable. The idea of the Fair is to be a community/fun event first and foremost, and revenue generator second; so good to note highlight revenue but not overemphasize. And in fact, a lot of the expenses are fixed, such as the cost of the rides. Lisa noted that next year’s Fair might be a challenge with construction potentially commencing. Maggie B will begin to brainstorm and lay groundwork to consider alternative possible locations.
c. Pete’s Apizza Night review. Martha reported on the Pete’s Apizza night fundraiser. No revenue figures yet; weather kept turnout a bit lower, but restaurant allowed take out. But Pete’s was great about it and very pleased with the business. The plan is to try and do similar restaurant nights as the year goes on.
d. Policies/Conflicts of Interest. Martha reminded the board of the HSA’s various current policies, including disclosures regarding conflicts of interest. Martha encouraged board members to please review the policies, including whistle blower and conflict of interest policies. Need to check off at tax time that the board has gone over these policies. Conflict of interest policies are important in particular, and please be aware especially in case of expenditures. And it’s not a ban, just a disclosure requirement.
e. Update on renovation. Martha provided an update on the renovations, noting she wished she had more to report. The update is that DCPS should be closing in on hiring a builder and making a decision about swinging. November 23rd is the next SIT meeting and hope to know more; there will be lots of questions from the SIT to DCPS. Last update from DCPS was simply that the goal was to decide on swing as soon as possible, and they are optimistic it can be decided in November. The project (and architects) should be working now on moving from concept to a more granular design. With respect to potential swing space, the landlord of the Intelsat building responded to DCPS’s request for bids. DCPS apparently toured the Intelsat building and determined after visiting that the rent and necessary construction would be too expensive. DCPS claims to understand that it is important for parents that they make a decision on the swing issue in advance of lottery date. UDC and Howard do not seem to have space available. A brief discussion ensued about whether DCPS has a plan and/or options. It was noted that costs associated with the swing come out of the renovation budget. Also noted that families need time to prepare and plan; nothing will be perfect and the longer we have to work around the challenges the better. Lots of logistics and need time to sort out.
9. New Business
a. Spring Musical. Martha discussed the Spring Musical, and thanked Lisa Stone for is helping with the process. Hoping to hire a director for the show, reaching out to appropriate circles in DC, but please forward the posting (which is on the web site) to any musical theater folks who might be interested. Adventure Theatre does this as a service to elementary schools, and will put together a proposal. Not sure if it will fit into our current budget, but exploring. We would pick a show together with them. General theme is something for grades 2-5, hope for a known title adapted to elementary school and about an hour long. Moving ahead with the planning. It was a great addition last spring, and although it is a significant time commitment, it was a great show and hoping to do again for the kids and community. Posting on the Murch website searching for a Director.
b. Holiday Tree Mulching and proposal to set up sports uniform fund. Martha discussed that we have traditionally we’ve organized with Casey Trees to mulch Christmas trees in exchange for a donation, which has gone to the basketball teams, in part because they helped staff the event. However, given that the basketball teams do not really have expenses beyond the uniforms, Martha raised the idea (after discussion with Maggie) that going forward we allow the proceeds from the Christmas recycling to be used to establish a fund for sports uniforms for basketball, cross country, and track. Martha also noted that the various coaches are also looking at the possibility of coming up with a contract for uniforms to spell out for the athlete that if the uniform is lost or not returned, then a payment would be required, which could also go in to replenish the fund.
Discussion ensued about what team (or teams) would be expected to staff the event and where does the money go currently if someone reimburses for a lost uniform. Coming up with a sports uniform fund could establish those expectations and organize the process. Karissa clarified that historically the role of the HSA has been to supplement the school budget/spending on an “as-needed” basis. Martha noted that she didn’t think there was necessarily a standing need for basketball teams to generate this revenue every year just for the basketball teams, and so perhaps it could be put it into the general fund. But, following discussion with JoAnna, the question was whether it would be productive to establish an ongoing specific fund to facilitate sports uniforms. It was noted that it’s not difficult to establish a specific fund.
Karissa noted that over the past few years there has been an effort to move away from special funds earmarked for specific things, because they get difficult to manage from year to year, and it is a pain to end them once they’ve been established as the money can only be spent for the stated purpose. Karissa noted she’s not sure enough discussion had been had on the pros/cons of a standalone fund. In addition, Karissa noted that it institutionalizes something that we already pay for (through taxes) and that DCPS should cover, so perhaps we don’t want to absolve DCPS of this obligation and a reserve fund that benefits only a set group of students.
Following discussion, it was resolved to continue discussing the issue, to gather more information, and to table the issue for future discussion, including with Mr. C.’s input. But Martha wanted to start the discussion now, in advance of the December meeting. Table the motion for next meeting. And if there are specific questions, please let Martha know so we can tackle before next meeting. The current plan is to discuss and vote the issue at the December meeting.
c. Collecting for teacher gifts. Martha raised the issue of collecting for teacher gifts. Traditionally, room parents gather money for the teacher and aide from parents in the class. But that leaves out a substantial portion of Murch staff. Two years ago parents gathered a collection for resource teachers. It was well received, but benefited only a handful of the staff that worked directly with students. And Elizabeth Mettler noted it was awkward to have one parent collect that much money in their personal account. So one of the things that has been proposed is that the that HSA have a general collection for the Murch staff – separate from the teacher and aide gifts handled by each class – to simply facilitate the collection of funds for those who want a way to recognize the rest of the Murch staff. One idea is to simply host a PayPal account, separate from HSA donations that would not commingle with HSA donations, and then buy gift cards for staff directly from the PayPal account as a way to thank the entire staff for their work. So the idea would be to maintain the current system for teachers and classroom aides by room parents, but this would be on top and recognize/thank the rest of the staff.
The HSA Board did not formally discuss this issue last year. In at least one case, the room parents in a particular grade found a way to coordinate donations for their classroom teachers as well as some of the resource teachers. But not all grades collected for resource teachers, nor were non-resource staff covered.
Discussion ensued regarding ways to collect and distribute holiday gifts, how to set formula for distribution, etc. Martha wanted to start the discussion to assess whether the Board wanted to engage. Discussion of whether the collection and distribution of gifts could be divisive. Several people agreed with the suggestion of letting the classes collect for teacher and aide as they’ve always done, and then set up a separate account for donations for all other staff besides teachers/aides. One idea was to place a note in newsletter so folks could contribute electronically.
Discussion continued regarding whether it’s even a board action, and it was clarified this is not contemplated as an expenditure of the HSA, but merely trying to facilitate holiday giving by setting up a PayPal account if folks want to contribute for staff beyond the classroom teachers.
In addition to the issue of holiday gift collections, a further discussion was had regarding certain classes whose parents – in order to facilitate classroom parties, teacher gifts, classroom supplies, etc. – had established essentially a class fund so that parents could make a single donation rather than repeated smaller donations as issues arose over the course of the year. Martha noted there may be concerns about accounting and who’s keeping the funds, or possible confusion with HSA campaign and/or expenditures. While it’s always been something that is up to the room parents and individual classes, Martha noted some have expressed concern that it could be seen as HSA-related or that it could be confusing. It was noted that such class funds may hurt HSA fund raising or could cover expenditures that the HSA should be funding for the classes.
Others noted it is simply an expeditious and convenient way for room parents to contribute once for various expenditures during the year and to avoid being nickel and dimed for every classroom party, teacher gift, etc. It was noted that this is nothing new, that a number of classroom parents had been operating this way for some time, and that there was some potential concern that the HSA may stop classes from collecting in this way and having a class fund.
Ultimately, it was concluded that it’s good to be aware of the practice, that more information may be necessary to understand how many classes are doing this, how it’s being used, and whether there’s any concern with the practice.
Martha adjourned the meeting at 8:40 PM.