- Executive Board Members present: Sue Guzman (President), Meredith Grinrod (Teacher Representative), Chris Cebrzynski (Principal), Maggie Gumbinner (past President), Sharon Bennett (Asst. Treasurer), Brendan Holland (Secretary), Stephanie Owens (Personnel), Selena Fox (Treasurer), Ron Eckstein (VP), and Joanna Brown (VP).
Other Members in Attendance: Christine LoCascio, Virginia Marrentette, Karissa Kovner
- Principal’s Report – Mr. Cebrzynski
- Mr. C. reported on various current events. Mr. C. highlighted and discussed some opportunities for learning partnerships (for example with UDC and the nearby embassies); purchasing of STEM kits with HSA grants; and cross-grade math/science competitions. All such things offer opportunities outside the regular classroom curriculum to engage in fun learning. Continuing to move forward with enrichment, notably with Reggio Emillia in pre-K and kindergarten; currently working with a consultant to implement the program. In addition, there is additional focus on K, 1, and 2 to improve writing across the curriculum and add an emphasis on spelling and grammar.
- Mr. C. also extended his thanks to the HSA for the teacher grants; the teachers are excited and are starting to get materials, along with those purchased by the school.
- President’s Report – Sue Guzman
- SIT Update– Christine LoCascio gave a brief update from the SIT. The renovation build team provides bi-weekly updates on construction, the most recent of which was Oct. 28. That update included that the approval for a necessary curb cut is proceeding, along with the internal demo work at the school. The builders were meeting with the grounds committee, but otherwise not much new to report. Another update expected tomorrow (Nov. 10th).
- Mr. C. added that one item that has come up is the need for a fence around the perimeter of the renovated school. Mr. C. is working to make sure that it is completely surrounded and gated so the facility is secure.
- LSAT Update– Sue met with Emily Kallaur, Parent co-Chair of the LSAT. Sue is the HSA representative to the LSAT and will meet with Emily on a regular basis to keep up with issues. She will also coordinate in order to make sure that she attends important meetings of the LSAT.One issue the LSAT is working on is to figure out way to gauge the effectiveness of the engagement and enrichment programs this year. Discussed focus groups with the kids and teachers in the spring to see if effective, in hopes of collecting feedback to improve programs going forward.Emily wants to get the LSAT involved in citywide advocacy, such as with regard to the allocation of nurses at schools. Apparently the Department of Health is the agency that provides nurses to the schools, not DCPS, and the decision was made this year to cut back on nurse staffing. Because there are multiple agencies involved, there is a bit of a disconnect between the planning and accountability. The city Council has tabled the issue for now, but will potentially look into the issue again. Emily also attends Ward 3 Ed Net meetings regularly, and is able to bring info back to LSAT.
Sue reported that Adam Riggs, a parent representative on the LSAT, had indicated to the LSAT that teachers are having trouble with hardware, as well as software issues, related to DCPS-mandated programs. Mr. C. noted that DCPS sends an IT technician to help with tech issues, and Mary Eckstein has streamlined process to speed resolution. Mr. C. also noted that Murch is going to be requesting additional computer laptop cards for testing and replacement of the school laptops. Students logging on with passwords slows things down drastically, so have tried to work around. The staff and faculty are also working through some hardware and software issues, which are complicated by layers of DC bureaucracy.
- Treasurer’s Report on Oct. Financials – Selena Fox.
- Selena presented updated financials, which have not changed much since the last board meeting just two weeks ago. Info is updated as of Nov. 4th; nothing significant to note.
- Selena also discussed problems with XERO, the accounting software that the treasury team uses, and problems with getting information from Wells Fargo to populate into the program. Selena has been working on trying to get a direct feed to import and link data, but this has been an ongoing issue she has tried to resolve. Apparently, with the software that we use, you cannot easily mesh it with the school year budget in XERO, however, this functionality may be added in the future. This makes things more cumbersome to import info from one to the other.
- Selena noted that the HSA’s business checking was getting lower, and a discussion ensued about the logistics of moving revenue and contributions to the HSA from Receivables to the checking account. Discussion ensued regarding income from the SOS campaign thus far, both that it has been slow in arriving and the need to move such income from the received side on PayPal to checking account.
- The board also discussed the flow of money in the checking account and the need to retain a six-month float for salaries, as well as discussed the purchase of school supplies and adjusting the amounts of materials.
- Personnel Update – Stephanie Owens
- Update to Aides’ agreements and handbook. Stephanie reported on personnel matters. Stephanie discussed potential changes to the HSA employee manual to streamline and sync up with times for DCPS aides. Streamline the terms so that HSA and DC aides are consistent. Work to update or re-sign the agreement with the employees to reflect the change from a specific tour of duty to a number of hours.Also seek to capture in the written the materials that there is no overtime, expect in rare cases that must be approved in advance and paid in a stipend. This will also be codified in the revised employee agreement.Discussion ensued about how best to communicate with the aides and the best way to confirm acknowledgement of the change in terms, options include re-executing the acknowledgement receipt/review of the employee manual with the updated terms. Stephanie will circulate the proposed changes to the employee handbook and materials (by BaseCamp or email) so the board can review and potentially vote at the December meeting to confirm the changes to the employment agreement and employee handbook. In the meantime, Stephanie will proceed to discuss the changes in terms with the aides.
- Update on Aides and staffing. Ms. Berger has reported that things are going very well, she’s meeting with the aides regularly for planning and coordination. It would appear that we have an adequate amount of coverage for the teachers and for the shuttle busses; aides are being used efficiently. Ms. Berger is serving as the lead aide, with increased role and duties coordinating with the aide team. We previously had seven HSA aides, now have six HSA aides as one has moved into a DCPS aide position. Seems to be working well with six and that an additional aide would exceed the current requirements. So we can keep an eye on things and revisit to ensure the proper level of staffing.
- Old Business
- Sue provided an update on the teacher/staff parking issue. Sue has had ongoing discussions with Mary Cheh’s office and explored a number of different options but no immediate resolution. Conversations with UDC have not been productive and DDOT will not issue green hangtags for the staff. Hope that DCPS can continue to advocate for the staff and find a solution. Sue reported that she’s gotten an update from Ms. Fitzpatrick on efforts by the staff to reach out to DCPS. Ms. Fitzpatrick contacted union rep, who contacted Patrick (DCPS contact) but to no result yet.
- New Business
- Budget Motion to Approve Overages– A few minimal overages in a couple of categories, including the magazine subscriptions and school supplies. Sue discussed that magazine subscriptions were organized thorough Ms. Schaffer, and pre-K missed the initial purchase, so when we purchased for pre-K, it put us over the amount we’d allocated. We’ll exceed the amount initially allocated by about $200.Similar issue for the purchase of school supplies, which we’ll exceed by about $200. These are the beginning of the year supplies that are the initial purchase before the DCPS budget kicks in. Two other issues are that the purchase of school planners for the upper grades were $17 over the initial allocation, and the miscellaneous fundraiser expense of the “Keep Calm” Murch tee-shirts that were sold at the Fall Fair. These started out as expenses (and revenue) under the Fall Fair budget, but the decision was made to move them over to miscellaneous fundraisers.After a brief discussion, Sue made a motion that the Board approve the expenditures for these four items. Maggie seconded the motion. There was no objection and the motion passed unanimously by voice vote.
- SOS Marketing Plan Update – Elizabeth Mettler provided an update on the SOS campaign and the marketing plan. Elizabeth is running the SOS campaign along with Carrie Kolasky (this is Elizabeth’s third year doing it). Last year the HSA increased the amount of the targeted amount suggested per student and got a decent response rate. This year the amount was kept the same and does not appear in the marketing materials, just on the donation form. Marketing highlights participation and what the HSA supports with its funds. Elizabeth provided an update on the marketing efforts thus far. (See handout materials.) As of today, we are running about 50% behind where we were at this time last year, even accounting for the fact that we started later. Part of the issue is that the school community is smaller. The fact that the school year started a bit differently at the new campus and that we lack the “blue top” where families can mingle in morning and afternoon are factors too.So need to focus on outreach. Elizabeth discussed the outreach plan for coming weeks. Plan for this week is to send flyers home in Friday folders to test how that goes and the response rate we get. Then kazoos next week. Coffee on the playground next Friday, Nov. 18th. Thanksgiving week will feature a post on the website and targeted emails. Review after the holiday and see where we are at the beginning of December and determine best way to target and reach folks who we haven’t heard from. Teacher testimonials in the newsletters. Discussion ensued about other ideas for further pushes.For next year, suggest getting a new, younger parent to make sure we’re drawing in pre-K and K for the future development of the campaign.
- Board Update – Sue Guzman.
- Sue discussed that Selena is departing and we’ll need to fill the Treasurer’s position. By-laws call for a vote by the executive board to fill the vacancy. Sarah Benetar and Karissa Kovner of the nominating committee and past board, respectively, helped inform the process and based in part on their guidance of the nominating committee, Sharon Bennett, our current assistant Treasurer, has been suggested to fill the vacancy. Sue thanked Selena for all her help and hard work, and for her suggestions to improve our accounting.
- With a quorum of the executive board present and having received the resignation from Selena Fox, the Board addressed the need to fill the vacant Treasurer position. To that end, Sue made a motion that the Board accept Sharon Bennett as the Treasurer to the HSA Board for the 2016-2017 school year. Maggie seconded the motion. There were no objections, and with Sharon Bennett recusing herself from the vote, the motion passed by unanimous voice vote.
- Sharon’s move into the Treasurer position will create a vacancy behind in Payables, and so Sue and the board will explore options to fill the assistant treasurer position.
Sue adjourned the meeting at 8:50 PM.