HSA Co-Presidents Elisa O’Keefe and Jess Regan called the meeting to order at 7:04 PM on October 2, 2018 in Room B112 of Murch Elementary School.
- Executive Board Members present: Elisa O’Keefe (Co-President), Jess Regan (Co-President), Ashley Webb (1st Vice President), Julie Lobb (2nd Vice President), Diane Beasley (Secretary), Maurice Werner (Treasurer), Paula Cuevas (Assistant Treasurer), Meghan Duffy (Assistant Treasurer), Virginia Marentette (Past President), Chris Cebrzynski (Principal), Marcy Hairston (Teacher Representative), Heather Barlow (Communications), and Jason Levin (Fundraising/Community Engagement).
Other Members in Attendance: Laura Gross (Fall Fair Chair), Shelly Cohen, Mark Bold, Tricia Kovacs, Kenneth Kerr, Karol Keane, Laura Kaiser
- Approval of prior minutes – Diane Beasley
Diane presented the minutes for the September 11 general meeting, which was posted to BaseCamp for review on September 17 and sought the Board’s approval of the minutes.
Diane made a motion that the Board ratify the previously posted minutes for the September 11 meeting as the official record of that meeting. Jason seconded the motion, there was no objection, and the motion passed by unanimous voice vote.
- President’s Report – Elisa O’Keefe and Jess Regan
Fall Fair (Laura Gross). Elisa introduced Laura, one of the chairs for the Fall Fair, and Laura proceeded to give a brief update on the fair, which will take place on October 13, with a rain date of October 20. She mentioned that she is one of three Chairs: Laura is responsible for communications and the marketplace, Liz Haines handles logistics, and Katie Riley is in charge of volunteers and the book sale. The theme for the fair this year is “Welcome Back to Murch”. Similarly to last year, we will be accepting credit card payments through Square, although cash payments will also be accepted. Discussion ensued regarding cash versus credit card stations, the number of iPads we have for credit card payments, cash payments to vendors the day of the fair, and cash collection and counting; Elisa recommended that the discussion be pursued outside of the HSA meeting. Laura then stated that the fair will host several new activities (balloon artist, a new bouncy house) and will no longer hold some of the less popular attractions (cake walk, bake sale). She noted that Fall Fair flyers went home in the last Friday Folders and will go out again this Friday, and that the fair is being promoted on the school’s website, neighborhood listservs, and through social media. She asked that the Board continue to spread the word, especially in regards to the need for volunteers and book collection for the book sale.
SOS Campaign. Jess stated that the SOS campaign recently had its soft launch and that Dave Wakeman is the SOS Chair this year. The goal is to raise $120,000 in donations with a suggested donation of $500 per child, however Jess stressed that getting families to participate in the campaign, at any donation amount, is more important. Elisa added that since the HSA no longer pays for aides (formerly the largest portion of the HSA budget), we need to let families know where their donations go – to support tech purchases, teacher grants, band instruments, field trips, towards the afterschool program, and to cover items for the school (paper, bathroom supplies, etc.) that are not adequately funded through the DCPS budget.
Murch Merchandise. The HSA sold 69 “Welcome Home” t-shirts at the Movie Night. Jess stated that we are not in the red on sales yet because the staff t-shirts were gifted by the HSA. She also noted that merchandise will expand to water bottles, hats, and shopping bags, with sales of the expanded selection starting at the Fall Fair. A question was raised regarding the online supplier of Murch gear and Jess noted that while that site is still active, the HSA doesn’t receive much from those sales, so the goal is to transition more to direct sales.
Storage Space. Elisa stated that one of the reasons we are in a position to have the Murch Merch is because we now have a storage space at the school. We will be moving items out of the rented storage space this month (will save $600 a month in storage rental).
- Principal’s Report – Mr. Cebrzynski
Mr. C reported that Murch is currently celebrating Hispanic Heritage month and the school will incorporate the celebration into various aspects of the day, such as giving the morning announcement in English and Spanish and holding special activities in the classrooms and with the resource teachers. He also stated Walk to School Day is coming up on October 10.
He noted that the Green Scene volunteers met just prior to the HSA meeting. Green Scene is a long standing Murch volunteer group that assists with the grounds keeping and garden. Additional information on the group and upcoming volunteer opportunities will go out in this week’s Friday Folders. Also, Maker Space will be officially kicked off at school this Friday. The school is looking for donations of materials and has placed several boxes in the front hall for donation drop-offs. Donations will be collected throughout the year.
Mr. C also reported that the flooring in the library addition has significant water damage, which the contractor is addressing. The affected portion of the library is being closed off while repairs are completed. The slump in the area of the basketball courts is also being addressed, as well as other punchlist items.
- Treasurer’s Report – Maurice Werner
Review of Proposed Reserves Policy. Maurice reviewed the proposed reserves policy, which would consolidate reserves into one general reserves fund and limit the reserve amount to the equivalent of 6-months of the HSA budget ($150,000). Under the proposed policy, any funds in excess of the reserve limit may be invested in short to medium term savings vehicles like a CD. Under the proposed policy, the purchase of CDs will be made by the Treasurer, after informing the HSA President(s) of the activity and total amount. Additionally, the annual budget will always be balanced, with any budgeted overage or shortage accounted for by a Reserves line item, representing the overage/shortage.
Review of Financial Procedures (Cash Handling). Maurice reiterated that the HSA finances are available for review by all Board members via the Zero website. He also briefly discussed the teacher grant and other requests coming in, which have caused a bit of a cash flow issue. There was a brief discussion about raising the credit card limit but Maurice noted that we do not need to decide this right now. Finally, Maurice reviewed the HSA cash handling procedure and noted that while the goal of the HSA is to move away from cash whenever feasible, there will be instances when cash handling is inevitable. In these cases, the following procedures will be used: 1) reimbursements and tips cannot be made from cash collected, reimbursement forms must be filled out through the HSA’s online site, and tips must be approved, and arranged for in advance with the treasury team; 2) two counters from the Board (including a treasury team member) are required when counting cash and the totals must be documented.
Review of Investment Strategy. Maurice pulled up the latest bank statement and showed the Board how little in interest the Money Market account yields. He reiterated that a better investment strategy is to transfer reserves in excess of $150,000 into a short term but higher yield CD. The Board agreed with this strategy.
Income Statement and Balance Sheet. Maurice reviewed the latest Income Statement and Balance Sheet, which were also posted to BaseCamp this week. He noted that Balance Sheet shows there are currently several smaller reserve line items and that under the new reserves policy these would be combined into one line item. The Income Statement lists the HSA earnings to date, around $3500 so far, but we are still early in the school year.
Approval of Spending Requests from Reserves. As part of last year’s budget process, the Board had agreed to fund spending requests fir rugs, rocking chairs, caddies, and other small items for the classroom. The total amount of the request is $17,456.
Maurice made a motion that the Board approve payment of the purchases out of the reserves. Ashley seconded the motion, there was no objection, and the motion passed by unanimous voice vote.
Approval of New Financial Procedures. Maurice asked if the Board would be willing to approve the financial procedures he outlined during the meeting. Paula stated that she wanted to add more details regarding cash handling and cash deposits to the procedures. Jess noted that we can amend the procedures at a later date to include those types of details.
Maurice made a motion that the Board approve new financial procedures reviewed during the HSA meeting, including the investment and reserves policy, which were also posted to BaseCamp on September 26. Jess seconded the motion, there was no objection, and the motion passed by unanimous voice vote.
- Fundraising/Community Engagement Update – Jason Levin
Murch Day at Nationals Park. Murch Day at National Park was held on September 23. Jason reported that 107 tickets were sold, with a total of $428 raised for the HSA. Jason added that he is talk with DC United to hold a soccer event in the spring.
Giant A+ Rewards Contest. Giant will be sponsoring an A+ Rewards enrollment contest that runs from October 1-31, with the class with the highest number of enrollments winning a cake party. The contest is already being promoted on the school website. He added that 70 families are currently enrolled in the A+ Rewards program.
Restaurant Night. Restaurant Night at Guapo’s will be on November 14 in the upstairs dining room. The HSA will receive a percentage of the restaurant revenue for the entire day. A Murch family is opening a new restaurant across from Politics & Prose, and Jason noted that he will talk to them about potentially holding a restaurant night with them in the spring.
American University Basketball Clinic. The American University (AU) men’s basketball team have offered to hold a guest PE at Murch with three of their players. Mr. C and Jason will discuss this opportunity on Thursday. Jason also said that in January the AU female athletes hold a free ports clinic that allows kids to try out any sport for 15 minutes; he noted that we may want to advertise this to the Murch community as the event nears.
Grants. The Fundraising/Community Engagement committee now includes Jen Stark, who will be leading the effort to apply for grants. Jason noted that the last time the HSA was awarded an ANC grant was over two years ago, so we are now eligible to apply for a grant.
- Old Business
Murch Movie Night (Ashley Webb). Ashley reported that Murch Movie Night (September 28) was very well attended. There were a couple snags including a power issue and running out of pizza, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. She stated that for future events like this, we may want to have a cut-off for pizza sales and require that preorders be paid in advance. Paula suggested selling glow sticks at the next outdoor Movie Night. Ashley noted that we have a date reserved at the Avalon for a winter movie and asked if the Board would like to keep the reservation. The general consensus was “yes” but that it could be discussed further at another meeting.
Teacher Grants (Julie Lobb). Julie reported that the grant committee met with Mr. C to review and score the grant applications. Most of the requests were approved and while the total amount has not been finalized because of fluctuations in prices on Amazon and shipping charges, the expected amount will be between $13,000-$14,000. Jess noted that $13,000 was budgeted for the grants but that the Board could approve additional funds. Elisa added that we may want to up the grant amount next year.
Jess made a motion that the Board approve payment of the grant over the $13,000 limit out of the reserves, but not to exceed $2500. Ashley seconded the motion, there was no objection, and the motion passed by unanimous voice vote.
- New Business
Murch History Wall (Mr. C). Mr. C introduced Karol Keane and Laura Kaiser, who discussed their proposal for a history wall at Murch. Laura has been housing a number of artifacts from Murch’s rich history including original minutes from the first HSA meeting, a golden shovel Mrs. Hoover used for a tree planting in 1929, photos, and other memorabilia. Their proposed plan consists of a 32-foot timeline mural wall and several thematic panels distributed around the school. They estimate that the project can be completed in nine months, with a proposed cost of $56,000. Mr. C noted that he would send the proposal to the Board to review and that we could apply for grants to reduce the cost to the HSA.
Elisa and Jess adjourned the meeting at 8:30 PM.