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2009-04 April Minutes

Atkinson PTA meeting minutes 4-14-09
The meeting was called to order by Gabriela Goldfarb at 6:35 pm.

Minutes:  Minutes for the last several meetings have not been approved.  Copies were distributed for review by members for vote later.

Recruiting for Mt. Tabor Middle School PTSA:  Presentation by Sara Tetrault, PTSA nominating committee.  Sara explained that there is minimal involvement from Atksinson parents at Mt. Tabor and encouraged transitioning parents and those with children in both schools to become involved.  Middle School is an important time for parental involvement and Mt. Tabor needs you!

Atkinson/Richmond Stand for Children:  Elliott Young discussed upcoming advocacy opportunities for parents who are concerned about school funding issues.  He has a letter for parents to sign and additional information about other upcoming events.

Recruiting Leaders for next year’s Atkinson PTA:  Sheri distributed a list of activity coordinators that we have had in the past, asking that people step forward to help out in the coming year.  We do not have leadership at this time, but as the coordinator roles are filled, it is easier to identify strong leadership. Contact this year’s volunteer coordinators, Laura and Anne for more information.

Results of Multicultural Committee’s Parent Involvement Survey:  Nathania Cha, Portland State student presented a powerpoint presentation about the results of the survey that has been distributed over the past year, with an emphasis on getting parent input from Communities of Color.  A hand-out was provided with specific feedback.  Specific issues of interest included:
ß Strong support for Adult ESL classes (72%), meetings held in first language (59%), Adult education programs (55%), and a school bus (51%)
ß Strong support for the addition of:  full time PE (85%), social services (615), art teacher (56%), and regularly employed interpreters in the front office (55%) (note that this reflected responses prior to Lydia’s hire)
ß 74% of parents stated they had barriers and concerns that keep them from being more involved in school, including language and time barriers.
ß Ways that the school could make it easier to volunteer included:  identifying ways to volunteer from home (56%), ways parents could learn English while volunteering (48%), and offering childcare to siblings during volunteer hours( 45%)
ß Parents would volunteer more if: had more free time (40%), meetings were held right after school (36%), and childcare was provided (38%)
Asian specific concerns included:
ß Improved communication between school and home
ß Provide an environment that makes you feel more welcome
ß Translations
ß Interpretations
ß Asian families asked for

PTA Parent’s Priorities on-line survey:  Jim Laden presented the results of the on-line survey conducted prior to Spring Break.  Some surveys were also collected during parent meetings held the week prior to spring break.  Despite this effort, participation by non-English speaking families was fairly limited.  Highlights of the survey include:
ß Diversity is highly valued by parents, this trend came out in several points.
ß Parents strongly value the language programs.
ß The way the survey was created, it is hard to eliminate anything as important; it is all important and folks aren’t looking to eliminate any programming.
ß Music and Library are highly regarded by parents
ß Parent involvement is a high priority

Principal report, future staffing: Chris reported on the budget he submitted to the district, as required.   As is clear from the news, budgets are tight and may well become tighter.  At this point, he has not had to lay-off any teaching staff, though there may be additional budget cuts if the economy continues to worsen.  At this time he has:
ß Eliminated two EA positions, one Chinese speaker and one Spanish Speaker.  These reductions will require a change in the neighborhood language programs, as he is loosing teachers. The plan is to eliminate school-day neighborhood language programs for the 4th and 5th grades and offer an after school program.
ß Formally requesting that the PTA fund one additional position.  Without PTA funding, another position will need to be eliminated. 
ß He has reduced remaining EA positions to 25 hours a week, which will further erode support service and will eliminate their benefits.  There was no other way to balance the budget. 
ß Lay-offs occurred by seniority, there is no special category for language-specific aides.

PTA Budget and planning for next year:  Jim Laden presented the PTA budget year to date.  Assuming the PTA votes to remove set aside funding from the covered playground (last month the membership voted to not build this year, but did not remove the budget allocation), there would be sufficient funds to pay for one EA, as requested by Chris.

Other comments:
Jane Elliott requested time on the upcoming meeting agenda to discuss art in the schools, specifically Atkinson, and recess before lunch.