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2009-05 May Minutes

Atkinson PTA Meeting Minutes for May 12, 2009

Meeting called to order by Sheri Campbell at 6:38pm

Principal Updates: 

  • Budget: Friday 5/15 will get budget projections from Governor’s office. Two options for cuts, which I have no control over: cut people (increase class days, cut “specials” = P.E., music, library, etc.), or cut days. [Sheri: School
  • Board is debating which approach; if you want to advocate, now is time to contact the School Board members. Decisions will be made very quickly after state budget is announced. Remember to advocate for saving school funding.]
  • New professional development model: Two hour late start 3rd Wednesday of every month except November, instead of 4 full days (statewide in-service days remain as full days off). Will be a great professional development focus within the school.
  • Staffing announcements:
  • K/1 neighborhood opening – interviewing people with more than 5 years experience. Ms. Bunnell has temporary teacher status because she is retired. Our first choice selected another school. Now teachers w/less than 5 years seniority can apply; there can be a 3rd round as well. Will have to see if we can retain Mrs. Bunnell, who cannot apply for the position officially until the third round.
  • Teacher departures: Gayle Moist & Brenda Bartell (3rd & 4/5 respectively) are retiring. Won’t know if teachers currently at school get hired at other schools until it happens. A dozen different principals have called asking about teachers who have applied at other schools.
  • Rob was in a TOSA assignment that is not funded; he has a right to a teaching position in the school, tentatively in the 4/5 neighborhood slot, but he can be moved around as needed. Jeannie will be on staff next year [clarification in response to question from Janie Cohen].
  • Enrollment:  We are close to 500, but have to assume we will fall slightly below and not have additional admin support. Will be principal, secretary, Ms. Winter as back up.
  • Placement process: request forms will go home on May 18th, should be returned on the 22nd.
  • Class configuration:  Two straight 2nd grade classes, plus a 2/3. Current K bulge will be covered by K/1 blend, current 1st grade bulge will be accommodated in 2/3. In immersion, will stay with straight 4th grade class; will have 30 students – hope there will be attrition. Will spend next year considering whether to move to blended model.
  • Other Immersion Change: Going to institute monthly meetings next year to improve communication. Chris is interviewing many experienced immersion teachers laid off from Reynolds and Beaverton.
  • Neighborhood 2nd Grade Parent Concern:  Regarding Rosy White’s move to neighborhood. Rachel asked – what can we do if we are concerned? Jim: put concerns into writing. Sheri: she has right to request move. As a broad parent community, voice and document concerns to give administration the information they need. This would not be an “intentional” 2/3; it is only because of an enrollment bulge, therefore there is not an expectation that students would be placed in the class for two years.
  • Notification of class placements:  not worked out yet, will communicate what that process will be. Angie Beer question: if mailed home, have to have someone available in the office to call to talk about it; time it accordingly.
We have _ of the activity coordinator roles filled, but leadership positions are still open. Please let us know if you are interested. Merry: How often do leaders meet? Jim explained Coordinating Council that meets one week before monthly PTA meeting. Sheri announced idea of visioning process next year that she, Jim, and Gabriela will participate in.

Bad funding situation -- $2 billion statewide, 6 wks less or 415 teachers cut in Portland – best case scenario. Stand for Children is coordinating lobbying our legislators now to address chronic underfunding of education. 3 ideas:  raise corporate minimum tax from current $10; change to a progressive corporate tax rate, and increase taxes on people earning more than $250,000 year – estimated to raise $1billion/year. Can happen, just need political will. Some measures will pass, be referred to the ballot. Could help w/funding next year. What to do NOW. 1) attend meetings in the District with our legislative reps on Tuesday May 19, 7-8pm at the Hollywood Senior Center, 1820 Ne 40TH Ave. 2) Send an email postcard – sign up at www.stand.org/or/postcard. Finally, school board election Tuesday – Stand has endorsed Scott Bailey. Regarding teacher quality, Stand has been working w/teacher’s union to address issues of teacher and principal quality.

City of Portland, state are looking at how to change how we fund art education. Very little funding compared to other areas. A tri-county coalition and Regional Arts and Culture Council is trying to change this. Introduced “Right Brain Initiative”20 PPS schools participating, but not at Atkinson. District chooses the schools. There are other ways to fund arts via grant applications.  GG – need group of artist-parents, and parents who want to see arts education, to form a group and

Explained idea of going back to the way things used to be – kids exercise, get hungry, eat a good meal, then go back to class ready to learn. Now, kids don’t eat enough, in a hurry to get to recess with their friends, don’t eat enough, don’t perform well in the class. Studies show better rounded diet, better educational outcomes. Google “recess before lunch” for information. Has had a conversation w/Chris Gutierrez the past few years. He says it can’t happen. Need to help other people to work w/staff to explore how to do this. Chris has spoken only with a small number of staff who cite scheduling conflicts. Courtney: district Wellness Policy articulated recess should come before lunch, Atkinson wellness committee. Please ask your teacher if she is aware that that is District policy. Sheri:  what we need is a parent committee. Jim: What about our Wellness Committee? Let’s not create a new committee – let’s look into reviving that.

BUDGET:  Jim Laden
Reviewed current cash balance, working w/$80,000 in bank at the end of this school year; $9,000 is reserved for OLG. That leaves a bit over $70K, with $67K technically reserved for the playground until such time until we unencumber those funds. Chris is not asking for $$ for staff now, but we won’t know that for some time. Assuming next year’s fundraising and expenditures are similar to this year -- $55K over and above the $31,000 we spent on an EA this year. RE: how much surplus should a PTA have? Tension between a reserve for a rainy day (it’s raining!!!), and importance to spend on things that will make things better at Atkinson while our kids are here. What do we want here?
Sharon: Technology! Laptops, internet, digital video projectors, smart boards (electronic chalkboards) and EA who was a tech staff.
  • ART:  Janie:  regular art program in the classroom (not after school)  Jane: supplies – paper, easels, room. Teresa: art coordinator who supports teachers, ties into curriculum.
  • PRESERVE MUSIC TEACHER:  Courtney:  pay for EA to teacher, so Kim doesn’t have to be in classroom
  • SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE: Renee:  High tech heating system – solar, etc.
  • Barb:  Wasn’t certain $$ raised specifically for covered playground? JIM: Yes – a specific letter went out asking for kicker check, raised $1500. Money raised in the jar at events like the posada didn’t raise more money than the event cost. At auction, the paddle bid was specifically for the “Wellness Committee.” Total was $2700.
  • Jane:  Playground equipment – balls, jump ropes. Renee – perhaps try to get donations from sports companies.
  • Angie Beer:  Effective second language instruction; teachers need appropriate support and training, more time, not at the end of the day (quality chunks of time).
  • BOOKS FOR TEACHERS: Give teachers
  • BOOKS FOR KIDS: More books than RIF.
  • MORE FIELD TRIP MONEY:  supplement what we’re doing now. Get unmotivated teachers to take kids.
  • INCREASE PHYS ED:  Need staff.
  • MORE SINKS: to make RBL possible.
  • LIBRARY: protect from cuts.
  • ENHANCED WRITING INSTRUCTION:  Writers in the class, more support/training for teachers. Sustained.
  • MATH INSTRUCTION:  Established push-in math model, creative math.
  • PUSH IN LITERACY: Preserve!!

Everyone was asked to put 4 marks to take “straw vote” to indicate priorities of people in the room.

Sheri:  this is an opportunity to build hope, encourage the teachers, move into new energy into Atkinson to build in

JUNE MEETING: Announced June 2nd meeting – vote on budget, announce staffing, see if interest groups on art and RBL, other things have formed. [NOTE: JUNE MEETING SUBSEQUENTLY RESCHEDULED FOR JUNE 9TH]

Meeting adjourned at 8:15pm