The following are the minutes from the Stoddert PTO Executive Board meeting on November 05, 2015 …
PTO Presidents‘ Welcome and Update
A big “Thank you” to everyone who helped with the Fall Festival, Book Fair, Halloween parade and various field trips.
The Fall Festival is not a fund raiser but it made a bit of money again this year. We had a lot of participation from families who were at the Stoddert soccer games that were going on before and during the Fall Festival. Older students wanted new things at the Fall Festival. We are looking for ways to add things for the 4th and 5th graders. We are trying to do the same thing with Family Fun Night.
The Book Fair did well again this year. We reached $7,000 in sales. We will use the money raised through the Book Fair to get everything that is left on the teacher wish lists from the Book Fair and then bring the remainder of the money back to the PTO. The Book Fair is not intended to be a fund raiser, but it did very well last year and this year.
The weekly “Chalkboard” emails will be the main way for getting information to parents. If anyone has information that they want distributed, they should get it to the PTO’s communications team, Jen Perry and Juli Smith, who will put it in the Chalkboard each week. Parents are encouraged to sign up for the Chalkboard emails, and if they are not getting the emails after signing up for them, they should check their spam folders as the Chalkboard emails are sometimes going into spam folders.
DCPS is not renewing its contract with the company that is providing school lunches this year. DCPS is seeking feedback on school lunches. Any comments or ideas for improving school lunches are welcome. Parents are strongly encouraged to make comments to DCPS so DCPS can have that information as it prepares to find another company to provide school lunches for next year. The link for making lunch comments to DCPS is in the Chalkboard. The link is also on the Stoddert website.
There are upcoming events related to Hardy Middle School. John Davis from DCPS headquarters will be coming to Stoddert to talk about Hardy. Principal Pride will also be coming to Stoddert to talk about Hardy. Hardy has regularly scheduled tours for all parents and feeder school parents. Hardy also has open houses scheduled in the future.
Stoddert’s Community Service Club, “Stoddert Cares”, has kicked off. The club meets on Thursdays during recess from 11 to 1. The club is only for 2nd through 5th graders. Some of the things that they are doing in the club includes making sandwiches for the homeless. The first club meeting had 30 kids, so there has been a great initial response for the club.
The first Stoddert gear sale was at the Fall Festival. The next sale will be in December before the Holiday Break. We have not yet managed to arrange for the sale of Stoddert gear on line, but that is still in the works.
There is an Extended Day Program (EDP) working group meeting every month to look into what, if anything, should be changed in Stoddert’s EDP. There are 15 people on the EDP working group, which includes teachers and parents. The EDP working group is visiting other programs at other schools. The EDP working group will provide updates as it continues its work. The waitlist for Stoddert’s Morning Care has been eliminated. The waitlist for AfterCare has been reduced to 32. The main obstacle to expanding Stoddert’s EDP is space. To increase the size of Stoddert’s EDP, we need to find more space for the additional kids.
We need volunteers for the PTO’s big fund raiser, known as the “Big Chili,” including volunteers to help just on the day of the event. We are looking for volunteers to lead the Big Chili. Alysa McClellan, who headed up last year’s Big Chili, has set up the Big Chili so that it is ready to go and will be easy to run.
The PTO approved a balanced budget at the PTO’s general meeting during Back-to-School Night in early September. The PTO’s money basically come from dues paid by parents and the Big Chili fundraiser. Paid dues from parents this year are higher so far compared to previous years. Families participating in Stoddert’s EDP are required to pay PTO dues, but there has been an increase in dues from families who don’t participate in Stoddert’s EDP. So far, 52 families who are not participating in Stoddert’s EDP have paid $16,000 in PTO dues. The PTO has many expenses, but the main PTO expense is teacher stipends, which the teachers really appreciate. The PTO is working on advertising what PTO dues pay for to encourage families to pay PTO dues. For example, PTO dues pay for the landscaping at Stoddert.
PTO Membership Update
This year’s PTO membership drive is new. We have Nick Jacobs in the new position of PTO Vice President of Membership leading this membership drive. As a part of this drive, we will be making an appeal for dues to parents in many different ways.
The membership drive is not focused on how much each family pays in dues. Even small dues payments are appreciated. The PTO is trying to encourage PTO participation, not necessarily full dues payments of $400 per family, although those are very much appreciated. Probably a quarter of the families outside EDP who have paid PTO dues have paid less than the $400 dues. One Stoddert family is doing an employer match for their PTO dues, so all families are encouraged to look into employer matching of their PTO dues if possible.
So far this year, 57% of all Stoddert families have paid PTO dues.
Between Thanksgiving and the Holiday Break, the PTO will send a mailing out to families about PTO dues. A new PTO membership poster will be up soon out in front of Stoddert.
Principal Bryant was sick and could not be at this meeting, but a PARCC testing update was given in his absence.
The results of last year’s DCPS-wide PARCC testing will be out soon. School PARCC results should be out soon followed by individual PARCC test scores going to parents in December before the Holiday Break.
The PARCC testing was new last year and is based on common core. PARCC testing is only for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at Stoddert. PARCC testing is taken once a year and is taken on the computer. Generally, PARCC requires students to show their work when answering the test questions. The questions are put in context and are not just simple questions. PARCC testing scores are rated from 1 through 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest in ability.
Because the PARCC testing is taken on the computer, typing skills are important for the PARCC testing. Typing is being taught at Stoddert, but there are also typing agent programs online that students can use to improve their typing skills. There will be a typing agent program coming from DCPS soon, but it is not here yet. The better the students can type, the more likely they are to do well on the PARCC testing.
Principal Bryant has prepared a PowerPoint presentation explaining the PARCC testing which will be put on Stoddert’s website.
This year, Stoddert will have about a month, from April 11 through May 20, to get all students tested. Stoddert will probably get all its students tested in two weeks.
The individual PARCC test results will not really be useful for individualized instruction this year because we are getting the PARCC test results so late in the school year. PARCC test scores will go into each student’s records, but right now, no one knows how individual scores will be used for each student’s instruction or advancement. DCPS is still not sure how they will use PARCC scores. The PARCC testing results will most likely be used at the school level.
There are PARCC practice tests online that parents can look at to get acquainted with the PARCC testing. Parents are encouraged to check out the online practice PARCC tests to find out more about the testing.
Stoddert has 6 Chancellor goals for this year. The 6 goals consist of 1 math goal and 5 reading goals. Stoddert exceeded all of its Chancellor goals last year which is very unusual and quite an achievement for Stoddert.
The Ward 3 Education Network
The Ward 3 Education Network has representatives from all Hardy feeder schools and Wilson. We need more Stoddert representatives at these Ward 3 Ed Net meetings. There is a lot of discussion about testing issues at these meetings.
Stoddert Lunch Policies
Some parents have just learned that Stoddert restricts talking at lunch and does not allow students to sit across from each other at lunch. Parents are wondering whether these policies are necessary.
Students talking at lunch can cause two problems. First, there is not much time for lunch, so if students are talking too much, it can prevent them from eating their lunch. Second, if students are talking, it can become too loud.
There is no silent lunch policy at Stoddert, but students are sometimes told that they cannot talk at lunch. This is sometimes needed to get the students to eat their lunch or to address behavior problems.
Stoddert has a “one-sided lunch table” policy only for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. The Stoddert administration set this policy. Again, there is only 20 minutes for lunch, and sometimes the kids talk too much to eat. This table policy was set to get the students to focus on eating, rather than talking, during the short lunch periods.
Parents are encouraged to talk to the Stoddert administration if they have concerns with these policies. Parents are also encouraged to make comments to DCPS on the speed of serving food to the students. Any new food service for DCPS should serve lunch to the students quickly so the students have the most time possible to eat lunch.