The following are the minutes for the Stoddert PTO Executive Meeting on December 03, 2015…
Assistant Principal Ibis Villegas
Assistant Principal Turner
PTO Presidents‘ Welcome and Update
The PTO is planning to send thank you’s to families who have paid PTO dues. The PTO especially wants to thank families who paid dues and are not in Stoddert’s extended day program. Jason Orlando will be involved in this because he knows who has paid dues. Also, the PTO needs to send out receipts for dues because the PTO is a 501(c)(3) organization so dues are tax deductible. Up to 56 families outside of Stoddert’s extended day program have paid PTO dues. Each month, about 4 or 5 new families outside of Stoddert’s extended day program are starting to pay dues.
Also, some families are paying more than the suggested dues of $400 per family and they should get a special “thank you.”
At the April Executive PTO meeting, we are planning to discuss: (1) whether to expand Stoddert’s extended day program; and (2) whether to stop requiring families in Stoddert’s extended day program to pay full PTO dues. The EDP working group plans to present its recommendations on these issues at the April Executive Meeting. The EDP working group has looked at almost every other aftercare program around. With 150 kids, Stoddert’s EDP program has a lot more kids than other EDP programs with the exception of Janney. The next largest EDP program has 90 kids. Each school has a different set up. The larger programs have some sort of off site component (ex: Murch, Lafayette). So be sure to be at the April PTO meeting if you want to join in this discussion.
Assistant Principal Turner is at Stoddert through a grant program and was chosen for his science teaching background. While at Stoddert, Turner has been focusing on Stoddert’s science needs. Turner will leave Stoddert on December 18. He is moving on to Garfield Elementary School.
The PTO has given StoddertCares $500 as startup funding for this Stoddert community service organization. This is the first year for StoddertCares, so it needed some startup money. StoddertCares asked the PTO for this $500. Organizations usually need some startup funds. StoddertCares is meant to be self-sustaining funding wise in the future in that it will get its future funding through its own activities and fundraising. Because StoddertCares has been a great success so far at Stoddert, the PTO decided to go ahead and give this $500 startup funding to it.
Stoddert has drafted a written lunch room policy which is being tweaked. For those interested in Stoddert’s lunch room policy, it should be ready soon.
LSAT Meeting Update
Caitlin Oppenheimer and Melissa Loughlin gave the update from the LSAT meeting. DCPS is pushing to have draft budgets submitted earlier so there is more time between the draft budgets and when the budgets are locked in. Also, DCPS is trying to move up the date for enrollment projections.
Since Stoddert’s enrollment is over 400 students, Stoddert automatically qualifies for a lot of funding for things like a fulltime librarian.
The LSAT is trying to figure out how Stoddert should manage the large number of students currently in the 1st grade. Next year, these students will be second graders. What does Stoddert need to do to prepare for this bubble in Stoddert’s enrollment? Also, Stoddert has a large number of kindergarteners.
The LSAT will also discuss who will be in the demountable classrooms next year?
On the budget, the LSAT will be trying to figure out how to do more with a flat or lower budget next year.
The LSAT is working to develop more refined emergency procedures, particularly focusing on how the school should communicate with parents during an emergency. Also, Stoddert needs to figure out how to communicate with parents when there are problems during a field trip. Vice Principal Villegas plans to send to the PTO information on Stoddert’s emergency procedures that can be put on Stoddert’s website. Once this information is on Stoddert’s website, parents can take a look and get informed on Stoddert’s emergency procedures.
Parents are encouraged to tell Principal Bryant what Stoddert issues they would like him and the LSAT to tackle, such as lunch room policies, computer class developments, the demountable classrooms and who will be in them.
Assistant Principal Turner gave the Principal’s update.
Finding a Science Curriculum for Stoddert
Principal Bryant tasked Turner to help Julie Schneider get Stoddert’s new science program up and running. Turner has extensive experience in teaching science.
Science is not a tested subject at Stoddert in the sense that PARCC does not test science in grades 3, 4 or 5. But grades 3, 4 and 5 need help with science. Unfortunately, DCPS does not have a science curriculum for grades 3-5. So, an elementary science teacher has to develop a science curriculum on his or her own, which is really, really hard. This is what Julie is trying to do at the same time that she is teaching science. But this is really an impossible task. It is not realistic to expect Julie to develop a science curriculum on her own. Nevertheless, Stoddert should not wait for DCPS to develop a science curriculum.
Last month, Turner and Julie went to the National Science Teacher Association meeting to look for a science curriculum. The NSTA meeting has several vendors who sell pre-packaged science curriculums. Julie and Turner looked at the science curriculums offered at the meeting. Turner recommends that Stoddert purchase and use the “STEM Scopes” science curriculum. Julie saw the STEM Scopes curriculum and wants to use it to teach science at Stoddert.
Turner recommends that Stoddert purchase and use the STEM Scopes science curriculum for several reasons. First, Turner does not think Stoddert should wait for DCPS to come up with an elementary school science curriculum. Julie cannot come up with a curriculum on her own. Stoddert needs a science curriculum if it is going to teach science effectively and buying a curriculum is the best option for Stoddert at this time.
Second, Julie likes the STEM Scopes curriculum. Julie is drowning in trying to come up with a science curriculum this year and wants to give STEM Scopes a try. Julie’s enthusiasm for using STEM Scopes is a strong reason to get this curriculum.
Third, STEM Scopes is totally aligned with DCPS’s standards for teaching science. In Turner’s opinion, STEM Scopes is the best curriculum for Stoddert that is available.
As far as the cost, the price quote for STEM Scopes is for a year’s curriculum for one class and the price varies by grade. If Stoddert went ahead with STEM Scopes, realistically, it could not be used until next year. Once you purchase the STEM Scopes curriculum, which comes with instruction kits, you can just buy new materials each year to replace the materials that are used up through the year. This means that once Stoddert buys the curriculum, there is no need to buy the whole kit every year. There is training/professional development related to the STEM Scopes curriculum that Julie could take. Turner recommends a lot of professional development for Julie on STEM Scopes which will help Julie get the most out of this curriculum. This professional development costs money as well.
Turner stated that STEM Scopes is not the perfect answer for Stoddert, but it is the best option available. There is a free 30-day trial with STEM Scopes that Julie is currently taking advantage of. The regular teachers also teach science to some degree, so they are also trying out STEM Scopes during this free 30-day trial. In addition to this 30-day trial, Stoddert could also get STEM Scopes for one grade only next year to test it.
STEM Scopes is currently being used at John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Ward 8. We could talk to the teachers there to see what their experience has been with STEM Scopes.
We don’t know what the other schools like Key and Mann are doing for science. We should also talk to the other Hardy feeder schools to see what they are doing.
Other things to think about related to STEM Scopes are: (1) whether there is going to be a full time science teacher next year at Stoddert; and (2) what will be the budget next year for science and will it cover buying the STEM Scopes curriculum and related professional development?
The PTO should discuss whether STEM Scopes will really work at Stoddert. But right now, Julie is in a very tough spot trying to come up with a full science curriculum on her own. The PTO has pushed science instruction at Stoddert in the past. The PTO needs to figure out what it is willing to do in the future to keep pushing science forward at Stoddert.
Stoddert’s PARCC Results
The results from Stoddert’s PARCC testing have been released. Stoddert had 63% of its students score proficient or above in ELA, also known as reading. At 63% proficient, Stoddert had the 13th highest ELA proficiency score out of the 161 DC schools which took the PARCC testing last year. In math, Stoddert had 72% of its students score proficient or above. At 72% proficient, Stoddert had the 3rd highest proficiency score out of the 161 DC schools which took the PARCC testing. Only Ross and Lafayette elementary schools had better proficiency scores than Stoddert in math.
Stoddert has a larger percentage of English Language Learners or ELL students than many schools. ELL students are included in testing after being in the United States for one year. Stoddert’s larger percentage of ELL students could have had an effect on Stoddert’s scores.
There is a write-up on the PARCC data on Stoddert’s website. Leigh McKenna did a big write-up on how to use and understand the PARCC scores.
Some parents are concerned that Stoddert’s students will not be as prepared for the PARCC testing this year as they were last year. The PARCC testing is taken on a computer and students have to type in their answers. There was a big emphasis last year on getting the students familiar with computers and typing in preparation for the PARCC testing. Some parents feel that Stoddert’s students are not receiving the same level of computer and typing instruction this year as they did last year. There seems to be a different focus in the computer information classes this year than there was last year.
Big Chili Update
Alysa McClellan gave the update on the Big Chili.
Stoddert’s annual fundraising auction will be on March 12 this year. The auction team will soon send out a save the date email for the auction. We wanted to move the auction to an earlier date in the school year so we will know how much money the auction raises earlier in the budget year. If the auction falls short of our fundraising expectations, we will have more time left in the year to try to find other ways to make up the fundraising shortfall.
We need to get information about the auction to room parents so they can get the information out to parents. There will be a tab on the Stoddert website for the auction which will have auction information.
The PTO is making several changes to the Big Chili this year. First, we are changing the name to the “Annual Auction.”
Second, the venue for the auction will be Stoddert’s gym for several reasons, including that it is free. Other schools have their auctions in their gyms. Having the auction in the Stoddert gym will save us $3,000. Also, having our auction in an embassy raised complications for some parents. For example, Russian families could not go to other embassies. Hopefully, Russian families will come to the auction this year since it will be at Stoddert.
Third, we will not be doing the online auction this year. The online auction brought in only 39% of the value of the donated items. In the end, the money made from the online auction was not worth the enormous effort put into finding the items sold through the online auction. Also, we may be able to raise the same amount of money through sponsorships from businesses that we raised from the donated items from local businesses through the online auction. We could offer different levels of sponsorships to make it more interesting for businesses to sponsor Stoddert. Finding business sponsors is moving forward. Town Hall has already agreed to donate $1,000 and a champagne toast to the auction.
We need to find a successor to Alysa to head up next year’s auction. The successor should come in this year to see how the auction is handled this year so they are ready to put it on next year. Moving the auction to Stoddert’s gym and dropping the online auction will make the auction a much more manageable event for someone to take over and run next year.
Finally, Juli Smith is working on preparations for a party after the auction.
This year’s Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast was featured on the local Fox news station. Eve-Lyn Turmail is looking into what teachers spend their stipends on so this information can be given to the PTO communications team. The PTO communications team will put this information into the weekly Chalkboard emails as another way of showing parents how PTO dues help Stoddert students.
Christina Boccuti gave the budget update. The PTO sent a letter to all Stoddert teachers and staff, including aides, letting them know that the PTO is still taking teacher funding requests. We have not gotten a lot of responses. We are feeling pretty good that the teachers have what they need.
To make a funding request, each teacher has to answer 6 questions, which might be inhibiting teacher requests, but we feel like the questions are valid and serve a purpose.
Ms. Smith made a request for funding that was discussed at the PTO’s October executive meeting. As discussed at the October meeting, Ms. Smith did not discuss her request with Principal Bryant before submitting it to the PTO. We have told Ms. Smith that she needs to discuss her request with Principal Bryant before the PTO can act on her request. After this discussion, we have not heard back from Ms. Smith.
The PTO will provide holiday bonuses to all Stoddert staff this year as it has done in the past. We need to make sure that everyone gets a bonus, including cafeteria staff, Officer Thorn, the school nurse, etc. These bonuses are in the approved budget and have to be passed out before the last school day before the holiday break, which is soon.