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					                           Rock Creek Forest Elementary School
                               Parent-Teacher Association
                                      May 6, 2008
                                        Minutes

1. Welcome/ Spring Fair and Silent Auction: Mary Healey, PTA Co-President, welcomed
   the participants and thanked them for attending. She then thanked all the volunteers
   who assisted with the “terrifically fabulous” Spring Fair and Silent Auction. The
   Auction raised over $7,000 to date, and this figure will increase once the e-bay bids are
   closed.

2. Approval of April Meeting Minutes: The minutes from the April meeting were
   approved unanimously with no revisions.

3. Activity Calendar: The following major upcoming activities from the Activity
   Calendar were reviewed:
     Children’s Garden: Volunteers are still needed through June.
     This is School Spirit Week. The activities for the remaining days of the week
        were discussed.
     RCF Night at the Baja Fresh in downtown Silver Spring will be May 16.
        Coupons will be sent home in backpacks.
     Update on Roots & Shoots – Roots & Shoots (R&S) is a group of 3rd to 5th
        graders who meet twice a month to explore environmental, animal, and
        humanitarian issues. Julie Drizin, the parent leader of the group, gave the
        following updates:
             o Earlier this spring, 10 R&S members met Jane Goodall, the
                 anthropologist.
             o Students also met with members of R&S clubs in Tanzania and Nepal.
             o The group is currently sponsoring a collection of yogurt containers; it is
                 going very well, with over 500 collected so far. Please remember that the
                 containers should be clean and dry, and with wide mouths.
             o At the end of the year, the group will participate in the Drive for Supplies,
                 which is a collection of new and gently used school supplies. The supplies
                 are sent to MCPS, which redistributes them to schools around the county
                 and also send some to sister schools overseas. Some of the supplies
                 collected at RCFES will be sent to R&S clubs in Nepal and Tanzania.
             o Julie will not be able to lead Roots and Shoots next year, so she is looking
                 for someone to take her place. She will be happy to help the new person
                 with the transition. Curricula are available on-line, although there are
                 more projects offered for younger ages than older. The group meets twice
                 a month for 90 minutes.
     BOSS (Bulk-Order School Supplies) forms have been sent home in backpacks. A
        listing of the supplies included in each grade’s kit is available on the website. It is
        important that these lists be updated every year to ensure that we do not purchase
        supplies that we do not need.
4. Report from Student Government Association (SGA) President: Travis Valmon, the
President of the SGA, gave an update on recent activities. The SGA meets every
Thursday at 12:30. It includes two representatives from each third through fifth grade
classroom, who are chosen by their classmates. The SGA has three goals for this year:

#1. To implement good Green School habits. As part of School Spirit week, Monday
was “Go Green” Day.
#2. To increase school spirit. In addition to sponsoring School Spirit week, the SGA has
created a banner to put up at softball games.
#3. To raise funds to help the school. This year’s biggest fundraiser will be the sale of
car magnets that say RCF. The magnets are being delivered this week; a flyer to order
them will come home in Backpack Thursday, and they will be for sale at future school
events. In addition, the SGA will sponsor a concession stand at all home softball games.
At the last game, the stand generated $95 in two hours. These funds will be used to assist
with scholarships for field trips and school supplies.

5. PTA Budget: Margaret Kuyumjian presented a revised budget. It only showed
activities through the end of April; therefore, it does not reflect the impact of the Spring
Fair or Silent Auction. There were no questions about the budget.

6. Nominees for 2008-2009 PTA Executive Board: The list of nominees for next year’s
PTA Executive Board was presented. The majority of the nominees will be returning
from this year, which should ensure a strong transition. The list was as follows:
Returning Members:
    Co-President:                   Eric Sterling
    Co-Vice President:              Francisco Perez-Hurtado
    Membership VP                   Jenna Greene
    Treasurer                       Margaret Kuyumjian
    Recording Secretary:            Colleen Meiman
    MCCPTA Representative: Angela Muhammed
    BCC Cluster Representative: Craig Brown
New Members:
    Co-President                    Amanda Waugh
    Co-Vice President:              Gail Lewis
    Corresponding Secretary:        Anna DiNicolo
    MCCPTA Representative: Lisa Otterstrom

If you know of someone who would be interested in second BCC Cluster Representative
position, please contact Jennifer Salisbury. There will be a vote on this slate of nominees
at the June PTA meeting.

7. Staff Report:
Mr. Kopit and Sra. Xeron provided the following updates:
     Testing Update:
           o During March, the MSAs were administered in Reading and Math for
               third through fifth graders. The results will be received in June or July.
            o Last week and this week the MAP-R was administered to third through
                fifth graders. The MAP-R is a diagnostic test to determine academic
                progress in reading. It is given 3 times a year, and the results are due end
                of next week.
            o For the first time ever tests are being given in silence in fifth grade.
            o Parents should definitely feel free to ask their teachers for their children’s
                test results.
            o The second graders will undergo screening for Gifted and Talented on
                May 21 and 22nd.
            o There was a question about the total amount of time that students spend in
                formal testing each year. Mr. Chia replied that the MSAs take a total of 8
                hours per year for third and fourth graders, and 10 hours for fifth graders.
                The MAP-Rs take one hour, three times a year. Math unit assessments
                (all grades) range from 60-90 minutes, and are administered at the end of
                each unit. (There are 4 to 6 units per grade).
       The 5th graders are preparing for promotion; the ceremony will be held on June
        10.
       The staff would like to thank the parents for the upcoming luncheon and other
        Staff Appreciation activities this week.
       There is a home softball game this week.
       On Friday there will be orientation for next year’s kindergarten, so there will be
        no school for current kindergarten students. For next year’s kindergarten Spanish
        Immersion class, 19 of the slots will be filled with siblings of children currently
        in the program.

8. Principal’s Report:
    There will be a BCC Cluster meeting this Thursday night at RCFES. Mr. Chia is
       unable to attend, so Mr. Hall will be filling in for him.
    Orientation for next fall’s kindergartners will be this Friday, 5/9. There will be no
       school for kindergarten students only on that day.
    Next Thursday night at 6:00 PM will be RCFES’ first-ever Arts & Technology
       Night. Some of the students’ art projects will be on display. This event is for
       both students and parents; please note that children must be supervised at all
       times.
    Field Day will be held on May 30 for kindergarteners, and on June 6 for all other
       students.
    Fifth grade students are working on a musical to be performed in early June.
    The budget situation for next year is still unclear. However, we know that we will
       have fewer paraeducators available, and that none will be available to assist with
       dismissal. In preparation for this, a new approach is being piloted. Under this
       approach, at 3:25 all patrols are dismissed to their posts. Next, the K-2 teachers
       drop off their bus riders at APR, and then take their walkers outside. For grades
       3-5, bus riders and walkers are being dismissed directly from their classrooms.
    On June 12, end of year awards will be presented. (In previous years these
       awards were called by a different name.)
   Parents will soon receive a request to submit new data regarding their children’s
    race and ethnicity. This information will impact the number and description of
    the categories by which the No-Child-Left-Behind data will be reported.
   Mr. Chia recently went to Warrenton, England, where the teachers that we hosted
    last fall were from. He visited elementary, middle, and high schools and had
    numerous observations, including:
    o Teachers’ starting salaries are much higher in the UK than in the US;
        however, costs are much higher as well. The teachers went out on strike
        during Mr. Chia’s visit; one of the main issues was pay raises. (Note that
        MCPS teachers are not allowed to strike.)
    o The level of respect for teachers is noticeably higher in the UK
    o There is a strong emphasis on testing in the UK as well. Their version of
        NCLS is called “Every Child Matters.”
    Eventually, Mr. Chia would like to develop informal sister classes, and
    connections between individual teachers, perhaps even doing a teacher exchange
    for a week.

   Mr. Chia announced and explained a significant change in the way that English
    will be taught within the Spanish Immersion program. RCFES is described as a
    full immersion program; however, at present the school is operating as a partial
    immersion program, with English reading taught starting in second grade and all
    specials in English. Starting next year, RCFES will move towards the model
    followed the other "full" immersion programs, including Maryville and Sligo
    Creek. Under this approach, instruction in English will not begin until the fourth
    grade, where 90 minutes will be set aside for English each week in fourth grade
    and 90 minutes each day in fifth grade. The one exception will be the specials,
    which will continue to be taught in English.

    In addition,to bringing RCFES in line with the other “full immersion” programs,
    these changes will enable more flexibility in the master schedule. This will make
    it easier to accommodate the mandatory reductions in paraeducator staff next
    year, and will also facilitate the scheduling of accelerated math for 2nd – 5th
    grades.

    In response to questions, Mr. Chia made the following points:
        o Students in Spanish Immersion generally do well on standardized tests.
            The most obvious area of weakness that they tend to have in English is
            spelling. This is an opportunity cost of learning another language, and
            there are ways that parents can help compensate for this.
        o He tries to bring in Spanish-speaking substitutes whenever possible, but
            can no guarantee that one will always be available.
        o Once the schedule is simplified, the school will seek to encourage students
            to speak Spanish to each other more often. However, it was pointed out
            that requiring the Immersion students to use Spanish in the lunchroom and
            playground would further divide the school, as community students would
            be unable to communicate with the Immersion classmates.
o The number of Spanish language books in the library is still low, despite
  the recent drive. However, RCFES receives the same amount of library
  funding per child as a non-immersion school, so the needs of the
  community children need to be balanced with the needs of the immersion
  students.
o If the parent of a child in the immersion program don’t know how to read
  in Spanish, they should read to their child in English. He does not think it
  is necessary to push children towards reading in Spanish; they will get
  enough reading from their classroom homework assignments, etc.

				
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