"But letters would be appreciated any time"
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.