PTAC General Meeting Minutes– December 14, 2020
In attendance: Tessie Thomas, Patty Gamcsik, Brian Fleischer, Andrew Gideon, Colleen Dougherty, Deborah Villarreal-Hadley, Courtney Redfern, June Raegner, Kathryn Fogliano, Amy Uhlfelder, Kayla Crawley, Najla Nazeemudeen, Irene Rosenthal, Karina Lynch, Reggie Valentine, Veronica Harris, Marco Peterson, Linda Kow, Adeola Whitney, Kevin Quinn, Jessica Schachter, Kristin Wood-Werner, Marci Clark, Maelle Fontaneau, Ana Cristina Dos Santos, Kimberly Latortue, Mary Ann Vanco, Selma Avdicevic, Meredith Pressler, Jayda Roman, Norrinda Hayat, Susan Gardner, Kayla Crawley
- Minutes of the 11/9/20 meeting were unanimously approved.
- President’s Report
- Discussion of MHS parent meetings regarding possible formation of PTA/parent group at the high school. First meeting was held. Consensus was in favor of a parent group. Many parents expressed that a parent group could be helpful in working with the administration to address social-emotional learning concerns, student isolation, etc.
- The latter discussion led to a general discussion of possible measures to support students in socialization. One person commented that then high school does not have the bandwidth as the moment to address this and that parents (parent group) should take initiative to plan things, pass along good ideas etc. Suggestions mentioned:
- Organize “Among Us” games (app) to be played in class
- Trivia Competitions
- Drive in Movie night in HS parking lot
- More frequent homerooms esp for 9th graders
- Mentoring during Friday lunchtime
- Let students use school grounds to meet, play basketball etc
- Debbie V. has joined the township’s COVID taskforce on behalf of PTAs. If anyone has suggestions or recommendations to be raised there, pass them along.
- MFEE has launched its Healing Huddles initiative. Debbie V. is attending training and others should consider getting involved.
- PTAC Executive Board decided to approach the MEA to try to form/re-form a relationship. Debbie V. reached out to MEA President Petal Robertson a couple of weeks ago; no response as yet.
- Reminder: PTAC dues have been reduced to $100/PTA for this year.
- VP/Schools Summary
- All PTAs remain very busy and are working hard despite the current circumstances. Activities include Thanksgiving food drives, coat drives, Holiday Giving for families in need and holiday gift collections for teachers.
- PTA Presidents want to ensure that they are doing their part to support Equity causes and efforts in each school. So a group was formed with Equity Chair(s) from each school to share best practices and do more. This group will also coordinate with EAROG. Some school PTAs have Equity Committees while others are working through their principals or SATp.
- PTAs are applying for MFEE Equity Grants.
- Family engagement continues to be a challenge in this pandemic, though it is more important than ever in the remote environment. Despite any weariness, the PTAs are working harder than ever.
- PTAC Schools- PTA Presidents’ Updates
- Nishuane. PTA busy with collecting Christmas gifts for families in need. Held a joint trivia night with Hillside which was successful and will be repeated. PTA costs are down. They have new spirit wear including Nishuane facemasks.
- Northeast. Held a “Count Me In” fundraising campaign which raised $14k. They issued an online cookbook which was undersubscribed. They conducted a 7 question survey focused on engagement.
- Edgemont. Principal search to replace Jeff Freeman is ongoing. Disappointment that outdoor learning was not launched this fall. Shared tents with other schools to recoup costs. Held an online ”Friendsgiving”. Good diversity activities: America to Me group, Bilingual Bedtime Stories, and a ”Nice White Parents’ discussion group.
- Bullock. Held a webinar on “how to talk to your kids about race.” Planning a Zoom holiday caroling event. Conducting a coat drive. Planning events for next year: MLK Day, a virtual talent show. Brainstorming ways to engage families. Karaoke? Art?
- Watchung. Provided complete Thanksgiving meals for six families delivered by principal Krenn. Conducted a food drive. Chose not to participate in Wrap And Roll b/c of privacy concerns but will get gifts to families directly. Villalobos fundraiser. Restarted SATp.
- Bradford. Also not participating in wrap and roll due to privacy concerns. Applied for MFEE grant. Concerns about social emotional learning. Principal Naomi Kirkman retiring.
- Glenfield. Dr. Ponds wants all middle schools to be consistent. Did a survey. Spirit Wear pop up. Met with RJ staff.
- Buzz Aldrin. 2 restaurant nights. Running an online Book Fair. Created 42 Thanksgiving food baskets (versus 20+ in past years). Doing gift cards to families instead of Wrap and Roll.
- Hillside. Coat drive, Thanksgiving drive and collecting Make a Wish gift drive. Held spirit wear pop up at Van Vleck. Talent show and joint trivia night with Nishuane.
- Committee Reports
- EAROG. Collecting information in response to questions created by subcommittees. Dr. Ponds wants the committee to work “alongside other stakeholders”. Information will be shared with subcommittees but not publicly shared– technically could be OPRAd but Ponds wants a chance to come up with plans, not just share bad news.
- Communication Committee. Planning to create an online guide on “how things work in the Montclair Public Schools”– who’s who, etc. Planning to post sometime this winter.
- Finance. Planning to hold a Budgeting and Finance Zoom event in January, working with business office.
- Community Building. Planning to hold a joint event with SEPAC on January 7th on dyslexia. 4 expert speakers.
- Technology. All PTAs have G Suite for email though some are using MemberHib. District head of information systems retiring; will have to find out who is in charge next.
- New Business
Amy Uhlfedler reported on an event held at Glenfield with Restorative Justice people. The RJ folks sought to clarify that the true cost of RJ is not their salaries ($600k) but the cost of substitutes to replace them in the classrooms ($200k).
A discussion was held about the Montclair F.A.I.L. group on Facebook, which wants students returned to school in person ASAP.
A discussion was held about the possible use of school grounds for after school and PTA activities.