December 18, 2020
Hillside PTA Meetings
- Brian welcomed guests
- Due to technical difficulties we were unable to approve November 2020 minutes.
- Completed building walk-through with administration, custodians, principals to confirm that everything we’ve set out to do has been completed. We are posting protocols, signage, bathroom procedures, etc.
- We continue to get up-to-date content from the nursing administration so we’ve been hesitant to release the new plan until we have final information.
- Foresee the need to have another parent forum to explain the hybrid plan, either live or video, to help families understand daily schedules.
- Our biggest challenge is how to best maximize instructional time. Recognize that there is a lot of technology troubleshooting that takes place throughout the school day and it impacts lesson time. In addition, it is very hard to have a middle of day dismissal because we only have teachers for so many minutes each day. We continue to have conversations to work out these challenges.
- We have 4-5 parents as part of the planning team.
- Very excited that Montclair enrichment centers are available for families. The program will be similar to the YMCA and is for families that qualify for free/reduced lunch. This program is the true definition of equity: getting services for those who need them.
- The timeline to change from remote to hybrid has passed and the new date will be around March 15.
PTA Treasurer Update:
- Report was shared; currently, there is not a lot of activity without Explorers and other activities.
- We have collected $2950 (as of now) for staff donations and Make a Wish; staff holiday donations at $2329, roughly the same as last year. Deadline is tonight 12/18.
- We provided meals at Thanksgiving and will do so for Christmas.
- We are ~$1000 down overall, but we have not yet made an appeal. Appeal will depend on circumstances around 5th grade step up.
- Trivia Night is happening on 12/19
- Working on a ‘sip and paint’ party for adults
- The Van Vleck Pop Up store has been moved to Christmas Eve day
- Little Read is happening tonight (12/17)
- We are still working on Explorers programming. We will offer some virtual classes and are currently figuring out logistics of running a plan virtually.
- Planning a Talent Show / Movie Night with assistance from Montclair Film; will reach out to parents for help.
- Jen Di Lullo provided an update on the Social Justice Task Force
- Two upcoming events: 1) 12/21 with a rabbi providing a presentation on Hanukkah 2) working with NJPac on Kwanzaa plans
- Will be distributing a update for the Hillside community and sharing our plans (racial literacy, student voices/educating students in classrooms, cultural infusion)
- Currently have 18 people on the team, looking for more participation. Will start subgroup meetings. Ms. Scott and Ms. Graham are getting involved.
- Planning for February Black Lives Matter week of action
- Make A Wish – we appreciate the contributions; the effort from team and office, great job with the tags,especially for a year like 2020!
PTAC and BOE summary
- Have had a series of meetings to discuss initiation of parent organization at the High School. Dr. Ponds very much on board; working with NAACP to make sure it’s welcoming and inclusive for all groups of community. We want to create opportunities for social interaction, particularly 9th graders as they’ve become more shut-in this year. Could be a PTSA (parent, teacher, student) organization.
- Equity / anti-racism had a great meeting a week ago with Dr. Ponds. Data is important because we need indicators to see what is/not working and make adjustments at the district level. We are working on getting data, however Dr. Ponds’ emphasis is to move behind awareness to action. PTAC has offered to augment CO staff to give them more hands to analyze the data. Feel positive about the movement.
- Had a discussion with Business Admin about PTAC trying to educate the community on district finance and budget process and constraints. This would help families participate more thoughtfully in the BOE meetings. Looking to develop FAQs, 101, or other resources to help demystify how/why we make decisions.
- Group called Montclair FAIL has been advocating for a return hybrid/ in person instruction. Not confident that the current target date will be met. PTAC put out a statement that 60% have chosen hybrid; we want to see all stakeholders work collaboratively to make that happen. We recognize how much families are struggling with remote instruction. Every family is impacted in some way by this model.
- There were several questions/comments around the transparency of student assessments and tracking. Mr. Adamo has taken notes to escalate concerns.
- Suggestion to create a centralized hub for the Hillside community to find information. We are very email and social media heavy.
- Currently reviewing the SAIL program to consider students who were previously excluded. Some cautioned that Gifted & Talented programs can be a slippery slope to separate kids. There was a push for SAIL to help kids who are excelling, but bored. Question was raised about SAIL assessments being culturally sensitive.
- There was an acknowledgement that many kids are struggling with online test taking.
Jennifer Di Lullo