PTO Meeting Minutes – FEB

Squantum Elementary School PTO Meeting Minutes

February 15, 2017


Present: Principal Sylvia, Dr. Bloom, Kenda Coulter, Sarah Wood, Torrey Smith, Mrs. Kiley, Mrs. Corwin, Mrs. White, and assembled parents.

Upcoming Events:

2/16        School Fundraiser at Panera Bread (all day)

2/17        Squantum School hosts QPS Special Olympics @ 9 am in gym

Week of 2/20     Winter Recess (school closed)

3/2          Dr. Seuss Assembly, Wear Red-and-White Day to kick off annual Read-Across-America program

3/7          Kindergarten registration

3/9          SQU School Players perform @ 6 pm in the gym

3/17        Second Trimester ends

3/27        Report cards go home

4/3          MCAS 2.0 state test window opens

4/4          Parent-teacher conferences (day & evening)

4/11        Parent-teacher conferences (afternoon)

4/27        Poetry assembly



  • Thanks to Bill McGinnes of Quincy’s Papa John’s for providing pizzas at 40% off for the Kindergarten 100-Day Parade and the PTO meeting! Bill presented the possibility of a SQU School Fundraiser on the first Tuesday of every month, where parents/guardians can send in an order form/$$ that morning and pick up a hot pizza from school at dismissal time. 20% of sales will be donated to SQU School.  PTO agreed this would be a worthy and worthwhile fundraiser. Flyers to come.
  • Sweetheart Dance/Party Hearty has been postponed. We discussed new possible dates of 3/24 or 4/7 for a “Spring Fling” or a “Spring Soirée.” Kim will check with vendors on their availability. Stay tuned.
  • Official motion to host a “Fun Run” fundraiser next October at SQU School was approved by the PTO.

Principal Sylvia’s Report

  • Thanks to Mrs. Corwin and all the kindergarten teachers and parents who helped with the 100-Day Parade. It was a fun celebration, topped with crowns and “100-Day” sticker vests.
  • The new laminator is in – thank you to the PTO.
  • Student council summit meeting with reps will now be held on 3/9.
  • February PBIS honors Caring. Assembly on 2/17.
  • McKim will soon be leaving on maternity leave and Sarah Lane (who was the Math focus teacher at Lincoln Memorial) will take over Ms. McKim’s classes. Ms. McKim to return in April.
  • Afterschool MCAS tutoring continues. There was discussion of possibly offering more ELA tutoring for 4th and 5th Mr. Regan will be the Robotics coach for this year’s Lego Robotics competition for 5th graders. Sign-up notices will be going home shortly.
  • The BOKS program returns in March. Stay tuned for sign-up notices coming home in folders.
  • If your 3rd grader (now 4th grader) ranked in the top 20% of all QPS students on the 2016 MCAS, you should soon receive a letter informing you of this (letters go out on Friday). Mr. Sylvia notes that the Atlantic Middle School also now offers honors programs for sixth graders.
  • The rest of the evening’s presentation focused on the “next-generation” MCAS 2.0. A Parent Resource Guide is available on the main QPS website. It recommends helpful sites, such as com, where students can practice their typing skills. NB: All 4th Graders will be taking MCAS on the computer this year. 3rd and 5th graders will continue to take paper MCAS this year.
  • (PLEASE NOTE: Helpful links to information about MCAS and resource guides are also available on the SQU School PTO Website at


  • Includes old MCAS items, newly developed MCAS items, and PARCC items. Essentially a hybrid test.
  • 93% of schools in MA will be hosting MCAS on computers for their 4th graders this year.
  • By 2018, 4th and 5th graders will take MCAS on the computer.
  • By 2019, 3rd, 4th, and 5th will all take MCAS on the computer.
  • ELA will be 3 sessions (one a day) with recommended times of 60 mins/60 mins/45 mins. The test is untimed for all students, however, should they need more time to complete a section.
  • Math will be 2 sessions (roughly 65 minutes for each period for 3rd graders).
  • Science and Technology, 2 sessions, for 5th grade only.


The writing is integrated into the ELA sessions. There is no longer a separate composition test. 3rd graders will be expected to write shorter essays and one two-page essay. 4th/5th graders will also have shorter essays and be expected to write one 2-4 page essay. All told, there will be 5 open response questions (3 on one day; 2 on another day).

Kids will get scratch paper to map out essays, if they’d like. This includes the 4th graders taking the test on the computer.

There was discussion about encouraging 4th grade students to type their open responses for homework to help them better prepare for the computerized MCAS. Agreed that it could be presented as an option, though not as a homework requirement necessarily.

All 4th graders at SQU School will be taking the test at the same time. That means one group will be in the computer lab and a few other groups will take the test on the mobile computer labs that the city provides for the test that week.

ELA Item Types:

Mrs. Kiley discussed the different kinds of questions on this year’s ELA:

  • Multiple-choice, as in last year’s.
  • Short Responses. Students asked to write a paragraph in response to something they read.
  • Narrative essay (in place of long comp). Students are expected to write a narrative essay based on a text given to them. For example, the reading passage might be about a boy who goes on a camping trip. Students will then be asked to write a journal entry that the boy might compose while at camp. 3rd graders expected to write 2 pages; 4th and 5th graders expected to write 4 pages (roughly 200 words a page).
  • Text-based essay. Students will be asked to read a passage and comment on its central theme. For example, there might be an essay about a girl who makes puppets and why she was so clever. Students expected to write one page.


Mrs. Kiley furthermore stressed that all SQU School kids have been working on these kinds of responses/essays throughout the year and should be well-prepared for the test. Mr. Sylvia also underscored that students have access to the computer lab, where many of them are already proficient at taking assessment tests on-line. Also good to keep in mind: Whatever changes may appear this year, the MCAS 2.0 are still testing for the same core standards that our teachers have been teaching our kids every year.


MATH ITEMS:  Dr. Bloom noted that these are fairly straightforward, with perhaps less writing than previous years’ tests.


  • Multiple Choice.
  • Multiple select, eg. Select the best TWO answers.
  • Short answer, fill in the blank.
  • Open-response.


Also available to all students: Tools like a straight-edge, a highlighter, some kind of tracking device or place marker, etc. If a student needs special accommodations, these will be noted ahead of time in a “test profile” that is created electronically for every SQU School student.




  • Sylvia reported on ongoing efforts to address traffic issues during drop-off and pick-up. A traffic engineer came to the school to observe traffic patterns and will be providing recommendations. Some ideas proposed were improved signage, rerouting, and new drop off/pickup practices. The community charm of meeting/greeting parents and chatting about upcoming events during these times is something to keep in mind. Please continue to avoid blocking neighbors’ driveways. Also mentioned was the need for removal of curbside snow banks across the street from the school. Currently, the city does not do this nor is it required to.


  • Torrey’s financial report.  Torrey advised we’ll be low on funds once the mobile cart funds are applied. She recommended we start putting together the Math and Science night and Multicultural night raffles and consider a spring fundraiser.


  • June 12th Red Sox game-flyer will go home shortly. 5th grade yearbooks are being prepared by class parents. Thank you!