Squantum PTO Meeting Minutes: Oct 26 2016

Squantum Elementary School PTO Meeting Minutes
October 26, 2016

Present: Principal Sylvia, Dr. Bloom, Mrs. Kiley, Kenda Coulter, Sarah Wood, Torrey Smith, and assembled parents. Introductions were made around the room.


11/8 Tuesday, Election Day Bake Sale (NO SCHOOL)
11/10 Uno’s Restaurant Night Fundraiser (Braintree)
11/11 Friday, Veterans’ Day (NO SCHOOL)
11/17 PTO Meeting, 7 pm (media center)
12/1 ‘Tis The Season Concert
12/2 Polar Express Night, 6-8 pm
12/13 & 12/20 Parent-teacher conferences


* Thanks to all the parent volunteers, especially Peggy Ronan, Moi Blaton, & Heather Morkan, for a fantastic Monster Mash! We raised $1,586 and the kids had a great time.

* Principal Sylvia, Dave Blaton, and Peggy Ronan met with district adviser to determine that Squantum School does have 501C3 status when applying for grants. This will help us as we go forward with our fundraising efforts.

* Congratulations to our seven teachers who applied for and won mini-grants for the school (average grant was $300)! Teachers will be recognized in early November.

* We discussed thanking our generous donors (such as Carmine’s) by posting thank you “ads” in programs like our monthly school newsletter. Stay tuned.

* Thanks to Mrs. Curtin, we are offering a typing program for fourth graders after school. There will be a second session to come.

* Principal Sylvia spoke briefly about Squantum’s “School Report Card,” which is available on line (at http://bit.ly/2eeDOhJ) and where we performed as a “strong level 2 school.” MCAS were recently mailed home, and Principal Sylvia and teachers are happy to meet with any parents who might have questions about the test.

* This year, for the first time, 4th GRADERS ONLY will be taking MCAS 2.0 on computers in the spring (3rd and 5th graders will continue to take MCAS as a paper test). There was discussion about preparing our kids for this transition and making sure all students who need access to computers for practice will have access. Sarah suggested a parent/teacher meeting to help educate parents about the switch to computers. Principal Sylvia noted that there are sample tests available on the Parke website, and we’ll be sending information on this link home shortly. Stay tuned for a meeting time with 4th grade teachers re: MCAS.

* The MCAS “window” for 2017 goes from April 3rd to May 26th. Grades 3 through 5 will have various portions of the test administered during some point in that window.

* Principal Sylvia reported that he’ll soon be presenting Squantum’s “School Improvement Plan” to the city, which is based on an assessment team’s recommendation of areas where our school might do better.

* Dr. Bloom reports that the Student Council is already hard at work on Unicef, a canned food drive, and various presentations at school assemblies.

* The Garden Club met twice this fall and made pizza topped by vegetables from the classroom garden and pesto sauce from the garden basil. Thanks to Ms. Cordero, Ms. Griffith, and Ms. LaRose for coordinating this fun group.

* Ms. Salas’s drama club will be performing the Wizard of Oz in March.

* 300 cookies have been ordered for our annual trip to the ‘Tis The Season concert at Quincy High on Thursday, December 1st. The Polar Express event (movies and a trolley ride around Squantum) will be the following night, Friday, December 2nd.

* Mr. Sylvia reported that there are new street signs up around the school, marking drivers’ speed, and also in back of the school, where buses need to turn into.


* THERE WILL BE NO SCHOOL ON ELECTION DAY, Tuesday, November 8th, and NO SCHOOL ON VETERANS’ DAY, Friday, November 11th.

* On Election Day, the gym will be open for voting and for our annual bake sale. Please let Sarah Wood (swood5944@gmail.com) know if you’re available to volunteer time or treats on November 8th.

* Jenn Bergin talked about our “Flags for Squantum” veterans’ drive. Our goal is to have 500 flags flying in the school’s front lawn for Election Day in honor of our veterans. Flags will be available for purchase on Election Day; students will also have a chance to buy a flag for $1. All proceeds go toward helping local veterans. The PTO approved an advance of $170 to order flags in time for Election Day.

* The 5th graders will have science “Pumpkin Day” on Thursday, October 27th.

* Please note that the first trimester ends on Thursday, December 1. Report cards go out on Monday, December 12. Parent-teacher conferences will be held on December 13th and December 20th (evening) this year.

* Thanks to the Quincy Elks Club, who donated dictionaries to all the third graders in our school!

* Information will be going home about the American Education Week Essay contest (optional).

* Submissions for the annual holiday poster contest will be due on November 10th. Information will be going home soon.


* Sarah Wood presented her idea for a Disney raffle, which was greeted enthusiastically around the room. Based on a neighboring PTO’s success with this fundraiser, Squantum School will launch its own raffle for a family to win a $5,000 trip to Disney!!!

~Raffle tickets ($5 each) will be available for purchase at the school bake sale on Election Day (November 8th).
~Students will also have the option to sell tickets in packets of 10 or more.
~ We hope this will be our biggest fundraiser yet! (Another school raised nearly $20,000).

҉ Ideas were discussed re: how to promote raffle to other local schools/neighborhoods.

~ A banner at the bake sale to advertise. Will also post a banner at the intersection of Quincy Shore Drive and Furnace Brook Parkway.
~Discussed publicizing via flyers and on social media (Nextdoor Squantum, PTO website and Facebook page, twitter, etc.).
~ Sarah to investigate a PayPal link so people can purchase raffle tickets on line as well.
~The PTO approved money to buy raffle tickets in advance.
~ Also discussed awards such as $100 gift certificate for student who sells the most tickets and a prize (pizza party?) for class that sells the most tickets.
~ We discussed when to draw/announce winner’s ticket (maybe on the day before December vacation?).

CITYWIDE REPORT from Dave Blaton:
Dave reported that the last meeting covered:

* Concern over the only 15 minutes that kids currently get for lunch, then recess (1/2 hour total). Discussion about how Quincy might extend both lunch and recess by 5 minutes. Principal Sylvia noted that Squantum School now lets the 4th and 5th graders go out for recess before lunch, which cuts down on the wait line for hot lunch for grades K-3.

*The possibility of hosting a “Parent Academy,” so parents and educators can discuss how to better meet the needs of students in special education classes.

*The ongoing need to address the amazing diversity in our schools and how to ensure every child feels as if he or she is being treated equally.

*Making sure people know that district meetings and Squantum School meeting minutes are available on-line; parents/guardians can select to read them in their preferred language.

*General concerns over moving the 4th grade MCAS to the computers were discussed as was making sure that every student has the computer access he or she needs to practice/train for this transition.

* Quincy school water is being tested for lead; results will be available in early November.

Torrey gave a financial update.

* The PTO has raised $7,298 to date. Thank you!
* Available balance after allocations: $6,856.86
* Thanks to all who purchased/sold Kidstuff Coupon Books, which has brought in $3,355 to date (the school gets half of that ($1677.50)).
* The Kindergarteners will have a special presentation, “The Lifecycle of Raptors” 🙂 (funds allocated)
* On March 2nd, there will be A Cat in the Hat assembly (funds allocated)
*On April 27th, there will be a poetry assembly (funds allocated)


* We discussed the need to reinstate “room parents,” one or two volunteers who would be willing to reach out to their child’s teacher/other classroom parents regarding volunteer opportunities/PTO ideas. There was talk of how important it is to expand our volunteer list this year, as many of our dedicated volunteers will soon be leaving when their children graduate.

* We discussed possible fundraisers for specific grades or classrooms. The point was made that it can be motivating to know that your dollars go straight to your child’s class or grade. Targeted fundraisers might also better meet teachers’ specific needs.

* We discussed promoting school events and fundraisers through avenues beyond social media. It was suggested that a large white board easel be set out front (by Squantum School sign) to announce upcoming events and meetings.

* Kenda adjourned the meeting and thanked everyone for their great ideas and enthusiasm.