Meany PTSA General Meeting - 9/24/2019

Meany PTSA General Meeting - September 24, 2019
Time: 6:30 - 8:00 pm (scheduled)
Location: Meany Middle School Library

Board Members in attendance: 

Jen Emrich (Co-President), Lara Kreyenhagen (Co-President), Eric Pedersen (Vice President), Joy Rothrock (Co-Treasurer), Karen Axtell (Co-Treasurer), Molly Wyman (Co-Secretary), Meghan Dort Lackey (Events Chair), Andy Jensen (Legislative Chair), Anna Finkenzeller (BLT Rep 8th Grade)

Board Members not in attendance:  

Joseph Wyman (Co-Secretary), Linda Moy (Community Building Chair), Vivian van Gelder (Equity and Outreach Chair), Meher Antia (Equity and Outreach Chair), Gilia Angell (Special Education Parent Liaison), Linda Mullen (BLT Rep 7th Grade)

General Attendance:  

Dan Johnson (Annual Fund Co-Chair), Katie Busby (Wellness Team), Shannon Hurst (Wellness Team), Aviva Rubin (Country Doctor Health Clinic Rep), Justine Cruise-Roberson (Therapeutic Health Services), Chanda Oatis (Principal), Alison Underdahl (Math Teacher), Michael Parker (History Teacher), Gus Montgomery (Physical Education Teacher), Mary Vester (Meany Librarian) Caitlin Duffy, Rosario Smith, Mary Ann Denman, Angie Jenkins, Hiromi Lorenz, Jennie Rhoads, Carolyn Gronlund, Sharon Hamill, Christine Reynolds, Mimi Krsak.

Welcome - Introductions

Lara Kreyenhagen opened the meeting by welcoming the group and asking board members to raise their hands. Staff members were also asked to raise their hands (to applause from attendees).

Lara emphasized that the Meany PTSA is still looking for a Communication Chair, as Jen is currently doing that in addition to her other duties, which is a lot. A Volunteer Coordinator is also a pressing need.

Lara recommended that everyone in attendance sign up the the Meany PTSA e-newsletter. There are many fun social events coming up, and the Annual Fund is set to begin soon. This is Meany’s main fundraiser for the year which will be addressed by Dan Johnson later in the meeting.

School Updates (Principal Oatis) 

Ms. Oatis introduced staff in the room: Ms. Underdahl, Mr. Parker, Mr. Montgomery, Ms. Vester, and Ms. Cruise-Roberson. Ms. Oatis thanked Mr. Manriquez for coordinating staff to attend PTSA meetings throughout the year.

She mentioned that this is the 3rd year since Meany’s re-opening and expressed thanks to Jen and Lara for building a strong PTSA that has been helpful through the good times and the tough times.  She is hoping some new leaders will step in and volunteer for the PTSA since Jen and Lara will have graduating 8th graders this school year and a new president will be needed next year.

Ms. Oatis said the year is off to a good start.  Scheduling is currently an issue because the   master schedule is created from a projected enrollment number in March. Everything is based off of that number, including staffing. The numbers in March projected that many more 6th graders would show up. That is not what happened, so the 7th/8th grade classrooms were initially overcrowded and understaffed. Ms. Oatis had to wait until the district deadline of September 18 to determine the final numbers and and now adjustments are being made. The 7th grade has had to be split up during lunch and some students are experiencing schedule adjustments. The school is growing, which is positive, but it is not growing evenly. 

A parent asked Ms.Oatis to explain why the tech class has been cancelled. Ms. Oatis explained that the tech class was created to prevent overcrowding for the 6th grade class. On paper the school looked to have an enrollment number of around 675 and 100 less kids actually came on the first day of school.  Because of this, the district pulled funding for the role. There is now just a 1 period opening for a tech teacher, and because it is a .2 position it is very hard to fill.  Ms. Oatis is hoping to get the position up to a .6 position, which will make it easier to find a teacher and offer a few more tech classes. 

A neighbor attended the meeting and addressed Ms. Oatis about  an “unfortunate incident” with a student who was being rough with other students on the Miller Community Center basketball court during outdoor time during Meany’s lunch period. The neighbor found it difficult to find an easily identifiable adult from Meany to address what she felt was a bullying incident. Ms. Oatis asked the neighbor to email her directly about the incident and promised to talk to school security and reiterated that all adults associated with the school and any Meany staff members are expected to wear their Meany lanyards.

Meany’s New Health Based Clinic (Aviva Rubin, Country Doctor) 

Remy Wheeler, the Clinic Administrator was unable to attend and Ms. Rubin attended in her place.  She explained that school based health centers are in a lot of other schools around Seattle, and that the Country Doctor is so happy to participate.  FAQs are available about the clinic, and Registration Packets should be coming soon so that students can begin being seen.

There are 3 different Country Doctor’s throughout the city, and this program will be customized to what Meany needs.  Ms. Wheeler will be at Meany full time and Ms. Rubin will be at the clinic once a week.  There will also be a full time behavioral health provider. Interviews are going on for this role right now with a lot of interest. Doors should open by November 1st.

Jenny Rhodes asked how the behavioral health specialist will be different from the current services offered at Meany. Ms. Rubin said current counseling is done more to address problems in the moment. This new behavioral health specialist will treat ongoing problems. 

This program will allow appointments to students so that they don’t have to leave the campus.  This is convenient for both parents and students. Day of things, like strep, can be addressed on the spot and medicine can be prescribed. There will be vaccinations and a lab once final approval from the state comes through, and a medical provider will hopefully be on staff 3-4 days a week.

Lara cited an example of how the health center at Washington Middle School really helped her son when he was sick at school and both parents were at work.

They will not be able to take students who have not registered, so it will be crucial that registration packets make it home with students and parents are aware of this new service.

Upcoming School Events (Meghan Dort Lackey, Events Chair) 

Meghan mentioned upcoming events and Save the Dates:

  • Curriculum Night on Oct. 1st at 7:00pm. Schedules will be provided to parents that night. Pizza and refreshments (sponsored by the PTSA) will be available for staff and parents in the Meany Cafe from 6:00-7:00pm.

  • Courtyard Garden Work Party is coming up on Friday, October 18th from 9 am - 1 pm.  Volunteers are needed to help clear the old garden and prepare for new plantings. This area will eventually be used as instructional space. No gardening skills necessary to help and extra gloves/tools will be provided.

  • Taste of Meany Multicultural Potluck on Thursday, October 24th from 5 - 7 pm.  Bring a dish that is important to your family or important to your culture. This will have lots of volunteer needs and will be modeled after an event at Leschi.

  • Picture Day - Thursday, October 24. We will need volunteers to help that morning.
    More info soon.

School Clubs and Groups at Meany

Lara pointed out that there are many new clubs at Meany this year!  Many staff members have stepped up to lead these clubs.

  • ASB (Associated Student Body ie: Student Council) has been meeting and is holding elections for officers soon.

  • Meany’s BWB Drumline

  • Sewing Club

  • Stage Club / Drama Club

  • Dungeons and Dragons

  • Dumbledore’s Army - Harry Potter Club

  • LGBTQ+ Club

  • Mountain Lions Queen’s Academy

  • Mountain Lions Gentlemen’s Academy

  • The Rising

  • Leaders of the Pack (leadership group working to prevent mental health stigmas, suicide, etc.)

  • Girls on the Run (hopefully coming in the spring)

Ms. Underdahl is working to coordinate Girls on the Run for the spring, which teaches health and body positivity. She will be looking for volunteers once the program is set up.

There will be Friends of Meany Ski Bus in January/February led by parent volunteer, John Sullivan. Staff members Mr. Rose-Leigh and Mr. Dunning are possibly interested in being chaperones.

Meany Spirit Wear

Meany Spirit Wear is available to order now. The deadline to order is Friday, Oct. 4.

Jenny Rhodes asked if there are sample sizes available to see. Jen has some in the PTSA office for people to look at during office hours. Jen will send out a sizing chart with the next newsletter and also post it in the main office.

Annual Fund (Dan Johnson)

Dan is Co-Chairing the Annual Fund for the third year in a row. We had some initial donations the first year from feeder schools and the Washington Middle School PTSA. Last year we were up from $30,000 to $40,000. Our goal this year is $50,000. We are now able to receive employer matches. This is great and helps to maximize giving power. We would love to see any $ amount given and the real goal is to have all families participate.

The Annual Fund makes possible: classroom and department grants, support of the spring musical production, staff appreciation, after school programs and a variety of community building events.

There will be an Annual Fund letter sent by mail to all families, and an email notification will also be sent. Outreach will officially start around Oct. 18th. You can also donate online on the Meany PTSA website: https://www.meanyptsa.org/donate We will be accepting/promoting this throughout the year, but the bulk of donations usually come closer to the beginning of the year.

Dan plugged that people could donate at meanyptsa.org right now!

Meany PTSA Budget for 2019-2010 (Karen Axtell, Co-Treasurer)

Karen walked through pie charts of budget income and allocations. The majority of funds go to classroom grants ($300 per classroom) and department grants. Some money is set aside for behavioral support in the classroom, some after school programs receive support, we cover some staff training (recent Ethnic Studies summer training), community building, end of year grade level celebrations, etc.

Ms. Oatis wanted to share a bit about the success of the summer Race and Equity/Ethnic Studies training that the PTSA sponsored. Staff members returned from the training and asked that the training be provided for all teachers at Meany. Mr. Parker said the training was really great and was led by the head of ethnic studies for the district. He attended with 9 other teachers and worked with teachers from Washington Middle School. Per the staff’s suggestion, Ms. Oatis has partnered with Washington Middle School and arranged six all-staff trainings this year to be held on professional development days.

SCPTSA’s “TAKE BACK PTA” RESOLUTION (ANDY JENSEN)

Andy talked about how last April the Seattle Council PTSA passed a “Take Back PTA” Resolution. He explained that it is basically putting guardrails around what a PTSA should be spending money on. They should not be spending on things that should be covered as part of basic education. Services should be provided through community alliances and not by PTSA funds. Over time this sort of “one time” PTSA sponsorship becomes inked into the budget, which makes some schools stronger than others. It is inequitable.

Passing this resolution is really more of a pledge to follow the guidelines of Seattle Public Schools. It does not change anything about the Meany budget. Andy advocated for Meany’s PTSA to pass this resolution. Andy explained that some schools have “Self Help Funds” (slush funds), and the incoming school board will be regulating this money much more strictly. The Meany PTSA Board passed this resolution 8 to 1. Jen pointed out that there is really no downside to us passing this resolution.

Dan moved to pass the Resolution. Ms. Underdahl seconded the motion. Motion was unanimously passed by all in attendance.

OPEN DISCUSSION - QUESTIONS/COMMENTS

Jen asked if anyone would like to sign up for a volunteer job.

Linda Moy and Angie Jenkins are coordinating a community building trip to the Hip Hop Nutcracker.  More details to follow.

Jenny asked how ASB works and whether or not they will be represented at the meeting.

Ms. Oatis explained that there was an application process for students and the group is being led by Mr. Manriquez and Mr. Dunning. Eventually there will be student representatives at meetings.

Andy plugged the State PTA Legislative Assembly that will be held Oct. 25th - 27th.  The main goals for state PTSA will be voted on. The goals that are voted on here take incubation time, but do actually come to fruition sometimes years down the line.

Ms. Oatis is looking for volunteers to help with clothing organization for students in need of coats and clothing. Jen said that 5 volunteers are already interested in helping out with this Wellness Team.

Lara reiterated that Meany PTSA office hours are Wednesdays from 10:30 - 12:30.

A mom spoke who has been sharing concerns about Meany online. She wondered where she can directly focus her complaints. Ms. Oatis asked that she reach out to her directly, and made a point of saying that people need to be thoughtful about how they speak online because it can negatively impact enrollment which is the only way Meany gets funding and teachers. If people read negative things online it may impact whether or not they enroll their student, which could lead to low enrollment. Higher enrollment equals more funding.

Anna spoke about how important it is for people to get involved to see some of the positive things that happen at Meany. Open communication is important.

Andy talked about how important it is for older kids to come back to the elementary schools and share their experiences.

Jenny talked about a potential “buddy day” where incoming students can come in for a day of school. Ms. Oatis is interested in doing this, but has to make the experience equitable and some feeder schools would require transportation.  Anna suggested a coordinated field trip for feeder schools to attend a daytime performance of the musical or talent show.

Meeting Adjourned (early): 7:45 pm