Call to Order #
The virtual meeting was called to order at 8:00pm. Executive Board members in attendance:
- Sharon Burd, President
- Ken Venable, VP for Educational Programs
- Clare Rosenberger, VP for Fundraising
- Megan Miller, VP for Community Relations
- Meredith Greene, VP for Events
- Christian Lindstrom, Treasurer
- Dan Burd, Secretary
- David Horak, Principal
The board voted to approve the August 23, 2022 Executive Board Meeting Minutes.
Playground sail shades #
Ashley and Sharon have been advocating for sail shades in the back playground since the tree was cut down due to heart rot. Sharon contacted the assistant superintendent, Renee Harber, who then contacted her colleague, Gerald Brandt. Sharon and Ashley are meeting with Gerald on Friday to discuss APS potentially procuring the sail shades.
Mr. Horak said that he will soon meet with other principals to learn about the process for submitting Minor Construction/Major Maintenance (MCMM) projects. He said that this is the process by which these projects are funded. This is apparently a good time to make this sort of request since APS is just starting the budget process, which may not finish until May.
He said that he cannot fathom how much sail shades would cost. They ordered lunch tables and they were way, way more than what they expected. Meredith asked whether APS would approve it if the PTA or someone else can fund (or partially fund) the sail shades. Mr. Horak didn’t know.
He said that though the playground is fine now temperature-wise, if it’s any hotter the kids will be sweaty.
Amphitheater, outdoor learning space #
The PTA will also be advocating for a new amphitheater under the MCMM process. Ms. Upshur is leading this effort with her students.
Mr. Horak will also be asking for more fencing around the campus. This includes extending the fence that divides the school from Fort Reynolds Park, as well as adding a fence between the field and the bus loop so that soccer balls don’t get into the bus loop.
Sharon raised the issue of dogs on school property, including an incident during the previous week in which a dog jumped up on an allergic child at dismissal time, resulting in her breaking out in hives. Another student was chased by an off-leash dog when approaching the school garden for the September Garden Work Day event three days prior.
Mr. Horak replied that signs could be better. He stated that Abingdon is an open campus, which is nice, but that school officials have had to chase neighbors off the field during the school day. The school wants to be good neighbors but that’s the school’s property, especially from 7 am til 6 pm. He said they haven’t noticed any repeat offenders after asking people to leave.
He suggested putting a request in the community newsletter. (Secretary’s note: this was done in the May 2022 FCA bulletin.) People got used to using Abingdon’s field during COVID, but Mr. Horak stated that we’re back to normal and we need to get away from that. Mr. Horak also stated that dogs need to stay away during pickup. There are 600 kids being dismissed and you don’t know who is afraid of dogs or having a bad day.
Sharon asked about whether there were any costs associated with starting up after-school clubs at Abingdon. Mr. Horak replied that there was no cost associated with the school - that the school would find a room and then get started.
Sharon asked about laptop availability, as the Girls Who Code activity may need them. Mr. Horak replied that the school has some laptops which are mostly used for testing. He said that there are 3 or 4 laptop carts, each of which has about 20 laptops. He recommended that the PTA talks to the school’s ITC, Molly Fisher, about that.
Snack pantry #
Megan met with Stephanie Hopkins, Food Security Coordinator for Arlington County. Megan worked with Stephanie to revamp the processes for food ordering and delivery. Megan stated that the project was larger than she previously thought; every student will have a snack every single day. Stephanie will talk to Amazon about why we only received $20,000 and not $40,000 so far, or whether the funds are coming in tranches.
Megan stated that it would be helpful to have snack shipments come in ahead of time, like 2-4 weeks before they will be eaten. However, this is not possible until there is sufficient storage space allocated.
Megan also needs storage containers. Mice like to chew through the cardboard boxes that the snacks arrive in. Megan is trying to come up with a different solution, possibly a metal cabinet.
Megan put out a request for five volunteers every Thursday. She also wants high school students to help.
Mr. Horak stated that the cafeteria and Extended Day might have spaces for storage. He is especially interested in places where food could be stored above ground level. Can’t do that until we have the room. Megan said she ordered one third of what the school would eat in a week to her house and it’s a large box. Existing metal filing cabinets are not big enough. Megan will order one week’s worth of food and bring it to the school and show Mr. Horak how large it is.
Sharon asked if the PTA has the school’s permission to apply for grants. (For example, a Bike to School grant.) Mr. Horak said yes.
Field trips #
Sharon said the topic of field trip funding. Mr. Horak said that APS had zeroed out the budget for field trips and that everything is out of pocket. Parents can pay for a certain amount but for free & reduced lunch families there has to be other funding.
Jamestown is a 4th grade field trip that’s been historically done as it is part of the Virginia Studies course that year. But that’s a significant investment and Mr. Horak is not sure that Abingdon will make it this year. On the other hand, Kindergarteners going to the zoo (60 kids on a bus) is pretty cheap. But anything that includes tickets gets a lot pricer. Fortunately, there are a lot of free museums in the area.
Sharon asked whether we are fundraising for the Jamestown trip. Mr. Horak replied that it’s possible that no one on staff has even done it. He will ask JoLynn if there’s a playbook. He said that the trip is usually occurs in the last couple of weeks in April. He said that there is a bus company that Abingdon always uses.
Clare mentioned Claremont and Nottingham sent students to Jamestown last year.
Business Support #
Meredith asked Mr. Horak whether he perceived there would be a conflict of interest if a business visibly supported the school or PTA in some way. Mr. Horak answered that this would be fine. Mr Horak said he passes Garfield Elementary in Fairfax County which has around five banners with the names of local businesses. I don’t think it’s a problem. He was fine with taking a sponsor’s money and advertising their name.
Odyssey of the Mind #
Christian asked whether Abingdon would be fielding an Odyssey of the Mind team. Mr. Horak responded that new staff members might take it on and that he would share the opportunity with staff. He stated that teachers normally do it as opposed to PTA.
Schoolwide Plan #
Mr. Horak asked the PTA to put on the agenda for the October General Membership Meeting that he would talk about the schoolwide plan to raise student test scores. He stated that test scores don’t look good. He added that there was a tremendous amount of growth possible, but the numbers give staff heartburn.
Trunk or Treat #
Meredith asked whether October 29 was still a good date for Trunk or Treat, which Mr. Horak confirmed. She asked about the Halloween parade, which had happened before the pandemic. Mr. Horak replied that he is not planning on doing a Halloween parade. He explained that he didn’t want to take the Wakefield band students out of class, and he wanted to do something in the school. He added that it was okay if students came in costumes, but two students came in blow-up dinosaur costumes last year which were large and distracting. Meredith asked whether staff intended to bring candy to apartment buildings in Abingdon’s attendance zone as they had last year and Mr. Horak replied that they did.
Sharon advised Mr. Horak that the PTA had covered the topics with him that they needed to, and that he could leave if he chose to. He said he would follow up on Girls With Code, Odyssey of the Mind, and Jamestown trip, and then left the virtual meeting.
Approval of Minutes #
The board voted to approve the August 23, 2022 Executive Board Meeting Minutes.
Sharon issued the following reminders to board members:
- Join the PTA if you haven’t already. There’s a flyer being distributed in the backpack Tuesday folders about this as well.
- If you volunteer at the school, make sure to sign in at the front office with Christina Simpson to ensure that your information in putted in their computer system.
- We need everyone to sign the September General Membership meeting minutes to get the bank owners switched. We’ll likely have to do that at Trunk or Treat.
- If you’re a CCPTA representative, please vote on their budget.
Miscellaneous Updates #
- Mr. Spadaro wants to coach Boys Gotta Run.
- Sharon wants to sell car magnets at Trunk or Treat, and only accept cash to save time.
- Our Harris Teeter numbers are off the charts - 80 people enrolled.
- The PTA has the Box Tops for Education account, but the program is a pain. No one has time to scan receipts and give all of their data to a company.
- Ken will talk to police outreach about dogs on school property.
- The Reflections submissions bin will be placed on the PTA door.
- Sharon would like to sell baked goods, etc. at Election Day in front of the school as a fundraiser.
Presentations at General Membership Meetings #
Ms. DeOlazo wants to speak at the next General Membership meeting. The board approved this, and would like to seek out additional Abingdon staff (math team, reading team, counseling team) for presentations at future PTA meetings.
Good standing and 501(c)(3) #
The PTA’s 501(c)(3) tax exemption was reinstated. This was the last step to return the PTA to good standing. At the September 19 CCPTA meeting, the Abingdon PTA was one of only five PTA’s that was in good standing and could vote.
Winter Coat Drive #
Flyers going out on Peachjar and Tuesday Folders about the Winter Coat Drive. The bin is out but Megan is hoping to have a much larger bin.
Trunk or Treat again #
Trunk or Treat will be held from 12-2 pm. We will be asking for 30 cars. It’s a financially large undertaking for volunteers. Meredith hopes to get the word out as quickly as possible - in the Tuesday folder, on the website and on social media. Meredith will put out a call for candy, which she will collect at her house or at the school.
Meredith opined it would be nice to have a donor sponsor 200 mini pumpkins, about $1 per pumpkin. Clare said that the donor in question was keen on meeting a need, like a shed or a field trip.
Meredith said we’re doing a signup genius and/or a wishlist for buying candy.
Business Donors #
Clare said that she filled out a form and provided our EIN to the Chipotle at Glebe and Columbia Pike for a fundraiser. They donate 33%, which is among the highest. Customers have to bring the fundraiser flyer to have their purchase contribute to the PTA. You can’t hand out flyers outside or the fundraiser will be canceled.
Future spirit night possibilities: Bradlee Center &Pizza, or Silver Diner.
Movie Night #
Abingdon’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) team wants to partner with the PTA for a movie night. They had suggested Thursday November 3, which Meredith believes is too close to Halloween so she may suggest a different date. She would like to Sell big bags of popcorn from Costco, as well as slices of pizza from Costco. She is considering 6-8 pm. DEI has four dates in mind. She would also like to suggest holding it on a Friday instead of a Thursday.
Staff Grants and Wishlists #
Dan suggested splitting up the $3,400 in staff grants into three roughly equal tranches, whose grants would be voted on during the board’s October, January, and March meetings. Deadlines would be about one week before those meetings to give board members a chance to review them. Applicants could also be matched up with a business donor with the consent of both parties.
The staff grants would be for larger needs, about $100 to $500 in cost, extras that we would not reasonably expect APS to pay for, like field trips or musical instruments. Dan would like to steer classroom supply needs towards a published listing of wishlists on the PTA website, like Montessori PTA does.
- Meeting adjourned at 9:28 pm
- Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, October 25, 2022, 8 pm
/s/ Dan Burd, Secretary