General Membership Meeting Minutes — September 12, 2022

Call to Order #

The virtual meeting was called to order at 7:02 pm. 41 participants were present. Executive Committee 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
  • Ashley Farrugia, VP for Staff Appreciation
  • Christian Lindstrom, Treasurer
  • Dan Burd, Secretary

Bilingual Welcome #

Sharon Burd, President and Anne Oliveira, Assistant Principal

  • Sharon welcomed attendees to a new school year, and reminded everyone of the PTA mission to advocate for students.
  • Anne Oliveira, Assistant Principal, provided a Spanish introduction.
  • Christian Lindstrom provided instructions for how to get into the interpretation room.
  • Spanish translation was offered by Vasthy Delgado, Abingdon school counselor.

Introduction of Officers #

All of the officers (President, Vice Presidents, Treasurer and Secretary) took turns introducing themselves to the general membership.

Principal’s Report #

David Horak, Principal
Anne Oliveira, Assistant Principal
Michele Michael, Assistant Principal

The principals introduced themselves. Each serves as the first point of contact for administrative support for two grades: Mr. Horak for 2nd and 3rd grade, Ms. Oliveira for 1st and 5th grade, and Mr. Michael for kindergarten and 4th grade.

Mr. Horak said that the start of the school year has been lovely compared to the last two school years which were strongly influenced by COVID.

The Abingdon mission was changed this year. It is listed on the school’s webpage. It is the global vision for what Abingdon hopes to accomplish. The new mission is:

Abingdon builds meaningful relationships by fostering an inclusive environment throughout our community. We are committed to challenging and empowering all learners.

He added that the new staff this year match that vision. The staff turnover at Abingdon was similar to other schools, but the new staff has integrated well and the existing staff has been very welcoming.

Ms. Oliveira said that there are many drills in the beginning of the year, including fire drills, lockdown drills, an earthquake drill and a tornado drill. These are mandatory as they are written into the Virginia Code. She said that the staff try to ensure that the students understand that it’s just practice, and that it’s something that keeps everyone safe. She said that if anyone has concerns, they can reach out to her.

Additional points:

  • Mr. Horak stressed that instruction starts at Abingdon at 7:50 AM. Students need to be in the classroom at that time.
  • He asked families who need free or reduced lunch to sign up for it.
  • Students are currently taking tests now, as there are assessments at the beginning of the year to see where students are.
  • Mr. Michael stated that kids have adjusted rather well and were happy to return to school.
  • He also stated that the school was planning to recognize kids and staff for their efforts, which we would hear about soon.

Questions and Answers #

Q: Will students go on any field trips outside of Arlington? For instance, we have a partnership with the Kennedy Center.
A: Mr. Horak stated that APS has said that anything that’s not directly associated with Arlington is not allowed, which includes a trip to the Kennedy Center. He stated that the Outdoor Lab is fine, as well as swimming and the planetarium. He also stated there also has to be funding attached to it and that he was not sure that there was funding.

Q: Is there any chance of continuing outdoor lunch?
A: Mr. Horak stated that the school can definitely can have outdoor lunch, and said that it could serve as a class reward. He said the school is “getting our feet back under us” in terms of having the kids back in the cafeteria, but then he said they could resume outdoor lunch. He opined that it’s nice to eat outside in the fall.

Q: Have there been any curriculum changes this year?
A: Mr. Horak said that Abingdon’s framework for literacy instruction is new. Virginia mandated “Structured Literacy” this year, which is different from Teacher’s College which had been done before at Abingdon. He stated that Virginia has gone this way for a few reasons, including that phonics and phonemic awareness have been shown to have a more balanced impact. He said in addition to the new literacy framework, there’s also a new curriculum to learn. He opined that it’s a lot to learn and a lot for staff members to take on.

Mr. Horak said that there is a new set of resources for math, but not a new curriculum. He said that he expected staff to get better and better as they dive in and learn. He said that Abingdon had provided feedback that they wanted a more structured literacy approach, and that APS heard that feedback.

Q: Now that iPads aren’t being sent home, what do I do if my child receives a positive COVID test? Should I alert the teacher and get his ipad?
A: Mr. Horak stated that parents need to report positive COVID tests to the clinic. He said that a COVID-positive student stays at home for five days and then wears a mask for another five days. He explained that there is no contact tracing unless there’s an outbreak to see if there are linkages to other classrooms. Abingdon continues to have opt-in testing every week. He said that, at this point, we’re learning to live with COVID. He concluded by saying that kids who aren’t feeling well can stay home, but that the school isn’t sending home kids who have a runny nose.

PTA Updates #

Treasurer’s Report #

Christian Lindstrom, Treasurer

Christian introduced the PTA’s budget for 2022-2023, which had been made available to members prior to the meeting. She stated it looks similar to last year’s budget, and that the PTA hopes to spend about $40,000 on everything.

Christian also provided a financial statement for July and August. The PTA has taken in $4,112, most of which was yearbook payments from the prior school year. The PTA spent $3,334, much of which was scholarships for after-school enrichment, also from the prior school year.

The financial statements are here and here.

Staff Appreciation #

Ashley Farrugia, VP for Staff Appreciation

Ashley stated that staff appreciation efforts had been active at the beginning of the year. The PTA had an ice cream truck come to the school during the teachers’ in-service week. The PTA has given bagels to the teachers twice. Ashley said that the PTA has been fortunate that Einstein’s has donated free bagels.

In the fall, the PTA will provide either a breakfast or lunch for the parent-teacher conference days. There will be a lot of appreciation efforts, from clinic staff to librarians, and the PTA is looking for volunteers to help with events. Ashley asked members to complete the volunteer form.

Events #

Meredith Greene, VP for Events

Meredith thanked everyone who attended the Back to School Picnic. She plans to stick with similar events as last year, including Trunk or Treat, Winter Wonderland, and International Night. She asked members to volunteer.

After School Enrichment #

Ken Venable, VP for Educational Programs

Ken said that after-school enrichment registration had closed and that classes would be starting soon. In subsequent sessions, he intends for the class schedule to be planned out and made available further ahead of time.

Fall Fundraising #

Clare Rosenberger, VP for Fundraising

Clare asked meeting participants to join the PTA if they haven’t already. She stated that the PTA will be doing Spirit Nights at local restaurants, and to let her know if members have any favorite restaurants. She also said that the PTA will be reaching out to small businesses in the community for projects that they can sponsor, and to let her know if members has a business or if their neighbor has one. She added that if members have fundraising ideas, they should reach out to her.

Snack Pantry #

Megan Miller, VP for Community Relations

Megan stated that Amazon has made a generous donation of $20,000 so far to Abingdon to start up a snack pantry to ensure students are nourished between meals. The funds will be managed by the PTA. The PTA is working on solutions for storage and distribution. She stated that if members would like to participate in these efforts, they should volunteer. A poll will be distributed to teachers about what snacks they would like to have in their classroom.

Connecting with the PTA #

Dan Burd, Secretary

Dan asked that members subscribe to the PTA’s Cardinal Courier newsletter if they have not already done so. He also provided a link that shows all of the various ways that parents and staff can connect with the PTA, which includes the PTA’s social media pages and the PTA’s new WhatsApp groups. He urged members to complete the PTA’s volunteer form and also the school’s volunteer application, the latter of which includes a background check and allows volunteers to work with children at Abingdon. He also promoted the PTA’s new website.

Volunteer Opportunities #

Sharon Burd

Sharon promoted the following volunteer opportunities:

  • Girls on the Run — The PTA is interested in starting Girls on the Run this spring. If you have interest in supporting our students as a coach, please reach out to Ashley Farrugia at [email protected].
  • Picture Day — The PTA needs help making Picture Day run smoothly on September 15. If you are interested, please contact [email protected].
  • Retail Rebates Coordinator - The PTA is interested in having someone manage the PTA’s retail rebates program, which includes Harris Teeter Together in Education and the Box Tops Program which the school librarian, Ms. Fatouros, will be handing off to the PTA. If you are interested, please contact [email protected].
  • Phonics Supplies — Ms. Naomi Holly, reading specialist at Abingdon, will be coordinating volunteers to help label phonics supplies. If you are interested, please sign up here. If you have any questions, contact [email protected].
  • Laminating Posters — Ms. Vasthy Delgado, school counselor at Abingdon, is seeking help laminating posters. If you are interested, please sign up here. If you have any questions, contact [email protected].
  • Science Night — Ms. Renita Upshur, science teacher at Abingdon, is organizing a Science Night at the school on September 22. She is in need of volunteers to help with set up, running stations, and taking the stations down. The volunteer time frame is from 5:15 – 7:45 PM. Volunteers need to be 18+ years old. She needs 18 volunteers in order to ensure she receives the grant that supports the event. If you are interested, please sign up here. If you have any questions, contact [email protected].
  • Diversity Coordinator — The PTA is looking for a Diversity Coordinator to collaborate with Abingdon’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. If you are interested, please contact [email protected].

New Business #

Approval of Audit Report #

Dan Burd

Dan introduced the audit report as the chairperson of the Audit Committee. Dan served with Erica Brown and Lauren Schaub on the committee. They determined that the PTA’s funds were accounted for, but that there were additional best practices recommended by the Virginia PTA that our local unit could carry out. These are recommended in the audit report, which is available here.

Dan moved, by direction of the Audit Committee, that the proposed audit report be adopted as presented. As the motion came from a committee, it required no second. The Chair held a voice vote and the audit report was adopted as presented.

Approval of Budget #

Christian Lindstrom

Christian briefly described the proposed 2022-2023 budget, which is available here.

Christian moved, by direction of the Executive Committee, that the proposed budget be adopted as presented. As the motion came from a committee, it required no second. The Chair held a voice vote and the budget was adopted as presented.

Approval of Organizational Structure Form #

Dan Burd

Dan described the purpose of the Organizational Structure Form. The Form is intended to provide local PTA’s flexibility in how they operate, including how often they meet and how many VP’s they have. This is intended to complement the state’s uniform bylaws which were first in force last school year. Before that, every PTA had their own bylaws. This year’s Organizational Structure Form is available here.

Dan moved, by direction of the Executive Committee, that the proposed Organizational Structure Form be adopted as presented. As the motion came from a committee, it required no second. The Chair held a voice vote and the Organizational Structure Form was adopted as presented.

Approval of change in names on bank account #

Christian Lindstrom

Christian explained that the names of previous officers were still on the PTA’s bank account, and that the bank required that any name changes are approved in the PTA’s meeting minutes.

Christian moved, by direction of the Executive Committee, that the PTA replace Daniel Branch with Sharon Burd and Dana Andy with Christian Lindstrom as officers on the PTA bank account. As the motion came from a committee, it required no second. The Chair held a voice vote and the motion was adopted as presented. The PTA will make the aforementioned name changes with the bank.

Adjournment #

  • The meeting was adjourned at 7:58 PM.
  • The next meeting will be Tuesday, October 11 at 7 PM.

/s/ Dan Burd, Secretary