Claremont Immersion School PTA
General Membership Meeting
March 7, 2017. 7PM
The Claremont Immersion School PTA Executive Board met before the General Membership Meeting. Beth Addington motioned that the Know Your Rights Night, a forum which informs immigrants of their legal rights in the face of deportation, be under the umbrella of the Claremont PTA. Marjory Araya seconded the motion. All PTA board members approved the motion. The motion was passed.
Introduction: President-Elect– Melissa Schwaber
Melissa welcomed everyone and spoke about the forming of a nominating committee that is responsible for finding candidates to fill roles on the PTA executive board for the 2017-1018 school year. She announced that the current PTA executive board selected the following for the nominating committee: Lilly Mancilla, Gina Mendoza, and Maria Godinho with Ivette Roman and Jill Hurtado as alternatives. Bill Gillen motioned for the approval of the nominating committee, MelaniaSaranieroseconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Melissa then spoke about the Read-a-Thon. She announced that Claremont students read over 600,000 minutes in two weeks and that all classes won popcorn parties and half the classes won Popsicle parties. She said the parties and assembly where Jessica Panfil will kiss a pig on the mouth will happen March 24. Melissa said that currently the Read-a-Thon has raised $28,000 with 10 days left to collect money. The overall goal remains at $37,000. There are no chintzy prizes this year like there were last year. Melissa also mentioned that it is possible to match donations for the Giving Tree and to talk to her if anyone was interested.
Melissa announced that May 6 is Claremont’s Silent Auction which will be held at a parent’s house with childcare available at Claremont. Each classroom has made a piece of artwork that will be part of the auction. Melissa mentioned that she is looking for someone to chair the auction.
Principal Update–Jessica Panfil
Jessica thanked everyone at the meeting. She thanked MelaniaSaraniero for her work with the Marine Corps Marathon Kids’ Run that gave Claremont the Healthy School Award and $1000. Jessica encouraged everyone to meet Camilla Gooch, a kindergarten parent who has taken over for Carmen Aguilar in the front office. Jessica then thanked everyone for successful parent teacher conferences and a wonderful Library Night. She then mentioned that Claremont is currently accepting Kindergarten applications and holding Kindergarten information sessions. Upcoming important dates: Hat Day, tomorrow, March 8; Read-a-Thon assembly March 24; Dia Del Idioma(a day to celebrate Spanish language and culture)April 7; and the 2nd Grade musical March 10. Finally, Jessica thanked the Tuesday morning volunteers.
Bill Gillen and Melissa Schwaber---APS Enrollment and Admission Policy Reform Update
Melissa talked about the importance of attending the community work sessions which deal with the enrollment and transferpolicies at Arlington Public Schools (APS) and advocating on behalf of Claremont. Bill and some others that attended the community meetings then touched on topics that were covered at some of the sessions, like if all choice schools should have the same admissions policy, if neighborhood students and/or students who are close enough to walk to school should have preference in admission, twin and sibling admissions, maintaining a 50/50 Spanish to English ratio in immersion schools, and transportation. Melissa announced the next community work session is on March 30, from 7-9pm at Wakefield. Bill said there are three candidates up for election to the APS school board and encouraged everyone to meet them. Before introducing Dr. Patrick Murphy, Bill asked the PTA membership to focus on four areas that need addressing since the school board did not agree to cap the 2017-2018 kindergarten class at 96 students: safety, space, staffing, and creative solutions. Bill then introduced Dr. Murphy and Cintia Johnson.
Superintendent Patrick Murphy
Dr. Murphy thanked everyone and said he was there to listen and entertain solutions about the Claremont overcapacity issue. He asserted that he had already met with Jessica Panfil and discussed most of the Claremont needs that Bill had outlined. Dr. Murphy said that many of these needs, especially space and safety, are in the process of being addressed.
One of the PTA members asked where Claremont was in number of applications as opposed to last year. Jessica said she did not have that data. Dr. Murphy said the school board watches application numbers closely to ensure there is proper staffing for schools.
A meeting participant asked how many people were on the wait list for Claremont last year. Jessica replied that everyone who applied before April 15 got a spot in either Claremont or Key.
Betty Young asked when it would be determined if there is going to be a crossing guard available for Claremont. Cintia Johnson explained that there are many determinants in making that decision. A group has already started collecting data now on traffic patterns, etc. Near the end of the current school year is when they make the final decision. Bettyexpressed concerns about bus ride times for her children. Dr. Murphy said that APS is adding more buses and encouraged Jessica to talk to the Department of Transportation regarding Claremont bus ridership concerns. Bettythen voicedher worry about efficiency issues in the Claremont cafeteria (long lines, reduced time for eating). Dr. Murphy said that Jessica should contact Food Services and Facilities for assistance with those issues.
Laura Daub wanted to know specifically why the school board rejected the plea from the Claremont PTA to cap the SY 2017-2018 kindergarten class to 96 students and help alleviate overcrowding immediately. Dr. Murphy said that school overcrowding is pervasive throughout ArlingtonCounty, not just at Claremont. He said the school board is looking at the Enrollment and TransfersPolicy to address this growth and encouraged those concerned to participate in its revision.
A PTA memberwho has a special-needs child voiced her worry that due to the overcrowding at Claremont, children like hers will not get the proper instruction they need because teachers are stretched thin. Bill Gillen asserted that Claremont parents are particularly upset that the request for the cap on next year’s class was rejected by the board and want to be assured that their concerns will be addressed in years to come.
Emily Schwartz Greco suggested that it was time for APS to look at how elementary school staffing is calculated. Dr. Murphy said that school principals have some input into hiring appropriate staff for their schools.
A meeting attendant again expressed disappointment in the school board’s choice to reject the Claremont PTA’s request for a SY 2017-2018 cap especially given that Claremont has a large population of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches.
A PTA member brought up the issue of transportation—her daughter rides the bus for almost an hour in the morning. She suggested that APS completely start from scratch regarding Claremont’s busing. Dr. Murphy suggested meeting with Jessica to discuss the particular challenges Claremont faces with busing hoping to find a solution.
Ann Marie Douglass suggested more outdoor classes for Claremont. She also suggested putting in a fake window into windowless classrooms . Dr. Murphy thanked her for the ideas.
Melissa Schwaber asked Dr. Murphy to speak more about the possibility of a third immersion elementary school in the APS district. Dr. Murphy said that there is nothing concrete as of yet and encouraged everyone to voice their opinions to the school board regarding a third immersion school.
Jorge Figueredothanked Dr. Murphy and Cintia Johnson for coming. He asserted that immersion schools are a privilege and emphasized the huge benefit that immersion school have on the immigrant student population as well as those who are non-native speakers.
LyzbethMonardemphasized the need for a crossing guard due to the unsafe driving of some of the Claremont parents and caregivers.
Vivian, a PTA member, reiterated the need for lunchroom reform and asked if there was a way to build the schools up instead of out in order to accommodate all the students.
MelaniaSaraniero agreed with Jorge that immersion schools are a privilege (she had attended one in her youth) and that there is a serious need for native Spanish-speaking teachers at Claremont in order to continue to make it a quality institution.
Betty Young expressed concern that many of Claremont’s issues are falling on the shoulders of Jessica. She wanted to know if there could be an APS point person that could take over. Dr. Murphy said that Jessica knows Claremont the best and is the best person to relay Claremont’s needs to the school board.
Kelly, a PTA member, expressed concern that Claremont teachers have double the number of students to teach compared to other APS schools. She also asked Dr. Murphy if he does school site visits. He responded that he did.
Dr. Murphy wrapped up by emphasizing that Claremont has an amazing, specialized staff.
Beth said that the PTA had about $4,000 in expenses last month and only a little income. There is currently $5,500 left in the bank.
VP Communications—Marjory Araya
Marjory requested that everyone fill out the online survey that deals with how the PTA communicates with its members.
Melania asked for volunteersto help with Teacher Appreciation Weekand someone to help with the Silent Auction, which will take place at AdoraWilliams’ house.
VP Fundraising—Amber Dungan
Amber announced the registration for the spring After School Enrichment this Monday, March 13, at 8:30am and goes to 12:00am on March 19. There are flyers going out on Peach Jar with more information. Melissa said that there is a place to sponsor a child when registering for After School Enrichment.
VP Membership and Outreach—LyzbethMondard
Lyzbeth will send out an email with descriptions of each role of the PTA so everyone will know how to help when considering being on the executive board of the PTA next year.
VP Educational and Green Initiatives—Amy Oldham
Amy said there is a breakfast this week celebrating the three teams competing in the Odyssey of the Mind. The next Gardening Day is March 25. Ann Marie Douglass, who is co-coordinating the event, said there will be crafts and food available for volunteers. There will be workers who will take out invasive plants around Claremont.
Jorge thanked everyone for coming and ended the meeting.