September 2015 Minutes

  • Highland Park Senior High PTSA

    Meeting Notes

    September 15, 2015


    Co-chair David Sepeda welcomed all and explained why we are now a PTSA not a PTA.


    Principal’s report: Dr. Winston Tucker

    • We are off to a great start to the school year. Scheduling went as well as it could and classes are as balanced as they could be. Class sizes are usually good, yet some are larger and depends when kids can take classes (if you have Band at one time, then you get English at another). No class is over 37 students.
    • Finances are tight and not enough monies to run building and extras class. Dr. Tucker has gone to the district to discuss finances and believes we will get some more monies, yet not much more.
    • Discussion on the tragic circumstances that happened to students at HPSH this summer.
      • Due to privacy, the school/district cannot go into many details and it is a carefully walked tight rope at a time like list.
      • The school is following the lead of counselors as we want the students to get the support they need, without building a climate of this is all we talk about.
      • The administration is aware HPSH does have some students who have mental health issues and is trying to support them.
      • There continue to be meetings in the school to discuss priorities.
      • The first priority is for the students who are known to need help and the second priority is supporting other students.
      • The administration is also working on a program/system to help students report issues as administration is aware the students who need help may not go to an adult, yet may tell their peer.
      • This said, the school is trying to get a speaker for the students and PTSA is going to work to get an evening speaker for parents/community.
      • Question from the floor asking about are other schools experiencing this rate of suicide within the district? Dr. Tucker would do some research as he was not aware. Two students in one summer from one school is shocking and right now HPSH working what we can do to prevent a possible copycat syndrome as these actions can take on a negative life
    • MCA scores in English went down due to new test while Math and Science went up! ACT scores also went down slightly as all juniors now take the test. This is thought to be a result of all juniors taking the ACT whereas in previous years, not all students would take the ACT.
    • Building update from the summer:
      • New flooring on the first floor
      • Courtyard where there was a pit was filled in and the transformers were fixed
      • Lockers painted Highland red
      • District construction continues to work with Dr. Tucker on the library remodel and cafeteria
    • 2015/16 Link Crew again is phenomenal – one of the best programs we have to ensure 9th graders are welcome
    • IPads rollout is delayed a week due to security systems

    Question on the arts at HPSH, in particular the Theater program. Currently, we don’t have theater classes and frankly this class was not well subscribed to last year. The teacher will help with a Fall and Spring show. While we did lose some electives due to budgeting, we are now able to offer a Journalism section that includes the yearbook and school newspaper

     Parent Liaison – Kimberly Sabo

    • Welcome and again, we are off to a great school year
    • Thank you to the Link Crew parents for hosting the back to school night
    • There is a need for parent volunteers for homecoming dance. If you are interested, please let Ms. Sabo know.
    • If parents find there are issues they would like address the process is:
      • Call/email Ms. Sabo first. Her role is to be the first contact for parents
      • If she is unable to help, or the issue is more serious she will immediately escalate to Dr. Tucker

     Articulation Counselor – Johanna Skaar (prefers to be called Jo)

    • Skaar’s role is to help the CHGTM student’s transition to high school, yet she is here for all the students. It is a big transition to high school and some kids just need a little more support. Works with the counselors and is part of the group talking to the students regards the events of the summer. She is also working on upping visibility to students on how they can help their peers.
    • She will bring articles for parents regarding prevention, warning or other items of interest.
    • Parents asked about the counselor’s coffee meetings last year. 8 am is a difficult time for most parents so could this be changed? Ms. Skaar will check with the department.

    Treasurer’s Report – Laurie Zaepfel

    • Reviewed the balances in the accounts and noted that some of the grants approved last year are coming in.
    • We have about $1,000 uncommitted for the year and we can use some of these funds for a speaker
    • Grand news: MN PTA sent is a Gold award for a 40% increase in membership
    • We are going to keep our affiliation with MNPTA, yet we do need 20 dues paying members. Cost is $6.25 and this goes directly to MNPTA

    General Discussion/Overview of what PTSA accomplishes

    •       We raise funds  to supplement classroom instruction
      • Last year we were able to give grants totaling $14,523 dollars
      • Teachers have the opportunity to order items the school can’t provide, such as more cadaver pigs and cats for anatomy class or band instruments
      • Teachers appreciate the extra support. Our counselors had asked for gift cards for families in crisis. The cost is about $2,000 about every two years so we agreed to budget this as a line item of $1,000 every year.
    •  Give to the Max is coming - November 12
      • Last year there was a huge push to remind parents how the school needs funds
      • We has students with signs, Facebook and other outlets helped us raise about $19,000
      • All agreed there was confusion on the webpage as you had to click, click, click to get the HPSH PTA page. You were first taken to the District’s Foundation page. Many people gave there, yet these funds were split amongst schools and went directly to the administration, not the PTSA. Vinetta has worked with the district and the district has agreed that our PTSA page will be front and center. All monies raised will be on our page.
      • The Give to the Max committee needs help with the webpage and the page will include some items that we have been able to fund
      • Target for Education campaign has been cut and we lost $4,000.
      • There is still the assumption that HPSH has more money (parents) than other schools. We are trying to tap into the alumni somehow without overusing or leaving current parents or alumni       feeling that we always have our hands out for more. Perhaps there is a way to tap into past PTSA parents for ideas/community building.
      • Kim Sabo will talk to the Alumni Association and see if the Alumni Newsletter might be a way to connect
      • PTSA encourages parents to look for a match grants from their companies
    • Committee structure: As we do not want just a few parents doing all the work, we work via committees. Any parent who wants to help is encouraged to speak to either David or Vineeta.

    Open Floor/Questions

    • One parent stepped up to be co-chair with David. PTSA, by unanimous vote, was pleased to elect Jody Thronson as co-chair for the 2015-2017 term.
    • Teacher dinner was organized by Sandy Gross last year. This is when parents bring food to conferences so the teachers can eat. Very well received and felt this helps brings the HPSH community together. This is a small thing families do for staff.
      • We need a volunteer to coordinate the Winter and Spring conferences and it should be noted this is a one and done event
      • Sandy will train anyone who wants to do this
    • How do parents find out how to make things happen, such as getting another bike rake for students. Contact Ms. Sabo and continue to come to PTSA meetings
    • Discussion on the parent involvement to get an evening speaker for suicide prevention. Judy, Jen and Bonnie are working on a speaker and a community event. Judy has found a speaker who would wave their normal fee, yet asked for PTSA to give an honorarium of $150. Ms. Sabo will help coordinate the building.
    • Question if graduating seniors give the school a parting gift. No, not something that has been done in recent memory.
    • Bylaws, due to the name change, a minor seating change and adding student roles, were reviewed and adopted.
      • Bylaws now reference PTSA, not PTA
      • New Officers would assume duties after the June meeting
    • Student Involvement Representatives duties were added:
      • Input into the PTSA program
      • Assist and organizing PTSA events
      • Assist in getting student volunteers
      • Develop create ways to increase student involvement

    Respectfully submitted

    Susan B. Wright

    Recording Secretary