December 2013 Meeting Minutes

Friends of SW Charter School (FOSWCS)

Meeting Minutes

December 3, 2013

 In Attendance: Hanne, Nicki, Aileah, Stacey, Christina, Elise, Juli, Jen, Melissa, Jeff, Adrienne

Board Liaison (Stacey)

Board Member Stacey Goldstein has taken on a new role as the Board Liaison. She will be the point person for communications between the Board, Friends and staff. As the Board Liaison, Stacey envisions her job as threefold: facilitator, delegator, and information trader between these three groups. The goals we hope to achieve via this position include increasing communication and assisting staff in a meaningful way.

Stacey has already met with staff once and will attend their meetings to keep current on their needs. Stacey will also attend Friends meetings to share what she has learned from the staff so that we can align our efforts with their needs as well.

We are excited that Stacey’s position as Board Liaison will help bridge the communication gap between staff, Friends and the Board.

Stacey asked us for questions she could take to the teachers. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Are we doing the things that really help the teachers and staff? While recognizing birthdays and filling the snack box are nice, are there things we could be doing for staff that are more helpful, meaningful, and lighten their workload?
  • How can working parents help support the teachers? Often working parents cannot help in the classroom during the school day, but want to help in other ways. It was suggested that one way teachers can help working parents is to schedule field trips at the beginning or the end of the day, rather than the middle when it is harder to break away from work. Also, are there any tasks that working parents can do outside of school?

All agreed that we need a formal process or procedure for staff to express their needs to Friends, the Board, and parents. There should be a written record of staff needs to make sure that things are being completed.

Earlier in the school year, Melissa surveyed staff to assess their needs. We received some good feedback. But a list of needs must be updated monthly and even weekly. Stacey will work to gather teacher needs and assemble a matrix which can be used to sign up volunteers. This will also help with accountability and show staff that their needs are important and are being followed up on.

Our ultimate hope is to have an electronic staff needs database on the school website where teachers can add and update their need lists. The database does not have to be teacher-centric, meaning parents can help with other teachers’ needs as well as with the needs of their own child’s teacher.

Some expressed interest in being “on-call errand people” who could help teachers. Again this relies on having an up to date list of tasks/needs.

Besides knowing what teachers need, another obstacle is that teachers may be shy about asking for help. It can seem hard to delegate and may feel easier to just do it themselves.

Stacey will ask teachers to think about their needs in the upcoming weeks and over the winter break. Then, at our January meeting, we can review and begin recruiting volunteers. We are considering using SignUpGenius to schedule volunteers. We’ll send out an email via Marlene. MailChimp can track how many people actually open an email. This might help us to see if SignUpGenius is reaching the community.

Stacey noted that a weather-proof message/notice board will be built and installed along the fence early next year. This will be a great way to get the word out to parents who are waiting on the sidewalk at pickup.

We are continuing to work with the Board to purchase a generic reusable banner that says “Meeting 7 pm” We can then Velcro on additional pieces of banner material in contrasting colors to indicate whether it is a Board or Friends meeting. We’re also hoping to get a banner made for our monthly morning coffees. It was suggested that we send out a Wednesday evening email blast to generate more attendance at the AM coffees.

We may consider planning a community breakfast day for families and staff. Jen mentioned how successful this was at Bridlemile.

Staff Holiday Party (Melissa)

Friends is again planning on providing teachers with savory fixings and libations for a holiday party to be hosted at either Mike or Susan’s house.  Date is still being decided, but we are hoping for Friday, December 20th. Hanne and Christina volunteered to help get the food and drinks to the party. Elise and Melissa will send out a SignUpGenius email to request food and drink items as well as help setting up the food.

Community Life (Aileah)

Everything went very well with Pizzicato. When Aileah picked up the pre-orders in Hillsdale, Pizzicato reported that it had been a busy day, meaning more $ for us. We get 20% of the day’s sales. Pizzicato will contact Aileah with the totals in a couple days.

Bagdad Theater is now showing first run movies and can no longer do events like last year’s Star Wars party. Aileah will contact other small theaters like the Academy, Joy, Valley or Clinton to see if they are available on March 31st. If we can’t do a movie theater, we could try a bowling party.

In conjunction with the movie party, we’ll need someone to coordinate the food drive. Last year, Jen picked up all the necessary supplies at the Oregon Food Bank. It was suggested that the 5th/6th graders could assist or even organize the entire food drive. Juli will talk with Teacher Lisa about this idea.

Auction

The auction kickoff party on November 19th was a success! Juli has been assembling all the input received from the small group brainstorming sessions.

Many of the major coordinator positions are already filled. We are still looking for volunteers to do item entry, procurement, and coordinate class art projects.

We have class art project coordinators in place for Amanda, Kristina, Paul, Mike, and Susan. It was suggested that we should allow gift baskets for some of the upper grade classes in lieu of class art projects. But there is always the worry that the bids will not be more than the value of the contents.

We also need people to make flyers for silent auction items and signage. Hanne, Liz, and Aileah volunteered to help with signs/flyers. We may also tap into the folks who did flyers/signage last year as well as the computer-savvy 8th graders.

It was suggested that older students could offer babysitting as an auction item or host a slot party. Some of the outgoing 8th graders could form a classroom auction committee, develop an idea and implement it.

Juli met with a friend from Ron Tonkin car dealerships about helping us plan a car raffle. There are 2 options. One is a type of prize indemnity insurance called hole-in-one insurance. It involves designing a game of chance with very slim odds of winning. The other option is selling raffle tickets. Ron Tonkin would offer the car to us at wholesale price (approx. $15,000). We would have to sell a lot of raffle tickets to the greater community to cover the cost of the car plus make any profit. Juli will check with Anna about whether we can legally do something like this and whether it would require a gaming license.

Juli and Nicki are in the process of meeting with the teachers individually before break to see what the teachers want the auction monies to be spent on. This way, we will be able to present a focused ask during the paddle raise and for the auction in general.

Funding for Class Camps

Christina is working with the Board to see if we can put the monies raised from the Chinook Book and April Plant Sale fundraisers toward reducing the costs of the grades 5/6, 7/8, and ½ overnight camps. Camp costs are approximately $175/child for Lisa & Matt, $150/child for Mike/Christina and $200/child for 7/8. Stacey recalls that last year Teacher Lisa was able to get a grant through Metro that helped to defray costs. Stacey will ask Lisa about trying this again.

Hanne recommends offering a reduced fee to families based on need.  Families who are able could also sponsor the costs of a student in need. After some discussion, we liked the idea of a two-tiered plan. First, we would use funds from the Chinook Book and the April Plant Sale to reduce the cost of the camps for the entire community. Second, for families who need further assistance, we could create a scholarship fund by taking a percentage of the money raised at the auction.

We also discussed how we would identify families in need, maintaining confidentiality, etc. The Office has information on who qualifies for reduced lunch. But not everyone in need fills out this form. If more people know that there could be money to help reduce camp costs, perhaps more families will fill out the form. Or, maybe there could be an separate scholarship application that allows a family to indicate that they need to assistance.

In the past the middle schoolers have had events like a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to lower the cost for everyone. They could do something like this again and then have the scholarship fund available for families who need more assistance.

Another thought, if we can’t earmark auction money for a scholarship, families could contribute to the scholarship fund at the beginning of the year.

Many underscored how helpful it would be to have the costs of the year’s field trips at the beginning of the school year so families can budget accordingly or pay on a payment plan.

Hanne and Jeff will look into how we might implement a scholarship fund.

To generate seed money for the scholarship fund, we could have a sign up at the auction.

Stacey will ask the Board if we can use the funds from the Chinook Book and the Spring Plant Sale towards reducing the camp feels for the entire community.

For a Google Docs version of the December 2013 Minutes click here.

Next Friends Meeting: Tuesday, January 7th @ 7pm (6:30 pm Social Time)

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