April 2011 PTO Meeting Minutes

April 2011 PTO Board Meeting

Minutes taken by Jennifer Brogno (thanks, Jennifer!!!)

Edited and submitted by Vicki Haviland, May 3, 2011

Attendees: Kirstin Queen, Jennifer Brogno, Jennifer Streeter, Sana Shakour, LaShawna Brandon, Rachel Egelhof, Sally Steward, Amy Robbins, Faith Frazine, Rob Frazine, Julie Morrison, Sonya Lewis, Stephanie Comai, Celia Gargaro, Anthony Sparkling, Maggie Kennell, Amy Nelson, Mike Madison, Susan Farrell

Meeting called to order by President LaShawna Brandon

March minutes approved.

President’s Report – LaShawna Brandon

LaShawna read our Mission Statement and reminded us that PTO is a volunteer organization….(see PTO website).  Our major goal is fundraising. All efforts pay for all our field trips. Agenda reviewed.

Major purpose of the meeting is to vote in our new board. It’s the governing body of PTO and a member of the PTOC. All parents, guardians and members of families are automatically a part of the PTO.  We have open monthly PTO Board meetings and three general PTO meetings throughout the year.

We use parliamentary procedure for all our meetings.

Introductions by all.

Audit committee: Stephanie Comai, Jennifer Streeter, and Sarah Raux.

Worked with the guidance of Ms. Hoober at the PTOC to follow certain guidelines to make sure bank statements are reconciled. We can say with 100% certainty that our books are legitimate. We need to look at our policy and procedures for approving our invoices and writing checks. We recommend that there should be a written policy for how expenditures are approved and funded. The Treasurer can come up with that and include it in the by laws. Right now, check requests are informally requested to Anthony via email. We just need to formalize the procedures. We should also give the treasurer contracts and grants up front.

After further review, Kirstin Queen discovered that there is a section in the Policies and Procedures manual for how to handle expenditures, but we need to add a paragraph about how to audit the books and who to include.

Anthony will send a draft to LaShawna and Mike Madison.

We voted to accept the audit as it is and note that the audit committee did not discover any problems.

Treasurer — Anthony Sparkling

  • Anthony reviewed the background of the Treasurer position he inherited. Anthony requested the first audit two years ago and then changed the bookkeeping software and cleaned up the books.
  • Anthony gave an update on IRS fine of not filing our taxes and the penalties. We are waiting for a response from the IRS. Mike noted that we can’t afford to have sloppy bookkeeping going forward.
  • Reviewed budget (posted on PTO website).  Highlights:  Sales tax has doubled because it is for two years (timing discrepancy).
  • Budget for next year needs to be proposed via email and we will vote on it either through email or next month.

Principal’s report – Mike Madison

  • 27 weeks are done. Spring is here. Staff still needs help reminding children to bring boots and extra set of clothes because of Lake Dicken and mud puddles. Ducks are back. We have one laying eggs out front. Remind children not to touch the eggs. Please spread the word for people who come around over the weekend.
  • Before Spring Break, thanks to the Community of Cultures committee! It was a wonderful experience, and we are very lucky to have a community that utilizes the resources we have locally and internationally. We are working on coordinating finishing up the pen pals letters.
  • Thank you to the Dills/Chung family for refurbishing the Lost and Found box.
  • This is the time of year when we do our safety drills: severe weather and lockdown drills. We are educating the children, please help reinforce that they are just drills at home.
  • We have our 4th and final parental equity workshop coming up on 4/25, 6:30-9:00: Race and equity issues as they relate to math and science. Parents are always welcome. We will probably phase in the student component next year.
  • Our MEAP scores have finally been released. We will be sending home the results to the 3-5 graders.  We finally got our writing results. Dicken’s writing improved but the improvement is not enough to celebrate. 63% proficient. We need to be in the 90th percentile. As a building, we need to work and focus on our writing. Some of the scoring can be very subjective. Dicken is on par to the average score in the District and State.
  • Comerica youth savings is going well. We have 18 families who have opened up accounts. We’re hoping this grows as we take baby steps. Then next deposit day will be May 5th.
  • Staffing: currently we have 370 students. We are projecting 370 kids for next year. Due to the 15 million deficit, we are looking for more severe cuts next year. Over the last 2 years, we have cut $30  million. They have increased class sizes to absorb some of the deficit. If we don’t pass the special ed millage, we will add another $6 million to the deficit. Looking to have 30 kids in elementary classes, 35 in middle and high school next year. Looking to cut electives, sports (pay to play), specials at elementary, AP classes, electives at middle school level. Can’t take anymore money out from the teachers. I am trying to keep class sizes low. First 25, Second 24, Third 22-25, possibly a split. 4 and 5, 26 and 27. K 20 per section. Do we up our class sizes in the upper grades to make the lower el class sizes lower? It doesn’t look good. You will be asked for input. What is ok to cut and what should we save. I am proud to be the principal at Dicken. We may see some administrative changes because of the deficit. We need to lobby in Lansing to do things differently. Vote in the Special Millage. An absent vote is a no vote.

Susan Farrell: Do you want donations for kids who need a change of clothes from the PTO thrift shop drive?

MM: We would love to have extra clothes that we store in the PTO closet.

LaShawna Brandon: Presentation of election process

  • Review of slate and voting process
  • Nominees are voted based on merit and willingness; elections are informal. President manages the election process. Nominating committee was formed to recruit new members to the board. We were looking to seek out new people and retain anyone who is willing. It is normal for anyone to offer themselves and someone else and they must agree before they are put on the slate. We present the slate.
  • Officers do serve for one year in one position. We have 14 positions on the board. Plus principal and teacher rep although they do not have a vote. The PTO is a separate organization from the school and staff helps us coordinate our efforts and in order to support the school and student body.
  • We do have a slate. Some of our positions have been co-officed. We elect an entire board. We do that by voice vote by current board members. We were required to give notice to the entire membership at least two weeks before the election which we did.
  • Review of the slate and names.  No nominations were taken from the floor, and we voted (having met quorum) to elect the current slate.

Volunteer Coordinator – Julie Morrison

  • Dad’s group is coordinating a work day on May 7th. We need to get an estimate of what they can be spend from the budget.
  • We discussed suggestions to focus on the front garden. Back in 2007, they spent $300. Andy Comai is planning on cutting back things in the garden area. In the past, city mulch and businesses have donated mulch. At this point, they are just planning to clean up not plant things.
  • We have a chair for the popsicle party at field day: Lililan Anderson. We are also filling up with volunteers at Disability Day but we still need more.

Fundraising: Jennifer Brogno

  • It’s that time of year when we all need to re-up our memberships with the local grocery stores. We receive a lot of money from them, and we don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. Right now, everyone needs to renew their Kroger Community Rewards card by April 30th. It’s very simple. You just go to the website and enter your card number again.  Jennifer has been advertising this in the blast and will be doing a bigger push in the next two weeks.
  • We are done with Dicken Community Nights Out because we want to focus on having good attendance at the Ice Cream Social.
  • Original Art Works fundraiser has begun. Artwork will go home on Monday (without the magnet) and the order forms are due on the following Monday. Faith Frazine is in charge of this fundraiser.
  • Lastly, LaShawna and I discussed possibly adding a self-sustaining Farmers Market fundraiser for next fall. We can talk about it more at our August planning meeting.


Teacher Rep — Sally Steward

  • Thanks so much for the money for the field trips coming up. We owe it all to you for making this possible. We are so in awe of the silent auction and every year it gets better and better. We are happy to add any donations you need for that event.
  • We hope to see all the volunteers as the school year wraps up. We had a request for volunteers for parents/grandparents who can go on field trips as chaperones when needed. Add to time and talent survey?
  • We appreciate the COC assembly and the WESO workshops, GOTR, soccer coaches. You represent our school and give kids the pride of being a part of DIcken. With funds really tight for teachers, we would really appreciate a simple luncheon for staff including everyone. Nothing elaborate or costly. We just appreciate a card or note from the child or parents. Less is more. We’re here for the kids and the community.
  • Room parents will be thanked individually by all teachers. Thanks so much for all the things you do. We have an idea of how busy your lives are and appreciate all you do!
  • ·

Enrichment Coordinators – Jennifer Streeter and Stephanie Comai

  • May 6th will be Brainstormers Part 2. We submitted 15 essays and they will choose 5-10 of the stories. We got a total of 35 stories from 1st, 2nd, and 4th graders. We would really like input from the teaching staff of whether this was a good idea, or if they have other ideas for us. TIming might be tricky due to grant requests and people being booked a year in advance. Sally will hold a forum with the teachers to see what they would like to see. JS and SC can come to August meeting with a plan to present to the teachers before the school year begins.
  • Because we didn’t get a grant, we booked a very inexpensive program about BioFuels for $50 through Ann Arbor Hands On Museum. Works well with the 4th grade curriculum. We need to be sensitive about time spent away from the classroom. We decided to make one assembly (Kevin Devine 5/25) K, 1, 2, 3. and Biofuels for 4th grade.

Slauson Liaison—Susan Farrell

  • We had a big representation of Dicken at Slauson Fun Night! On 5/11, 5th graders will make their visit to Slauson, and the week before memorial day, they will be going to camp.
  • Discussion about downplaying dressing up for promotion ceremony and dates for the 5th grade party.  Maggie Kennel suggested that maybe we make it more like a Fun Night so that it’s broken up and there is not a dance like atmosphere.
  • The PTO Thrift shop has earmarked funds for field trips for next year as well. We are doing a Show your Support for the WESO teams for a Jeopardy game that will be donated to the school after this year. We will do another Show your Support  for noontime enrichment.
  • Recess Yoga is cancelled April 26th.

Calendar Review:


25 Original Art Works orders due

26 Red Cross Blood Drive


2-6 TEacher appreciate week

5 PTO meeting

6 Skywriters assembly

10 Disability Day

13 Doug Sheer

20 Talent show

25 Kevin Devine assembly


1-10 Philippines school supply drive

1 Recess Singers final performance

2 PTO meeting/party?

6 Field Day

9 Ice Cream Social

15 5th grade promotion and party

New board members: make sure we have your email address so you can access Google Docs.

Our transition plan: Naela will be doing thank you notes from past board. She also will continue working with the DESK crew.

Meeting adjourned.