General Membership Meeting
PRESENT: K Albrecht, L. Ardiles, M. Caamano, C. Carney, C. Eckler, S Fisher, R Freed, A. Gilroy, N. Grogan, L. Hernandez, K. Hill, T. Hurley, C. Hyer, S. Khoule, K. Kucharovic, K. Lozada, T. Mark, G. Moran, N. Morris, N. Murray, M. Ricafrente-Biazon, E. Severin-Patrick, V. Sookdeo, M. Sorto
Plaza Staff: J Graham, M.Gray, T McCabe
CALL TO ORDER: Christina Eckler at 7:07pm
Pledge of Allegiance, Emergency exits and procedures, no smoking, cell phones on vibrate. Parking rules (*do not park on the east side of Rockville Dr.*), driving precautions. We would appreciate if all cell phones are switched to vibrate for the course of this meeting.
Thank you all for attending tonight. Everyone in attendance will receive a raffle ticket. Tonight’s prize is donated by Baldwin Sports and consists of a bunch of goodies for camp and $100 off of the Baldwin Summer Program.
January 24th was the Reflections reception and community input meeting at the middle school. It was great to see all of our children’s hard work displayed. Congratulations to all our winners. I must also say thanks to all the students who submitted an entry. Plaza was very well represented and awards were given out by Justine Chan, our Reflections chairperson.
That night we also saw a preview of the upcoming musical performance at BMS. They are putting on Annie, Jr directed by our own Tricia Wilder. The dates for the performance are March 22 at 3:45pm and March 23 and 24 at 7:00pm.
The kids worked hard in art class before the break to do their Display My Art projects. For those of you not familiar with this, it is a fundraiser for us in which the children create artwork, we send it to the company and you will have the opportunity to punchase their work on T-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, etc… We should be getting the order forms soon and will be sending them home in your child’s backpacks.
We have our next and last bus drill for this year on Thursday March 8. Please let us know if you are available to help.
The next Board of Education meeting is at Meadow School on Wednesday March 14 at 8:00pm. These meetings are very poorly attended. I know we are all busy, but these meetings are very important and informative. It is the place you can ask your most important questions and voice your concerns.
The Baldwin Civics Association is holding its 6th Annual Eggstravaganza on March 24 at Baldwin Park from 12-3pm. The rain date will be on March 31. Admission is free. There will be three egg hunts - up to age four at 2:15, ages 5-8 at 2:30 and ages 9-10 at 2:45pm.
PARP (Pick a Reading Partner) started on February 26 and runs through March 23. See the bulletin board display or Kelly Hill for more information.
On Monday, March 12 the Cultural Arts Committee is presenting “The Ultimate Human Game Board” which is a character building, teamwork, sportsmanship event where students will participate in a life-sized game board of three colored sides. We are asking all our students to dress in their team colors. Team Red (O’Sullivan, Gillen, Egan, Di Marco, Murphy, Kourie, Snow, Montgomery), Team Green (LaVecchia, Arrow, Garguillo, Sussman, Spatenga, Schleider, and Marrero), and Team Blue (Wilder, Barone, McCabe, Becker, Steingrubner, Blangiardo, Sofarelli).
Congratulations to Mrs. Sussman, Christine Carney, and Elaine Notarstefano for receiving the Plaza Honorary Life Award.
Thank You to -
[if !supportLists]- [endif]The Honorary Life Committee which consisted of Deena McCoy, Elissa Kirchner, and Alisa Stevenson.
[if !supportLists]- [endif]Each and everyone of you who chaired a committee or helped with an event since the last time we met in November. The past events have been Plaza Cares which took care of the Thanksgiving meals and the Giving Tree, our wonderful newsletter, Holiday Breakfast, Holiday Boutique, Holiday Bazaar, Winter Concerts, Cultural Arts Assemblies (Thanks to VicMarie for bringing back The Brain Show this year), Supermarket Bingo, Sweetheart Dance, Roller Skating, and all of our Restaurant Days.
[if !supportLists]- [endif]Thanks to Mr. Greer and Mr. Nadien for our great holiday concerts.
It is time to choose your officers for next school year. There are nominations forms on the table and these also went home in your child’s backpack last week. Please think about people who are good leaders, team players, creative, energetic people…If that is you, then nominate yourself. The nominating committee can only consider nominated people, so please send in your form.
Anyone who has chaired a committee this year and it has already taken place, please get your folder or flash drives in order to hand off at our May meeting which is Old Meets New. Any and all info about that event should be in there.
We are still in need of someone to chair the Memorial Day Parade and organize the cheerleaders.
There are sign up sheets going around for the bus drill and book fair.
The lost and found bin is overflowing. Please check there for your childrens’ lost items.
Right now I would like to congratulate Mr. Gray and Mrs. Graham, the staff, the students and parents for Plaza School achieving the NYS School of Character Award. I just wanted to say what a great school this is and I am so glad my kids have had the privilege of attending Plaza. Right now on behalf of myself and the executive board, we would like to present you with this gift. (Presented a framed newspaper clipping of Plaza winning the School of Character Award.)
Mr. Gray -
NYS School of Character Award:
We were supposed to be visited tomorrow for consideration for the National Schools of Character but it was rescheduled due to weather. Will learn in early May whether we get it this next distinction.
We have learned a lot from undergoing this rigorous application process.
We have brought down the number of suspensions in recent years. I am finding that if you give kids a chance and the right tools they will make good choices.
In Sept. - We are upping the amount of mobile technology in our classrooms. Every K-2 class will have a mini cart with Chrome Books with touch screens. We can put our current carts into 3-5 grade, meaning they will have one chart for every 2-3 classrooms instead of one cart for a hallway.
NSBoE will be writing about Team Orchid.
Opt Out - Last year 55% of the students opted out of the New York State Tests. Every Child Succeeds Act passed and now the school and child receives a score of 1 on the test if he/she opts out. They are threatening that those failing test scores will impact teacher ratings when the moratorium is lifted in recent years. There are changes to the tests. Now two days long instead of three but with unlimited time I have still seen children take four hours to take the tests. The total amount of time a child can take on all the tests is really excessive. We do not make adults sit through tests that can take this long unless they are taking the bar exam. We will continue to respect the right of parents to opt out their kids from these exams.
Security - This is a time that we are being especially vigilant about safety. We had a meeting to lay out short term and long term plans. There are some serious sweeping changes coming. After spring break - Parents will now only come into elementary schools by appointment only through one single entry point. There will be a one hour waiting period between when you contact the office and when you can enter the building. There will be more cameras and a calendar on the computer with visitor appointments that must be maintained. It will be inconvenient for you at times and for us at times, but safety of our children is what is most important.
Panic bars will be in place on every exterior door in the building. Teaching staff will have to swipe themselves out as well as in. Ms. Beck will swipe herself in and out when she takes gym classes outside. A security officer will spend half a day with each building making recommendations of what needs to be changed. An additional screen will be on my desk so I have access to every security camera. Immediately the classroom doors will be fixed to lock from the inside.
(Parent talks about a magnet that is used to lock downs in her elementary school where she works.)
Q - What happens if kids are in the lunchroom or outside?
A - We do have to let kids play outside and still live their lives. To be honest, there are places in this schools where we are vulnerable with lots of glass. We want to be as vigilant and as smart as we can and try to come up with as many solutions as we can. The courtyard is an issue for us because it is like a corral and it would be hard to get out.
(Discussion about banning parents from the courtyard and just dropping students off st the gate.)
Q - How will PTA Events work where parents arrive and come in the building?
A - We will work closely with the PTA to get those names in the calendar.
Q - What if your kid gets sick and the nurse calls you to pick them up?
A - The nurse would be the one thing that would override the calendar and the one hour waiting period.
Q - Do you do Active Shooter Drills?
A - We did one on Friday. They are called “Shelter in Place” Drills.
Q - Do you practice those in the lunchroom and the gym too?
A - In the gym it would be an unfortunate place to be. A music class was in the cafeteria and went into the paper room during the lockdown drill. During the last drill we found out the gym teacher could not hear the PA System and had to be told about the lockdown drill by me in person and then the students went to Ms Beck’s office. Students at recess should be brought to the back fence and if it is serious they would walk to Lenox School.
(Parents suggested flashing lights outside and in the gym to signify a lockdown.)
(Parents talk about how they are going to tell their children to leave a bathroom quickly and get to another classroom. Another parent’s school tells children to lock stall door and crouch on the toilet with their legs up.)
I know I am not comfortable telling kids to dive in a closet for a drill because it could traumatize them. Obviously in a real situation these things would happen.
The only conversation we have had about additional security personnel involved having retired police officers who do not have full pensions coming to guard schools. However there aren’t enough of these cops to give one to each school.
Q - Does the calendar apply to before and after school activities?
A - Once school is done, you will not need an appointment. We have to talk about what to do with a security officer because we have the JCC program here before and after school. Visitors coming and going will be on the JCC’s watch.
Q - A comment on another topic - Rockville Dr is ridiculous - people are driving the wrong way down the street and parking in driveways.
A - If you make complaints to the First Precinct it will help me make more headway on this issue.
ELA - Writing “All About Trees” books.