Meeting Minutes 9/29/14

Meeting Questions

  • Parents want to know how we can increase class time/school days and decrease class sizes. why are other districts adding staff, programs and school days but 4J is still struggling?
  • I’d like for parents/PTO leaders to have an opportunity for earlier pro-active input and feedback (vs. reacting to district decisions). Can we give input on school calendar and other decisions that ultimately impact families?
  • Class size, class size, class size. Disparities between schools and grades. Some are large, some are small. No good explanation for parents when upset about his or her child’s class size. (They always seem to have data from other schools.)
  • Good: fundraising success; Bad: class sizes absurd and getting worse despite fundraising. Going to basics; short school year; worried about recruitment and retention of teachers and other valued employees.
  • Questions from parents: how do we avoid replacing so much instructional time on testing and test preparation?; What is the district doing about out-of-control class sizes and the problems they cause, such as teacher recruitment and retention, discipline, and student learning?
  • I hear the question “how does the district make decisions about “x or y or z:” curriculum; days of school; start/stop. How does it all fit together? What are the responsibilities of the board, administrators, teachers, parents, etc?
  • Why do our schools lose 50% of its staff with a directive that all teachers must be certified as bilingual, yet my 5th grader has an English-only teacher? (Mellani Ocampo)
  • In a relatively wealthy and varied state, the constitution of which assures adequate funding for education, how is it that parents have to be constantly pressed for private funding of schools through drives, donations, fundraising events, etc.
  • I would like parent groups to be regularly informed of the concerns and opinions of the teachers themselves.
  • Why won’t 4J let us supplement music or PE anymore when they won’t fund it throughout the year?
  • What is 4J doing to reduce class sizes within current restraints?
  • Why won’t 4J allow differentiated math instruction in 5th grade?
  • Why is lunch time so short? Kids need longer than 15-20 minutes.
  • How come the new grading system isn’t being implemented the same way by all teachers and all schools? It is utter chaos!
  • The most frequently asked questions at PTA meetings revolve around the confusion of who makes final decisions and how they are made, and how money is spent.
  • I would like to know more about how all of 4J’s money is spent.
  • In regard to fundraising, the monies raised by schools outside of EEF direct drive are subject to a surcharge of 10% for what I understand is equity. What does that actually mean and where does the money go?
  • How can our voices be heard? Where can we give input on 4J budget?
  • How can we get more FTE money to decrease class size? Currently we have a class size as high as 37 in elementary school. We would like to see more support for FTE.
  •  Concern about staff morale at SEHS with so many changes.

Frequency of Meetings

Most attendees wanted to have longer meetings 3-4 times a year in the late afternoon to early evening.

Results of Dot Exercise Sorted by Interest

  • Discuss issues and concerns and provide feedback to the district 18
  • Develop a network among schools 15
  • Share the structures of the organizations (finances, responsibilities, PTO, PTA, options, training and support) 13
  • Share ideas for programs and fundraising 8
  • Collaborate on local and state education finding campaigns 8
  • Get together and connect as a region K-12 to support one another as students move on. 8
  • Serve broader base of parents using SurveyMonkey or other mechanisms to get access to more parent ideas and input. Have the ability to bring ideas
  • to the meetings as well as bring back to constituents. 7
  • If we meet, have a specific topic (fundraising, function, etc.) or a specific district focus or initiative to bring feedback 6
  • Create a method for community volunteers (specific talents or targeted expertise) District and schools recruit. 5
  • Want to return in there is a clear action plan and feel like there is an impact or brings change or improvement. 4
  • Hear updates on district level efforts 3
  • Work together on such issues as increasing parent involvement 2
  • Provide parent leadership development opportunities
  • Working together on district-wide projects, i.e. clothing drive idea, group projects that bring collaborative familiarity 2
  • Examine organizational models on how each functions, what are the best options for funding/finances and understand pluses or minuses of each. 1

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