|da Vinci Parent Council Meeting Minutes October 10, 2012 6:00-8:00 pm
1. Introductions and welcome - Carolina chairing the meeting. Regrets from Mary and Richard. Review of agenda: Add Safe and Caring Schools committee to New Business: Add Martha for funding request to New Business: Add ASAC update to New Business
2. Principal's report – Beth Mills
- da Vinci School has stable enrolment and is large at the lower end (K, 1, 2, 3. Small 5/6 class, has been since beginning. It is exciting that we will have a first graduating class. With growth came restructuring in 1/2 class. Granted another 1.0 teacher for grade 2, which allows us to continue to grow. Contacting wait list and people are interested in coming to see.
- Interesting challenge to prepare the new room. Over 120 applications for the new class teacher, some very strong applications. Looking for someone with experience in holistic education and alternative education experience; Gillian Wortley has both and we welcome her to da Vinci.
- Rachael Chang got a full time position at another school, sad to lose her. Hired a half pm Health and Phys Ed position to replace Rachael. Jolan Canrinus is hired for gym, knows many of the children from his supply work at the school and work in a local daycare; strong physical education skills.
- Taking longer then expected to get the room set up due to wait times for the movers from the board - taking a while to get Board cleaning etc completed. Thanks to parents for their support.
- Changes in education with new legislation, Bill 115, and teacher labour action this year and it is affecting everyone in education. Our focus is student safety and protecting the integrity of the learning day. Staff are continuing with their regular duties.
- Bill 13 has just been passed, deals with anti-bullying - means schools need to take a more proactive approach to bullying and the consequences of it. Changes the duties of reporting for the school and provides more specifically for support for students, particularly around issues of homophobia and gender identity.
- There is a lot to do in this area at da Vinci to try to build the kind of community we want our children to be a part of. Staff continue to work with all students to promote kind and respectful behaviour and to help resolve conflicts peacefully. We ask parents to model this and work with us. What are children watching and seeing as their models for respectful interactions – media influence can be very negative.
- As we enter our fourth year as a school we have to take some time to look at what we are doing and where we are going. Alternative schools are required to do this every five years. Both schools are growing and space is tight in the building. All available spaces are currently being used as classrooms.
Q: Is there reason to be concerned that with the growth, da Vinci will have to move out?
A: At the moment and based on a conversation with the planners there could be a time when that will be a possibility. If Lord Lansdowne continues to grow at this rate then space could be an issue. The Board has a process for planning and projection of student population. Schools work with the planning department and superintendent on this process.
Q: Will there be a classroom for the grade 2s that is not an interior room?
A: It depends on the numbers of students at Lord Lansdowne. Beth will try to find a classroom with a window for next year for this year's Grade 2's but there is no guarantee what will be available for the school.
Q: Should we be looking for a new site for da Vinci?
A: We would need to work within the Board policy and procedures. Sandi is willing to speak again to this issue, if parents are interested. If da Vinci stabilizes at 70-75 -80 students then it might not be a problem, since we are already using 5 classrooms. If da Vinci grows larger and Lord Lansdowne grows larger, then it could be something to look at within a few years. Remember, the early start Extended French program is being phased out at Lord Lansdowne, while the Early French Immersion is growing.
2. Teacher's Report – Martha Farquhar
- Focus on linking the arts and honing the developmental nature of our curriculum. Whole school Sing every week in the afternoons. Learning fall songs and lantern songs. The Lantern Walk will be in November.
- The grade 3 class did a Michaelmas presentation for the other classes -George and the Dragon story with a poem and mural.
- All classes are working on little gifts from each of the classes for the grade 2s for when they move into their new room:
- 5/6 is making needle felted windows of what they think the Grade 2's would want to see.
- 3/4 made paper flowers
- The faculty is continuing to work with Marg Beard as a mentor, with a focus on curriculum links and developmentally appropriate learning.
- Martha - Request for money for field trips because the 5/6 class is very small and there is a minimum flat charge for many trips. That makes the cost per student amount too high. She would like to charge the students the regular per student fee and seek the difference from Council funding. She will maximize her opportunities to combine with other classes, but some are curriculum linked and not appropriate for other grades. Eg desired trip to Harbourfront in November - request for $70 additional, since the flat rate is $150.
Beth: there is a budget line for providing funding for families who can not afford the cost, but this is a different circumstance, based on the small size of the lead class.
Q: Can you combine with another class from another alternative school?
Q: Can we approve this funding for this trip and look at alternative arrangements for other trips?
Carolina motions to approve, motion passed
3. Treasurer's report - Cheryl
Started with 4819$ in Sept. 2011. Raised $5 125 from the Winter Fair.
Expenditures: child care, lantern walk, membership dues, software, picnic, web hosting, books, story teller, reimbursement from Winter Fair, Waldorf training, Waldorf supplies
Balance of $4 980. With expenditures this year we have 3 categories. Current funding model is based on a percentage of fundraising money. Cheryl would like to propose a dollar amount for items, rather than a percentage.
Cheryl proposed adding an operating expenses category (eg cost of Quicken software last year, cost of website hosting).
Start a finance/ fundraising committee to make a plan of what we are fundraising for- call for volunteers. The Board requires a fundraising plan, where we indicate goals, both short-term and long-term. We have to report on how we have spent the money raised, and that it has been for the purposes intended.
Question about the books, suggestions from a past meeting including - Parents donate books from home from a list from the faculty. Books needed that reflect the diversity of our student body and the city in which they live. Parents submit a story to build a book that would go into the classrooms.
Cheryl motions a budget of 250$ per class (1250$ total) for Waldorf instruction supplies, or a total amount for the school and the faculty decides how to divide it.
go over with the understanding that the finance committee will review this, motion passed
Stacie will look into setting up a book registry for the school at a local bookshop with a list generated by the faculty
Martha is interested in funding for a dance instructor paid for by School Council.
Q: Can we ask to start a languages club or other club?
A: There has to be a teacher involved as sponsor
We should wait until the labour dispute is resolved before approaching the faculty, perhaps look at an after school with parents option.
Union action at this time - our conditions of work have changed due to the new legislation. Individual teachers need to think about what they can do; it is an individual decision not a collective one.
Teresa - a group of parents is organizing a Sunday group at Campbell Park (Bloor and Lansdowne) please contact Teresa if you are interested in joining
4. Info on Council Elections
- Council is mandated by the Ministry as the vehicle for parent involvement; role is to make recommendations to the principal on matters of student achievement and other issues related to the school mandate. School community developed the governance bylaw in the first year of the school that defines the positions and responsibilities for the school council.
- Positions: 2 co-chairs, secretary, treasurer, 2 at large. Those numbers and positions can be shared (can be more than one person in a position).
- Last year there were full council every other month and executive meetings in between, but that can change as the new council decides. Council is required by the Ministry to have 4 meetings each year and by the bylaws one each month.
- The process for electing the executive: those interested in a position indicate their interest. There will be a voting period where info is sent out to the parents prior to election/acclamation. If more than one interested in a position, then there will be elections. If not, then those nominated will be acclaimed., If an election, then a note is sent home with a short paragraph for each of those who are running. They can speak at a council meeting if needed.
- Set a date for a November meeting (November 7). Send out a call for volunteers so that council positions can be decided and acclaimed or voted at the November meeting.
- Call for volunteer nomination letter/email to go home from the school on October 17, with a due date of October 31. Submit intention and desired position to the school.
We should clarify this process attached to the bylaws so we get off to a good start in September.
Parent lecture date is Thursday, November 1, 2012 @6:00-7:30 Marg Beard on ‘Awakening the Parent Within’.
Next council meeting will be on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
5. Council Annual Report 2011-2012 – Cindy Waldman Member-at-Large
Stated who the council members were; 6 general and 6 executive meetings
Thanks to Beth and the teachers for their support.
Events led by teachers, Class reps, thank you to everyone.
3 Committees run by parent volunteers: Communication, Safe and caring schools, Transitions. Thank you for Winter Fair led by parents, council, welcome picnic, parent talks.
Marg is the school Waldorf mentor. She led parent talks with topics based on a parent survey of interest topics .Executive focus: looked to the Ministry mandate, reviewed the parent survey feedback to identify themes and to support the faculty and classrooms, build lines of communication between parents and school, changed the format of the parent talks to be more warm, welcoming, etc.
Offered lots of opportunities for parents to be involved, including the Winter Fair -Financially profitable fundraising event
Review and update of parent application form for Parent Reaching Out grant.
Clarified the fundraising funding model
Worked with potential new parents in person and from interest on the website
- Worked with Sandi Best, Alternative Schools liaison
- Worked with Trustee Bolton and Superintendent Falconer
- Had 2 joint events with Lord Lansdowne council
Q: was there eurythmics classes?
A: yes, run after school, private
Q: was interested but didn't know about it – was advertised through flyer - any questions? No.
6. Safe and Caring Schools - Stacie
- Overview of history of committee: committee met 5 times; extensive work on document included research on other schools, other charter Waldorf schools and private Waldorf schools. Our intent to create something unique to our community that reflected our issues and priorities; consultation with faculty, Waldorf mentor and parent community (via handout); majority of parents approved the draft; presented at June Council, got more feedback and three more people interested in joining committee; - - June council meeting put deadline for document of last Friday, so some time pressure now. Welcomed 3 new members - met in Sept and line by line reviewed and revised, with consensus from those present.
- Some of committee wants 1 more meeting. Important to follow process - comment that think document was not same as June document so wants another meeting so we are all starting from the same place.
- Stacie proposes document be put to use in the classroom, knowing it is a living document. We have to have something - have TDSB Code of Conduct already.
Beth - each school required to have our own document, which applies to all (children and adults). Also in by-laws to develop code of conduct for parents.
Debate about document
Carolina proposed - can we accept it based on consensus - is this good enough to live with for now?
Proposal - the existing model is approved pending changes at final upcoming meeting and we publish after changes are made: motion passed
7. ASAC - Teresa is co-chair
Da Vinci needs a rep. Teresa can't vote as da Vinci parent; chair has to be neutral.
Gave ASAC description - a parent advisory body to focus on the particular needs of alternative schools.
Anyone can go to an ASAC meeting
1st meeting is at SEED alternative school - Oct 25 - 6:30 - pot luck - is information on the website?
Nov 17 – alternative schools conference - Oakham House, Ryerson U. - challenge & change
First formal ASAC meeting Nov 1 – message sent by Teresa
Meeting adjourned 8:15