Beacon PA General Meeting
September 21, 2016
Meeting was called to order by PA Co-president Patricia Roberts at 6:05PM.
Patricia welcomed everyone to first Beacon PA General Meeting of 2016-2017 school year.
- Asked for a show of hands for parents of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors
- Encouraged parents to join PA, get active, make friends
- Introduced EB members:
- Co-presidents Jean Villalba-Chen and Abigail Wendell
- Vice President Jennifer Economou
- Treasurer Kim Armor
- Assistant Treasurer Judith O’Driscoll
- Co-recording Secretaries Amy Weinblatt and Kristine Gregorek
Including the following Members-at-Large:
- Miriam Davidson
- Joanne Dugan
- James Ellison
- Kristine Gregorek
- Lisa Kline
- Ted Leather
- Kate Ryan
- Marni Shapiro
- Sylvia Wehrle
- Stephanie Weiner
Listed several upcoming events and committees that still need volunteers to assist including potluck dinners, speakers series, Beacon wear sales, communication team, data entry, legacy planning for treasury, auction team, and fundraising
Beacon Principal Ruth Lacey welcomed parents to the “new” Beacon, the “finished” Beacon. She stated that:
- New building is a different environment, we are still growing into the space, can all appreciate together.
- Teachers love the new building.
- Acknowledged that some not happy about the schedule.
- Beacon needed to switch to Pupil Path because the old website had outgrown its space and it required a lot of time and money to redo and rebuild. Although it is still challenging for teachers and parents, it will help parents because everything is in one place.
- The new website is active but not all the material is posted, however it will be soon. The new site was greatly needed, as the site has not been updated since the second year that Beacon started.
- The transition for freshmen students is the hardest. Hopefully the Summer Bridge Program has helped. The students will slowly start to get to know the teachers, advisors, and other students.
- Ruth Lacey introduced Elysha Weissglass, the 9th grade Transition/Guidance Counselor.
Elysha Weissglass welcomed the group. She explained that she will:
- Support 9th grade students
- Help with organization
- Let students vent
- Address student’s issues (so let her know if you notice any changes)
Elysha Weissglass has a passion for student leadership and works with Big Sibs program. Helps them with professional speaking. The Big Sibs help develop freshmen. She love to hear about opportunities for students. Alicia will not transition to other grades.
Elysha Weissglass supports the use of Pupil Path. Next week at Curriculum Night, the Big Sibs will be trained on Pupil Path and available to help parents log in, show them how to access information. This will open up lines of communication.
Ruth spoke about how transition for every grade difficult. The workload is main challenge.
She also discussed how the school is trying something different this year and is not sure if it will be successful. School day will now at 8:00AM, which is earlier than in past years. This is because so many students are engaged in after-school activities. She knows that many get home late from school and then do not enough time to do their homework and to study. By ending the school day at 2:20PM, it allows them more time at end of day. Ruth acknowledged that they are trying this out and are not sure how it will work.
Last year’s school schedule was based on the schedule which Beacon used when it was in the former building, which was more compact. This year they are experimenting with shorter lunch band. Freshmen will still have 1-2 free bands. Ruth welcomes feedback.
Ruth spoke about importance of students being organized and how parents can help their children. For example, on Sunday night, help your child empty their school bag and see what is needed. Students should not be carrying textbooks to and from school. If they are, please let Ruth know.
Ruth said that teachers are expected to have assignments posted on Beacon’s website by Sunday so that student can see for week. She has tried to for 22 years but is not totally successful. They are trying not to have tests on same day of the week, trying to spread them out.
Ruth spoke about the importance of clubs. Beacon currently has about 45 clubs including from Math, Art, Beacon Ink, BDAT, Model UN, Project Able, Smack, Music, Dance, Student Leader, Photography, Women Empowerment, Fashion, Girls Who Code, Film, Ethics, As it Happens, Debate, Senior Communication, Live Poet, Engineering, United Colors, Student Org, Tennis, UNICEF, Pride, etc. The clubs are mostly student generated, which Ruth likes, but we have to be realistic. The school pays for teachers to sponsor a club. It starts to become unyielding.
Ruth stated that the school can pay for first semester clubs, but they will need financial help second semester. She did not expect these many clubs, but does not like to say “no” to this interest. Beacon never had these many clubs. At some point, they may have to limit. The PA will have to discuss. One year, parents gave 125K to fund the clubs.
Ruth opened up to questions from parents:
- Q: If PA meets its goal, can the clubs be supported? Answer: Yes
- Q: If parents see there are multiple tests in one day, who do they tell? Answer: Email Ruth or Elysha Weissglass.
- Q: Is library open after classes? Answer: 10/1 is start date.
- Q: Where are the clubs listed? Answer: Will be on site.
- Q: When can kids sign up? Answer: Next week in advisory. There will also be a club fair.
Ruth explained that clubs are important because it builds a child’s character. When applying to college, it makes a difference. However, some kids are not interested.
They will have to decide if every club can be funded. Every club must have 20 students and there are some that have many more than that, such as Model UN which has up to 75 students. Drama and Chorus are also very popular.
Ruth was asked what is the vision for next few years. She stated that there are a lot of outside forces. Most of the time it’s trying to show that tests aren’t everything. Colleges say that Beacon students know how to write.
Ruth suggested and article in NY Magazine entitled “Put Down Your Phone.” She encouraged parents to reinforce at home.
Ruth spoke briefly on opportunities to take classes at college afterschool. More colleges no longer requiring SAT and some are not counting AP exams. They have lost their value. They are really look at the application itself. They do not see a correlation with test scores and success in college.
Theatre Teacher Jo Ann Cimato thanked the parents for gift of children. She has smart creative quirky kids who are eager and want to do everything. She greatly appreciates money that has been raised. Dance Teacher Ms. Elliott will do a fundraising concert in December. They raised funds to finish the auditorium. Thanks to PA, after school activities programs that she runs are possible. Great connections are happening. She spoke about Music Teacher Mr. Letiecq who invites kids to play and helps them find bands. He finds teachers to teach an instrument. There are over 100 kids that showed up for general band and over 60 trying out for choir.
Parent Coordinator Erdene Greene welcomed parents. She showed a dance video, which was a tribute to student who committed suicide performed by Beacon Dance Company. At Model UN, Beacon won more awards than any other school. The History Department participated in the Freshmen Middle East Peace Conference at John Jay. The Music Department has over 20 different bands. Beacon has many sport teams including basketball, softball, baseball, fencing, tennis, soccer.
PA Co-president Patricia Roberts thanked all of the speakers. She explained that it is important that the budget be approved tonight.
She spoke on upcoming events such as Curriculum Night on 9/28. Beacon also needs volunteer writers to help seniors preparing college essays on 10/5. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. There will potlucks (by grade) coming up as well. Please see Kate Ryan if want to coordinate Potluck. At the next PA meeting on 10/19, there will be an election for SLT. Parents can enter name in advance or night of.
Kim Armor then spoke on the budget. The budget is set for $415K. It supports expenses that DOE cannot support.
Patricia Roberts requested motion to approve budget. Moved and seconded to approve 2016-17 Beacon PA budget as presented by Kim Armor. She asked if any opposed say nay. No one opposed. Record reflects motion has been passed.
She thanked all those who contributed tonight.
PA Fundraising Co-chair Sylvia Wehrle spoke on fundraising. Fundraising committee will kick off annual appeal. Parents can donate tonight or mail back forms, or send in digital form. You can also give in online installments. The suggested family amount is $1,000, but any amount is appreciated.
Marissa Zalabak spoke about School Culture Committee to address issues and concerns and look for solutions within the Beacon community. Please see her after meeting and provide email or email her at email@example.com. The committee will include parents, teachers, administration, staff and students.
Patricia Roberts announced that Beacon Wear is now on sale. It is also sold once a month during the school day. Parent volunteers are needed. Please sign up with Lisa Kline.
Kate Ryan spoke on fundraising events. They still need a co-chair. Beacon is planning potlucks, Teacher Appreciation Breakfast, sports event, etc. There will also be comedy night, book reading, and house parties. They are looking at untraditional ways to bring people together.
Fundraising Committee Co-Chair Miriam Davidson spoke about partnership opportunities with Amazon Smile, Fairway, Modell’s etc. If you ideas on other possible partnerships, let them Miriam know.
Auction Committee Members Stephanie Weiner, Ted Leather, Nancy Molesworth and Shari Gottheim, spoke on Beacon’s largest fundraising event: the Spring Gala. Volunteers are needed. The committee hopes that many parents will join. If interested, please complete the form after the meeting. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The amount of revenue generated from the auction has increased greatly over the past years, from $40K to $80K, and last year it raised $115K. This year they hope to raise even more! Donations are also needed for auction. Popular items include unique experience, restaurant gift cards, wine. The auction committee is open to ideas. Please email email@example.com. The tentative date for this year’s auction is March 28th at a venue on W. 26th Street. Additional information to follow.
Patricia Roberts said the auction is an opportunity to come together. Therefore, auction tickets will be sponsored for those families and teachers who cannot to attend.
Patricia Roberts put forth the meeting minutes from June 2016 PA General Meeting to be approved. She asked if anyone wanted the minutes read or move to waive the reading of the minutes. Motion to waive. Second motion. No opposed. Reading of minutes was waived, therefore June 2106 General Meeting minutes have been approved.
Reminder that Financial Aid Night will be on October 13, 2016.
One parent asked when is college night held. There will be a schedule for senior parents. It will also be posted on PA website. It will be open to parents of all grades. The Junior Parent meeting in spring. Date TBD. Deb Heller to send out.
September PA General Meeting adjourned at 7:20 PM.
Meeting minutes recorded by Co-recording Secretary Kristine Gregorek.