Minutes from PTO Meetings 2011-2012

Avery PTO Minutes 2011-2012


PTO General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, May 8


1. SCHOOL BOARD–David Addison will not be assigned to Avery next year but another representation will be assigned from the School Board. Currently, they are developing ways to encourage more dialogue between Elementary PTOs. The district is working on compiling the PTO from all the elementary schools to prevent overlap of events. Avery PTO has there Fall dates submitted to the calendar. A suggestion was made to develop some sort of social media group, maybe some dialogue through LinkedIn or Yahoo.


2. UPCOMING EVENTS–Parents Night Out 5/12 at Shrewsbury Bowl.

BOGO Book Fair Wed 5/16, Blacktop Ball 5/22. Sign up on the bulletin board to help with Blacktop Ball


3. APPRECIATION–Thank you to Rob for coordinating Razzmatazz this year and for Heidi Geers to planning a successful Staff Appreciation Week.


4. BUDGET—Jeff Smith said he is still waiting on expenses for some events. Most events or on or above budget.


5. PRINCIPAL’S REPORT–Dr. Cindy Neu disclosed that Gayle took a position in Joplin as an elementary school principal and she is currently in Joplin interviewing for some staffing positions. Reminder about the volunteer breakfast on Wednesday morning. Many field trips have been canceled and rescheduled to due weather but Field Day was a success in the morning and the modified version in the afternoon was also enjoyable. A new second grade teacher has been hired and a replacement for the Wings position might be hired at the end of the week.


6. TITLE I–Gayle Hennessey prepared presentation on Title I programs. Kindergarten students are given various assessments to determine who may need additional support. 112 students at Avery currently using support. A reading contract is used between parents and teachers. Both Avery parents are staff are highly involved in many Title I committees. Question about the time a student remains in Title I—some students receive reading help may or may not be Title I funded. Some students do graduate from reading recovery. Question about Oasis—typical used with students who do not get reading support at home.


7. PTO SURVEY—Kathleen Unwin highlighted that the survey had 137 respondents with 28 Avery staff members. The survey categorized needs into various umbrellas. Outdoor space in front of Avery seemed to have the most interest. Idea about the outdoor classroom—some seating, areas to explore. Outdoor classrooms are usually connected with science (native plant restoration, prairie). Appeals to different student learning. Dr. Neu said that Litzinger Road Center would like to partner with us. Shannon David recommended a book, “Last Child in the Woods” that encourages outdoor learning. The next highest area of interest was the playground space with everything from new playground equipment or a more natural playground setting. Support for teacher needs was expressed in the comment section of the survey. Regarding PTO meetings, it was suggested that they remain at 7pm and are held once per month. Discussed having a program of interest within the general PTO meeting. Reading specialist and math specialist speaker were topics of interest at Clark. Clark has a secret tour during a PTO meeting. Child overage seems to be an issue for some parents and was expressed on the survey. The child care has gone away due to liability concerns. Using the system of parent volunteers does not seem to work. Brainstormed the idea of using Adventure Club representative. Maybe we can partner with Girl Scouts or a high school group. Some of the PTOs do offer childcare. This issue needs to be explored. Even having it sends a message saying that we support all different family structures. Parents will be given an option in the beginning of the semester to indicate a preference for communication via e-mail or paper. Maybe this could be indicated on the Buzz book collection/order form.


8. Thank yous to the departing executive members. Only one person has expressed interest for each board position next year. Denise Pearl (President), Kathleen Unwin (Vice President), Mandy Curtis (Secretary), T.J. Hoeferlin (Treasurer)




Tuesday, April 3, 2012

• PTO offered a big thank you for everyone involved in the Avery play. They are looking for a playwright for next year.

• Upcoming events:

o Razzmatazz – April 20th. Contact Rob Foley, rtfoleystl@gmail.com

o Parents’ Night Out w/Accident in the Lab, May 12th at Shrewsbury Lanes (7PM). Contact is Toby Mechem, tobymechem@sbcglobal.net Cost is $20 per person = unlimited bowling, live music, shoes and 1 drink. Watch for more info in the coming weeks. If interested in helping, please contact Toby.

o Field Day – Date change: Now May 4 to give us more options for rain date. It is at Eden Seminary this year. They will walk. New model to adopt what is done at other schools in the district. Grades 3-5 in the AM, K-2 in the afternoon.

o Blacktop Ball – May 22nd. All kids will receive a free t-shirt. Yearbooks will be sold as well. Contact Valerie Egel, v.egel@hotmail.com

o Staff appreciation week is April 30. Heidi Geers is heading up the committee and is looking for ideas to reward our hard working teachers.

o BOGO Book Fair is May 16 on the front lawn.

• Open Committee/Executive Committee Positions

o If interested in a committee chair position that is open, let Denise/Kathleen know. We still need chairs or co-chairs for:

 Avery restaurant nights

 bulletin board

 fall fundraiser (gift wrap) (co-chair)

 head room parent

 safety committee

 Yearbook (co-chair)

o If interested in an Executive committee position, please let Shannon know (in writing) by April 24th. Elections/Appointments at May 8th meeting. We have at least one submission for each position EXCEPT Treasurer.

• Principal’s Report

o Last week there was a board/PTO dialogue. The foundation presented information on how to get involved. New program called BFF—bringing in Webster Groves merchants to support the foundation.

o Three new committees at district level:

 Early childhood learning experiences committee. Led by Dr. John Simpson.

 Revenue committee. Led by Diane Moore, CFO.

 Space and facilities committee—looking at long term district space and building needs.

o Here at Avery we are adding a 5th section of 2nd grade for next year. There will be a temporary classroom and some space is being looked at. Looking to add two new classrooms not this summer but the next.

o No new Turner case update—everything is kind of on hold while the courts hear the cases. There is one bill sponsored by Cunningham to set limits for buildings but that has not passed as of yet.

• Fourth and fifth made a card thanking PTO for the document cameras.

• Mrs. Londa came to represent 3rd grade to thank PTO for the Scholastic Funds and document cameras.

• Budget: no updates—tracking fairly close to plan.

• Brainstorming Needs/Priorities for Next Year. In addition to the small grant requests, we wanted to know what the overall needs and priorities should be for next year. Ideas included but were not limited to:

o Outdoor classroom.

o Natural playground. There have been safety issues at our playground. SWT did Margaret Park and Lockwood park and incorporate the natural plants. Kathleen volunteered to look into what is happening with the natural playground at Walter Ambrose.

o New fence is needed but that will likely be covered by the district. It is underneath a budget—there is money for repairs. Maintenance is looking into getting it repaired.

o Look at front area as possible use of space for gardens or sustainability education/science education. Could be funded partially by the foundation grant. There is outside grant money available. School of Ed at Webster U is focusing more on sustainability education. Kate mentioned a possible partnership here.

o Related to outdoor space there is a need for more recess equipment to offer ways to engage the children. We need more balls, ropes, tools for recess.

o Equipment for the playground. Some things to engage all of the kids. Tether ball? Net to catch balls?

o Doc cameras for all classes? Some teachers have applied for small PTO grants here but it could be an overall need.

o Instead of dry erase boards, magnetic would be more useful.

o 3rd grade teachers talked a lot about doing an outdoor garden, and things that might amp up our science instruction.

o Lego has some programs incorporating a lot of robotics and simple machines, etc.

o There is a need for money for additional field trips.

o Technology like ipads and ipods

o Science lab. Create a partnership with the high school? The science fair is a good example where a lot of kids may be excluded due to lack of resources, etc.

o Money to pay Adventure Club people to stay here and offer sitting at PTO meetings and conferences so more parents can attend. If we make the effort to level the playing field, more parents would come more often.

o Better ways to welcome new families and kindergarten families to feel included and welcome.

o Stronger anti-bullying program

• We discussed doing a formal survey to rank these ideas and also to get more input from teachers and surveys.

• Someone suggested add info to baseline about PTO happenings. We need to toot our own horn more often. Avery does not seem to appear in the Webster Kirkwood times.

• Someone suggested promoting our Facebook page and looking to use twitter to improve engagement.

• Other ideas to improve community might be offering grade level coffees and get togethers

• Fundraising: Claire suggested expanding escript if anyone is interested. Bristol does credit cards. Gift cards, etc.

• Next meeting is May 8th. Elections will be held.



MARCH 6, 2012



  • Avery Play March 30-31 at Steger

Contact Terri Thompson to volunteer. They are still looking for DANCERS! Thompsonmit@sbcglobal.net

  • Razzmatazz, April 20

Rob Foley, rtfoley@gmail.com. Informational meeting Wednesday 3/7. An information and registration sheet is posted at averypto.org

  • Parents Night Out at Shrewsbury Lanes 5/12

$20 person includes unlimited bowling, shoes, music, and 1 drink coupon. Half of the ticket price will go back to PTO


Please let Kathleen Unwin or Denise Pearl know if you are interested by e-mailing averypto@gmail.com.

  • Open positions include:
  • Head Room Parent
  • Avery Restaurant Nights
  • Bulletin Board
  • Safety Committee
  • Co-chair for the Fall Fundraiser (gift wrap)
  • Co-chair for the Yearbook


If you are interested in one of the Executive Board positions for next year, please express your interest in writing to Shannon Wright (stlwrights@att.net) by 4/24. Denise Pearl has put her name in for President, Kathleen Unwin for Vice President.

4. The next PTO meeting on 4/3 will be used as a brainstorming meeting. PTO Monies are being held over for the year for larger projects. Bring your ideas to this meeting!


Gayle Hennessey reported that Spring Break is almost here and then MAP Testing will be held April 3-5 and then the school year is almost over. Ms. Garwood has presented in the classrooms about test anxiety with MAP Testing coming up.

Dr. Cindy Neu will be here full-time as the Assistant Principal next year. She then introduced Dr. Arnold as the New Principal.

Dr. Tony Arnold is excited to join the Avery family. Excited about the district and specifically Avery and applied for the position in November. Is meeting with teachers 1-1. Spent a day at Avery reading with many classes. Feels the sense of community within building. Will not make many changes the first year—he is just absorbing and getting feedback.

One parent questioned enrollment for next year since Dr. Neu will be here full-time. Seems like the enrollment will be staying at 500+ students. The district is currently getting bids to add another classroom. Also looking at how to use other spaces at Avery more creatively. No plans to extend the cafeteria at this time. The cafeteria has been expanded recently. Kate Northcott questioned the classrooms without doors and no windows and how this passes fire code. Gayle described that it does pass code.

Stranger Danger drill happened today (3/6) and a team has been working with the children about safety. Staff has started wearing nametags. Ms. Hennessey encouraged the parents to applaud their children for doing well during the safety drill. Children were cooperative and quiet.

One parent questioned if safety drills also happen at the high school and Ms. Hennessey confirmed that they do.

Denise Pearl asked Dr. Arnold about utilizing parent volunteers during the school day and his response, “The more the merrier”. He used parent volunteers extensively at Ladue working with small groups and with administrative tasks. Involvement in the school helps parents get a better perspective and enhances communication.

Shannon Davis brainstormed that PTO volunteers might help specialty teachers with the increased enrollment. She was concerned about the music, art, and PE teachers. Sara Smith has agreed to assist in finding volunteers for Mrs. Carasello.

Ms. Hennessey said that having parents in the cafeteria and playground has been positive.

Shannon Davis also also asked for teacher input in developing a list of needs to the school. Mr. Barbre just requested PTO funds for something practical—CD players and CDs for audio books. Mrs. Bennett similarly asked for funds for iPods two years ago. Children listen to stories, practice handwriting, math numbers, etc… on the iPods. Mrs. Bennett has iPods and the other teachers have iPads. These have been particularly applicable for students with special needs. iPads came from a district foundation grant.

Mandy Curtis complimented Mrs. Bennett because she attends PTO meetings and asks for money to compliment the learning process. Shannon Wright said there is a $2,500 line item in the PTO budget for discretionary grants. This is to be used for teacher requests. Encourage teachers to apply for this. Tomorrow is the teacher advisory committee with one teacher from each grade level. Gayle will mention the availability of these funds at the meeting.

Avery has been given funding for an additional second grade teacher—now we just need to build a classroom for the person, to keep class sizes low.

Question about the King Willhem case—family in an unaccredited school district wants to enroll at Avery. Remanded it back to the circuit courts.

Enrollment is currently at 525. Wants to keep class size at 18-19. What would the ideal enrollment be? One parent believes Dr. Riss suggested 24 instead of 26 classrooms.

Question about the impact of increased class sizes? Mrs. Bennett had 25 students for 2 years and felt like more of a babysitter. Managing the number of students was difficult in getting things done.

One parent wondered if there is a discussion about building another school? Sarah Smith described that the birth rate is dropping so the number of school-aged students should decrease.

Mrs. Bennett said that parent volunteers can sometimes be more work. Feels that PTO copy volunteers were helpful a few years ago. Sarah Smith thinks that teachers might independently find parent volunteers. Dr. Arnold has used a training session for parents in the beginning of the year to discuss privacy acts and the role to play in the classroom.

Shannon Davis described that Avery is such a special place. She feels that it gets better every year. She noted that Dr. Furjes was very supportive of the teachers.

Mrs. Bennett thanked Gayle for such a great year and smooth transition. Gayle is interviewing for positions in Joplin but may return to her Student Services role in the District.

Dr. Arnold asked the parents what they like about Avery:

• Placement with the right student chemistry and teacher. Gayle will be more in charge of placement for the upcoming year. The process of filling out student needs will be used again.

• Fly up day

• Halloween parade

Dr. Arnold also asked what parents are looking for in a principal

• Being open to all of the experience that the community brings (parents, staff, teachers)

• Looking for presence (both at the school and outside functions). Gayle was complimented for attending and supporting PTO events. Tony plans on attending the Avery Play and Blacktop Ball this year.

• Annie Holder thinks of Avery as Mayberry—appreciates feeling of community. Tony has implemented the Walking School Bus at another school.

Another parent questioned having pets in the classroom. Tony responded that it depends but advocates the use of reading “Therapy” dogs.






























Tuesday, February 07, 2012 7PM Media Center

Regular Business:

  1. a.       Avery Play-March 30th and 31st. Contact Terri Thompson, thompsonmlt@sbcglobal.net to volunteer.
  2. b.      Razzmatazz-April 20th. Contact Rob Foley, rfoleystl@gmail.com to volunteer. Registration forms will be available via the PTO website. Parent information meeting is being set and watch baseline news for the date.
  3. c.       Blacktop Ball-May 22nd. Contact Valarie Egel, v.egel@hotmail.com to volunteer
  4. d.      BOGO Bookfair is May 16th. Contact Rachel Herrman to volunteer.
  5. e.      Possible parent’s night out at Shrewsbury Lanes with music from Accident in the Lab. Cost would be $20 per head for unlimited bowling and music. Discussed whether the price was too high. Half of the proceeds would go to PTO—potential of $1200.

Jerry Pinkner from the Webster Groves School District Foundation made a presentation about the new addition at the high school and capital campaign. The foundation gives grant money to teachers. Last year Avery kindergarten teachers were recipients for the “I Can Read Program”. They distribute $50,000 each year

In 2006 Proposition D helped build the gym at Avery.  In 2010, Proposition W passed to build the addition on the High School, adding 100,000 feet to the school.

Science labs are a highlight of the third floor. They are adding an outdoor classroom focused on sustainability including solar panels, cisterns to collect grey water.

Orchestra and band rooms and sound studios, digital animation studios are planned.

Basement is being modernized to support industrial technology including a new robotics program.

Campaign is underway to fund equipment and the innovative technology to take it to the next level. Goal is $300K. They are already at $200K and have not even started the parent phase. This will launch in the spring. Website to make donations is www.wgartsci.org.

Principle’s Report: Gayle asked what the status of getting baseline news delivered electronically. The concerns have been making sure that all people—especially those who do not have access to technology—can get information. Shannon Davis voiced some concerns and we discussed the pros and cons. One parent talked about going through the transition at her last school and it was fairly straightforward. We would let parents opt in or out.

We should hear in the next week about the new principal. Candidates were great and of high quality.

Diane Moore, COO of the Webster Groves School District, presented information about the Turner Case, “Firemen” case, and potential impact on the district.

David Addison and Amy O’Brien, of the Webster Groves School Board were present to give an update on all day kindergarten and the pending lawsuits.

Avery is one of only three schools that do not offer free all-day kindergarten.

Turner-hearing March 5th in the appellate courts. The district is waiting to see what happens. The issue is about students from unaccredited districts coming to county schools.

There is another case, King Willman case, which is going straight to the Supreme Court.  Our attorney will argue that there is a cost to the district for any child.

In the firefighters, the district has not yet been served.

David Addison pointed out that the result would be sucking money out of the St. Louis Public Schools and hurt the very people they are trying to protect. Seinfeld supports.

The hope is that the legislature will address the “Turner Fix” in committee.

One parent stated she has been following closely and is very concerned. She asked is there something that we as parents should be doing. Contact legislators. Some things say without a doubt. We pay a disproportionate amount of our education budget.

City would be required to pay the Webster cost to educate, which is about $16,000. Surveys show it would bankrupt the city school system and ultimately the state of Missouri.

A parent asked what the district’s contingency plans are.

We already accept just over 200 VIC students from the city. That program is gradually coming to a close. State had set aside money to pay transportation and tuition for those students. Webster gets about $7000 per student. It is winding down through attrition.

The Turner fix that Senator Cunningham proposes would allow each district to set parameters as to ideal class levels, etc. We are saying we will accept students but want some parameters.

It is also well known that St. Louis public schools have gone on the record saying they do not intend to pay anything.

Shannon Davis asked how to stay informed. The district has a legislative action committee. They focus completely on what is happening at the state level. That would be a good meeting for interested parents to attend. They have a website as does then cooperating school districts website. Put a link in the Baseline news to these websites. The action committee has a trip planned to Jefferson City on Wed. February 22nd.

Amy O’Brien stated that the board is forming a committee to look at free full day kindergarten as well as the preschool options, birth to K. They are looking for a representative from each school. The concern is space and money. Every time community is surveyed before any tax levies are undertaken. That is how we fund things here. The majority of WG is made up from property taxes. State provides only $4million of the $50million budget. They have constantly asked it to the community and unfortunately it and transportation do not rank high on the list. Scholarships are provided to 40 families and the district makes up the rest with a lower than actual cost tuition. The board is very committed to doing what is right for children, dealing with the achievement gap, etc. They are doing much research to prove whether it really improves instruction for kids. District received $500K in tuition which would go away. The majority of buildings are busting at the seams right now. Funds would have to come from cutting another program. They want to do what is right for kids, not just do it because neighboring districts are doing it. Kirkwood does not have funds budgeted against it so it will eventually eat into their fund balance and cause them to ask for a tax levy and/or cut programs. Our board wants to do the research to find out what is the best thing to do and be upfront with the tax payers about it. David Addison went to the Kirkwood public meeting where they talked about it. Their superintendent estimates the cost at $800K and said that it would not result in a tax increase. By law we are required to offer half day.

Chris Wright asked when the surveys go out? It is a phone survey and the last one was in 2010. We don’t have current survey data. He points out that many boards have already surveyed and studied the issue.  In his own research, he feels that the research tips in favor of full day kindergarten having a benefit. He feels we are not leading on this issue and it comes down to board commitment. If you want to narrow the achievement gap, he feels free full day kindergarten is a way to do that. He feels if it is important, we should find a way to pay for it.

Amy O’Brien wanted to speak to it. This board wants to find out where the investment gives the biggest lift. The question is—if you only have so much money and so much care, what is the priority. They are not just looking at full day kindergarten but also early childhood.

Another parent cited research that showed by 3rd grade they are equalized, and in higher socioeconomic there is little to no difference.

Diane Moore pointed out that other districts got double state aid for full day programs and at that point in time, there was no financial incentive for Webster and other hold harmless districts. Webster recently fell off of the hold harmless list. It is based on a complicated formula that looks at “local wealth”.

Building advisory committee shows demographics as flat but more private school families are opting to send to public schools. Our growth comes from private and parochial. WG is having some new demographic data done to try to predict and get a handle on future enrollment.

Denise Pearl commented that we should not plant sod in August—it was a complete waste of money.

Diane Moore mentioned the building committee is looking at all options including a circle drive. The city is asked to look at traffic patterns at Avery every year.

School start date in August seems to be creeping earlier and earlier. It is the third week of August for the foreseeable future. It will be this way for at least three years. The reason is the legislature changed the law to allow non-agricultural districts to start before Labor Day. It becomes more important in high school to balance out those semesters.

Next meeting is Tuesday, March 6th 7 PM.



PTO Meeting Minutes

January 10, 2012

1.  Still looking for a chairperson for Razzmatazz.  One parent is interested with another co-chair. If chairs are not established soon the show may be cancelled.

2.  Jeff Smith gave an update on the budget.  Auction net came in at almost $11,000—thanks to Shannon Wright and the auction committee!

3.  Scholastic Book Fair revenue update—$7,000 transferred to teachers for Scholastic Bucks.  This seemed like a better idea than getting the reduced rate cash payout.  Every classroom teacher was given about $200 to purchase classroom supplies.  The library and the non-classroom teachers also received Scholastic Bucks.  Gayle Hennessey reported that the teachers were very excited about this! Some classrooms are pooling their money together to purchase a larger grade level item.  Shannon Davis was going to make sure all of the Scholastic Bucks are utilized.

3.  Bingo Night—Free family Event.  February 24th from 6:30-8:30pm.

4. Avery Play is scheduled for March 30-31 at Steger.  Parents interested in a role for the play can come to a meeting at Terri Thompson’s house (868 Atalanta) this Wednesday or Thursday at 7:30pm.  The next scheduled meeting is on January 18th at Steger.

5.  1st Annual Scott Harris Oliphant Trivia Night to benefit Avery’s First Grader, Phoebe McFarland.  Although Phoebe is doing well, she needs an upcoming eye surgery and other treatments in the next few months.  PTO agreed to make a $160 donation to the event and Stacey Greers will be coordinating a basket donation.  For more information and/or to register for the Trivia Night, go to www.scottharrisoliphant.org.

6.  The Auction and Trivia Night still needs a chair for next year.  The event does take some time and planning.  It is PTO’s biggest fundraiser.  Date has not been set yet so the new chairperson(s) can decide.

7.  Boy Scout Troop and Pack is now sponsored by First United Methodist Church on Bompart but are still meeting at Avery and will be hosting events such as the Pine Wheel Derby tournament at Avery.

8.  Shannon Wright spoke to Dr. Sarah Riss to get an update on principal search.  50 applicants have applied for the position.  Many current elementary principals and assistant principals are in the applicant pool; some local and others out of state.  After phone screenings, in-person interviews will occur on January 25 (Brian Jennings and two other parents will be involved in these meetings).  Hopefully, the new principal will attend the PTO meeting in March or another scheduled introductory meeting. Linda Holiday said that the applicants do go through a psychological assessment of some sort.

9.  Principal’s Punch and cookies will be held on January 24th at 6:30pm at Douglas Manor located on North Elm.  Gayle Hennessey offered a Principal’s Coffee earlier in the school year but wanted to offer an evening meeting time with parents.  Kindergarten Night is scheduled for January 26th at 6:30pm at Avery this year.  This will replace the meeting that occurred at Steger in past years.   There was discussion regarding full day kindergarten once again since Kirkwood just passed this for its district.  The Webster Groves School District is looking at this issue from a financial and space perspective.  Currently, Missouri legislation is being considered that will mandate full day kindergarten.

10.  The district building committee will be coming thorough Avery again in February.  There were several parent questions about the role of this committee.  Seems to be taking a “band-aid approach” to the space concerns at Avery instead of developing a “big picture vision” of ideal space needs for Avery.

11.  Anna Garwood introduced herself as the School Counselor and one of her roles is to plan programming for students and their families.  Avery has a program for NCADA (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse) at every grade level.

Kelly Weiser and Cathy Mackenzie have been working within various schools in the Webster District.  Both have been impressed by the positive behavior and interest from the Avery students

Prevention is the goal of coming into Avery and presenting.  Alcohol and substance abuse issues are rampant in the US.

Kindergarten presentation involves differentiating between teddy bear and porcupine words and other activities involving winning friendships.

First Grade Topic is entitled “Caring for Classmates” (includes sharing, helping others and giving compliments).

Second Grade presentation “Friendship Rules” talks about how to build friendships and to think about friends with different interests.

Third Grade topic “Building You Building Me” builds upon friendship with the concept of teamwork, empathy, and body language.

Fourth Grade topic “Taking Charge of Me”—Concepts of tolerance, self-esteem, goals, and responsibility.  Emphasis on the importance of being yourself and not to strive for perfection.

Fifth Grade topic continues the concept of Taking Charge of Me.  Concepts involve goal setting and peer pressure.  Promotes tolerance and accepting differences.

Fifth Grade also covers specific topics of marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco (O2BDrugFree).  Covers the physical impact of alcohol and how to make refusal choices.  Also gives resource information if parents need help in making better choices.  Disputes how the media portrays alcohol usage.  The presentation gives children facts and information.

NCADA has also presented a medicine safety unit for K, 1st, and 2nd graders differentiating between medicine and candy.  Uses examples and puppets to engage students.


NCADA www.ncada-stl.org

Partnership for a Drug Free America  www.drugfree.org

Parents.  The Anti-Drug  www.theantidrug.com

On the Webster Groves District website, resources are also listed on the parent corner.

In St. Louis, heroine usage is high.  Rockwood-Summit recently had an alcohol-related drug and alcohol death.

Marijuana usage in the Webster Groves School District is higher than the national average.

NCADA gives teacher surveys after presentations to evaluate if the teachers have noticed student behavior and knowledge changes.  Older students are also asked to give feedback to the presenters.

Gayle Hennessey reported that 6th ,9th , and 11th  graders in the district receive a survey of drug and alcohol every other year.  The data from this survey indicates that 6th graders have been exposed.

DARE is not currently used since it did not seem to be effective.

The next PTO Meeting is scheduled for February 7at 7:00pm.



Avery PTO Minutes

October 4, 2011

7 PM Avery Gym

1. Fall Fest Updates-Volunteers still needed for game booths (particularly from 7-8pm), cakes still needed for the cakewalk.  The planning committee addressed and apologized for the error in scheduling on Yom Kippur—it will not happen again while the current committee members are involved in the planning. 

2. Auction and Trivia Night—Nov. 12th. Need lots of volunteers. Registration forms coming home in a few weeks.

3. Scholastic Book Fair—week of Nov. 14th during Parent-Teacher conferences.  Thanks in advance to all who have signed up to volunteer for this event. 

4. Thanks to Jamie Gerken for beautification work—notice all of the improvements around the Avery sign! Beautification committee could use donations of flowers and bulbs.

5. Budget (Jeff Smith)—preliminary numbers are estimated at $9900 for the Fall Fundraiser. Should be on or ahead of budget. Still need to pay for the merchandise.  Jeff encouraged other committee leaders to please turn in receipts in a timely manner for events. 

6. Walking School Bus—Cindy Cantrell, School Specialist with Trailnet.  Trailnet is a local nonprofit organization that supports biking and walking in St. Louis communities. Rachel Hermann is the coordinator for the Walking School Bus at Avery and she has organized the current routes.  Fliers and permission forms are available from Rachel. There are routes that a parent walks every Friday morning to encourage children to walk to school.  Along the way, kids who live within the route can come out and walk to school in a safe and supervised manner. Still need one route leader to walk kids on the west side of Kirkham. Trailnet is organizing a special one-day event October 21st, “Family walk to school day”. Encourage everyone to walk to school. Kids get prizes, there will be a tent in front of Avery with snacks for children and parents.

7. Principal’s Report—Watch backpack mail for a November Principal’s Coffee evening. This serves as a casual time to sit and talk about happenings at school and share information happening in the district. Also note October 26th will be the first Community Connections meeting—conversations about social justice. Dr. Neu is coordinating facilitators for that date.  The topic of discussion will include an article posted on the Avery website.  Watch Baseline News for this information.  Oct. is disability awareness month.

8. Boy Scout/Cub Scout Charter Discussion

Bob Casey—Pack 303, Britt Kennedy-Troop 303, Brad Schnell, PTO liaison, and Joe Mueller from the Greater St. Louis area council represented the Boy Scouts and answered questions.

PTO members checked in at the door and received a blue card to be exchanged for a written ballot. The voting process was explained.

Issues: Executive Committee role in supervising scouting activity and concerns if this is the role of the PTO.   Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts are the only organizations that the PTO charters. Issues were brought to the Exec Council this summer and the PTO Exec council did feel, at times, that a lot of our attention was needed on the scout/PTO relationship for a short period of time late last summer/early fall.

Missouri PTA/PTO statement:  They offer guidelines for local PTA/PTO organizations. The recommendations are not binding. In March 2011, they suggest that PTOs/PTA’s should not charter organizations that require the PTO/PTA to make judgments or vouch for the character or morals of the other group’s members. They outline concerns with liability issues. Missouri law states that as individuals, the PTO exec board is protected. However, the funds the PTO raises are at risk. Shannon Wright pointed out that we do have a liability policy for Avery PTO.

One parent asked how Girl Scouts are differently structured. Kathleen Unwin explained that GS charters are handled through a separate non-profit; Girl Scouts of Eastern MO. Boy Scouts are governed through a congressional mandate. Marie Richter asked for clarification on the national structure versus Girl Scouts. It would literally take an act of congress to change the way it is structured.

Another parent asked if a group of Avery parents could, in theory, get together and from their own non-profit to hold the charter. The answer is yes, but, the Boy Scouts prefer a strong and established community based organization.

National policy regarding membership and leadership:  One parent asked if a young boy has homosexual parents would that child be denied an opportunity to join scouts. All the adult scout leaders responded “no”. The boy could join scouts. That parent followed up with another question, is it true that if a young man is gay, he cannot be a member? Joe Mueller (Boy Scouts representative) said “no”—if a young man says he is gay, he is referred back to his parents for counseling. A gay parent, however, can participate as a parent for the scout member.

Bob Casey said as far as he is concerned, “it is like don’t ask, don’t tell”. There is no screening on the application form regarding sexual orientation. Bob stated that he would sign off and approve in this pack any application for leadership. The issue in 2000 came up because of publicity. It would not be an issue, unless said leader “preaches” about their sexual orientation to the children. The subject of sexual orientation is not in the scouting curriculum. Bob disclosed that he has been asking a lot of questions regarding sexual orientation at the local and national level. 

One parent expressed the feeling that by supporting an organization that discriminates, we are, by defacto, discriminating against gays. She continued to encourage Avery to be a voice of change. There is a non-profit called “Scouting for All” and our local troop may elect to be involved in this organization.  The Scout leaders said that they would need to investigate this organization. 

Michelle DiMarceles (Avery staff member)—stated that national policy is in conflict with WG School. Even though the local 303 group may not discriminate, discrimination is occurring at the national organization level. 

Tracy Baden (Avery Teacher) expressed concern since she is committed to social justice and feels blessed that we are at a school that embraces the concept of social justice.  However, she finds it disconcerting to know that our PTO, is signing a document that identifies themselves as the sponsors of an organization that does discriminate. She, though, is supportive of the PTO and all that the organization does for Avery in general.  Further, she is troubled that it does not match our district mission statement at all.

Bob Casey said, he would be willing to sign to form for a homosexual parent to be a leader. He has been really pressing people down at the local and national council.  Kurt Gilker-committee member for the Scouts says we (the scouts here at Avery) are on the same side of this discrimination issue. But raised the question to see if this troop and pack is willing to be agents of change?

Bob Casey continued with the best opportunity for change being from the inside out.

Mr. Barbre  (Avery teacher) stated he feels saddened that we would even tie ourselves to this organization because of the discrimination issues.

Motion moved to end discussion. Britt asked to speak on behalf of Troop 303 that consists of 28 scouts, ages 11-17 years. Talked about the positive aspects of scouting—that it teaches acceptance and tolerance for everyone. That is what they teach the boys. They share a common goal of education for our children.

Motion moved to vote.

Final vote: Written ballots were submitted.  Rachel Hermann read the ballots.  Votes were tabulated by Jeff Smith, Shannon Wright, Kathleen Unwin, and Denise Pearl. 

Troop: 19 Yes, 22 No

Pack: 20 Yes, 22 No

PTO will not sign the charter.  PTO sponsorship of Pack 303 and Troop 303 will end on December 31, 2011. 

Next Meeting Wed. Nov. 9th at 7 PM.  Watch for agenda items shared through Baseline News.

PTO Meeting Minutes

August 30, 2011–7:00pm, Media Center


1.      WELCOME:  Introduction of PTO Officers (Shannon Wright, Rachel Herrman, Jeff Smith, Kathleen Unwin and Denise Pearl).  Interim Principal, Gayle Hennessey was also introduced as a member of the executive board. 

2.      PTO EVENTS:  The list of chairpersons was distributed along with the list of PTO events for the year.  Regarding the upcoming movie night on 9/16—plastic stadium cups will be available for purchase for $1 to offset cost of root beer since it will not be donated this year.  Fall Festival was explained an old fashioned carnival and many volunteers to coordinate the event–Please sign up to help!  The walking school bus will begin on Friday with 6 routes.  4 routes are already functioning with parent volunteers leading the children in walking to school.  E-mail Rachel Herrman if you would like to help with walking.  The Volunteer bulletin board will be up through the end of the week so sign up now or contact the specific event chair to help.

3.      OTHER VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:  Sarah Smith is soliciting parent volunteers to help with recess or cafeteria duty on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Some classrooms still need room parents.  The list of rooms still needing room parents will be included in Baseline News this week.  Shannon Davis asked about restructuring the room parent role with having one parent liason for the classroom and then just having parents be in charge of each party.  Maybe the room parent role should be looked at if it is hard to fill.

4.      BASELINE NEWS: Baseline News is currently sent out in paper form through Backpack Mail but may be delivered electronically in future.  Maybe both delivery methods will be used during a transition time.  Question of what method of delivery will be best keeping in mind that the purpose it to get information out.  We want to make sure that the communication is still happening.  Question asked about how many families do not have internet access?  That data is not available.  We will continue this discussion at a later meeting.   Mandy Curtis (Baseline News Chair) has received several phone calls and e-mails from parents disagreeing with going to the electronic format. 

5.      PTO BUDGET REVIEW:  This year will be used as a building year with during the interim principal leadership.  Most of the fundraising efforts from this year will be rolled over and the needs from parents, teachers, will be assessed to see what directions we can use for our fundraising efforts.  Budget was approved.

6.      PRINCIPAL’S REPORT:  Avery has an enrollment of 520 this year.  Gayle Hennessey took a few minutes to introduce herself that she has been in the district as the Director of Special Education for several years; however, her dream job has been an elementary school principal.  Dr. Riss decided to postpone the permanent job search and appointed Gayle as Interim Principal.  Over the summer, she met with the Avery staff and 2 issues seemed to emerge as areas of concern:  lunch and morning meeting.  From the teacher’s perspective, it seemed to take a while to calm students down and ready to learn after morning meeting and lunch. 

7.      MORNING MEETING:  Both doors for morning meeting were initially closed at 8:15 but now only one door is closed so students can still come in.  Morning meeting typical topics:  Avery Pledge, lunch menu, weather, birthdays.  There is the possibility of getting rid of the morning meeting all together—but that will not be looked at this time.  It is nice to have the children start at the same place. 

8.      MAP SCORES: Came out today for 4th & 5th grades.  This is Avery’s 3rd year of not making annual yearly progress.  Gayle would like to offer a town hall meeting to have teachers and parents involved in talking about goals and the strategic plan.  We need to work together to meet the AYP.  Other data:  graduation rates, attendance rates, low suspension rates are all positive and the MAP scores are only 1 indicator of success.  Edgar Road and Clark had successful MAP scores within the District.  Avery has 5 subgroups (being a more diverse school) and other schools do not have as many.  The data shows that Avery is making growth but we are looking at instruction and interventions to try to increase the scores.  Staff is constantly involved in professional development.

9.      SCHEDULE/ENROLLMENT:  How easy is it to change dismissal time?  Maybe that will help with the cafeteria dilemna.  Kindergarteners dismissal is 2:50 and the other grades are 2:55.  Is it possible to tack on a few more minutes to the school day?  Can be done but the length of the school day would also impact teacher salaries.  Student enrollment is too big for the facility.  We have not seen much of an enrollment change this year from last.  Building Advisory Committee results from last year have not been shared.  Very hard to drop off in gym for the first week, particularly for a kindergartener. 

10.  CAFETERIA/LUNCH:  The cafeteria has been enlarged.  New tables have been ordered so that we will not have folding tables.  Children are sitting at assigned seats since to give them structure and prevent children from being left out.  A rewards system is being worked on so that children can choose their seating on Fridays.  Children only have 20 minutes to eat and really need help opening up lunches.  Children have learned to have a “zero voice” in the hallway.  Currently are spending time teaching expectations during lunch. Concern voiced about children being “graded” during lunch—seems to then bring on  anxiety about “the score” earned for the lunch.  Concern that there needs to be more time in the day for the kids to be kids.  Some teachers and grade levels are adding a second recess (15 minutes in the afternoon) to help release some energy.  2nd graders eat first at 10:40 and last group eats at 1:00pm.  Cindy Noy has been in other buildings and this not a problem because of the cafeteria size and the number of children at the school.  There are 90 students per grade level, which results in constant movement for a few hours to get all the students through lunch.  Maybe it’s a problem that there is only one line—some students are just waiting for milk or salad.  Possibility of having a mixed grade lunch. One parent question what the ideal lunch/cafeteria would look like?  The problem could be a Chartwell’s staffing issue since one person is cooking and another is getting payment from the children. What about eating in the classroom?  Teachers may oppose this.  The scoreboard in the cafeteria seemed punitive and awarded students for “shutting up”–The scoreboard is down. Maybe purchase lanyards and ID’s so students could swipe instead of entering their student number?  Can we negotiate an additional person from Chartwells to staff the cafeteria?  Maybe parents need to give all pre-open containers for children.  Sarah Smith and Kathleen Unwin sit on the food committee and believe that Chartwell’s respond well to our needs if we voice them.

11.  NEXT STEPS:  The drop off procedures and lunch/cafeteria discussion are tabled for this moment.  Possibly look at these topics for upcoming principal’s coffees.

12.  Next PTO Meeting:  Will be on October 4 and that meeting is slate for discussing/signing of the Boy Scouts Charter and the Walking School Bus Representative.  Teresa (the Chartwell’s District Representative) will be coming to the November meeting but maybe this issue should not wait until the November meeting? There is a District Wellness Committee working on lunches if you would like to join that group!



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