Houston HSA - General Meeting Minutes 2.21.24 (2024)

Meeting Date and Time: February 21, 2024 | 6:00 pm

Location: Houston Library (in person!)

Dates Minutes Issued: February 22, 2024

Participants: HSA Board, Members, Principal Hall

  • Announcements

  • Committee updates

  • Principal Hall remarks

  • Questions/Discussions

Reminder you can reach us at houstonhsa@gmail.com

  • This is Emily’s last year as co-president of the HSA. We are looking for her replacement! Please let us know ASAP if you are interested.

    • We want representation on the board from the entire school community.

  • Meeting with Mallory Fix-lopez recap:

    • Advocacy committee is going to try to do more to talk about what’s going on, when board is meeting for people to testify and get more involved.

    • Today, February 21 – Emily and Christina testified regarding leveling at the city council hearing, it went well! Katherine Gilmore Richardson asked tough questions to Watlington. i.e. How do we improve leveling, if we can’t end it in the interim?

    • BIG WIN: Can’t find a written leveling policy and Watlington confirmed there is no written policy to determine which schools are leveled and which are not, now officially on record. Hoping a policy will come out of this.

Fundraising/Teacher Appreciation (Board Rep: Jane de Lartigue)

  • More details for fundraising to come.

    • Donation drive to encourage people to donate a gift card – donate get entered into a raffle.

    • Spring bake sale. Parents bake and sell to raise money.

  • Teacher appreciation week is the first week of May.

    • Ideas welcome on how to show appreciation for our teachers!

    • Reach out to Jane.

Spring Fling (Board Rep: Lauren Wiley)

  • Fundraising for Spring Fling is pick up! Looking for companies, stores, restaurants, donors for basket raffle.

    • Basket raffle did really well last year, and I want to replicate this year.

  • Food truck connections are welcome, looking for food trucks.

  • Vendor/Tabling opportunities.

  • More info in the letter attached.

  • Need connections/ideas for restaurants for a Houston night.

  • Hoping for two bounce houses (one for bigs/one for littles)

  • Teens looking for community service projects can volunteer. Weavers Way could use this as volunteer hours as well.

  • Spring Fling money goes toward HSA expenses such as teachers needing more paper, pizza/food at school events, field trips, etc.

  • As an FYI the HDA falls under Families for Houston 501c3 if donors need for tax records (you can still donate directly to the HSA but talk to Lauren about where to send the donation).

  • Goal of Spring Fling is first community building and second a fundraiser!

  • Promote Spring Fling to nearby schools and other community/public schools.

Musical (Board Rep: Joelle Jaffe)

  • Aladdin is in THREE WEEKS! March 14, 15 @ 6:30 pm, doors @ 6:15 pm.

  • Need more volunteers for the next three weeks. 50 kids signed up for crew specifically and it’s hard to manage a group of this size.

    • Crew doesn’t have a lot to do until sets are made so it needs some additional engagement.

  • Volunteers needed Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays right after school. Also will need volunteers during performances both daytime and nighttime as well. If slots are full on sign up genius, email Joelle and she can help coordinate.

  • Sewing help is still needed, as well as makeup/hair help.

  • Advanced ticket sales – March 1. $5/ticket. Cast/crew will get two tickets free.

    • Ms. MacDonald will be helping to manage ticket sales.

  • HSA can sell concessions, in auditorium hallway.

    • Proceeds will go to teacher appreciation.

  • Appreciation for HSA and Families for Houston. Appreciation for Emily and the boards leadership.

    • Partnership with parents is key to school’s success!

  • SAC is the administrative arm of the school. Talk about budget, enrollment, leveling, etc. Important that parents have a seat at the table. Things talked about here actually happen, i.e. special had to be taken away and was decided here. The next SAC meeting is March 19, 5 - 6 pm, look for the zoom on Dojo soon.

  • Spelling Bee is tomorrow (2/22) 9:15 am (come to this one if you have someone competing or want to support a scholar competing!) and 1:50 pm (finals! Not all kids make it to this round – will try to communicate to parents who kids make it through via dojo if you would like to join in the afternoon).

  • Enrollment projections for next school year – 467 students. Enrollment continues to climb. Projecting three first grades, two kindergartens. One Kindergarten teacher may move up to first grade.

  • Everyone other grade is projected for two classes right now. Projected to have 38 students in fourth grade.

    • K - 2 is 30 student/class cap. 3 - 8 is 33 student/class cap.

  • We need to get older kids to come to Houston just as much as younger kids. We need to build this school together as a community.

    • 4th grade really needs more kids! Talk to your neighbors.

  • PSSA start April 22 - 26 (3 - 8 grade) ELA and Math (PA State Assessment)

    • Grades 4 & 8 take a science test April 9 - 12.

  • Basketball home games coming up soon, played at Mallory rec center. Games start around 4 pm.

  • Facilities update:

    • Principal Hall does not manage the maintenance staff directly, the building engineer does. Currently, very short staffed, three people to clean the entire school. Sometimes they are not following guidelines which causes them to fall behind and the problem compounds.

    • Bathrooms:

      • Attendee comment: they seem better this year than last year.

      • Staff consists of: General cleaners, CA (custodial assistant, supervises general cleaners), building engineer (manage the cleaning but also work on maintenance like lightbulb replacement, heat, snow shoveling, etc.), FAM (multiple schools oversight)

      • There is not a lot of consistency in leadership on maintenance staff and it makes the transitions hard.

      • Hall met with FAM and did a walk through, going to continue to do walk throughs.

      • Trying to get the building engineer up to speed – example station cards when something is cleaned, make sure it is checked off etc.

  • Recess:

    • Lots of discussion with climate team – Mr. Reason and Hall have been addressing with individuals on staff.

      • Have given specific examples of how to not use collective punishment.

      • Work in progress and have been working on it collectively and individually.

      • Teachers leveraging recess has also happened and that is not something that the school wants/allows. Not the teachers call. That is for the climate teams to decide.

      • If kids are misbehaving at recess though, they need to be held accountable but it should be in direct relation to behavior at recess, not in other parts of your day.

    • Alyssa is the parent liaison for the climate team and has been working with Mr. Leslie on solutions.

      • Feedback from PBIS team and climate staff is that recess and lunch are tough times because of the short staff etc.

        • There is potential for parent volunteers to help out from 11:30 - 1 on school days. Can do an organized activity with kids, etc.. Would require clearances.

        • Alyssa will put together a survey to see if any parents are willing, available, interested in volunteering, so look out for that soon. NO younger siblings allowed (sorry! It’s a liability).

Questions/Discussion

  • In-person school tour in May (for any incoming/considering families) – will be for any grade who wants to come see the school on a specific day TBD.

    • Parents and Student Council Members could lead?

    • Considering Houston Middle School edition?

      • There was a discussion on the NW Philly school page encouraging people to stay through 8th grade.

  • Question about Algebra in 8th grade

    • Principal Hall is thinking about bringing it to Houston, there is data that says the earlier you get algebra the better outcomes for math.

    • Talk about starting an alegebra cohort, kids have to score over a specific number on PSSA to get the floater algebra teacher to come to your school. And is based on a percentage of 7th graders who score above that number to qualify.

    • Principal Hall will be looking into this more.

      • This will be followed up on in the SAC meeting.

  • Question about after school partnerships (ASP)

    • Would be great to have a chess club etc., ASP provides funding.

    • Principal Hall is open to this.

      • Lauren will send specific contact to Prinsipal Hall

  • Question about survey where the district asked about start times in the beginning of the year, has there been any follow-up?

    • No and Principal Hall won’t be bringing it up since our start time is a sweet spot and we’d like to keep it that way!

  • Question of how do we get more engagement in the HSA. Is it easier to meet on weekend mornings, zoom, later?? To figure out how to hear more voices. We want to address everyone’s concerns or help point them in the right direction.

    • Could everyone do better of just reminding other parents that you’re close to? Quick WhatsApp, Text, etc.

    • Want to make sure everyone feels welcome. If there is something we’re doing that doesn’t do that, let us know.

    • Multiple options to get people engaged – different meeting times? Website? Substack?

      • More to talk about and follow up on.

The best way to reach out to the HSA is at houstonhsa@gmail.com or on Facebook or find a board member at drop off or pick-up!

Houston HSA - General Meeting Minutes 2.21.24 (2024)
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