Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Budget Timeline, Business Donations, Events, and more: City Wide PTO

Supt. Taymore was unable to attend this monthly meeting yesterday due to a prior commitment.

The group reviewed the School Committee/district 2017 budget timeline and process. (The relevant document can be found in the Committee’s meeting packet of December 8, 2015.) The Supt.’s Budget Message will be presented on 1/26 with the full Budget recommendation presented on 2/23. March will include a six hour Saturday session where administrators will present and speak to their budgets. The Committee will also host a Public Information Session on the budget in which the Supt. will answer community questions (sent in and/or presented that evening). Ed. Stations, ECC, and Campus Kids fees are usually discussed in early March, although that is not on the timeline yet. Segments of the budget will be discussed at each of the March and April meetings until all are complete. Voting on the final budget and associated fees is scheduled for early May. Presentation to the Board of Aldermen will be in late May or early June.

The “Request for Local Business Donation” form is complete, and is a collaborative document between the Chamber and PTO members as a way to communicate the year’s major PTO events to the business community so that businesses can plan when they might wish to donate, and to what events.

Elementary school PTO members continued to discuss how to involve more teachers in PTO meetings. PTO’s raise money for a wide variety of efforts, including teacher grants for various classroom and student needs, and hope to see the money fully accessed and employed in classrooms. Teacher input and feedback is valuable in these efforts. Various strategies were suggested, and PTO’s will continue to work with principals and staff to engage in two-way conversations for the benefit of students.

The Middle School PTO needs a President next year! Parents indicated that the fundraising work is substantially more limited than elementary fundraising, and that more effort is invested in providing information to parents about content areas and other academic issues. Interested parents can contact current PTO Board Members. More info here: https://sites.google.com/site/melrosevmmspto/.

Fundraising was touched on, with members talking about whether there is the will to join all elementary PTO fundraising efforts together (maybe under the PTO, Inc. umbrella). Some members felt that parents would rather contribute to their own schools rather than a large, city-wide group. Large vs. small fundraisers were discussed (golf tournaments vs. bake sales), with commenters noting that fundraisers can cycle, and budget priorities can dictate the type and amount of fundraising employed.

Coming up:
·               2/10: Melrose Forward, the City’s next iteration of its 10-year Master Plan, will hold a community forum at the Milano Center to hear from citizens about their vision for Melrose. Areas of study include transportation, sustainable energy, education, business, green space, etc. Many (if not most) of the City’s capital and space plans have come from this effort in the past, and is expected for this plan as well. Find them on Facebook.
·               3/3: Community Reading Day (when folks from around the community volunteer to read a book to an ECC/elementary class). It’s scheduled as closely as possible to Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and is a wonderful event for readers and students.

·               3/19: The Bridge’s main fundraising event, the annual Trivia Bee, will feature teams of three facing off against each other to claim this year’s title. It’s not just a competition, but also a community event, and is open to all. Registration is beginning and the entrance fee is $250.