JFK School Parent Council Meeting

January 8, 2020

5:30-6:30 p.m., rm. 101


David Juralewicz, Nichole Barros, Morgan Hayword, Tracy Triplett, Meredith Sandiford, Jen Douglas, Nadine Desharnais , Amy Gusefski, Sara Smith, Jenn Mason Stott

Translation was provided by Brandon from the Boston Interpreters Collective.


Introductions were made.

School Efforts to Add a 6th Grade

Krista reported that the addition of a 6th Grade to the JFK will have the advantage of making the school more desirable to families, as fewer post-5th grade transitions to other schools would be required, and thus will improve recruitment at the school, to which our budget (per student) is directly tied.  Moreover, BPS has made the conversion to K to 6th grade schools a priority, and it is likely that schools that do not make that transition will be at risk of closing.  Although the JFK was not selected to add a 6th grade this year (and Dr. Copeland has reported that it will not happen at the JFK next year), because there will no longer be a K-0 class next year, we are in a better position to argue that we have space for a two-class 6th grade expansion going forward.

Krista shared proposed script of a request to be made by parents to City Councilor Matt O’Malley’s office for support for 6th grade in JFK.  The proposed text is as follows: 

It was agreed that to share the language with parents through email and fliers, rather than posting on website, with a brief statement of why a 6th grade will benefit the JFK community.  Krista pointed out that it is most effective to make a phone call, rather than rely on social media, when making such a request.

Beach Party

Amy will speak with potential dates for the Beach Party in March,and Nadine will coordinate with City Year through Zack McCarthy.

It was agreed that, like last year, we will not charge admission to the Beach Party (so as to encourage attendance), but will charge for raffle tickets and some of the food.  Popcorn and water, or other similar items, will be at no charge.

Nadine will create electronic sign up sheet and will distribute it to the email list once the date is chosen.  Parent help will be needed for set up, food/raffle sales, and cleanup.  City Year will likely run the games and music, etc.

Krista reported that we still have a few comic books left to use as raffle items, and Meredith agreed to solicit raffle donations from local businesses.

City Wide Parent Council Update

Jen attended the December CWPC update.  The main focus was a Q&A session with the Chairperson of the Boston School Committee, Michael Loconto.  Questions were posed related to the role and function of the Committee, whether it would be beneficial to be elected rather than appointed, the status and timing of the Build BPS.

Movie Night

Krista confirmed that appears that copyright issues will result even if we do not charge for a group showing of a movie.  We could buy an umbrella license for approximately $200 to allow for a showing with no charge for admission.  Krista will consult w Dr. Copeland and other parents on the timing and approach to take with regard to movie night.  It was agreed that it may be beneficial to market the even to the JFK community as not solely about the movie, perhaps something along the lines of a “PJs and Popcorn Night” or other similar theme.

School Site Council Update

Tracy reported that the SSC discussed the Superintendent community meeting at English High held in early December.  Amy, who attended, reported that a power point presentation was provided (link) by BPS.  A group of parents attended and that parents broke into small groups by school to discuss how the goals proposed by the Superintendent aligned with the JFK’s goals.  The focus of the event was not on 6th grade expansion, but was a focus of the JFK and other schools.  4th-grader, Elon, explained to the larger group why he would like a 6th grade at the JFK.  Numerous teenaged students from the Hyde Square Task Force attended and raised various concerns, such as the need to make experiential learning (internships) and career-oriented training and college prep courses more widely available.

Tracy reported that enrollment at the JFK was down from 386 to 383 students between October of 2018 and 2019.  That decline could mean a decline in our budget for next year as the budget is highly, and inflexibly, dependent on the number and needs of students at the school.  Overall, cuts to school budgets are not expected.  BPS is providing additional funding to schools in the bottom 10 percent (academically) of the district for instructional coaches, family liaisons, and social workers, but the JFK is not in that category (as we recently moved into Tier I).  BPS is encouraging all schools to attempt structure their current resources to align themselves with those support priorities, even if not receiving extra funding.  The SSC will discuss the budget and discretionary budget at its next (January 16) meeting.

Tracy also reported that the JFK will get a My Way Café next year.  In addition, many teachers were excited about the Frogmore event. 

Finally, Tracy reported that in updating the SSC’s bylaws to reflect the SSC Manual, the SSC realized that we are required to have an additional voting parent member on the SSC.  (Currently we have five members with staggered terms and one alternate, but the requirement is to have six, which will equal the number of teacher members, plus Dr. Copeland.)  Further, because we are required to have three parent members present for each meeting in order to have a quorum to conduct business, and some members regularly have difficulty attending the entire meeting, an additional member would assist in the functioning of the SSC.  It was agreed to vote for additional member at next SPC meeting; interest in position was expressed by Nichole.

Concern was raised about the apparent requirement for a $1 donation to participate in Spirit Week, which seemed contrary to the mission of improving spirit and being inclusive.  Tracy agreed to raise issue at next week’s SSC meeting. 

Boing! and Frogmore Fundraisers

Meredith reported that we earned $300+ from the Boing! toy sales (the exact amount is not yet clear).  It was agreed that we should continue our involvement next year.

Michelle reported that Frogmore will provide half of the restaurant space, food, and small percentage of drink purchases toward the fundraiser.  It is up to us to decide how to use the opportunity for fundraising.  Frogmore suggested working to draw from community as a whole, rather than just the JFK, having a theme or focus for fundraising, but not charging admission.  Possible fundraising ideas discussed were a donation jar or direct solicitation of attendees, a raffle, game, such as Bingo, an auction, or a “reverse” auction in which teachers present direct requests for items to which attendees can make contributions.  It was also suggested that we could make use of a thermometer diagram to show progress toward specific fundraising goal. 

In terms of the fundraising focus, Dr. Copeland has stated that improvement of the school’s outdoor play spaces is a priority because it is old and mostly paved, and exercise and play is important to student focus and learning in the classroom.  The Frogmore event could focus on the improvement of the outdoor play space, most likely a specific do-able aspect targeted for the event (in several thousand dollar range), as redoing all the space will require a large amount of funding.  It was agreed that we should speak with her about what discrete play area projects may be suitable for fundraising through the Frogmore event.  It was also noted that, in general, it would be worth speaking with parents at Curley and Mendell about how they accomplished fundraising for their outdoor spaces. 

It was agreed to focus on an early April date, likely Tuesday April 7, for the Frogmore event as it will require more planning and advertisement than anticipated.  If necessary, early May would also work.

New Business

Jen asked whether efforts had been made in past to determine what the school community, as a whole, thinks is needed to improve the JFK and should be the focus of fundraising.  Tracy noted that teachers have been polled and interests range from specific classroom items, such as books, computer hardware and software, and subscriptions, to larger items, such as reading aides.  Dr. Copeland’s priority is outdoor play space.  No similar effort has been made to assess parents’ goals/priorities.  One recent example of the parent community coming together to improve the JFK was with regard to the afterschool program, which many parents felt was inadequate, and ultimately led to a change in provider.  That effort, however, involved a subset of JFK parents (those using the afterschool program).  A similar somewhat broad parentSimilar effort was made with regard to school start time through survey of parent preferences. 

Jen suggested that we consider whether the community would be interested in bringing Teaching for Change to JFK to provide training and professional development to the school staff through their Tellin’ Stories Race, Equity, and Family Engagement program, which has a focus on gentrifying schools, equity,  and family engagement.  https://www.teachingforchange.org/parent-organizing/training  She noted that this program is not inexpensive, but could be very beneficial at a foundational level in improving family engagement at the JFK.  She agreed to consult with the program to find out if past applicants have obtained any particular grants to support the trainings to determine the feasibility of bringing such a program to the JFK.