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PTO Meeting Dates & Meeting Minutes

Academic Year
2023 - 2024

PTO Meeting September 5, 2023

Board members: Anna Rosefsky Saavedra (AS), Erin Bryan (EB), Jenny Heintzelman (JH), Erin Hontvet (EH), Mitali Bixby (MB), Marie Tan Gipson (MG), Lu Cao (LC), Jamie Davies (JD), Olga Shurchkov (Hencke) (OS), Rachel McGregor Principal, Marie Cosgrove Fiske Art Teacher

In attendance on Zoom: peaked at 28 participants 

In attendance in person: 16 participants (+ Rachel McGregor, hereafter RM)

Meeting start: 7:02pm


1.       Welcome and introductions from the PTO board

2.       Welcome and announcements from the Principal (RM)

3.       Discussion of spaces for music and art (RM, Marie Cosgrove)

4.       Discussion of bus routes (RM and questions for the attendees)

5.       Various other topics and questions from the attendees


1.       Welcome and introductions from the PTO board

 RM introduced AS, who invited people to feel free to reach out and contact the PTO at any time. Every PTO board member introduced themselves and stated their roles.


2.       Welcome and announcements from the Principal (RM)

RM: Welcome to our first PTO meeting. This is exciting because there are a lot of people here on Zoom and in person. We have a great board. I have been a principal here for 8 years and 23 years in the district. We are in the library, and you are experiencing what your children are – no AC, but we do have fans. This is something to work on. The year is off to a great start. Children are very happy, getting into the rhythm. Dropoff is between 8:15 and 8:30, and we aim to have the kids in their seats by 8:30. Here is a list of important announcements:

-          Tomorrow (Wed Sep 6) is Walk to School day.  Even if you just park the car a bit away – it’s great to still participate. Even those arriving on bus can walk. Have not done this since pre-COVID.

-          We have a new SEL (Social Emotional Learning program) stepping stones. Children will start exploring this with teachers – topics include bullying and peer relationships. Tomorrow’s (Sep 6) assembly is about being a member of a community. And the lessons from stepping stones will reinforce this throughout the year. There are four lessons on bullying taught by a social worker/school psychologist. Note: kids might talk about this at home. 

-          Over COVID, there has been learning loss, but we are catching up. In 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade – there is a math assessment (map testing) This is to show the teachers and parents where the child is excelling and where they need support or to be stretched.  Map testing in ELA will take place in 5th grade. The results will be discussed in parent-teacher conferences


3.       Discussion of spaces for music and art (RM, Marie Cosgrove)

RM: Music has been a big topic of conversation. Feel free to ask questions. Miss Cosgrove – art teacher - is also with us on Zoom. 

Back story: 2 years ago we had 13 sections in Fiske and we were shrinking. Last year we expanded and went to 15 sections because of the growth all over the area. This year we went to 17 sections! There is a space squeeze across Wellesley. Hunnewell is being built as we speak. All the Hunnewell children had to go to four other schools in the district. So when we went to 17 sections, our three Paws classrooms remained at Fiske. What that meant was that we didn’t have a music or art room.  So we talked to the teachers about how can we do art/music on a cart (specialists going to the classrooms, like in COVID), which has been done in all the other schools because of the space constraints.  Marie Cosgrove and Julie (Verrett) worked together with RM to find an office, but where do the music and art classes take place?  To find a viable solution, we have created a schedule to figure out empty spaces and to utilize them when possible. Julie Verrett is teaching 17 different music classes, and only 2 are in the classroom.  We have found spaces to hold the others in the building. Marie Cosgrove is teaching in the classrooms (arts).  There will be times when she is doing pottery and will be utilizing spaces that Julie is not using in the meantime.  So, none of the music/art curriculum is being changed.  Note that this is temporary: not going to happen next year. Hunnewell will move into their new building, also Upham and Hardy, so there will be more space for Paws to go.  Then we will have music and art spaces back, and even might have space for another section (though not needed).  Everyone is feeling the pinch due to construction!

Marie Cosgrove: Thank you so much for all of the support from the PTO – kind to reach out and ask us if we needed anything. Julie and I worked well together (this is my 18th year working with her); we share office space and share spaces.  For me, the classrooms have the required technology – sinks and kids’ desks; also, I can take them outside or to the cafeteria for larger projects.  We are making the best of it, and I want to say thank you for your support for this. Rachel has also been very kind.

AS: question about whether teachers have adequate planning time while the spaces are being utilized.  

RM: Music isn’t really in the classroom, so the teachers can still plan.  They can also go into the air-conditioned office for example and work there.  And Julie and Marie have said that the teachers have been great in supporting them.  People work together to make it all work. While not ideal, it’s just this year. And Julie just came up to me today and said: if the 2nd graders want to be dancing in the hall, can this happen? Yes! With this kind of creative thinking, kids can learn and have a great time despite the space constraints. Note: This year, they are going to be talking about the future space for Paws, and we will be hearing about the next space for them around town. 

The amazing thing about the Fiske community, you always pull together for us, so we truly appreciate that!


4.       Discussion of bus routes (RM and questions for the attendees)

-          We have two buses: E and F. E has a lot of kids on it: 55 kids! It can go up to 65 (capacity). 

-          RM has been riding the bus, even took it home.

-          Last year, there were many comments about the bus – a lot of “activities” on the bus.  At least once a week, RM went to bus trailer and watched the videos. After seeing some “activities”, came back and talked to the children.

-          As a result, there was a lot of “problem solving” this summer (including rethinking bus routes). The approach was to identify the biggest stops and how we can get most kids off the quickest?  The new first four stops are such that half the kids are off the bus. 

-        As a result, children who get on first now also get off last. Plus Rt 9 is having construction, creating traffic. Once cleared, the route should be cut down by ten minutes (fingers crossed)

-          However, the solution is to find a bus monitor volunteer. Does anyone want the bus monitor position? It’s in the morning and the afternoon.  It’s very nice to talk to the children!

Note of 10/18/2023: This is now a paid position that has been filled since the last meeting.

JD: Are there any stops that are very close-by?  Also, E seems to be going all over the place.

RM: Dean has studied the routes and thinks it’s the best solution.  Will ride bus F soon and see if there is anything to do.

JH: Until this is solved, will there be someone on the bus every day? RM: No.

JH: What about getting another bus?  RM: Getting a bus would be very difficult (no buses, no drivers); huge expense, especially just for one route.

RM: Note that in terms of bus behavior: things are looking up.

Parent: what about Hunnewell – shouldn’t they have a bus to share? RM: Those are also very long routes, so it would just be about rerouting them.

Parent: Will they reverse the route back next year? RM: The priority is to get the most kids off the bus the quickest, and this is the route to do this.

JD: This is the really the only route like this (not the most equitable). RM: The goal is safety, so it’s safest to get the most kids off the bus the quickest. Last year, there were a lot of behavioral concerns (kids hanging out the windows, etc.)  Reiterated that the biggest thing is to find the monitor.

Erin: What’s the difference between E and F in terms of ridership? RM:approximately  30 on F (about)

Parent: Is it possible to redistribute the route between E and F?  This way kids could be more evenly distributed. RM: Dean looked into this, and we can get a better answer from him.  At this time, these are the routes that are the best. Once the Rt 9 construction is done, we will see some breathing room.

Parent: Is it possible to have Dean present why the routes are as is? It’s confusing why kids living across the street are on different buses: RM: will touch base with Dean and get back.


5.       Various other topics and questions from the attendees

Parent: Any K parents would like to be room parents?

Parent: How to sign up for before school care. RM and others: Go to WPS website, under parents, there is a dropdown menu for programs and select Fiske morning program. Will send link directly.

RM: Be sure to put the name on everything; put stickers.

Erin: Plug for Western Round-Up; read the PTO letter for how to volunteer; lots of ways to become involved

Erin: Shout out to the Gardening Committee/Club (did a great job cleaning up around Fiske, and will be putting out a Sign-up genius for people to get involved)

Back to school night: time for parents to hear about what’s going to happen in school: field trips, curriculum. The schedule for the night has been sent out.  K-2 – go to corresponding classrooms. 3-5 go to the gym to go talk to all the specialists.  There is also a PTO table.  Then, we switch. The whole night starts with a speech from RM and the PTO board.

Parent: if one has children in both k-2 and 3-5, how can we hear from specialists at the Back to School night? Can it be recorded? RM: Divide and conquer (will not be able to record)

Parent: Will parents find out about MCAS scores? RM: Yes, MCAS presentation will happen.

Parent: Will the class socials come back? RM/PTO: Yes, there will be parent socials.

Meetings: PTO meetings are up on the calendar already. Every other month – always on Tuesdays and alternate morning and evening.

Teri Ebersole: Welcome committee (“welcome wagon”) organized by the parents (welcoming new families to Fiske).  We are looking for some more members, especially helpful when you speak another language. Email Teri or RM to match with new families.  

Meeting adjourned: 7:43

For questions, comments, or past meeting minute archives

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