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RC Minutes Oct 2011
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Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Teachers Association

PO Box 494, Burnt Hills, New York 12027

Representative Council Meeting

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Middle School Library

Mike Mosall, Jen Adams, Lisa Febraio, Amber Shanholtz, Valerie Wadsworth, Lyndsay Wilson, Aimee Miller, Sue Cifaratta, Melissa Thomas, Rocco Montesano, Andrew Haluska, Kathy Yando, Tracy McCarthy, Lindsay Armbruster, Stephanie Andrejcak, Raelene Noll, Mary Grasso, Kate Gurley, Brad Thomas, Michelle Carbonelli, Danielle Manning, Cheryl Brott, Suzanne Rayome, Kurt Semon, Kristin Trapini, Star Gaworecki, Sue Guba, Wendy Corrigan, Carol DiLallo

(7/29 = 24% -- italics indicate absent members)

Call to Order - The meeting was called to order by Jen Adams at 3:55 pm.

Privilege of the floor - 

Mary Grasso reported out about the Taste of Burnt Hills, which took place on Monday, October 17.  It would be nice to see more teachers at this event since the monies made at the event are put toward Education Foundation grants. 

Action Items

September 2011 Minutes - The September 2011 minutes were approved.

September 2011 Treasurer's Report - The September 2011 Treasurer’s report was approved.

There was a brief discussion about the June 2011 Treasurer's report regarding the amount of yearly expenditures “passed through” to NYSUT and AFT.

Discussion Items

Power School Usage Committee update -

Lindsay Armbruster introduced herself as the new district PowerSchool (PS) co-chair person for this school year.  She asked Rep Council for input regarding how often teachers need to update their grade books.  A survey is also in progress to help the committee make an informed recommendation to the Superintendent.  This recommendation will be decided on at the Nov. 1 meeting.  

At future meetings, the committee will discuss going paperless and determining whether or not the interim reports at the MS and HS will still be necessary.  Lindsay will report back to the committee with the strong reaction from Rep Council that paper copies are not wanted.  There are Board members who are pushing to go paperless by 2013 as there is near $1 million of paper costs per year, which could be saved by stopping the distribution of report cards, interims, etc.  Those who do not have computer access at home could still receive paper copies of all documents.  All paper reporting will stay in place for this school year in terms of interim, report cards, 504 progress checks, etc.  The 504 reporting is a state requirement which is agreed upon at the meetings at the beginning of the school year which cannot be changed until the end of the year.  

The PS Parent Portal will open for all teachers at the beginning of second semester in January.  It was reported that some teachers are feeling overwhelmed with the required use of PS grade book, and would like to perfect the basics before starting to add on more complex parts of PS.  There is the possibility of bringing someone in from NERIC to discuss the options for other uses of PS.  The district sees this committee ending soon and moving to a building level approach to make decisions about building PS issues, however since the elementary level issues are very different, their committee support will continue. 

The most recent software update to PS was performed just as 5 week interims were due at the High School. The consensus of Rep Council was that this was poorly timed. This decision was not made by the committee.

Bravo and well done to Lindsay and all of the committee for their hard work with PS.

Elementary Report Card update -

Allison Donofrio reported out that turnkey trainers were trained on how to use PS at the elementary level.  Before the first week of school teachers were trained but without having actual report card templates to work with.  During the second and third weeks of Sept. they were given the report card templates but there were many mistakes which had to be corrected with NERIC’s help. There is an upcoming report card meeting on Monday to finalize how things are in grade book, and all turn key trainers will be contacted to update them on the status of the grade books.  By Friday, everything on NERIC’s end should be fixed, and should be usable by November 1.  Since school started in Sept., elem. teachers haven’t had training on an actual grade book, but on Monday they will be able to go in and search around.  There was also a guiding document created for teachers to follow.  Kate Gurley explained how turn key trainers have worked at the secondary level and this model will be followed at the elementary level.

Staff Development update -

Kate Gurley reported out that evaluations were created for this year’s staff development days and the committee has decided on hand written and online surveys so that members have a chance to process and think about their feedback.  The committee focused on the following four steps for evaluations: making good questions, distributing evaluations with timing that allows for good feedback, gathering results, and sharing results to the membership.  They decided to make the half days at the beginning of the year department days so that departments could work on common core learning standards.

In her position of co-chair of the staff development committee, Kate is looking to Rep Council for input as to what topics should be covered for future professional days.  Is the “data” piece of Culture/Team/Data something that we would like to focus on?  It was expressed that it is disheartening that staff development has to revolve around all of the state mandates, such as APPR, RTI, etc.  Rep Council suggested focusing on instructional practices/delivery as it seems that, although there is a place for data, we have lost sight of instructional practice.  The new APPR system will require Staff Development to target specific instructional areas predicated upon any new Teacher Improvement Plans that may result from “ineffective” and “developing” ratings.  

Miscellaneous President’s update -

The Gazette has contacted Mike Mosall to ask for a donation and/or to become a sponsor for a program to deliver their newspapers to schools free of charge.  Raelene Noll suggested using Survey Monkey to create a survey to determine which teachers use the Gazette in class.

The next APPR meeting is Nov. 2 and the agenda is yet to be determined, but will focus on the 60% area of evaluation.  As a side note, especially at the elem. level, ELA/Math reps should be inquiring about the 20% local assessments.  

The input process has been completed for the Superintendent search.  There were three public meetings led by BOCES Superintendent, Dr. Chuck Dedrick, and an online survey.  The attendance was very light at the public meetings and there were many students who attended.  Tonight the Board will finalize the application and brochure.  There will be a call when the time is appropriate for TA members to serve on the interview committee and Exe Board will determine who will sit on the committee, as was done the last time around.  At the February Board meeting the TA will give our final recommendation.

Negotiations update -

The team has met 4 times this year and has talked about the direction to move in terms of settling the current year contract.  The team attended the Suburban Council NYSUT meeting. The Team and the District have not yet met.

Communication Council -

The next Communication Council meeting is Nov. 3, and the agenda is forthcoming.

The minutes will be presented after the meeting takes place.

Time Frame for PGP Evaluations -

There are concerns about the time frame in which professionals have been receiving evaluation write ups.  This is critically important in moving forward with the new APPR process as there are going to be many more observations each year.  

Green Club Request -

As co-advisor of the HS Green Club, Jen Adams passed along information regarding a fundraiser for plastic recycling bins.  A letter was sent to all local businesses, classes/clubs at the high school to sponsor the new bins and the group will have their name put on it.  

Andrew Haluska made a motion that BHBL Teachers Association make a $100 donation to sponsor a Green Club recycling bin.  The motion carried.

Other -

Lyndsay Wilson was given a document by Admin. which shows the Culture/Team/Data continuum.  There were no other stakeholders involved in the creation of this document and there is concern of where this will move from here.


Good of the Order -

Adjournment - The meeting was adjourned at 5:38 pm.