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Rockford January 2020 PTO Meeting Minutes

RCS PTO Meeting Minutes 

Monday, January 20, 2020 

7:00 pm Rockford Christian School


Open with Prayer and Welcome 

Megan welcomed everyone to the meeting and Mr. Buursma began the meeting with prayer.

Principal's Report 

Mr. Buursma shared the vision of our Guiding Coalition. The Guiding Coalition is a group of RCS staff members and parents who are working together to find commonality in the purpose and vision of Rockford Christian School. These are some of the questions that coalition members were asked to contemplate as they worked towards articulating a mission and purpose for our school. 

  • Why are we here as a school? 
  • What would be lost if Rockford Christian closed its doors?
  • What makes Rockford Christian special? 

Through questions like those above, the Guiding Coalition focused on what would be the mission and purpose of Rockford Christian School and what steps should be taken next to make that mission and purpose a reality.

Revised mission statement: Preparing students to be effective servants of Christ through meaningful experiences in His world. Here children will grow, flourish, show love, leadership, and practice caretaking and kingdom building.

The Guiding Coalition came up with three common themes that make Rockford Christian unique and have become the focus in determining the school's next steps. 

  1. Excellent Christian Education PreK-8
  2. Relational Community, Culture, and Service
  3. Meaningful, Integrated Outdoor Education

Rockford Christian already has a strong sense of identity around these three themes, so how can we make these the lens that we view what we do through? 

Looking Ahead: What's next? 

  • How do we ensure excellence in Pre-K to 8th-grade Christian education?
  • Where might we continue to build a relational community, culture, and ethic of service?
  • Where do we want to put our efforts and invest?
  • How can we make events reflect who we want to be?

Mr. Buursma and the Guiding Coalition have a number of exciting plans and questions that challenge us to look at new ways of utilizing the beautiful property and facility that we have. For example, we have a computer lab, but the way research is done now isn't necessarily through a lab. How can we take what we have and tweak it to better assist students in a world where research and technology are changing? Could we incorporate the computer lab and media center (library) together and even promote a maker's space to encourage different ways of learning? How can we better use our Worship Center when it is our very core? 

We have a beautiful piece of property, yet most of our outdoor education is facilitated at Camp Roger. How can we better utilize our own property in our outdoor education? Would this mean incorporating outdoor education as a co-curricular for all classes? If so, someone would need to be hired to teach those classes.

Steps are being taken to head in this direction of bringing nature and students together on our property. Twenty-five thousand dollars from the 2018 auction has been set aside for a nature-based preschool playscape. Our current playground equipment is not optimal for our smallest students. The nature-based playscape would be designed with preschoolers in mind. Mr. Buursma is currently looking at what other schools are doing with their outdoor space to glean ideas. He is also looking into finding a consultant who could help us and put together some drawings.

GRCS Superintendent, Tom DeJonge, is supportive of this endeavor. The nature-based playground would be a step towards the third theme of creating a meaningful, integrated outdoor education. Now, we need to consider how this idea, as well as other ideas, fit into a larger campaign for raising money to bring these visions into fruition.

Steps that are being taken in the near future will be installing LED lights and new carpeting in classrooms.

In summary, how can we help Rockford Christian School grow and flourish? How can we make our school well known in our community for these three themes and sought out because of them? How can we look at using our facility in new ways that broaden our students-not only academically but relationally and as a group of Christ-followers with an ethic of service to others and our world?

Teacher's Report 

Mrs. Oren mentioned that additional recess duties have been placed on staff. RCS staff have always shared morning recess assignments, but now a staff person will be present during noon recess as well. Recess is a key learning time when it comes to relating with others, and Mr. Buursma believes that it is important to have a staff member supervising all recesses.

Students are no longer eating lunch in their separate classrooms. Now students have a designated area to eat. Two teachers supervise all of the elementary, or all of the middle school students during this time. This is an additional duty once a week for each teacher. However, it should provide a break for the teachers who do not have lunch duty or recess duty that day because they will no longer have to monitor students during lunchtime in their personal classrooms.

Sadly, there are not enough parent volunteers for noon recess duty, which lasts from 12:20-1:00. RCS is in urgent need of parents who would be willing to give of their time to help out as recess volunteers. The time commitment is determined by the volunteer. There is a sign-up genius where volunteers can choose the day, or days, that work for them. This can be accessed from the weekly Home Bulletin. 

The PTO discussed ways to encourage more parents to get involved in this area. 

  • There is a paid position for a noon recess supervisor. This position was posted a couple of weeks ago.
  • Should RCS follow what other schools do? For example, at Our Lady of Consolation, the Catholic school in our area, every family is assigned a week or two of recess duty.
  • The question was raised about the possibility of working off our scholarship hours through recess duty. Currently, every family who receives money from the scholarship fund is required to work a three-hour shift at New 2 You. Would it be possible to exchange the New 2 You shift with three hours of recess duty? Of course, this would need to be presented to the superintendent and the GRCS board.

Treasurer's Report 

Originally, $500 had been set aside from auction funds for the purchase of new books for the library. After some reconsideration, the amount was increased by $413.49, so a grand total of $913.49 was provided for purchasing new books.

Currently, there is still $7,500 leftover from the 2018 auction that has not been delegated yet.

Rachel made a change to the way numbers are shown in the budget. Previously, numbers had been placed in parentheses, which had led to some confusion as to whether or not numbers were negative or not. Rachel removed the parentheses and now any negative numbers are easily indicated by the negative sign. This change makes the budget easier to read when it comes to looking at events that have gone over budget.

Rachel had questions about the upcoming movie night (Friday, January 24). She wanted to know if the PTO needed to budget money for that event or if Winterfest funds were being used for Family Movie Night. She did not make any changes to the budget in regards to the movie night because she wanted a final decision from the PTO on where the funds were coming from. The PTO decided that since the movie night is taking the place of Winterfest this year, Winterfest funds will cover the expenses. This decision will be reflected in the budget at the next meeting in February.

Family Movie Night Update (Friday, January 24, 2020) 

Family Movie Night is well under budget. Winterfest had a budget of $475. Since RCS had already purchased the licensing for showing movies, the biggest expense was removed from the event. The PTO only had to purchase the movie, Abominable, and drinks and snacks to sell as concessions. Lisa Nyenhuis, who coordinates the River Rock Family Movie Nights, was a huge blessing and help to the PTO. She answered all of our questions, gave us advice, and will be helping out the night of the event. She also gave the PTO permission to use River Rock's popcorn machine/cart. 

Movie Night Schedule:

  • 6:00 pm — Doors open 
  • 6:30 pm — Movie begins 
  • Concessions will be sold before the movie and during an intermission.

It was suggested that some of the seventh and eighth graders could help out with concessions. Mrs. Oren said that she would speak to her students about this.

One question that was raised about the movie night was whether or not people would be expected to remain in the Worship Center or if the gym would be available. It was decided that this should be kept as a movie night, and the gym would remain locked.

Daddy-Daughter Dance (Friday, March 13, 2020) 

There has been some debate about whether the names for the Daddy-Daughter and Mother-Son events should be changed. (The names will remain the same this year, but this may change in the future.)

The purpose behind a name change would be out of sensitivity for those who may not have a mother or father to attend the event. We do not want children to feel excluded from these events due to life circumstances. Mr. Buursma also expressed the desire that our events be more inclusive.

The PTO did discuss the possibility of switching the Daddy-Daughter Dance and Mother-Son Event to every other year and incorporating Father-Son and Mother-Daughter events for the alternating year. This would create more inclusion so that some families were not excluded every year from a particular event. Sensitivity and inclusion need to be priorities at these events.

Many PTO members felt that these events provide the RCS community with an opportunity to come alongside families and children who may not have a mother or father and love that child and make it an important and special time for him/her. It provides us with the opportunity to love others and build a stronger RCS community.

It was also pointed out that our school has a large footprint. It is often much easier for moms to connect and volunteer throughout the school day. The Daddy-Daughter Dance provides dads with the opportunity to be involved in a special event with their daughters, meet their daughters' friends, and make connections with other dads in the community.

The theme of the dance this year is a disco. The event will take place Friday, March 13th in the RCS gymnasium.

Mother-Son Event (Sunday, March 15, 2020) 

The Mother-Son Event will take place on Sunday, March 15th during the afternoon. The committee is still looking at venues and discussing activities.

Parent-Teacher Conferences  (Thursday, February 13 and Tuesday, February 18, 2020) 

Once again, dinners will be provided for teachers during conferences. It was decided that one of the dinners will be catered and a sign-up genius will be created for the other dinner. Since Mid-Winter Break begins on Friday, February 14, some families may be out of town on the 13th. Therefore, it was suggested that the catered meal take place the night of the 13th. The meal provided by parents would then be provided on the 18th. Breakfast for dinner was a popular choice last year, so the PTO is planning to use that idea again this year through the sign-up genius.

New Business 

All of the auction co-chairs, Megan, Becky, and Allison, are taking a step back from coordinating the next auction. New co-chairs will be needed for the 2021 auction. If anyone is interested in taking the lead on the 2021 Auction, she/he should let Megan Senica know. The busiest time commitment is from January to April prior to the auction. Megan, Allison, and Becky are available to answer questions for the new committee chairs, but all three are taking a step back from a leadership role.

Next Meeting (Monday, February 24, 2020) 

Due to Mid-Winter Break, the next PTO meeting will take place on the fourth Monday of the month rather than the third. The meeting will take place at 7:00 pm. in the staff lounge at RCS.