Minutes for 2015-03-31

Le Monde Parents Regular Meeting
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
5:30-6:45 p.m.
at 1010 SW 13th Ave, Portland, Oregon

In attendance: C. David Maxey, MJ Christopher, Laurie Hager, and 6 other parents

Le Monde Parents Business

Introductions of attending parents
What has Le Monde Parents been doing this school year?
(Mid-Year Review)

Le Monde Parents is a group for parents of students at Le Monde, and our association is separate from the school and its board. Our name says it all. Our association has had a very productive school year so far, and the Council would like to share a summary of the association’s progress. We started working last spring with the Governance committee to create a Forum Code of Conduct. We worked hard to get it completed, and I pushed with the support of the Governance committee to ratify it at a regular meeting during the summer. Doing so has allowed our head of school and new teachers to start their work this year with the forum problems being a part of our past that they don’t have to think about. Mostly around the beginning of the school year, I fielded emails on our forum that should have been directed to someone at the school, and my responses have been effective to help parents find the best source for answers using the school’s flowchart for questions.

Over the summer and at the beginning of the school year, the Council spent a great deal of time sorting out what our association does; we found that our association was not actually involved in as much as parents often thought we were. Here’s where the confusion came in. The school would use their Constant Contact program to email the parents of all of the students with the details of events or fundraisers, and those parents who were also members of Le Monde Parents would get multiple duplicate emails reminding them about the contents of the email from the school. After all those emails, you’d think our association had some part in organizing those events and fundraisers, but we didn’t. So the Council decided to leave it to the school to email about their activities. Likewise, we’ve been careful to keep Le Monde Parents business grouped together in our agenda and place presentations about the school’s events and fundraisers after our business has been adjourned.

By working with the school to identify our role, we have been able to focus our efforts and take on activities of our own. The school board’s president, Shouka Rezvani, was tremendously helpful to us as we figured out the boundaries of our association’s activities, and she has been particularly supportive of our efforts to increase our involvement in activities that fit with our role. For example, she shared with me that the school was unable to take on the Cirque du Soleil group ticket order, and she supported our work to put it all together. It was Shouka who connected Greg Zupan to me, so he could put together a Science Fair proposal for tonight.

By focusing our efforts, we’ve been able to improve our activities. We’ve had several well-organized Uniform Exchanges. We’ve helped new families connect to our community in many ways. We provided name tags at the school’s Blue Lake Park picnic. We organized the Wallace Park potluck entirely ourselves, with name tags and an icebreaker game. We connect with the school so that last year’s yearbooks were distributed at our potluck. We collected hats mittens and scarves for charities. We hosted a Singapore Math Night. We’ve organized the monthly First Friday Coffee get-togethers at Powell’s since December.

We’re sure you’ve noticed that we’ve had regular meetings on a quarterly basis, and we hope you see that we’ve been productive, nonetheless. Our Policies and Procedures require us to meet quarterly, and the Council decided early on that we’d meet more frequently if we have a reason. A lot of the work that has needed doing, has been behind-the-scenes work or work that can be easily conducted over email.

A major task has been overhauling our membership process. We had been using Google Groups, but it was very limited.

  • many people had problems trying to sign up
  • some people signed up for a gmail.com email address just to join our association.
  • so their email address might not match up with the family directory or deliver email to their devices
  • also, it was common for email addresses to have no name associated with it.
  • and none of the email addresses showed us the names of the Le Monde students that qualified the parents for membership in our association.

This all was a nightmare, so I implemented a change to MailChimp.com, which charges nothing for the capacity to send 80 emails per month to our 149 members. I spent a great deal of time on the transition so it would be seamless, easy to maintain, and easy to migrate when our needs change. I’m confident that the sign up process is a lot easier. To order Cirque du Soleil tickets, we required parents to be members of Le Monde Parents. Within about two days of the school’s email about joining Le Monde Parents to get Cirque du Soleil tickets, we had 14 parents join our group through the MailChimp widget on LeMondeParents.org. I did not receive any emails about having trouble joining.

In addition to being easy for parents who want to join, MailChimp has made it easy to improve our communications because it is an easy-to-use platform with features such as scheduling emails to be sent in the future, using email templates, and incorporating images. These features reduce the workload for the Council, which we believe will encourage greater parent participation in our association as we grow.

In closing, the Council has been busy working with parents and the school to make Le Monde Parents ready for a future in sync with the school as we serve our community. We’ve accomplish a number of activities toward that goal, and we’re excited about increasing our activity.

We have a few moments for questions, and we can talk after the meeting as well.

Nominations for 2015-2016 Le Monde Parents Council (i.e., Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary) conducted by the Elections Committee

Brittany Stover, on behalf of the Elections Committee, requested nominations for Le Monde Parents Council positions.

C. David Maxey is running for Chair
Nobody is running for Vice-Chair or Secretary

David is running unopposed, and he will be elected at the next regular meeting in May. In light of no nominations for Vice-Chair or Secretary, the current Council will continue to advertise for nominations. When there are nominations for these positions, the Election Committee will hold a Special Election.

Because a lot of work happens in the summer, it is important to have the Council in place in the Spring.

One parent mentioned that perhaps the meeting time and place are difficult for parents and that is why there is a low meeting turnout and no nominations for Vice-Chair and Secretary. David/Laurie/MJ pointed out that next year’s Council can change the time and place for meetings, so that might be an incentive for someone to nominate him/herself to be on the Council, so that he/she can help decide when and where the meetings should be.

We also discussed some ideas for getting parents’ concensus on the meeting time and place. Perhaps send out an email on Survey Monkey. Apparently it costs money if you get more than 50 survey results. One parent suggested that we send out muliple surveys to different parents to limit the results to 50 or less.

We discussed potentially having the next or a future meeting at a pub for happy hour.

Social Events

No one from the social committee was in attendance.

Instead, Laurie talked about a school social and fundraising event – Iron Chef – which will be at the Ecotrust Building, May 2, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.  David clarified that Iron Chef is not a Le Monde Parents activity; it is a school activity.

Greg Zupan’s Science Fair Proposal

Greg Zupan presented his proposal for a Science Fair, that Le Monde Parents would organize (through a Committee).  Greg explained how the science fair was conducted at his daughter’s school, and how he proposes it would be similar and different at Le Monde.  We talked about potential timing of signup and the actual science fair; David would make sure the proposed timing does not interfere with any school activities.  We discussed potential grade-limitations, and other ways to make it a positive experience for participants.

Everyone at the meeting was in favor of the Science Fair proposal.  The committee who handles it will need to iron out the details.

Adjourn Le Monde Parents’ business.

Shannon Miles was not there to make her announcement.

Shannon Miles’s Announcement

International Day announcement was made for Shannon Miles.

C. David Maxey, Chair; MJ Christopher, Vice-Chair; Laurie Hager, Secretary