February 2023 Meeting Minutes

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Association Meeting (PTA)

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023 from 7-8pm on Zoom 


  1. Upcoming Dates and Announcements – Refer to MCPS 2022-2023 Calendar and see notes at the end of these minutes. Select highlights here:

    1. Black History Night – will be on February 22, 7-8:30pm at PBES, cosponsored by the TPES and PBES PTA’s. We’ll have live performers and light refreshments, including our own Takoma Park Poet Laureate. For students and their families/caregivers.


  • TPES Key Dates/Announcements:
    1. TPES Book Fair: February 10-17. Students can shop at the fair during school. We will also have two days when the fair is open until 7:30pm for families to shop together. Please sign up to set up the fair, break it down, or staff the registers. For more details about the fair, including shopping hours, popular titles, and no-cash payment options, check out our homepage. Please email the Book Fair Committee with any questions.
    2. TPES Readathon Feb 27-March 24.  Most significant PTA fundraiser of the year. If you are able to volunteer to help by tracking minutes, please email Amanda Wagner at helloamandawagner@gmail.com.
    3. DC United TPES Fundraiser for March 25th game: Purchase tickets (each ticket costs $15 and includes an additional $5 donation for the TPES PTA for a total cost of $20) vs. New England Revolution. Click HERE to purchase tickets. First 50 seats are located in Section 114. Contact Emma Cohen-Dumani to make the purchase and donation (ecohendumani@dcunited.com) for the tickets.


  • PBES Key Dates/Announcements
    1. Geo-Bowl kicks off soon after being on hiatus since COVID.  Please email brittrhoads@gmail.com if you can volunteer.
    2. The PBES Readathon kicks off this week, starting with a book swap on Friday. Thanks to your support, we were able to collect enough gently used books for each student at PBES to take home a “new to them” book!  Need parent volunteers to staff the book swap on the 10th and to help us do the data entry of the minutes over the two weekends. Please sign up here if you can help with either. 
    3. Pool & Fundraising Update — Thanks to the Finn Family Group for a significant sponsorship gift toward the pool, along with all of the wonderful community donors who have given in recent weeks.  We also want to highlight that Sangroid Distilling Panther Valentine Gift Sale continues through Feb. 10 which go towards the pool. See the flyer sent to the listserv, or contact marykathryn.lee@gmail.com for info – you can order online for pick-up or delivery. Please give if you can or email Mary Kathryn or pbes.pta@gmail.com if you are able to help recruit Pool Sponsors. 


  1. Guest speaker Rob Ruffins, Assistant Director of State Advocacy at the Education Trust

Education Trust is a national organization committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in the American education system. Mr Ruffins is the assistant director for state advocacy, identifying and building strategic partnerships across the country. 

  • There is tension between the world as it should be and the world as it is and education has mirrored the most taut point of this tension.
  • Mr. Ruffin’s definition of public education:
    • School must be free
    • Must be compulsory
    • Must be accessible to each person
    • Must be high quality, more than the minimal/basic
  • Mr. Ruffin provided historical overview of public school laws/mandates/court battles in the US. Some key points/dates:
    • Massachusetts passed law (1850s?) indicating everyone should have education up to a point and it should be free. But basic levels of education not accessible to everyone. 
    • Not until 1920 that every state has a requirement that kids go to school. Free and compulsory is really only for white students. No system for education for black students
    • 1954: Brown vs Board- first time at any universal level that the govt makes any articulation that every student should have access to education. Every legally born and fully documented legal citizen of the U.S. should have access. But infrastructure doesn’t exist to fulfill this demand. 
    • Could not legally immigrate from Africa and Asia until the 1960s. Fair Housing Act. Elementary Education Act- passed April of same year as Voting Rights Act of 1965.
    • 1979- created Dept of Education. Full engagement re education is only 40 years old.
    • Not until 1982- Plyer (sp?) vs Doe Supreme Court confirms that every student in the US, regardless of their immigration status has a right to elementary and secondary education but the Court was still saying education was not a constitutional right while also upholding equal protection. SC not saying anything about the quality of the US education.
    • 2020: Supreme Court ruling re Detroit, MI- disparities were so great that violated the constitution. First time that the fed govt made a constitutional commitment that every student deserves quality education.


  • MoCO is one of the 20 biggest school districts in the US. incredibly diverse school district, ¾ of the students are non white, MoCo has diversity in income with a high proportion of low income students; increasing number of students where English is not the primary language; increasingly representative of the US and US students.
  • However, there is not just one MoCo. White student experience is different than a black or latino student experience; same true of differences in the experience of English, Spanish and Amharic-speaking students.
  • We know that black and latino students are more likely to be taught by novice teachers, less experienced principals and are less likely to be placed in advance/AP courses. The teachers who are the most experienced teach the most advanced courses, thus the black and latino students less likely to have access to these teachers, even when they get the same grade and are sitting in the same classrooms as white students which also means we’re spending less money on them


  • Three things make this a unique time in MoCo Educational history: Lots of money, opportunity for citizens to vote, and a strong advocacy network to help inform and mobilize voting.
    •  Blueprint For Maryland’s Teacher – $30billion. Biggest reform act in several decades. MoCo has more resources than ever. Majority of these resources are available for the next decade
    • Cares Act, American Rescue Plan also put in a lot of Federal money of which MoCo got $400million (local, then state, then Federal $ make up funding in that order). All of this money has to be spent by 2024
    • We have an opportunity to vote on how this money is spent before a public version of this document is made visible in 6 weeks. We can shape how MoCo will educate our youth for the next 10 years.
    • This is also a budget here for MoCo, we operate on 3 year budgets
    • Advocacy: advocate for students to be put in advanced placement classes (data suggests when you have more students in a school who take AP classes, student achievement goes up, attendance goes up)


  1. PBES Updated By-Laws – Membership Vote (Emma Cheuse, PBES PTA President). Proposed update to the bylaws which are updated every three years. PBES PTA executive board has been working to update the Piney Branch PTA bylaws to ensure that they are in alignment with the Free State PTA template and with how we currently operate. Changes that have been made to the bylaws include updates to:
  • – the responsibilities for officers of the board in article VII.
  • – the language around who makes up the board of directors in article VIII.
  • – the duties of the executive committee in article IX.
  • – how committee chairs are selected in article X.
  • – the language around who represents our PTA in the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations in article XII.
  • Link to bylaws: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgzGrcXkWTztQHhkpfWGBhNGgcKTr?projector=1&messagePartId=0.1
  1. Treasurer’s Reports & Vote, Stephen Tippett, TPES PTA Treasurer Budget Report – vote for budget amendment passed
  • The TPES PTA proposes a budget amendment to increase the funding allotment to support additional scholarships for TPES families to have their students attend Little Scholars LLC after-school programs for students from $3500 to $7000 for the remainder of the 2022-2023 academic year
  • Budget update: a little bit ahead on fundraising and a little bit behind on spending! 
  • Ledger balance of $39,838.
  1. PBES PTA Treasury update from Kate Bauer.
  • Also ahead on fundraising as compared to spending. Readathon primary fundraiser. Gone above projected donations on fundraising
  • Big expenses were covering scholarships for after school activities and making payments to lifeguards for swim lessons
  • Ledger balance is $23,981    
  1. Volunteer Hall of Fame and help thank all volunteers. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ucSOV9NXPnYnnFvkZIKfwYi50KMEnQUtqCarVSSIVJc/edit


List of Upcoming Dates and Announcements

Reminder on Upcoming Dates/events: 

  • Feb. 1, PBES English Language Development Night
  • Feb. 1-17, PBES Read-a-thon – 
  • Feb. 9-10, PBES Geo Bowl quizzes
  • February 10 – 17: TPES Book Fair  
  • February 20: No School – President’s Day
  • [Feb. 22 or 23: Black History Night at PBES, sponsored jointly by the TPES & PBES PTAs]
  • Feb 27-March 24: TPES Read-a-Thon
  • Next joint PTA meeting: Mar. 7, 7pm on Zoom. To request topics for future PTA agendas, please reach out to president@tpespta.net or pbes.pta@gmail.com

Announcements and Opportunities:

  • Snack donations for both TPES and PBES to be distributed to teachers and counselors to ensure all kids have access. Nut-free, healthy options requested. Delivery options: please drop off at the main office between 8:30 am-4:30 pm, or order for direct delivery to the school.
  • School Meals Applications due ASAP – free federal meals have ended. All families must either complete the application for Free or Reduced School meals from MCPS or deposit funds to pay for your child’s meals at school.


Reminder for all volunteers: MCPS Volunteer Training and support guide – please complete this before you are scheduled to volunteer: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1URJRNYdUyyL0ghVzZ32xLqPmkE7IwUvcRF2qid89ojA/preview


We need your help and support:

Become a PTA member, donate, become a sponsor, sign up to volunteer:

Takoma Park Elementary School PTA: https://www.tpespta.net

Piney Branch Elementary School PTA: https://pineybranchpta.membershiptoolkit.com


PBES Website: https://www2.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/pineybranches/

Find out the latest from the Panther Tracks Newsletter for PBES. Sign up for the PTA listserv or send an email to pbespta+subscribe@groups.io to start posting and receiving messages.

TPES Website: https://www2.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/takomaparkes/