April 2023 PTA Meeting Minutes

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)

Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) 

Parent & Teacher Association Meeting (PTA)

April 11, 2023 from 7-8pm on Zoom 


  • Welcome Kaitlin Caruso, TBES PTA VP of Communications & Margaret McDonnell, TPES PTA President
  • Upcoming Dates and Announcements – Refer to MCPS 2022-2023 Calendar 
  • Both TPES and PBES:
    1. Friday 4/14 Popcorn party to celebrate kids reaching Read-A-Thon 200,000 min goal
    2. NO School on April 21st- professional day for teachers 
    3. April 26: Administrative Professionals – help celebrate teachers at both schools
    4. TPES: NO School for Kindergarten students on April 28 and May 1 because of Kindergarten orientation 
    5. City of TKPK is no longer able to coordinate the 5K typically held in May and the hope is that volunteers will step up to plan for Fall 2023. Please consider volunteering to help pull it together. There’s a meeting on April 25, at 7:30pm to coordinate the 5K transition from City management. https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAkdu-qrDgvHNNof27v-S1xkgs5WI_nzRQL#/.(include link in chat)
  • TPES Key dates and updates/announcements:
    • Thanks to those who came out for the DC United game in March– 129 tickets were sold for a total of $645. 
    • TPES: Thank you to everyone who participated in the TPES Read-a-thon in March. The students exceeded their goal of 200,000 minutes and read a total of 253,650 minutes. Pledges are due by April 17th and we will post information in the chat on how to send them in. Finally, we would also like to send a huge thanks to our Read-a-thon chairs, Amanda Wagner, Sonia Fernandez and Latha Reddy. 
    • May 8-12: Teacher Appreciation Week: For TPES Sharon Garner and Emma have agreed to co-chair committee for TPES considering a wellness week for teachers to include a lunch, maybe massages and notes of appreciation from students/parents- requests forthcoming from committee and room parents 
    • May 24: TPES assembly in honor of Asian/ Pacific American Heritage Month at TPES 


  • PBES Key Dates/Announcements
    • May PTA meeting will include a PBES PTA Bylaws vote – see Sara Lewis’s email with the revised draft Bylaws, or contact serowe@gmail.com or pbes.pta@gmail.com if you’d like to see a copy.  (Basically we had to adjust some wording for the host PTA organization and so need to revote). 
    • PBES Staff and Teacher Appreciation week is coming up the week of May 8.  Please contact Amy (amybethsawyer@gmail.com) or Alisa (alisaobrien10@yahoo.com) if you can volunteer to help that week.
    • Snack donations still needed – please deliver to PBES to the attention of the Third Grade and Counseling Teams – thank you.
    • April 24 PE Swimming session two will start 
  • Recruitment for TPES and PBES PTA Officer positions for 2023-24

TPES: We’re starting to recruit for PTA leadership positions for the 2023-2024 school year and have a number of open positions. An email will go out from the recruitment committee, headed by Joyce McDonough. In meantime, please email vp@tpespta.net if interested in stepping up. We need you!

Positions 2023-24 2022-2023
President Need – max term limit Margaret McDonnell
Executive Vice President Need – max term limit Joyce McDonough
Treasurer Need – max term limit Stephen Tippett
Executive Secretary Need – max term limit Dianne Kirsch
Membership Secretary Justine Lassman
Vice President Communications Kaitlin Caruso
Vice President Membership Estelle Jean
Vice President Fundraising Diana Hickey van Houwelingen 
Vice President Equity Jon Frederick
MCCPTA Delegate Need- youngest moving to 3rd grade Rebecca Shaeffer


  • PBES – calling new Board members for 2023-24! (Emma Cheuse, PBES PTA President)
    • Click this link for information about our current Officers list and Board positions: https://pineybranchpta.membershiptoolkit.com/our-pta
    • Please reach out to pbes.pta@gmail.com or any of your current Board members if you would like to express interest in helping in any position on the PBES PTA Board next year. We are still resolving the list of open positions and would love to help match your interest and time with a way to help that will make a difference for our community.


  • Mayor Talisha Searcy: to cover priorities, decisions and plans that particularly affect students, teachers, and parents/families of TKPK re the city’s recreation, library, Adventist Hospital, PBES renovation https://takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/mayor-searcy/#:~:text=About%20Mayor%20Talisha%20Searcy,Association%20from%202015%20to%202017.
    • Ward 6 council member for 5 years prior becoming Mayor
    • Working to advocate for more parks/spaces 
    • Priority on council is the budget; navigating hard decisions about how to advance priorities
    • Library construction is still moving forward; may be receiving some additional funds from the state to support that effort (please take advantage of temporary library space)
    • Put out request for proposals on rec center
    • Working to address safety re school shootings; sitting in on meetings with police chief and principals on safety
    • There is crowding in our schools especially as we increase opportunities for density – how to begin to address current and future crowding in the schools. The role of council is advocacy on behalf of the city as it pertains to funding for schools. What happens within the school is MCPS domain. With the Adventist site as a possibility for expanding school space, council is working with the county to get the proper zoning. Currently Adventist is zoned for hospital and single family homes so you can’t do much until there are changes to the zoning
    • The county’s plan for the school’s infrastructure (Capital Improvement Plan) is on a 6 year plan but the Council operates a CIP on a 6 year plan. 
    • The decisions around where the school goes belongs to MCPS. 
    • Funding and building the schools is between the MoCo and MCPS
    • Takoma Park Council only approves the zoning and can work to influence MoCo and MCPS re development/improvement around zoning.
    • The minor master planning work for PBES renovation or rebuild is operating on the assumption that MCPS has approved this increase in student population. However, TPES and PBES enrollment is going down and so if PBES reno comes to pass, then over time we should have enough space in these schools as density increases as anticipated. 
    • The priorities of the council: 
    • leverage ARPA dollars to help households with direct cash assistance ($1K if income less than $50K), food and security grants and workforce development grants
    • Working to identify best programming opportunities for the diverse communities 
    • Funding mental health counselors from MoCo to work with the city staff, particularly the police department, to help them respond to calls that may warrant mental health rather than police intervention – they can also help the city think through novel ways to route calls to 911 or 988 to get non police support when needed
    • 10% increase in county taxes mean council has been advocating that some of that money go to the schools – the best way for parents/teachers/admin to weigh in on PBES renovation timeframe is to make sure the money goes to this. 
    • Other ways people can get involved: sign up for the Takoma Insider to get a quick download of what is happening on a regular basis; Can check in weekly on the Council agenda website; check in with your city council member; council meetings are Wednesday nights at 7pm
    • Middle and high school students can participate in the Arts & Humanities Commission and in the Youth Council.


Video last night’s City Council Special Meeting recording/resources: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-special-meeting-agenda-monday-april-10-2023/

  • Treasurer’s Reports & Vote

Joyce McDonough, PTA VP in lieu of Stephen Tippett, TPES PTA Treasurer Budget Report 

  • Income still waiting on pledges from Read-A-Thon (can make those pledges on the website – deadline of 4/17)
  • Tracking lower on our expenses; following up with school staff
  • Still have funding for field trips and assemblies
  • Good shape overall


Emma Cheuse, PTA President, in lieu of Kate Bauer, PBES PTA Treasurer Budget Report  

  • Meeting goals thanks to generosity of school community; wanting to make sure there’s a buffer for next year’s PTA. Expenses are under right now only bc they haven’t paid the pool bill (~$6K)


  • Thanks & Next Steps – Margaret (TPES PTA President)

Thank you to all TPES and PBES volunteers — please visit the TPES and PBES PTA 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: 

  • April 26: Administrative Professionals Day 
  • April 24-May 12: PE Swim Session 2. 
  • May 8-12: Teacher Appreciation Week at TPES and PBES
  • Next joint PTA meeting: Tues. May 2nd, at 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.

Deposit funds in your child’s “MySchoolBucks” account – link 

Apply for Free and Reduced Meals at School – link

No child will be turned away – PBES and TPES will ensure every child who requests food receives it, but applications are needed so no debt is accrued. The PTA equity teams are also seeking to support families during this time – please donate to the PBES PTA and TPES PTA and to Tommy’s Pantry to help fill gaps and ensure food access for all in our community. 

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/