May 2024 PTA Meeting Minutes

Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES)
Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES)
Parent & Teacher Meeting (PTA)
Tuesday, May 7, 2024 from 7 – 8pm on Zoom 

Agenda will include: 

(1) Upcoming TPES and PBES dates and announcements
(2) Food Forest and Gardening Club at TPES
(3) Treasurer’s Reports
(4) Dr. Gadsden and Ms. Oberdorf to speak about class assignments
(5) Breakout rooms for rising K, 3rd and 6th grade parents

Spanish Translator: Mercedes Castelo

Amharic Translator: There will be no Amharic translation provided. 

7:00 PM: Meeting Kick-off 

Kaitlin Caruso, TPES PTA President Welcome 

  • Intro to topics to be discussed
  • Plea for Executive officers for upcoming school year 
    • Descriptions of open positions will be sent out this week. Please consider joining the executive board!

7:05 PM: Upcoming Dates & Announcements

JOINT TPES/PBES ANNOUNCEMENTS: read by Joyce McDonough, TPES VP Communications 

  • May 9 – TPES/PBES Soccer game this Thursday, May 9 between parents and teachers of TPES vs. parents and teachers of PBES! Event will be held at Washington Adventist University. Anyone who is playing, please arrive at 5:45 for warm-up. The game will start at 6:15 PM and will end by 7 PM with a dance party for children on the field. Attendance is FREE! Pizza will be served for $1 a slice! Quantity will be limited! We hope to see as many of you as possible out there for this wonderful community-building event!

TPES ANNOUNCEMENTSRead by Joyce McDonough, TPES VP Communications

    • There will be an Incoming Kindergarten Parent Meeting-May 30, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. The staff of Takoma Park Elementary School will host an incoming kindergarten parent meeting on May 30, 2024. The meeting will be held virtually and will include interpreters for Spanish and Amharic.
    • Please fill out the parent input form sent out by Dr. Gadsden to tell the school about your child’s learning style and needs. The form is an opportunity to provide input into your child’s class placement for the 2024-2025 school year. This spring, the staff at TPES will begin the process of developing classes for next year. This work will continue into the summer. The goal is to make the best student-teacher match possible and to use the information in the form to help guide that work. 
    • Thank you to everyone who volunteered for the TPES Book Fair! 
      • Online Book Fair: Our online book fair will remain open through the school year.  There are books for all ages available at the online fair.  TPES PTA receives 15% of the proceeds for books purchased through the online fair.
      • Please contact Claire Dean and Lesley Perry at  
    • This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and we are still seeking gifts to raffle off to teachers. Some ideas include giving time for pet sitting, a homemade casserole, your favorite cookie recipe, gift cards, gift certificates, etc. Gifts in any amount are appreciated and welcomed! Please reach out to Betsy Garcete to let her know what you can contribute:
    • Kindergarten Enrollment 2024-25 Now Open Kindergarten online registration is now open. For information regarding kindergarten enrollment for the 2024-25 school year, including important documents needed to register, please visit the MCPS website ( If you have any questions or would like more information on how to enroll at Takoma Park Elementary School, please call 240-740-0980 or email Ms. Hottel-Cox at
  • Yearbooks! If you’d like to order a yearbook for your child, please use this link. Yearbooks cost $22 and will be distributed at the end of the school year. 

PBES ANNOUNCEMENTS: ready by Chris Campbell, PBES VP Communications 

  • New Art Gallery! Ms. Cantu is putting together a beautiful display of student’s art from classes past and present in a new gallery wall space. The PTA is seeking donations to help fund this exciting project. Donate here! The gallery system will allow us to change out the artwork for years to come.
  • Teacher Appreciation Week: Teacher Appreciation Week is happening this week up and there are ways you and your student can thank our staff for BEE-ing the BEST! Thank you to everyone who donated or helped decorate! 
    • We are still looking for volunteers to help with Clean-Up on Friday. Sign up here! 
    • Friday, May 10: BEE Yourself: Students and staff can dress to express their silly sides!
  • Volunteers Needed for Instrumental Concert Bake Sale on May 22: Your help is needed on May 22! Please consider signing up to either staff the bake sale table or bring a dozen baked goods. This is a fundraiser for the PBES PTA and your support is appreciated! Sign up here!
  • May 16: 4th/5th grade choral concert
  • PBES Yearbooks: Yearbooks are on sale now. The price is $20. They may be ordered online here.

7:15 PM: Sharon Broderick, Co-Chair, Food Forest and Gardening Committee 

  • Presentation on Food Forest and TPES Gardening Club 
  • Vision for forest garden on TPES grounds; incorporates fruit and nut trees, bushes, 
  • Started last year to build garden boxes; planted for the first time last year
  • Working with MCPS to get proper approvals to get more planting in the fall
  • First tree plantings: April 2024; all growing; persimmon, serviceberry, hazelnuts, spicebush, witch hazel on nature walk along TPES playground edge
  • TKPK owns land on other side; working with Arborist to develop the nature walk there
  • 45 students in student garden club! They love to water the plants
    • Posters in the atrium
    • food tasting in atrium this wednesday from what has been grown
    • Plans for 2nd grade group to meet during the week
  • Applying for grant for funds 
  • Planting and clean up event on May 11 1-4pm
    • Planting along the nature walk
    • 45-100 plants coming

7:25 PM: Treasurer’s Reports 

  • Amy Swift, TPES PTA Treasurer
    • Month of April
    • Lots of revenue coming in from Read-a-Thon and Book Fair
    • Book Fair: amount is what we took in cash/checks that goes back to Book Fair venue
    • PayPal admin charges: looking for ways to cut those
    • Exceeded expected income for year; under budget in spending
  • Ingrid Gardiner, PBES PTA President
    • Running about $10,000 behind on donations; over on fundraising; more should be posted
    • Programming costs don’t currently include the pool and other incoming costs

7:35 PM: Dr. Gadsden and Ms. Oberdorf

  • Speaking about class assignments for 2024-2025 school year 
  • Ms. Oberdorf (PBES)
    • Started process for class assignments a few weeks ago
    • Gathering data on students; teacher input in addition to scores
    • Start setting up potential classes; balance in demographics, gender, service groups, interventions, enrichment
    • Form for parent input being sent shortly
    • Staff meeting to present drafts of class rosters
    • Collaborate with TPES for rising third graders
    • Long process (3 months); 200 sets of students at a time
    • Hoping to make the best matches for all students
  • Dr. Gadsden (TPES)
    • Similar process as PBES
    • Forms for current second graders are shared with PBES; no need to fill out two
    • Cannot honor “keep with” requests; can honor “keep apart” requests
    • Do the best we can to have a balanced room and that every child in the room has another child who looks like them.
  • Cap on class sizes at PBES because a Focus school
  • TPES expects to have 9 K, 9 1st, 6 2nd grade classrooms; moving toward co-teaching model in hopes of bringing down the student teacher ratio; will be about 25 kids per class, but smaller for reading and math.
  • PBES going from 9 to 8 third grade classes; district monitors enrollment to adjust the number of classes.
  • 5th grade promotion ceremony: June 12 at 2pm

7:40 PM: Breakout rooms for incoming K parents, 3rd grade parents and 6th grade parents

Kindergarten Breakout Rooms (Dr. Gadsden to present before questions) 

  1. Claire Dean 
  2. Kelley Seay

Third Grade Breakout Rooms: 

  1. Christine Kahler Smith 
  2. Mari Quenemoen 

Sixth Grade Breakout Rooms: 

  1. Becca Jones-Albertus