Mitchell Elementary PTA General Meeting


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Call to Order:

The General Meeting of the Mitchell PTA was held in the cafeteria on September 1, 2015. The meeting was called to order at 6:32 p.m. by President Debbie Sledge, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Mitchell fifth graders.


See attached sign-in sheet. A quorum was established.


Ms. Sledge welcomed all parents to the first PTA general meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. She introduced herself and said that she was the mother of 3 boys, 2 of whom are students at Mitchell. She said that she had in the past served the PTA as the chair of several different committees, but that this was her first year in an executive committee position.

Reading and Approval of the Minutes:

The motion by Jenny-Ellen Russell to approve the minutes of the May 12, 2015 General Board meeting as distributed was seconded and passed.

Officer Reports:

 President’s Report (Debbie Sledge):

Ms. Sledge introduced our theme for the year: “Happiness is Being a Mitchell Bobcat.” She said that she chose this theme because it strikes her that people at Mitchell are happy: the students are happy, the parents are happy, the teachers, administration and staff are all happy.

Ms. Sledge reported that she and some other Board members attended the Florida PTA conference over the summer. It was her second time attending, and it drove home to her how truly blessed we are here at Mitchell, and that this is largely because of the involvement of so many parents in the PTA. She encouraged everyone who would like to to get involved in the PTA and the school, and said that there are countless opportunities to do so.

Vice President of Volunteers (Catie Witherspoon):

Ms. Witherspoon told the membership that volunteering is a great way to meet new people, teachers and staff at Mitchell. She encouraged everyone to fill out the volunteer form to indicate the areas in which they would like to help, and said that the form could be completed online at the PTA website. She encouraged everyone to feel free to contact her with questions.

Corresponding Secretary (Dee Dee Bland): 

Ms. Bland reported that communications involves a team of people. She said that Christiana Thompson will be editing and publishing the weekly Bobcat Blast e mail as well as the quarterly newsletter. In addition, Tien Tien Shein will be staying on in a consulting role for communications. Communications is also responsible for the website which can be located at, as well as the Mitchell Elementary PTA Facebook page, so it is quite a large role.

Ms. Bland encouraged everyone to complete as many of the forms in the “First Day” packets as possible online as it saves a lot of data entry work and makes the input of the data go much faster. She encouraged everyone to “Like” the Facebook page for Mitchell Elementary PTA or to follow it so that parents will receive the posts.

Ms. Bland said that the newsletter has changed its format: it will now be issued quarterly in paper form and will be coming home with the students’ report cards.

Ms. Bland announced that Ms. Anderson will also be on Twitter this year, but for those who don’t use Twitter, her tweets will be integrated into the Facebook page.

Ms. Bland said that the most frequent question asked about the PTA is “how do you spend the money?”, and wanted everyone to know that detailed answers to that questions can be found on the PTA’s website.

Vice President Ways & Means (Jenny Hart)

Ms. Hart reported that she had worked over the summer closely with the new Sponsorship Chair, Amy Smith, in putting together a new sponsorship program for the PTA. The program has been very well received so far, and more than $15,000 has already been raised. A letter went home over the summer outlining the new sponsorship opportunities. She noted that the PTA is primarily funded through sponsorships and the Fun Run.

Ms. Hart went on to say that for business sponsorship opportunities, the deadline for commitment is September 8, 2015. There will be more time for families to commit to family sponsorships. She said that the PTA website has a detailed description of where all the funds go, and how they are spent. Each teacher receives $200 for supplies, and mini-grants are also available to the teachers for special projects. These funds directly benefit the children in the classrooms. She asked that anyone with questions about sponsorships contact either her or Ms. Smith.

Audit Committee Report (Becky Ferrell-Anton)

Ms. Ferrell-Anton, who is the PTA’s recording secretary, reported that she had served over the summer on a three person audit committee. She reported that the audit committee had been given full access by the Treasurer to all of the financial books and records of the PTA for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, and that the audit committee had examined the financial books and records for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 and found them to be correct. She also reported that the balance on hand as of July 7, 2015 was $28,603.69.

Treasurer’s Report (Jenny-Ellen Russell):

Ms. Russell presented the Budget-to-Actual Report and the report, as well as the budget for the 2015-2016 year. She highlighted the changes in the budget from the prior year. Special Projects was added as a revenue line item. After School Enrichment was also added, as this will be run by the PTA. Movie Night last year was part of Centennial in the budget, but it will be continued this year and therefore is a new revenue item.

Expenses did increase. Office expenses increased because of the need to print the Bobcat Banter this year when previously it had been sent out via e mail. Family Outreach is a new initiative with attendant expenses. Expenses have also increased for landscaping, professional development, spirit sticks and RIF. Some expenses have decreased: special projects (expenses were accounted for elsewhere), and starter supplies.

Excess funds were raised last year for 5th grade events. These are free to all students but were run at break even. The excess funds funded robotics and bought extra school supplies.

Ms. Russell asked if there were any questions and encouraged anyone to feel free to contact her at any time with questions about the PTA’s finances.

The motion by Ms. McGraw to approve the 2015-2016 budget was seconded and passed.

Principal’s Report (Kevin Moon for Debbie Anderson):

Mr. Moon welcomed everyone and said that Ms. Anderson was very sorry to miss the first meeting but had to attend an awards ceremony tonight at which Mitchell is receiving an award from the District for its attendance. Schools whose attendance is 96% or higher receive the award.

Mr. Moon began by saying that this is his favorite time of year, and that he is glad to welcome everyone back and also to see some new faces. He said that he has found Mitchell a great school to be at, with great parental involvement, teachers and staff. The support of the PTA to the school is very much appreciated. This year, Mitchell has hit the ground running with several new initiatives.

Mr. Moon reported that the school has received a One-To-One grant which is enabling us to provide many students with electronic devices. The goal is eventually to have devices available in all classroom. Now, third, fourth and fifth grade have received devices. The kids love it. Another new initiative is Keyboarding Without Tears, but the District is not ready yet so we can’t log in yet. This is a pilot program for us to help provide our kids with 21st Century skills that they will need. We are also piloting a new online math program called “I’m Ready Now”. Teachers are currently being trained.

Mr. Moon reported that Mitchell’s enrollment is currently at 653, which is much higher than last year. The range is 95 students in first grade to 120 students in fourth grade. He reported that the interpretation of the class size amendment has changed, so that now K-3 can have up to 21 students in a classroom, while 4th and 5th can have up to 27.

Mr. Moon then reviewed the Vision Statements and Mission Statements for Mitchell as well as for the School District. He ended by saying that anyone with any questions or concerns should feel free to e mail, call or stop by his office.

Standing Committees:

PTA Membership (Sarah Walters):

Ms. Walters reported that all PTA members will receive a Fun Card, which will give discounts and incentives to local businesses. Members will also receive a PTA card as well as a spirit stick. To date, we have signed up 284 members. Our goal is 492, or 100% membership. She encouraged people to call her at any time with questions.

After School Enrichment (Sandy Fasulo)

Ms. Fasulo reported that her co-chair for ASE is Shannon Gittleman. She said that this is the first year that the PTA is administering the after school enrichment programs. New programs have been added: so far we have Robotics, Girls on the Run, Webby Dance, Martial Arts Advantage, Totally Art, Elite Technique Gymnastics and Chess. Sign up will begin next Tuesday at 10 a.m. online, and parents should sign up on the PTA website. Enrollment will run all week through September 11. We are planning to expand the programs in the Spring. If you have any suggestions, please reach out to Ms. Fasulo.

Bobcat Buddies (Bill Bland):

Mr. Bland explained that the purpose of the Bobcat Buddies program is to recruit adults and pair them with students who need extra help. Our goal is tutor 100 kids, and the program is already on track to do it. Currently there are three sources of recruiting: University of Tampa Education majors, PTA members, and people who are solicited directly by PTA members. The commitment is to tutor once a week for nine months for one hour. 40 Bobcat Buddies have already committed to returning from last year’s program. Mr. Bland said that he gets excited about Bobcat Buddies because it provides an opportunity to made a difference in people’s lives.

Fun Run (Lisa Woodward):

Ms. Woodward reported that Fun Run is the PTA’s biggest fundraiser for the year. Our goal for this year is $30,000. A flyer will be sent home tomorrow with general information. A pep rally will take place on September 11. The Fun Run itself is on September 25, and parents are invited. At the pep rally each child will receive a spirit stick. Any donation of any amount will earn a child a blue Mitchell wristband. The suggested donation amount per child is $50, and if that amount is donated the child will get a chance to enter a raffle to win an iPad. The class in each grade that raises the most will be given a party. And, if we meet our goal, Mr. Moon and Ms. Anderson have planned a special surprise.

Guest Speakers:

 Mitchell Foundation (John Boyer):

 Mr. Boyer began by welcoming new families to Mitchell. He said that the Foundation was started in 2004, and partners with the PTA and the Administration with the goal of making Mitchell a better place. It is a fundraising organization with goals similar to PTA. Most recently, the Foundation has supplied the school with 30 iPads, computer tables for the media center, and supported the HeartStrings program through scholarships. The Foundation exists, he said, because of the generosity of Mitchell families throughout the years. The Foundation’s primary fundraiser is the Bobcat Bash, which will be held on February 20, 2016. It will be a party with an auction. Laura Tibbals is chairing the Bobcat Bash this year, and there are many opportunities to get involved. Wednesday morning September 9 at 8:30 a.m. in the Media Center will be the first meeting about the Bobcat Bash and everyone should feel free to come and get involved. The website is The Foundation’s regular meetings are the first Thursday of the month in the Media Center at 7:45 a.m., and the meetings are open to all.

Heart Strings (Sandy Fasulo):

Ms. Fasulo reported that the HeartStrings Committee was formed three years ago. The main funding for the program comes from the $200 donation requested of each child involved in the program. The cost of the program is $40,000. So far, 47 kids have enrolled for a total of $7,000. She asked everyone who is interested in enrolling their child in HeartStrings to return their forms, and said that scholarship are available, and that those are provided by the Foundation. Normally, half of the student body at Mitchell is enrolled in the HeartStrings program. She reported that Kindergarten had started last week, and that the other grades will start next week. She encouraged parents to reach out to Dr. Jefferis if they have questions. The enrollment forms are on the Foundation website under violin.

SAC (Kathy Hill):

 Ms. Hill is the SAC Chair. She is also a 4th grade teacher and involved in Project Innovate. She was a Mitchell mom, but now is a Wilson mom. SAC consists of teachers, parents and administrators. The document with our goals is available online. There are primarily two goals: (1) students will achieve more if we differentiate instruction, and (2) students will achieve more if they become involved in the school. This year, we are targeting tardies, because we want students to be ON TIME. Students should arrive every day by 8:15 a.m. to be ready to learn when school starts. The SAC meets the second Thursday of every month after school, and everyone is invited. If anyone has questions, she said that her door is always open.

 Dad’s Club (Bill Bland):

 Mr. Bland encouraged all Dads to sign up for the Dad’s Club. Their motto is “Involved Fathers Make a Difference.” The Dad’s Club has three objectives: (1) to promote opportunities for Dads to be on the campus, (2) to get more Dads into the All Pro Dads breakfast, which meets once a month to talk about how they are proud of their kids, and (3) to share best practices of how Dads spend time with their kids.

Mr. Bland announced that this year the Dad’s Club will be selling Mitchell magnets to raise money. He said that he had available a sign up sheet for the Dad’s Club and encouraged all Dads to join.

Media Center (Juli Schmidt)

Ms. Schmidt is our Media Specialist. She thanked the PTA for all the hard work we do that benefits the school. She encouraged everyone to come and see the beautiful new computer tables. She said that she loves her job, and thanked both the PTA and the Foundation for all of their efforts and support. Ms. Schmidt also passed out a flyer for a program called “Bing in the Classroom”, and encouraged all parents and children to use the instructions and use Bing as their search engine. As you search, Mitchell gets credit, and it will help us earn free tablets to be used in Project Innovate.


 Ms. Sledge announced that Ms. Gobioff was selling our old spirit shirts for $5 each and our old hoodies for $10 each at a table in the back of the room. She also announced that Ms. Walters would be manning a PTA membership table and encouraged all who had not already done so to become PTA members.

Ms. Sledge announced that there are 4 general PTA meetings a year, in September, October, March and May. Also, the PTA board meets on the first Wednesday of every month in the Media Center (usually) at 8:45 a.m., and the Board meetings are open to all.

See Agenda for important dates.

No further business.   The meeting was adjourned at 7:37 p.m.


Becky Ferrell-Anton, Recording Secretary


Approved As:


Date: ___________________           Read: _________

Corrected:   ________________