PTO Parent Handbook

Logistics:

Getting to BSI and home again —

This is often the most stressful part of the day for new families! The school will fill you in on all the details, but here is an overview.

The school day is 8:30a to 2:50p. Kids need to be in their class at 8:30 so should be dropped off no later than 8:25a. After 8:40a, students are late and must check in with the main office.

If kids get to the school after 8am they can go into the building and will be sent somewhere to be with their classmates until the school day starts. Someone from the school is always there at the door to say good morning and to make sure they know where to go.

Drop-Off and Pick-Up:
All children enter the school through the main doors at the corner of Avenue P and Stillwell Ave. You say goodbye to your child there. There is always a school aide and a security guard present at this time who can help guide your child.

If you are dropping your child off by car, please do not stop in the bus zones in front of the school on Ave P or Stillwell Ave.

Pick-up is in the school yard. The entrance is a gate on Stillwell Ave just past the school. There are signs marking the area where each class will gather.

The Bus:
There are public DOE (Department of Education) buses through the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) and private buses arranged by parents.

Public school buses:
The Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) will assign your child to a bus and a bus stop and they will assign a time for pick up and drop off.

This form will allow you to check the number of your child’s assigned bus route and time of bus stop:

BSI parents try to help each other. We have made text groups for most of the bus lines so that we can tell each other if a bus is running late or if one of us is running late!

Very often the bus stop times change throughout the year and it can be unclear exactly where exactly the stops are from the OPT information. The first couple days of school can be especially uncertain. If it is possible to connect with other parents at your stop or get on the text group before the first day of school, that will help you feel more secure. If you connect with a school buddy they can help you or just email the pto at execbd@bispto.org

FYI: The school and the parents refer to the bus routes by colors, like yellow, light blue, red, etc. The OPT refers to them by numbers, like K2199.

Private Buses:
For families who fall outside the DOE yellow bus range, there are two parent organized private buses.  In the 2017-2018 year, the Orange Bus runs through the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens, and the Red bus starts at the bottom of Bed Stuy and runs through Park Slope. A bus matron rides on each bus to oversee the children’s safety and serve as a point of communication when there are delays.

Patents wishing to know more information about these two buses should reach out to Jennifer Grassotti at jgrassotti@gmail.com

Communication:

Communication is crucial at BSI. We are so geographically spread out, and we all want to know what is going on with our kids and our school.  We’ve prepared this rundown for you so that you’ll never feel out of the loop!

Communications from the school itself generally come via email, via blog post, or on paper via your child’s backpack. You’ll receive information about this from the school!

School Website
In general, you should get familiar with bsi686.org!  The school’s website is a wealth of information. If you subscribe to receive blog posts from the school you can choose to receive certain posts by email, like ones about your child’s class. Find the link in the right hand column of bsi686.org “Manage Email Subscriptions.”

Calendar
BSI keeps a Google calendar that has all upcoming important events on it – both school-organized and PTO-organized.  Syncing this calendar to your own Google calendar is highly recommended, so you’ll always know what’s going on. You can find it in the menu bar at bsi686.org

Email
The PTO sends out emails throughout the year about sponsored events, meetings, fundraising opportunities, etc. The PTO also maintains closed email groups which allow BSI parents to communicate with other parents in your child’s class or grade. Please fill out the registration form on BSIPTO.org if you have any changes to your contact information.

BSI PTO Website
The PTO has our own website, BSIPTO.org. There you can find posts about current goings on and information about your current PTO officers, how to contact us, minutes of old PTO meetings, information about committees, links to volunteer or register, the PTO calendar and most importantly, how to donate!

Facebook
BSI PTO has its own public facebook page which you can follow: Brooklyn School of Inquiry PTO. In addition, there is a closed group which is monitored by a parent and not by the PTO: BSI Parents, which often has spirited discussions of issues at BSI. Many grades or interest groups have their own closed Facebook groups, also not associated with the PTO, and they use those groups to arrange social events and exchange information.

Google Group
You can also join the BSIParents Google Group email list. Parents sometimes post information here about events and opportunities or seeking help. You can join and search the archives through our website (see the right column about half way down the page). This group is also parent run and not directly affiliated with the PTO.

PTO Events:

BSI PTO traditionally holds many events throughout the year with the goals of fundraising and building community. These are all run by, staffed by, and enjoyed by YOU, BSI families!

Nothing is written in stone, and our amazing parents come up with new events every year, but in general you can expect these events:

Spring Welcome Picnic
June in Prospect Park
Current and new BSI families, teachers, and staff gather for a casual, friendly picnic. We eat, play games, ride the Carousel, and get to know each other better.

Ice Cream Social
September at BSI
Especially geared towards welcoming new families. We play games, dance, reconnect and, of course, eat lots of ice cream.

Harvest Fest
Harvest Festival 2017 FlyerOctober at BSI
This is the event of the season and it gets better every year! Bouncy castles, climbing walls, carnival games, science, magic, art, international food, raffles! Everyone pitches in and everyone has a blast.

Movie Nights
Throughout the year at BSI
Get together with friends and watch a current hit movie in the BSI auditorium. The fun-loving members of the Movie Committee make this happen.

PTO meetings
Monthly at BSI
Want to know what’s going on at the school? PTO meetings let you stay up to date on programs and funding and use your voice and your vote to make PTO decisions. We try to have an interesting speaker (often Principal Havlik!) every month, time for Q&A, and cookies! Dates will always be posted on the calendar on BSIPTO.org

Group Playdates
These are usually organized by class parents and grade reps, or by neighborhood, and are often simply a meetup in a playground or park.  Sometimes they are group outings, such as a grade-wide trip to a bowling alley or a pizzeria. Expect a few throughout the year – and feel free to organize your own and spread the word!

Parents’ Nights Out
The grown-up version of the playdate – meet us for drinks  or for a night of karaoke and have a conversation that is not interrupted by children! These are organized by the PTO a few times a year.

Barnes and Noble Bookfair
November at Barnes and Noble in Park Slope
BSI teachers come throughout the day to read their favorite books. Kids get together with their friends, and BSI PTO gets a portion of every purchase that day when someone presents our voucher. A fun one to volunteer with your kid handing out vouchers or at the gift wrapping table!

Coat Drive
December at BSI
Not really an event, but an important tradition. The BSI Give Back Committee organizes a collection of winter coats to benefit New York Cares.

Skating Social
January at LeFrak in Prospect Park
A party just when you need it most. The kids love seeing their friends and parents love getting the chance to relax together, skating or hanging out in the cafe. It’s a very special tradition, made more special by the participation of so many of the BSI teachers and staff.

Chess Festival
February at BSI
BSI kids love chess! Our annual festival is fun for everyone. The most serious chess players participate in tournaments and learn from experts and the less serious can eat amazing food, socialize, play games and do art projects.

Camp Auction
March at BSI
Again, not really an event, but a powerful fundraiser for our kids. Parents solicit donations from summer camps, after-school programs and locations offering kids’ classes then open the auction to the public. It’s a great opportunity to get a deal on experiences for your kids and to make some money for the BSI PTO.

Gala and Auction
June at Roulette
The party of the year! BSI family, friends, teachers and staff gather for some grown-up fun. Cocktails, food, music and dancing to celebrate each other, our kids and our school. The auction, live and online, is the culmination of months of parent solicitation for donations and includes some really fun and amazing items and experiences. You don’t want to miss this one!

And more!
Every year our amazing BSI families create new events and opportunities. Browse through old posts on the BSIPTO.org website or Facebook page to get an idea of what our year looks like. You can make these events better! Volunteer and work with us!

BSI School Events:

These are not PTO events, but important school events you can expect to see on the school calendar through the year.

Family Fridays
These are special mornings when parents and family members are invited into the classroom to observe and participate!  Sometimes other events, like a dance or music performance, and PTO meetings, are scheduled to coordinate with these days as well.

Curriculum Night
Early in the fall. A chance to meet your child’s new teacher, as well as to learn about the curriculum your child will be learning in each subject.

Parent Teacher Conference Days
These happen twice a year, along with report cards at the end of the first and second marking periods.  Kids have a half day, and conferences happen in 10 minute sessions throughout the afternoon and evening. Your child’s primary teachers, as well as cluster teachers (art, science, Spanish, dance, gym, media literacy, etc) are available for conferences.  Signups are usually done via email a few days beforehand. Don’t forget to leave time to see the INCREDIBLE art show that Ms Nanna hangs in the gym on conference days – every child’s work is included.

Grade Meetings
A chance to meet with the Principal to discuss concerns specific to your child’s own grade. These meetings so far have been once per year per grade.

Weekly Parent Engagement Time
All teachers have specific time set aside

each week to be available for in person or phone meetings with parents.  The time slot may vary from year to year – check the school calendar.

Graduation
We are all so proud of our BSI alums! We celebrate with our graduating 8th grade class and send them off in style!

 

What is the PTO and how does it work?

Every BSI parent and teacher is automatically a member of the PTO. Very basically the PTO does three things:

1. Fundraising — without PTO funds our school would only have basic DOE funding. We get no additional funding as a G&T school. Without parent raised funds we would be stripped down to the very basics and our kids would suffer.

2. Encourage parent involvement and volunteerism — we need to have a strong and positive community. Everyone pitches in with whatever they have to offer. We need everyone on board.

3. Support the students, support our school — Our main goal is to advocate for the educational, emotional, and social needs of our children as we support the vision of our school leadership.

Executive Board:
Currently, the PTO Executive Board is made up of these positions, hopefully shared by two or more people: President, Executive Vice President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Parliamentarians, Vice President of Fundraising, VPs of Parent Involvement, and VP of Communication. On our website, you will find names and emails of the board members and a link to our bylaws as well as minutes from past meetings. Our email is execbd@bsipto.org

Grade Reps
Every grade has a Grade Rep who is the liaison between that grade and the PTO — alerting their grade to events and useful information and passing along concerns and problems from the parents.

Class Parents
Class Parents are point people for teachers to contact when they need help and are generally chosen by the teachers or self chosen rather than going through the PTO. Class Parents in the lower grades can be a great help to the teachers with class parties and communication and generally are in charge of collecting money for teacher/staff gifts.

Committees
On the BSIPTO.org website you will find a list of currently active committees and their missions. These groups are always looking for new energy and new members. Some of our most active committees are Fundraising, Diversity and Give Back.

The School Leadership Team (SLT)
The SLT is composed of elected parents and teachers. The core responsibility of the SLT is to develop the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP) aligned with the school-based budget. They meet monthly and report back to the parent body at PTO meetings. Find out more on our website.

Volunteering
If you are interested in volunteering, there are endless opportunities both big and small. Start by filling out our volunteer form on the bsipto.org website, which will also let you sign up for committees. No one is too new or too busy to find a way to volunteer. Many hands make light work. We are in this together!

Fundraising
The most important function of the PTO is fundraising. BSI is a public school and receives no extra funds because it is a G&T school or because it is city wide. Every year we struggle to reach our fundraising goals so that our kids can have enrichments as well as some pretty basic things, like teacher’s assistants for the lower grades or art supplies for our amazing art teacher. If you are interested in learning more about what we currently fund, check out a list of currently funded programs here.

Direct Appeal
Most of the money to fund these programs comes from direct donations from parents. More than 80% of our total fundraising dollars are from BSI families through our Direct Appeal campaign. Your entire contribution is tax deductible and many employers match donations. We request a donation of $1,500 a year per child but of course for some of our families that is out of reach. Any amount donated makes a difference! Give early and often. Donate today!

Corporate Matching
The PTO is eligible to receive corporate matching from companies that have matching grants programs. Direct Appeal contributions are often doubled or tripled this way! Please ask your Human Resources (HR) Department if your company matches contributions. You can also check if your company has a matching program by going to our website BSI PTO.org

Events
We hold many fundraising events throughout the school year — see the Events Section above.

We are so pleased to welcome you to BSI! If we can do anything to help with your transition, please contact us at ExecBd@bsipto.org

To Do Checklist for New Parents:

• Bookmark our website BSIPTO.org

• If your contact information changes, update it on our website.

• Fill out the Volunteer Form on BSIPTO.org

Subscribe to the Brooklyn School of Inquiry Website to get email updates

• Add the Brooklyn School of Inquiry Calendar to your own Google Calendar

• Bookmark the School Dismissal Form

• Read the School Handbook

• LIKE/Follow “Brooklyn School of Inquiry PTO” on Facebook

• Consider requesting to join “BSI Parents” unofficial Facebook Group

• Consider joining the “BSIParents” unofficial Google Group. You can sign up from the right column of BSIPTO.org home page.