March Meeting Recap

Thank you to everyone who could join us at the March 16th meeting. There were several great discussions at the meeting. Here’s a recap for those who could not make it:

School Safety

We know school safety is top of mind of late and appreciate Mrs. Batis and Mr. Edwards providing an overview of some of the security measures in place to keep our students safe. Keep on the lookout for future events addressing this topic.  (Note: for the safety our students, security measures will not be posted here. We hope you understand!). 

Courtyard Improvement Project

A new committee is being formed to tackle additional improvements to the courtyard.  Earlier this year the PTO purchased tables with umbrellas for the courtyard.  A district match doubled the number of tables to 12, providing ample room for teachers and students to take advantage of outside space.  Future improvements will focus on incorporating flower beds or raised gardens, with input from teachers on how the space can be best used. PTO members wishing to serve on the planning committee should contact Kristina Adams.

Teacher Stipends

Earlier in the year the PTO approved $7,000 allocated to teacher stipends.  These stipends have now been communicated to all teachers, who have until the end of the school year to use the funds.  Stipends were allotted by teaching units (e.g., 5th grade) and can be used collectively or individually as decided upon by the group.  We’re excited to see how the teachers put their funds to use and thank you all for your support of the PTO – this wouldn’t be possible without your donations!

Parent Concerns

This month’s meeting included time set aside to address parent concerns.

  • Beth Ruff presented information on the proposed changes to the DMS schedule.  Nearly 800 people have signed a petition requesting administration delay the implementation of these changes and seek additional input from teachers and parents. Update:  Per a March 19th email from District Superintendent Gene Freeman, the DMS schedule will remain the same for the next school year: “The district and the DMS administration will continue studying the schedule. As a first step, we are re-engaging in conversations with the Fox Chapel Educators Association (teachers). Next school year, while the FCEA and administration study the possibilities of a new DMS schedule, we will involve a small representative group of parents/guardians which will include the site-based representatives and an equitable representation from the community. Details and opportunities for involvement will be shared at a future time.”
  • Dana Rofey also shared concerns about the lunch “extra” policy.  Efforts are underway to restrict K-2 purchases of extras to one time/week. Already new restrictions have been placed to encourage students to finish their lunch before being able to purchase extras, as well as to limit purchases to one item.
  • Bonnie DeMotte raised concerns over student engagement and questioned whether there might be more opportunities for students to participate in activities during school that get them excited to attend.  Several parents echoed their support, and Carrie Work referenced Student Council programs in place at other district elementary schools.  An ad hoc committee is in the works to further explore options and work with the school administration.  If interested in participating, contact Bonnie DeMotte.

Notice of May 18 Election

The newly formed Nominating Committee includes Carly Warren, Kate Davison and Jessica Simms.  The Nominating Committee announced candidates for the May 18, 2018 election as follows:

  • President – Sarah Shaffer
  • Vice President – Nadine Carl
  • Secretary – Open at time of announcement.

Nominations will also be taken from the floor at the election, to be held May 18 at 9:15am.  Officers will be elected by a majority vote from members present.


Stay tuned for a survey asking for your input on PTO activities and communications.  We look forward to your feedback!

Save the Dates – Only 2 More PTO Meetings!

Thursday, April 19 from 6:30pm – 7:30pm –  Join the PTO for an open discussion.  Grab a beverage or food and join us in the Market District Café (Atrium).

Friday, May 18 from 9:15am – 10:15am – Calling all volunteers and PTO members! Join us for a special breakfast spread before our final meeting of the school year. Members present will vote on open Board positions and an interim budget. Committee chairs will also be announced.


PTO Approves Budget at First Meeting of School Year

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend our first meeting of the year.  We started the year off with some administrative items, including the approval of the budget for the 2017-2018 school year.

The budget includes over $20,000 towards curriculum support in the form of $500 stipends for each grade level, special area instruction, music, art and athletics.  It also includes the purchase of 2 additional Chromebook carts, completing the PTO’s commitment to the school (approved last year).

The PTO has largely spent down the reserve funds which were held in the PTO account in the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year through the contribution of $80,000 to FCASD to supplement the new playground equipment. Another $20,000 has been earmarked for O’Hara courtyard improvements.  Teachers are already making use of the courtyard tables purchased by the PTO, which included six tables with umbrellas.  The district matched the PTO purchase, providing an additional set of 6 tables. A rotating schedule for courtyard use will be set up beginning this week; the courtyard can be used at teacher’s discretion for lunch and classroom instruction/activities.


Mrs. Batis shared a quick update on construction, noting that work is progressing as planned and thanking everyone for their patience and understanding.  She also provided further clarification on O’Hara’s Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTII) program, a brief overview of which was presented at Curriculum Night. Mrs. Batis emphasized that while the RTII team meets formally each month, students can be referred to RTII at any time needed.

Parents are encouraged to complete the PTO volunteer form if they have not already done so, and to please GET YOUR CLEARANCES.  Initial volunteers for classroom and school-wide events will be pulled from the volunteer form respondents.  The volunteer form also asks respondents to indicate if they would like to be a PTO member, a new change for the school year that is a necessary step in updating the PTO bylaws. PTO membership remains open and free of charge, but parents and teachers/staff must elect membership to vote and participate in PTO business.  Proposed changes to the bylaws were presented at the meeting and will be voted on by members electronically on or after October 24.

Finally, the PTO Board announced that, based on various requests received and poll results, we are going to alternate morning and evening meeting times for the rest of the calendar year. Evening meetings will be held on TUESDAY, October 24th and December 19th at 6:00pm in the Auditorium. Future evening meetings will be determined based on attendance at these two events. We look forward to seeing many new faces!

Full minutes from the 9-22-17 meeting are available here.

PTO Meeting Recap

2016-2017 Officers (from left to right): Faith Moser (Vice President), Dana Rofey (Co-President), Tonja Condron (Treasurer), Sarah Shaffer (Secretary), Carrie Work (Co-President).

On behalf of the 2016-2017 Officers, thank you to everyone who came out to the first PTO meeting of the school year!  If you missed Friday’s meeting,   here’s what you need to know:


Dr. McNamara, interim principal, provided clarification on recent administrative changes.  As previously announced, Kristi Batis has been hired as Principal. Mrs. Batis is currently on maternity leave and will be begin October 31st.  A Vice Principal, Stephen Edwards, has also been hired. His start date is still TBD and will be based on his release date from South Fayette SD.

While Dr. McNamara and Mr. Winkler fulfill their roles as interim principals at O’Hara, they are available to address concerns from parents, and they are implementing changes that were planned at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

One of these changes was the switch to an 8:40 a.m. official drop off time, a topic parents requested be addressed at the September 16th PTO meeting. Dr. McNamara shared that the reason behind the change has to do with contractual issues. Teachers will now have a full 40 minutes before students arrive for preparation and planning.  Dr. McNamara stressed that all changes are being made with the best interest of both students and teachers in mind and are consistent with other schools in our district.

Interim Principals, Mr. Winkler and Dr. McNamara, came out of retirement to help O'Hara Elementary. Both have ties to the school district and have dedicated their lives to public education.
Interim Principals, Mr. Winkler and Dr. McNamara, came out of retirement to help O’Hara Elementary. Both have ties to the school district and have dedicated their lives to public education.

Several parents also expressed concerns over late and/or inconsistent bus drop off times.  Dr. McNamara took down several bus numbers and will be speaking with the bus transportation company to address these concerns.

 Volunteer Opportunities

Committees are seeking volunteers for several projects. Details for current opportunities are included below. All of these opportunities require clearances be on file with the school.

  • Traveling Art Gallery (TAG).  As a Traveling Art Gallery volunteer, you will make four separate 20-minute presentations in four different classrooms on one great painting. You will schedule with a teacher assigned to you for the months of November, January, March and May. Volunteers are needed for all grades and NO art background is needed. Email Annie Avondolio with questions or to sign up.
  • Scholastic Book Fair  (October 3 – 7).  Volunteers are needed to help escort students to the book fair and assist with purchases, as well as to serve as cashiers. You can select you child’s scheduled time at the book fair. Email Maggie Mulhern for more information.
  • Yearbook (year round). A great opportunity for anyone with a decent camera (sorry, your iphone doesn’t count!) to help document the school year for the yearbook.  Email Lisa Correnti to learn more.
  • Library Helpers (year round).  Whether you are roughing it in the stacks, cutting out paper flowers, organizing books for research projects, putting up bulletin boards, or making copies, O’Hara Library Staff can use your help year round.  Visit and search using the email address “” to find available volunteer spots by month.
  • 5th Grade Day.  In beginning planning stages – email Heather Strittmatter to help out!

Great News

  • The school greenhouse is being revitalized! Once repaired and fully functioning, it will be used for STEM activities in all grades.  We’ll be sharing more about this exciting project throughout the year.
  • The Back to School Social raised over $2,100!  Thank you to everyone who helped make the event a success.
  • Apples to Students raised over $3,600 for O’Hara last year with 933 cards registered to our school.  All you have to do to contribute to this no-cost fundraiser is register your Giant Eagle card and go about your grocery shopping as usual.  Our school code is 0790.

Want more information?

Read the full meeting minutes here.  Questions and feedback are always welcome and appreciated – Comment below or contact the PTO Officers.