First Evening Meeting Trial A Success – Here’s What You Missed

The PTO held the first of two trial evening meetings on October 24th with over 50 in attendance.  The second evening meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 19th (November’s meeting will be at its regularly scheduled time of 9:15am on 11/17).  After the December meeting, the Board will decide whether to continue alternating morning and evening meetings for the remainder of the school year.  Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl – we look forward to seeing you at an upcoming meeting!  Here’s what you missed last Tuesday:

Indoor Recess Update

Lunch and recess volunteer coordinator Missy Troutman shared that students are loving the new indoor recess bins!  The cost of the initial set of 10 bins was offset by a generous sponsorship by Smiles by Smith. The bins are currently rotating between the three recess periods for K and 1st grade, 2nd and 3rd grade, and 4th and 5th grade.  Moving the bins to the different classrooms has required a TREMENDOUS effort from lunch monitors and PTO volunteers (thank you to everyone who has helped!!). The PTO is currently accepting donations to fund the purchase of additional bins so that there will be one bin for each classroom to use at recess.  Because the black top is currently off limits due to construction, parents should anticipate that students will be kept indoors for recess much more frequently this winter than in previous years. The indoor recess bins include options for physically active play in addition to games and craft options.  Student favorites include magnetic dart bards, indoor bowling and hallway yoga. If you would like to make a donation specifically for indoor recess, you may include it in the online donation or check memo field.  The cost of each bin is approximately $120. Excess funds will be allocated to the PTO general operating fund and/or used to replenish bin supplies throughout the year. Once each classroom has a bin, they will be rotated on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.

Fundraising Updates

Box Tops – The Fall Box Top collection recently concluded, but parents are reminded that there will be a second collection in the Spring, so please don’t stop clipping!  You can also earn extra cash for O’Hara by downloading the Box Top Bonus App. Current promotions in the app include 100 bonus points ($10!) with the purchase of 4 Lysol products.  Simply scan your receipt after you make your purchase.

Square 1 Art – Students have finished their artwork for the annual Square 1 fundraiser!  Students will be coming home with their free sticker sheet and personal order form in early November.  All items ordered will be delivered by December 13th, just in time for the holiday season.  The fundraiser earns on average $4,500/year. O’Hara receives 33% of sales, but with over 45% participation, that amount increases to 38%.  Happy shopping!

Scholastic Book Fair – Thank you to everyone who helped with the book fair! The sale earned $2,900 that will go directly to the library fund, which now totals over $10,000. These funds will surely be put to great use after renovations to the library are completed next summer!

Special Guests from “Start School Later”

Representatives from the Start School Later, Western PA Chapter joined the PTO to provide information and get elementary parent feedback on the possibility of later high school start times. Due to the high cost of busing students, later high school start times often mean swapping elementary and high school start times. Currently, there is no formal proposal to change start times in Fox Chapel District, but several area high schools are considering and/or implementing the change.  These schools include North Allegheny, Pine Richland and Hampton. Multiple research studies have shown that early start times are detrimental for adolescents due to their natural circadian rhythms. Nationally, 400 – 500 schools have changed high school start times over the past 10 – 20 years.  To follow this issue, stay tuned for a District Forum meeting on the topic.

Administration & Teacher Rep Update

Mrs. Batis provided a quick update on renovations.  The first round of updated classroom spaces should be complete by November 3rd, which means 5th graders will soon be moving into their regular classrooms. If your child will be moving from their current classroom, you will receive a email notifying you of the change. The Commons Area should be significantly complete by Thanksgiving.

Mrs. Batis also shared that students are enjoying the changes to ELA and science curriculum, which includes Journeys for ELA and National Geographic (“Nat Geo”) for science. Mrs. Batis commended the level of rigor Journeys is bringing to students and noted that it is exciting to see students respond to the materials.  The Nat Geo science curriculum provides hands on learning kits.  Students also continue to enjoy their time in the Small Lab.

Teachers Representatives Mrs. Sherwin and Mrs. Buckley were also on hand for the meeting.  They thanked the PTO for their continued support. They also shared that Mrs. Johnson will be sending home flyers for Kids of Steel. Parents interested in helping with the training efforts can email Mrs. Johnson directly.

Volunteer Form to Close Nov. 1st

Last call to fill out the online volunteer form!  The form will close Nov. 1st so that we can provide all committee and activity chairs with a list of volunteers.  Please complete the volunteer form now if you haven’t already done so.

Get Ready to Vote!

PTO members will be receiving an email with a link to vote on proposed changes to the PTO by laws. A majority vote of ALL members is required to pass the changes, so we ask that you please participate in the vote. Thank you in advance!


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.

Meeting Recap: Student Data Folders, Renovations, PSSA


Here’s what you missed at the March PTO Meeting:

STAR Benchmarking Update – Student Data Folders

February STAR benchmarking is complete and Student Data Folders have been created as of February 28th.  Copies of the folders should have been sent home with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders (available upon request for students in K-1). Students worked with teachers to create the folders.  Students were involved with data graphing, goal setting and reflections. Mrs. Batis reported positive feedback from students.  Next year’s Open House will include a Curriculum Night and STAR benchmarking will be one of the topics covered. In the meantime, teachers are available to answer questions and address concerns.

Additional Lunch Monitors Added

Mrs. Batis shared that two additional monitors have been added for increased coverage during lunch/recess.

Renovations to Begin in June

The O’Hara Renovation project will be going out to bid (it’s really happening!!).  Mrs. Batis shared an overview of the proposed Phases and Timeline (tentative and subject to revision, of course!):

  • Phase 1 (Begins June 2017, Ends August 2017):  Office, Commons, Cafeteria,  Library, Art Rooms, Playground
  • Phase 2:  (October 2017) 5th Grade Classrooms/Hallway
  • Phase 3:  (November 2017) 3rd/4th Grade Classrooms/Hallway
  • Phase 4:  (December 2017) 1st Grade Classrooms/Hallway
  • Phase 5:  (January 2018) 2nd Grade Classrooms/Hallway
  • Phase 6:  (February 2018-August 2018)Kindergarten Classrooms/Hallway, Auditorium, Gymnasium, Music Areas

For additional information on the planned renovations, attend one of the upcoming Principal Coffee Hours (RSVP requested):

  • April 19, 2017 (9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)
  • April 20, 2017 (4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.)

Please click here to RSVP.

PSSA Administration Begins April 3rd

The PSSA schedule for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders is as follows:

Mrs. Batis emphasized that the goal is to maintain a sense of normalcy throughout the testing period with a slightly modified schedule.  Testing will begin promptly at 9:10am.  Families are asked to avoid scheduling appointments during the testing periods (students arriving late are not permitted to enter their home room if testing has begun).

Sample PSSA materials are available online at the Pennsylvania Department of Education Website

Save the Date – The next PTO Meeting is Friday, April 21st!

Meeting Recap: PTO Budget Approved, Renovations to Begin in June


2016-2017 Budget Approved

At Friday’s PTO meeting, Treasurer Tonja Condron reviewed the 2016-2017 Budget.  The budget, which was unanimously approved by those present, includes allocation of over $100,000 to the renovation of the school playground and greenhouse, as well as $16,000 for the purchase of two Chromebook carts to be shared among grades.  These expenses will largely spend down the “reserve funds” carried over from prior years.  Tonja also shared allocation of funds to several new programs, including: a mini-grant fund for teachers, a scholarship fund for extra-curricular activities, and the creation of a teacher supply closet that will be stocked with Kleenex, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and other consumable items.

The beginning bank account balance at the start of the school year was $128,808.  The anticipated ending balance will be $17,539.  The remaining balance will include reserve funds held for the library and Shawn Neville Character Award, as well as $5,000 in operating expenses to start out the 2017-2018 school year.

Additional Lunch Monitors Added

Mrs. Batis shared that two additional lunch monitors have been added to the staff, with two more anticipated.  She also noted that concerns raised at the January PTO meeting have been addressed, and the lunchroom is notably less chaotic (a sentiment echoed by several other attendees).

Schedule Changes Implemented

Changes to the master schedule that were announced in January have been implemented. The changes have resulted in an additional 10 minutes of valuable instruction time as well as an uninterrupted 60 minute block for math.

Renovations Slated to Begin in June

Construction is tentatively set to begin the day after school ends and will follow a phased approach culminating the following summer. Phase 1 will include the Commons Area, Library, Art Rooms, Administrative Office Area and some soundproofing for the cafeteria to reduce noise in the computer lab. The current plan for the Commons Area is to create a flexible learning area to better utilize space available.  The Art rooms will be moving to the lower level so that all homerooms (where students spend the most time) will have classrooms with windows. The classrooms will be receiving less visible but much needed improvements, including updates to the mechanical/HVAC systems and lighting.  While this will result in the need for  “swing spaces” as classes are temporarily relocated, every effort will be made to minimize the disruption to student learning environments during the renovations.

The playground and parking lot will be included in the renovations. Facilities representatives will be providing additional details at the March Principal Coffee Hours (dates/times to be announced).

Online Spirit Sale Begins February 13th

A two-week, online Spirit Sale kicks off Monday, February 13th. Sales will be open through February 27th and items ordered will be delivered before the end of March.

Volunteers Needed

The Hospitality Committee is seeking new members.  The committee is responsible for organizing refreshments for Open House and planning the Teacher Luncheon. Contact Faith Moser or Tonja Condron  for additional information or to express interest.

Library Volunteers are always appreciated (clearances required)!  Find open time slots at (search by the email “”).

Upcoming Events

PALS – The next PALS meeting will be held February 22nd at 9:30am at the Market District Café.  More info at

District Forum – The next District Forum will be held Tuesday, February 14th at 9am in the LGI room at the Fox Chapel Area High School.  The topic will be technology.  More info at

Click here for a full list of upcoming events and the district calendar.