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: Principal and PTO Board Updates, Planning for Next Year


Thank you to everyone who joined us for the last PTO meeting of the 2016-2017 school year! Here’s what was discussed at the May 19 meeting:

Principal’s Update on STAR and Class Assignments

Students have completed the last round of STAR assessments for the year. Students in all grades will be going home with a copy of their student STAR folder by May 31st. Teachers will be meeting individually with each student to review results, with a focus on celebrating growth and identifying areas of opportunity for the future.

Principals Batis and Edwards have formalized a new data-driven process for class assignments.  The process is designed to achieve balanced classrooms that meet the diverse needs (academic, behavioral and social) of all learners.  Teacher feedback, including input from specialists who work with students at multiple grade levels, will be part of the class roster process.

For more details on STAR and the class roster process, refer to the May Principal’s Update.

Budget and Construction Update

Outgoing Treasurer Tonja Condron provided an update on year-to-date income and expenses.  This year’s income/expenses effectively net out, which was identified as a PTO Board objective for the 2016-2017 school year after careful consideration of the reserve funds held in the PTO account and concerns voiced by families.

Major expenditures for the year include purchase of Chromebooks for students and new art boards.  A significant reserve amount is still set aside for the greenhouse and playground.  Payment to the school has been delayed due to the construction bid process (re-bids are still pending
public school board vote), but construction is still currently slated to begin on June 12th.

Kristina Adams will begin a two-year term as treasurer in the 2017-2018 school year.

Plans in the Works for Next Year

The PTO is working on adding some organized activities to indoor recess.  The plan currently involves several rotating carts that would house various activities, including an option for physical activity designed for the classroom.  If you would like to help,  email Dana Rofey.

Mrs. Johnson also announced plans to increase O’Hara student involvement in the Kids of Steel Marathon Program. Anyone interested in supporting this initiative for the 2018 Marathon should contact Mrs. Johnson directly.

With the school year coming to an end, the PTO Board will be planning out goals and projects for the 2017-2018 school year over the summer. We’d love to hear your ideas!  Comment below or email Sarah Shaffer with suggestions on what you think we should focus on or areas where we can improve.

Committee Chairs and Members Needed

There are several open committee chair and member positions.  Please email Carrie Work if interested in serving on or chairing a committee.

  • Yearbook – Cari Tarasi will be taking over chair position; Interested volunteers should email outgoing chair Lisa Correnti 
  • Hospitality Committee – 3 to 4 members needed
  • Thanksgiving Baskets – Chair needed
  • Book Fair – 3 to 4 members needed
  • Fifth Grade Day – multiple positions open


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. 

Agenda for February 10th PTO Meeting

Please join us for our monthly PTO meeting this Friday, February 10th from 9:15 – 10:15 am in the school auditorium. Items on the agenda include:

  • O’Hara Administration Update (Mrs. Batis and Mr. Edwards)
    • Lunch/Recess Update
    • Status of Schedule Changes
    • Update on Planned Building Renovations
  • PTO Board Update
    • Review of 2016-2017 Budget and Allocation of Reserve Funds

Attendees should sign in at the school office before heading to the auditorium. Coffee will be provided!

For those unable to attend, a recap and minutes will be shared here after the meeting.  Questions? Comment below!

Meeting Recap: Recess, Lunch and Bench Marking

recapFriday’s PTO meeting initially focused on the lunch/recess process, specifically some interesting questions about when and how students can use the restroom during lunch and recess.  Mrs. Batis provided clarification on current bathroom policies that will hopefully put your (and your student’s) mind at ease:

  1. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.  Students are able to go to the bathroom when out at recess or while at lunch.  The policy change is that students must sign in and out on a clipboard. This is so monitors and staff always know where every single student is at any given moment.
  2. Bathroom Emergency?? Skip the clipboard and get to the bathroom if it’s a true emergency.  The monitors will see your frantic scramble (and very much appreciate your effort to make it to a toilet in time).  This is true for medical emergencies as well – if you need help, get to the nurse!
  3. You don’t need to declare your intended action. Seriously, no talk of “number one” or “number two” or rating the urgency of either.  Refer to item 1 above.

Bathroom talk aside, the changes outlined in the January 6 email from Mrs. Batis are being made to increase the safety of students and create a more enjoyable lunchroom environment.  The changes are a work in progress and will continue to be adjusted as needed (a brief attempt at limiting the number of students who could go to the bathroom at the same time ended quickly).

Here’s what else was shared at the meeting:

Dismissal Process Will Remain the Same (for now)

Previously discussed changes to the dismissal process are being tabled for now. The renovations to O’Hara will include changes to the parking lot, and the dismissal process will be revisited when those plans are finalized.

Star Assessments Focus on Growth

Mrs. Batis provided an overview of the type of data collected during the Star Assessments, which are administered four times per year (September, November, February and May) and used as a bench marking tool.  The assessments are 30 minutes in length for both reading and math (with the exception of Kindergarten, which is a single assessment). Star is based on state standards and national norms, and is skills driven.  The results help drive instruction and meet individual needs to focus on growth (not achievement). Teachers are able to use the results to identify weaknesses and then have the freedom to determine how to work on weak areas.

Parents expressed interest in seeing their student’s results and learning more about how they can use the data at home to work with their students. Mrs. Batis shared that Star is relatively new to O’Hara and that sharing the information with parents/guardians will be incorporated at some point. Students will also be given access to their own results in a way that helps them chart their individual progress and outline their personal goals.  Mrs. Batis shared that on average, students who track their own progress see a 32% increase in scores, more than their counterparts who do not.

If you’d like to hear more about the Star Assessments and how they are used, RSVP by 1/23 for one of the upcoming Principal Coffee Hours on January 26th (4:30 – 5:30 in the library) or January 27th (9am – 10am in the commons).

Board Updates

The Board is in the process of finalizing the 2016-2017 budget (including allocation of reserve funds) and will present it for vote at the February 10 PTO meeting.

Committee & Project Updates

  • Spirit Gear Sale:   An online spirit sale is slated to kick off in mid-February.  Samples of items for sale will be out at various times throughout the two-week sale. Stay tuned for more information!
  • Fifth Grade Day:  Collection jars were sent home in December. Students will be turning in the money in a few weeks, and again in April.  This year’s gift will be to spruce up the courtyard, including a new table with plaque.
  • Giant Eagle Apple Students: The program has 947 supporters and O’Hara has earned $1,817 this year.  Make sure your Advantage Card is registered! 
  • Square 1 Art: Orders can still be placed. The PTO will earn 15% of profits throughout the year on any purchase.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

  • January 20 – NO SCHOOL
  • February 10 – PTO Meeting, 9:15am
  • February 17 – NO SCHOOL
  • February 20 – NO SCHOOL

PALS – The next PALS meeting will be held January 25th at 6:30pm at the Sharpsburg Library (1212 Main St). Speaker Cindy Duch from The Peal Center will be discussing 504 Plans. 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

Incoming Kindergarten Class:

Pre-Kindergarten Story Time

Last Names A-K: February 9, March 9, and April 20 @ 2 p.m.

Last Names L-Z: February 10, March 10, and April 21 @ 2 p.m.

New Kindergarten Parent Orientation Meeting

February 21 – 6pm

District Wide New Kindergarten Registration

February 27 – 4pm – 6pm @ Sharpsburg Community Library

March 1 –  4pm – 6pm @ O’Hara Elementary

March 4 – 9am – 2pm @ Dorseyville Middle School

October 21 Meeting Recap – What you need to know

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it to Friday’s meeting.  We were very lucky to have our two new teacher representatives, Mrs. Buckley (3rd grade) and Mrs. Sherwin (Reading) in attendance. Mrs. Fornari (Librarian) also stopped by to thank the PTO for our support at the Scholastic Book Fair and for providing new ink/toner for the large format printer.

A recap of what you need to know follows (full minutes available here):

Hot Topic Alert: PTO Financials

Treasurer Tonja Condron shared some exciting new:  the PTO has over $130,000 in the bank!

Tonja reviewed the 2015-2016 income and expenses, which showed $24,000 in net income. For the past several years, the PTO has accumulated a substantial amount of money, some of which is earmarked for specific departments (e.g. Scholastic Book Fair revenue for the past 4 years is being held for the school library). The bulk of the reserve funds were originally being saved for upgrades to the auditorium lighting and potential playground improvements. O’Hara received new auditorium lighting last year in conjunction with the high school renovation, leaving PTO members (that’s you!) with the opportunity to determine how the reserve funds should be spent.

If the news that the PTO has such a large amount of money in bank is new to you, you’re not alone. This information raised several questions from attendees, including how we determine where money should be allocated, how much (if any) should be saved for future projects, and how we communicate and share information with our whole membership.  These are all issues the PTO Board plans to tackle in the coming months with the input of parents, teachers and administration. We will also be developing a budget outlining planned spending for the 2016-2017 school year, and will keep parents apprised of planned v. actual spending throughout the year.

The board welcomes your comments and questions regarding the reserve funds and PTO budget.  You’ll be hearing a lot more from us on these topics throughout the year.  We would also welcome accounting-savvy volunteers (any CPAs out there?) to help us get our books in order. Email Tonja if interested!

Great News

  • Lunch/Recess – Many of you know that lunch and recess is frequently a topic of discussion at PTO meetings.  Thanks in large part to the efforts of our interim principals, progress is being made on the playground! The two principals have truly provided hands on support: Mr. Winkler was seen painting new football field lines and leading groups out to play, and Dr. McNamara was spotted providing jump rope lessons. We also learned that lunch monitors have completed their second training session, which corresponds with a new training manual introduced at the beginning of the year.  Expect to hear more on lunch and recess throughout the year as our new principals take over and we continue to advocate for improvements that get our students outside and playing in the space available.
  • Fundraiser Success! – The PTO Directory raised nearly $5,000 in ad sales, and revenue from the Scholastic Book Fair was around $3,000.  Thank you to everyone who volunteered their time!
  • New Principals – Our new Principal, Mrs. Batis starts 10/31! Vice Principal Edwards will begin working in the District on October 24th, but he won’t be full-time at O’Hara immediately.  You can expect some “guest appearances” from Mr. Edwards in the coming weeks. While we look forward to welcoming Mrs. Batis and Mr. Edwards, we’re very appreciative of all Dr. McNamara and Mr. Winkler have done in their short time with us.  Please join us in thanking them for taking a break from their retirement to help O’Hara – we wish them both the very best!

Help Needed

  • Student/Parent Lunchesvolunteers are needed to quickly check parents in as they arrive.  Sign up for a shift before or after the time slot scheduled for your child’s lunch.
  • Library Assistance – there are several time slots available in November and December and throughout next year (search by “” to find available volunteer spots by month on Sign Up Genius).
  • Make Art Happen at O’Hara – the art department is seeking material donations.
  • Scholastic Book Fair – New committee chair needed for 2017-2018 school year.  Email Maggie Mulhern if interested.
  • SMART Flu Study – Stay tuned for information on signing up for a family SMART Flu study. Participants will be eligible to receive up to four $20 Giant Eagle gift cards, and will be entered in a weekly drawing to win a $300 gift card!
  • Calling all Writers! – Want to help share school and PTO news with parents? If you’d like to contribute a blog post, email Sarah Shaffer.  No clearances required and you can do it whenever is convenient to you!

Dates to Note

  • October 26, PALS meeting, 6:30pm, Sharpsburg Library
  • October 28, Halloween Parade, 2pm
  • November 1 – 11, Thanksgiving Basket Collection Period
  • November 11 – 18, Parent / Student Lunches
  • November 15, District Forum Meeting, 9am


The next PTO meeting will be held on Friday, November 18.  Comment below with topics you’d like to see addressed!