Livonia PTSA Council Courier
June 2020 - School's Out!
We Made It!
3 months. 3 long months since our students were physically in school. Virtual learning for that long was nothing anyone could've foreseen, but guess what? We made it, we survived. More importantly, our children made it and continued to prove how resilient they truly are! Once again I cannot praise LPS enough for the quick transition to online learning. It may not have always been ideal, but they worked hard to make sure our children received what they needed and this experience has them better prepared for virtual learning in the future if needed.
Now that summer is officially here, many will be planning safe vacations and getaways, while others are planning, preparing, and working on all the details for the safe reopening of school in the Fall. We all know about the "Return to Learn Task Force" and the job they were tasked with. As a member of this task force, it has been an honor to work with so many LPS leaders, staff members, teachers, and other fellow parents. I can tell you, no stone was left unturned. Every single aspect of the educational process is involved. And as we wait for the Governor's Return to Learn Plan to be released tomorrow, I know LPS is ready for whatever it entails.
Lastly, this past month has most likely brought to your home more discussion and conversation about Diversity and Inclusion due to recent tragic events in our country. Michigan PTA released a position statement on Racial Injustice and Trauma in Children and Families. You can find it in this newsletter. LPTSA Council is proud to have a Diversity & Inclusion Committee (which was formed this past Fall), to help students and families find the resources they need during this time.
Until the next newsletter, stay safe!
Council Newsletter Chair
Mandy Gerstenbrand: 2020 - 2021 LPTSA Council President
I began my PTA journey back when my daughter was at Garfield. I was fortunate to serve on the board there for several years before moving up to the Council level. Currently, I'm the membership chair for the EMS PTSA and I'm starting my first year as Council president. Over the past few years, I've found that Shaton Berry's concept of servant leadership really resonates with me. Great leaders will take the time to get to know their community, and identify its unique challenges and the best way to serve them. We are called to serve!
Outside of PTA, you'll most likely find me chasing after my three kiddos! Kate (12) will be entering 8th grade this year. She's on the CC team at Emerson, she's an avid reader, and overall tinker/creator. David (7) will be in 3rd grade. He plays 8U hockey for the LHA, so you'll find me "chilling" at the rink! Andrew (5 - and a HALF!) Will be in kindergarten this year. He loves anything with wheels, and of course, his mama :) I'm also active at my church, serving in the music ministry as a choir member/cantor, and I sit on the board of directors for the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Much like last year, I'm sure this year will bring its own set of surprises. If there's anything I can do, please feel free to reach out - you can call me, email, or flag me down in the pickup lane. We can do this!
Cheers to a great year,
Nicole Dant : 2020 - 2021 LPTSA Council Treasurer
I have been a member of the PTA for 8 years and have served on PTA Boards for 5 years. I have held the position of Treasurer at both Hoover and Riley, and this coming year at Holmes and for the Livonia PTSA Council. I have one son named Bryce. He is in 7th grade at Holmes.
Debbie Yates - LPTSA Council Reflections Chair & Diversity and Inclusion Chair
My PTA journey started at Cleveland Elementary and was inspired by my desire to have the PTA events be more inclusive for students with dietary restrictions. We launched the Safe Treats Kids, which I've since brought to as many council events as I can. While at Cleveland, I served on the board for one year as the corresponding secretary. I also served as the Reflections co-chair and ran the Cleveland publishing center for two years. And in my spare time (read "late nights"), I was the flyer fairy, creating flyers and newsletters galore.
Since coming to council, I've been the website administrator for two years, the Reflections chair for two years, and the Diversity & Inclusion chair for one year. My goal is to make every child feel welcome and represented, so that they can become the best version of themselves. I especially try to give students the opportunity to express themselves through the arts. I'm proud of the Unexpected Art Contest that we held during the first three weeks of the school closure. And now I'm inspired to learn and grow along with you as I share information about diverse artists in our Reflecting Our Diversity series on the Reflections Facebook page.
When I'm not busy with PTA stuff or my day job, I am a parent to a kiddo who will be in 7th grade at Emerson in the fall. And I love my daily walks to the Wilson Barn with my yellow lab, Charlie, who attended the last PTSA Council meeting and signed up to be the new chairman of the Welcome & Slobber Committee. I also volunteer with my kiddo's community theater group and I serve on the board of Livonia's new chapter of PFLAG, a support group for parents and family members of LGBTQ folks.
Looking forward to another great year for our students and figuring out how we can be of service to them during this unusual time.
PTA Membership Campaign
Did you know that PTA Membership in Livonia has slowly declined by a few hundred members each year? This year we had 400 fewer members than the previous year. With all that is going on in the world, our children need a voice in Washington and in our state capital. This is especially true in Michigan where public education is ranked 50th in overall investment and we are currently looking at more cuts. PTA has a role in advocating for this funding but with decreasing membership numbers the PTA has less and less power when they go to speak.
THIS is the real value of "What do I get for joining the PTA?" The power of numbers in advocating for what is right, fair & equal for education. It is bigger than just your child, your school, or your town.
We urge you to think about this as your unit is selecting a membership chairperson. Maybe that role has not been filled before, or maybe it just fell to the president. This year, find that special someone who is passionate about growing your PTA membership and who can spread the message of the intangible benefits when you pay $6, $7 or $10.
National PTA has made it easy for you by creating a new membership program - PTA For Your Child. So start now to find that great membership person! Have them learn about this program and tailor it to fit your school. Click the PTA Membership Campaign button below for more information.
Reflecting Our Diversity
Many of you have gotten to know me as the Reflections chairperson for Livonia PTSA Council. What you might not know is that I'm also the chairperson for the Diversity and Inclusion committee that we created last fall. As the events of the world have been unfolding over the last few weeks, I've been thinking about how we could use our voice to make a difference. On the way home from dinner one Saturday night, I had an idea.
I'd like to introduce you to the merging of my two worlds. I'm creating a program called Reflecting Our Diversity, where I will post something every day (except Saturdays, when we do our weekly creative challenge) that shares information about artists from diverse backgrounds. Each day of the week will feature an artist from a different Reflections category. You can see which day is which category in the graphic included.
My goal is to inspire our students and to help them see themselves in the world of art, through the discovery of these artists. My plan is to eventually feature artists from a variety of backgrounds, but we're getting started with artists of color. If you have any favorite artists that you'd like to share with me for future posts, please let me know.
I hope you and your family enjoy this series and I hope that it will become a meaningful part of your summer.
LPTSA Reflections Chair & LPTSA Diversity and Inclusion Chair
LPTSA Summer 2020 Art Of Problem Solving (APS) Program
The Livonia PTSA Council has a NEW summer program called Math APS (Art of Problem Solving). It will run exactly like ELVs where we will partner an LPS K-4 student who needs some math help with a volunteer. We are looking for volunteers and participants for this new program.
Students and volunteers will meet at Rotary Park or virtually and they will be asked to follow all MI social distancing guidelines and the LPS COVID-19 Safety and Prevention Plan. Below is the flyer with the google docs for those that are interested in participating or being a volunteer.
Nicole Dant and Patty Novak
Livonia PTSA Council
Co-Chairs of Math APS
*Click on the Buttons below for student sign up or volunteer sign up.*
Flat Fee Unit Dues Reminder
In case you missed it, Council voted to make unit dues to Council a flat fee versus a per member fee.
- All Livonia PTA/PTSA units (with the exception of Niji-Iro Elementary PTA and Jackson Center PTA) will pay a membership fee of $100 to LPTSA Council by October 28th of each year.
- Niji-Iro Elementary PTA and Jackson Center PTA will pay a membership fee of $75 to LPTSA Council by October 28th of each year.
It is our hope that this will make membership dues to Council a much easier item of business for all units. Council has updated our Bylaws to reflect this change.
**Each unit should update their bylaws with regard to this change and upload them to Memberhub. Also, be sure that your Budget for the upcoming school year reflects this change as well.**
*This fee DOES NOT include dues to MI PTA or National PTA so those should be paid accordingly.**
MI PTA Annual Dues
On May 13th MI PTA offered a deadline extension for the annual $40 dues to MI PTA. The extension deadline is October 1, 2020. However, Council HOPES that you submitted these dues by the original due date of June 1st. If you haven't, here is how you can do so:
Remitting Unit Dues can be done one of two ways:
By check to:
PO Box 510535
Livonia, MI 48151
MemberHub Store https://bit.ly/2WRtLXb - Selecting PTA Unit Dues
In either remitting method, please include your
PTA Unit Name
6-digit State ID number
Advocacy Updates From LPTSA Council Chair Michael Testa
Important Message Regarding State Funding
On June 16th, LPS sent out an email to all families currently enrolled to ask for support in advocating for school funding. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the State budget is facing a shortfall, and tough decisions will need to be made on how to address it. Please join LPS in their advocacy; contact our lawmakers to urge them to adequately fund our schools!
The email was as follows:
Good Afternoon LPS Staff & Families,
We would like to share with you the attached resolution which was passed by our Livonia Public Schools' Board of Education on Monday, June 15. This important resolution addresses the impending budget shortfalls, for our district and those across the state, caused by the sharp decrease in the state's School Aid Fund during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan's sales tax, which accounts for nearly 50% of the state's School Aid Fund, is projected to be more than $1 billion short in the near-term and is expected to prompt a $9 million immediate cut to our school district budget for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Additionally, the district is preparing for another $9 million cut for the 2020-2021 school year budget, which begins on July 1. Thankfully, our district has a healthy fund balance, which has been carefully accrued over the past several years to help in this "rainy day" emergency, but federal assistance is needed in this unprecedented situation.
The district is urging Congressional lawmakers in Washington D.C. as well as those in the State of Michigan to facilitate federal funding assistance to school districts to help alleviate these immediate and deep revenue reductions.
We ask you to please join us in our advocacy to urge lawmakers to appropriate funds to school districts in the wake of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Funding is critical to ensuring every student in LPS, and across the state of Michigan, receives the high-quality education and support they need and deserve.
For a list of legislators, please see our website at https://www.livoniapublicschools.org/domain/236. The district plans to send a copy of the attached resolution to our representatives in Congress, Governor Whitmer, the Michigan House of Representatives, and the Michigan Senate.
Thank you, as always, for your partnership.
President, Board of Education, Mark R. Johnson, Esq.
Superintendent, Andrea Oquist
The resolution can be found here: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=46533867&fbclid=IwAR3HhF1pBeC3YkWNS35SOryNcXRZIakdocPxkjGgpSCn7m_-CyaAT0Ne7ys
LPS Return to Learn Task Force
Just in case you may have missed the communications, the district created a Return to Learn Task Force with more than 200 staff members and parents. The Task Force is working to create potential scenarios for a safe return to school in the fall. A special website has been established and it will serve as a dashboard for the Return to Learn Task Force's work. LPS will be posting updates as they are available. As part of this process, the District will also be seeking additional feedback from the Community – this will be done by surveys and focus groups. Please check back often at: www.livoniapublicschools.org/return.
National PTA Position Statement on Reopening of Schools
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the National PTA Board of Directors adopted a position statement on the reopening of public Pre K - 12 schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The statement calls for any decision to reopen schools to involve parents, families, students, educators, school employees, public health experts, health practitioners and community members in the planning, implementation and monitoring stages of reopening. It also calls on federal and state governments to provide the funding necessary to ensure that schools have the resources they need to reopen as safely and successfully as possible. The full statement is available at: https://www.pta.org/home/advocacy/ptas-positions/Individual-Position-Statements/position-statement---reopening-of-public-prek-12-schools-for-the-2020-2021-school-year
Michigan PTA Social Justice Virtual Town Hall Webinar
The Michigan PTA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee invites you to join us for this very important conversation on the effects of racial trauma on Wednesday, July 1st 6pm. Jennifer Johnson, Chair of the Michigan PTA Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee will be the moderator. Joining her will be the following panelists:
Autumn Foster- Parent Liaison, Farmington Hills
Brian Johnson - Educator
Shaton Berry – Community Leader/ CEO Purposeful YOUth
Metro Area High School Students
*Advanced Registration is Mandatory (After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar). To register:
MI PTA Position Statement on Racial Injustice and Trauma in Children and Families
In addition to COVID-19, the African-American community is bombarded with an onslaught of unfair treatment because of the color of their skin. The simple act of bird watching in a park and asking a fellow human being to leash their dog in an area where dogs may not roam freely nearly cost Christian Cooper his life. Taking steps toward maintaining health by jogging in a neighborhood, as Ahmaud Arbery did, cost him his last breath. A call for help from those who are trained and paid to protect, cost, Breonna Taylor, an acclaimed emergency medical technician, the gift of life. Realizing that his life was drawing to an abrupt ending, George Floyd, called out to the only person that he felt could hear his plea, his deceased mother.
When children, in the present day, continually endure the dreadful experiences that they have read and heard about from their teachers, parents, and loved ones of past generations, the emotional trauma presents a narrative of helplessness. Michigan PTA condemns the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Further, Michigan PTA opposes all acts of brutality and implicit bias toward communities of color.
Michigan PTA joins our community, education, and equity partners in seeking concrete actions to address the pattern of institutional and systemic racism, implicit bias, and violence against African Americans and people of color. Michigan PTA commits to examining our own practices and structures to work towards eliminating implicit bias, racism, and inequities. We call upon each of our local PTAs, PTSAs, and councils throughout Michigan to bring to life the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In order for diversity and inclusion to work in our communities, we must address equity for those we serve - all children and families.
Adopted: by the 2020 Michigan PTA Board of Directors
2020 Census Reminder
Shape the next generation. Count them. Respond to the 2020 Census and inform funding for educational programs that benefit our children, like after-school activities, school meal programs, and Head Start. It’s more than just a count, it’s an opportunity to shape the next generation. For more information, visit: 2020CENSUS.GOV
2020 Election Reminder
The August primary and the November general elections are fast approaching. If you are not currently a register voter, now is good time register. You can also vote from home, but you do need to request your absentee ballots in advance. You can find more info on how to register to vote and how to request absentee ballots by visiting: Michigan Voting.
Important Dates for the 2019 - 2020 Year!
* Indicates change ** Indicates update
**7/15 Council Audit Party | 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. | TBD | More details to come
**8/15 MI PTA Convention | Virtual | More details to come
** LPTSA Officer Training Workshop | TBD | TBD
Have You Joined Us On Facebook?
If you are a PTA officer or committee chair, please make sure to join our page for important information, discussions, and more! A lot of great info is shared on this closed group page. It's also a great way to network with other units, share ideas, and ask for help.
The Livonia PTSA Council is a group of 22 local PTA/PTSA Units within the Livonia Public Schools District. The Council is organized under the authority of the Michigan PTA for the purpose of promoting conferences, communications, leadership development and coordination of the efforts of the local units.
Interested in joining Council? There are chair opportunities available! Contact President Kellie Dummer at email@example.com