Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering
Parent Teachers Association Meeting
December 8, 2010 – 6:00pm – In English and Spanish

Opening Remarks by PA Co-Presidents- Maria Herrera called the PTA meeting at 6:15pm. The PA Executive Board was introduced.

I. Roxana- Admissions Director told the parent body that today Wednesday Dec 8, 2010 that our children got to pick their Electives and Creative Arts Programs which starts in spring of 2011.

Parent asked why the school didn’t send home the Electives and Creative Programs so that a parent and child can have the opportunity to discuss and then make the choices.

Roxana: It will become too chaotic. The children would want to choose classes with their friends and their favorite Professors. They would then make biased choices instead of choosing for their best interests.

Parent: Is it compulsory for our students to take an art class?

Roxana responded, yes it is important for the children to take art class. She mentioned that Fitness is listed separately and the spring offerings are:
8th – 9th Grade Basketball
8th – 9th Grade Tennis
8th- 9th Grade Soccer which is also available for the younger children

II. Maria reported to the parent body that the PA Executive board met over the weekend and discussed the following:
• We want our school environment to come together
• Agreed that the way Dr. Maldonado was escorted out of the school by the DOE was unexpected, distracting and most of all painful in so many ways to our children finding out that there leader was treated in an unjust way.
Our school is still in its informative years. All that has happened in recent days has left us feeling unsteady, but we are going to continue growing our school.
What makes our school so successful? Yes we have a good mixture of students and teachers. Maria says I don’t mean to sound like a cheerleader but we are going to continue developing our school and carry out its vision.

Role of the PTA:
– We are here for one shared goal- our childrens’ future and the success of our school.

– To give parents a place to ask questions, share information, give productive ways to help our school community
Form committees
Need parents to do stuff
There is always something for all of us to do
Have signup sheets after the meetings for you to form groups

As you all know our teachers and the students are the backbone of our school.
Monday in advisory most children wrote letters to Dr. Maldonado. Just to let you all know how outstanding and compassionate our children are they even wrote to Dr. Biester. Yes our children are amazing. In one word TROOPERS.

Yes the DOE was insensitive and did not inform us in their plans to remove Dr. Maldonado but I think they carefully choose someone with similar background – our Interim Acting Principal Dr Gary Biester.
Now the hard work begins to find our school a permanent Principal.

What is the C30 process? Just briefly, the C-30 process is conducted whenever there is a principal or assistant principal vacancy. It involves parents, SLT, teachers and Columbia’s involvement. If anyone needs full details of the C30 process please go online or request a copy from the DOE Human Resource Dept.

III. Report from Dan Novak – STEM Teacher, Union Chapter Leader

Students together with teachers are actively putting together a video highlighting the program that’s offered at CSS.

The faculty is enthusiastic and supportive of Dr. Biester in his current role.
• He has been nothing but open door to staff
• Every teachers is committed to the school
• We want to meet the mission, vision and most of all our students at CSS
• If anyone wants to reach out to the teachers, please do so, we are available.

IV. Introduction of Br. Beister – Speech

Thank you all for coming
A letter was emailed and I will be sending home a hard copy- hope you all have read it.
He stated that he had nothing to do with the abrupt removal of Dr. Maldonado.
Comes from a similar school The High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College (often abbreviated to HSMSE) is one of the nine specialized high schools in New York City.
He taught AP Math
Regional job
Central Board Association
26 yrs of experience, 2yrs in Parochial school
Visited the children and welcome notes from the children…they are very adorable, very impressive
Did not come to shut down the school
Focus on building the high school
DOE is 100% behind the school.
Will continue the partnership with Columbia University.
Expressed that CSS is a blue Chip School
Since he has worked for DOE for many years, he knows a lot of people and will get support. Already put out some feelers.

1. Emphasized that he would continue to build the relationship with Columbia University.
2. 9th and 10th- student getting college credits at Columbia. Will talk to people to make this happen
3. He will participate in the committee for hiring new teachers, SLT meetings and PTA meetings

As for the consideration for hiring him as Principal:
He is open for a transparent search and will not shy away from that. He wants to be at CSS

V. Question & Answer

Parent: – When doing research for Columbia University College credits, are you looking for scholarships for our children?
Roxana responded to this question: We don’t believe all our children would be able to take classes at Columbia University. There is no quota. We already started to look for scholarship when Dr. Maldonado was here.

Dr. Biester
I am only 6 days in the job. The Level of preparedness, we are a high end school and I believe they will be able to do it. At my last school HSMSE the students reported that the college level of instructions was not great. The students said that high school teachers teach better.

A parent raised concern about the childrens’ book bag being too heavy. She wanted to know if there is a way the teachers can consolidate what books and folders are necessary to help eliminate the heavy book bags. She also said that pretty soon her child might need physical therapy. Yes we are working on the lockers however it’s very expensive and we do not have the funding for it at the moment.
Biester: This is something he is just hearing about and will further into the problem.

Parent: How is admission going?
Roxana: We have tons of applications both for middle and high school. As for middle school she has had students come in at 8:50am and spend the day at CSS. The interested parent would walk around and observe our children. She emphasized that we are going to come out of this situation stronger and better and we can have a great start. We have posted already posted the hiring of new teachers.

Parent: Is there a test for admission?
Roxana: We will continue with the same kind of testing from the past. At least for this year we are not going to change anything.
As for High School testing we may have some of our current students participate in the interviewing of incoming student. For middle school its 3 essays

Parent: What is happening with J-Term?
Biester: Parts of J Term may have to be reconstructed. I have to look at the budget. We are committed to continue. We also need to put in some time and energy to raise money for J-Term. The school is asking you to support us by making donations.

VI. Marge Greenberg (SLT) Chair

A committee composed of parents, teachers, students, and school administrators responsible for developing strategies for excellence

The SLT Advisory Board consists of parents, teachers, school administrators and students meet every other Tuesday. It’s her second year serving on the committee. We are a collaborative team who works on the development of comprehensive education that matches the mission and vision of the school.
• Set up the goals, what we expect to achieve and what academic experiences we need
• Select officers and set up homework committee
• High school committee meets separately every month with the principal
• Community services sub-committee
• Field trip sub committee
• How do we go forward providing safety for our children
• Subcommittee is open for all of us to participate
• Committee should meet separately and then report to the SLT
• Set goals are to finalize this year’s CEP (Center on Education Policy)
• Working with Dr. Biester and the teachers
• Everyone should articulate their voice and concerns on issues
Parent Question: Is the SLT committee represented by class?
SLT has six representatives. There is the Google parent group open for all to join. You should go online at to register. Discussion is held on that group and then brought to the table for further discussion.

VII. Avery Katz, President, Foundation for Excellence in Education.

The Foundation’s sole mission is to support CSS. The decisions are made by the board, made up of CSS parents and administrators. This is a separate organization and is not part of the DOE. They work closely with the SLT and PTA on goals and priority.

The Foundation focuses on MONEY
Over the last year they helped purchase:
• Laptops
• Bicycles
• Transportation for J-Term
• Our highest priority is assuring the best teachers for CSS
The foundation is capable and willing to fund advertisement for a Principal. They are going to use our connection at Columbia University to help us through the hiring process. In the mean time we are going to work with our current Interim Principal Dr. Biester to move forward and give him the assistance that he needs.

Meeting adjourned at 7:30pm
Submitted by Cintra Supesad, PTA Co-Secretary