2023-11-30 Noticias de ISLA y ISLA PTO

November 30, 2023

Emily Smith

Administrative Assistant

Board Brief

Hello Wonderful Community.  I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break and had their fill of their holiday favorites.  I, for one, will be thrilled not to eat leftover turkey for quite a while!

The board kicked off their Thanksgiving break with a meeting on 11/21/23.  While the meeting was 3.5 hours long, I've tried to condense it for the following points of interest:

(1) Finances.  We continue to discuss the financial situation of the school.  At this time, we start to have a pretty good idea of whether or not we will be "on budget" for the year.  We have three separate "funds" that we manage as a school.  I. General Education (the school), II, Nutrition (breakfast and lunch program), and III. Community Education (El Nido, Aventuras, and Summer Camps).  Across all 3 programs, we anticipate having just over $100K of deficit for this school year.  That means we anticipate spending $100K more than we bring in this year.  We are able to do this because we have "savings" from prior to moving into our new building, however, this trend is not long-term sustainable.  Additionally, while all together we have a $100K deficit, the general education fund has a higher deficit and the Community Education fund has a surplus.  This poses a challenge as there are specific rules around how money from each of the funds can be used.  We are assembling a group to evaluate how to best manage this situation going forward.  Please let the board know if you would be interested in participating in this group.  Finance or business development skill sets would be greatly appreciated.

(2) Transportation Boundaries.  The Transportation committee presented a potential multi-year plan where our transportation area would shift more to the south and the east in order to reposition the school to be at the center of our bussing zone.  The draft proposal included Edina, the western half of Bloomington, Southwest Minneapolis, Western Richfield as the future bussing area.  The rationale for changing the bussing area is that the younger grades tend to be more heavily weighted towards the Minneapolis and Bloomington areas and therefore providing bussing to these areas would serve a larger portion of our student population going forward.  Also, by having a smaller bussing area, we are able to provide better service to those areas given the buses would not have as far to travel.  Finally, by focusing transportation to a few communities, we are likely to see a large concentration of our students coming from those areas which provides for the opportunity of students moving from grade school to middle school together.  The Transportation Committee (consisting of parent volunteers) realizes that this change would need to take place over time to continue to serve current students.  I want to thank our parent volunteers of the Transportation Committee for putting together a very thoughtful draft proposal for feedback.  Their hard work and dedication is amazing in ensuring that our students are able to be transported to school.  The powerpoint for the draft proposal can be found here.

(3) Class Size Limits.  Currently, our average class size is 22.1 students per class.  Balancing academic and financial goals, the ideal class size would be 23.5 to 24 students per section.  Currently, the kinder classes have the largest students per section (24.5) with the upper grades having the smallest (5th grade has averaged 22 students per section over the past 7 years and 6th grade has averaged 21).  In the attempt to achieve this overall target class size, ISLA admits 25 students into kinder in order to support the smaller class sizes that can happen with attrition in the upper grades.  Allowing for potentially larger class sizes in the upper grades would allow for smaller students per section in K-2.  The board discussed the potential to limit the number of students in K-2 to 24 students per class, while allowing for up to 28 students per section for 3rd-5th grades. This would mean that the upper grades would have two sections if there are 56 students or less, three sections if there are 57-84 students, and four sections if there are 85 students or more.   This is the proposal the board is evaluating right now and will likely vote on in January.  The obvious advantage would be smaller class sizes for the lower grades with the disadvantage of potentially larger class sizes in the upper grades.

As always, we appreciate community feedback on topics that the board is considering.  If you have thoughts or comments, please feel free to reach out to the board at board@isla.school.  You may also contact any of the board members directly through the email addresses listed on the ISLA website.

Thank you!

Lida Etemad
2023-2024 Board of Directors Chair

Transportation Corner

Exciting news! GPS tracking is operational on Buses 1,3,4.5,6,7, and 8! The GPS unit for Bus 2 is expected to be installed over winter break.To track the bus, download the Here Comes the Bus app from the app store. Our school code is 30004. Your student's ID can be found in the email sent earlier this year with the bus stop information.

• • •  Top Notes for this week  • • •

Give to the Max 2023 Results!

This year's goal was $30K with a participation rate goal of 75% and while we were just shy of those goals, we feel pretty spectacular about what our community has done this year!! Not only did you all help us raise over 20k during GTM (while still awaiting the full run of company matches), but we’ve also fully funded the sound panels needed for the gym AND paid for the books for the Maud Hart Lovelace Book Challenge (see photo below) – After this challenge is completed, all books will be added to our library!!
(Please note that the participation rate was NOT dollar-based. It was based on the percentage of families that donated overall.)

Congratulations to the Top 3 for having the highest participation percentages:

  • 1st place: Profe Miriam (2nd Grade): 100%
    Classroom pizza party, teacher reserved parking & non-uniform day!!!
    (Miriam’s parking space will be ready for her on Friday 12/1– Photos to come!)
  • 2nd place Profe Lina (2nd Grade): 96%
    Special treat for the class and non-uniform day!
  • 3rd place Sra Najera/Sra Marisol (K)
    Non-uniform day!

THANK YOU, PARENTS for your support of the ISLA PTO, your kids, the classroom, our teachers, LAs and the school!! YOU make a difference!!!

Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Award

Starting this week students from 3rd-6th grade will have access to a new set of nominee books chosen by the Maud Hart Selection Committee. Thanks to the PTO for fundraising and providing funds to purchase all the books!!

The Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award is a children's read-and-vote book award. Its purpose is to encourage recreational reading among school-age children. Nominated titles are works of fiction of recognized quality selected by independent regional reading groups.

Students in grades 3-5 who have read or listened to at least three titles from the Division I nominee list and students in grades 6-8 who have read or listened to at least three titles from the Division II nominee list are eligible to vote for the Maud Hart Lovelace Award.

Sr. Izquierdo's class will be in charge of lending the books. There will be student librarians and guardians taking care of them.

• • •  PTO Website • • •

Website overhaul underway!!

Keep an eye on the ISLA PTO website as we work to make it a one-stop-shop for ALL things ISLA you may need to know… Fiesta, Volunteer opportunities, donation needs and more!!

• • •  Language Ambassador Updates • • •  

Looking for Host Families

The LA team is looking for 2024 host families. The main requirement for hosting an LA in your home is to have their own bedroom! This is such a great opportunity for your kids (and you) to be further immersed in the Spanish language and learn about another culture from these wonderful humans!! You can gain a lifetime friend for you & your kids by hosting an LA and making loads of memories. Stipends & grocery gift cards are available to host families along with support from our amazing LA Coordinator, MK! If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to islalaprogram@gmail.com or fill out this google form! Have questions? You can also go over the new LA Family FAQ sheet.

THANK YOU SO MUCH to those that came out to carve pumpkins with the LAs. What a fun evening!!! We are looking forward to planning our next LA event– If you have ideas for fun activities, please reach out to islalaprogram@gmail.com

• • •  Spirit Store • • •

Thank you to those that ordered from our recent Spirit Store opening!! Your orders will be delivered to your child’s classroom the week of December 18th!

The Spirit Store is run by volunteers within the ISLA Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and is available for families to purchase uniform approved shirts and sweatshirts and show their school spirit! Proceeds support PTO sponsored events such as the back to school picnic, provide funds for classroom supplies and field trips, and also supports the LA program.

• • • Community PTO Meetings • • •  

Due to low attendance both online & in-person, the ISLA PTO has decided that December will be the last Community Meeting. We’d like to thank those that have been able to join us in-person and virtually and we’d love to see you come out for our last meeting!!

Last meeting: 12/13 6:00-7:30pm
Where? ISLA conference/flex room & playground or gym (Enter through main doors, we will have someone waiting to let you in)!
What? Dinner, time to meet & chat with other ISLA parents while we share-out all the things the PTO has coming + a special guest speaker.


6pm: Paella dinner provided by Manu, Sra Fernandez’s husband
6:30 Meeting begins w/PTO updates
7pm: Speaker from the
Juntos Program will be speaking to share out info about one of the options available for our kids to continue their Spanish Immersion education. This would be a great meeting for 5th and 6th grade parents to attend.

Meeting Link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89802071275?pwd=3zgjmsZh89usOZn4qDU5s1ozpJkSKm.1

Prior meeting slides:  Link to PTO Community Meeting Slides & Recordings

– Please RSVP –

It will help us plan dinner portions as well as FREE childcare (provided by our LAs)  

PTO Community Meeting Attendance

We are so excited to be hosting these monthly restaurant nights!! Thank you to ISLA-family owned Chevy’s for hosting us recently– You all helped us earn $615 total and fully funded the books for the Maud Hart Lovelace Book Challenge!! In addition to that, our running total for restaurant nights is a WHOPPING $2,316.19!!! Thank you for not cooking once a month and helping support the ISLA PTO!!!

• • • Upcoming • • •

Wednesday 12/6 4–8pm
Noodles & Co.
8120 MN-7, St Louis Park, MN 55426

Wednesday 1/18 4–9pm
Cafe Zupas
13000 Technology Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Monday 2/12 4–9pm
10997 Red Cir Dr, Minnetonka, MN 55343

• • • More ways to get involved • • •

Serve lunch to your kids!

While this isn’t technically a “PTO-sponsored” volunteer opportunity, it is a really fun thing to do at school. So I just wanted to give a quick shoutout to Jorge in the kitchen!! This year was the first time I’ve been able to volunteer for lunch, and it’s been a blast every time I’ve been in. Jorge is fun to work with and it’s so cool to see your kids get excited to see you during their day (you can also go sit with them for a bit between serving)!! Plus, you can get a peek at how DELICIOUS the food has been this year with our new vendor– YUM!! Sign-ups are posted about a month in advance to help plan your schedule. Come try it out!!

Click here to see available slots!

Box Tops for Education!

Download the app on your phone and search for International Spanish Language Academy to begin benefiting your kids’ school! After setting up your account, you can send digital receipts via email or scan a hard copy in the app. No more ripping boxes up!!

Use any of the below referral links to give ISLA an extra bonus when you sign-up:


Mabel’s Labels

Keep your kid’s stuff out of the lost & found!! Check out the Tag Mates (or even the stamps) from Mabel’s Labels! This is yet another quick & easy fundraiser– 20% of proceeds will go back to the ISLA PTO– AND it will help you (and the staff) keep track of your child’s belongings!

Just Search for International Spanish Language Academy at www.campaigns.mabelslabels.com

Teacher Wishlists!

Our wonderful teachers work so hard to make their classrooms welcoming and comfortable for our kids. This year, the PTO has asked that our teacher’s share a list of items they need to complete this huge task. Their wishlist links are available on the PTO Website and are broken down by grade. Any item is a huge help for our teachers & is SO very appreciated by them AND your kids in their rooms. We are still awaiting a few lists, and will add links as they are ready! If you have access to donations of comparable items outside of Amazon, just reach out to me at ptosecretary@Isla.school and I’ll get their list updated!

Staff Party Request

This year the PTO is helping coordinate the Staff Holiday Party. If you are able, a $5 donation to the ISLA PTO would help give our amazing teachers & staff the celebration they deserve!!

Payment can be sent via Venmo @ISLA-PTO or via cash/check to ISLA PTO!

THANK YOU for your continued support!!

• • • Tickets Now Available • • •  

When: Saturday, March 9th, 2024 6-11pm
Where: Bloomington Event Center

Fiesta de la Primavera is ISLA PTO’s biggest fundraiser AND party of the year for parents, teachers, LAs, staff and more from our ISLA community. This is an adult-only event with dinner, games, prizes, music, dancing and our live & silent auctions! It is a time where we can come together as a community, connect or reconnect and celebrate!! All proceeds raised at Fiesta de la Primavera go back to the ISLA PTO to support the Language Ambassador Program where we bring student teachers to our school from native-Spanish speaking countries. They provide support for our classrooms and enrich the experience our kids have everyday at school by sharing their unique cultures & stories both in-school and with after-school activities, social gatherings and more! It's such an amazing program & I'm grateful to take part in that coming together.

• • • Ways to help with Fiesta  • • •

Volunteer your time!!!

We will respect the time you have available whether it be 1hr or 10hrs per week/month/etc. Click here to view the different areas of interest for small & big ways to help plan this party & fundraiser!

Donate a Great Gathering!!!

Great Gatherings are OPEN!! This will allow for more Winter fun before our actual Fiesta event in the Spring, but all the funds raised will still go back to the ISLA PTO to support the Language Ambassador Program and enrichment for our kids in the classrooms!

Click here to learn all the ways you can donate!

• • • Great Gatherings AVAILABLE NOW!!  • • •

Visit the
Fiesta website to view more details or purchase tickets to these events!!

  • Westwood Hills Nature Center Party
  • Spanish Wine Tasting
  • Wine & Tapas Party
  • 3rd Grade Sledding Party
  • 2nd Annual Olympic Yard Games
  • Summer Softball Social

Great Gatherings could be hosted on your own or with another ISLA friend or family!! These gatherings don’t need to be EXTRAVAGANT or overly spendy, they are meant to bring kids, parents, LAs & staff together outside of the classroom and enjoy the wonderful community we have here!!

• • • Donation Form Links  • • •

Gift Basket Donations
Community/Parent Donations
Staff/LA Donations
Business Donations & Sponsorship Info

Recommend potential donors/sponsors

Do you have a favorite restaurant, salon, birthday party spot or other locale? Send us the business name and we will reach out to see if they’d like to participate by donating to Fiesta!

Any friends own a local business?

Or maybe you want to get your own small business involved with this fundraiser? We’re sorting out details for sponsorships to help advertise your business(es) while contributing to the growth of the LA Program!! Stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks, but you can always reach out to us (Jenner Moretto or Caitlin Edstrom) at Fiesta@isla.school with any questions!