WHAT'S A CO-OP?
Chickpeas is a parent-run cooperative. Of the many things that make Chickpeas unique, none is more important than the deep involvement of parents in our cooperative model. Chickpeas could not function without every family performing coop responsibilities. In the classroom, we welcome family members to share holiday and birthday celebrations with the group, and each Chickpeas family is encouraged to visit the school once a year to engage the children in a family-centered activity, created around any aspect of family life. The goal is to encourage the children to gain more understanding of our diversity. The cooperative model permeates all facets of life at Chickpeas, underlining Chickpeas’ aim to create a nurturing first school experience for children that fosters a lifelong love of learning and a deep respect for diversity, community, and justice.
Current families serve on the board of Chickpeas and make all major decisions for the school during monthly board meetings. Families have one vote each, and are actively encouraged to attend meetings and participate. Attendance at monthly board meetings and participation in the operations and decision making process create a supportive and rewarding network for parents.
Families are involved in almost every aspect of the school, including finance, recruitment, facilities, fundraising, information technology, and human resources. In fall 2020, for the first time in our almost 40-year history, Chickpeas employed a part time Administrative Assistant responsible for assisting with Department of Health and Department of Education regulatory compliance, as well as accounts payable.
Every family performs one job for each child in attendance (if you have two children at Chickpeas, your family does two jobs). Although the jobs are relatively uniform in terms of the amount of work, they vary widely in how that work is distributed: some require hours during the workday and others don’t; some have marked busy/slow periods and others are consistent; and so on. While some jobs, such as finance and information technology, benefit from having relevant skills, most jobs can be done by anyone.
Job responsibilities are assigned based on a combination of parents' skills and interests. Below is a collection of jobs each year may consist of. Job requirements may change year to year, depending on the school's needs and circumstances.
The Co-Coordinators are responsible for setting the agendas of the board meetings and following up on items throughout the month. This broad mandate effectively means that the Co-Coordinators are responsible for making sure that all the diverse elements that go into running Chickpeas operate smoothly. These elements shift from month to month, but they always include job supervision, budgetary decisions, problem solving and conflict resolution. This job is only for returning or alumni families.
Web / Digital Media
Think IT director: Web and Digital Media is responsible for ongoing maintenance of both internal and external organizational websites and keeping the sites up to current web standards, as well as managing the “Buy/Sell” website. They are also responsible for all photography needs - documenting class trips and other special occasions, and organizing a Picture Day to take individual and class photos for the yearbook.
Think co-finance directors: The Treasurers are responsible for monitoring the Co-op's financial condition by keeping the financial records, using the QuickBooks accounting system, setting the budget, and overseeing accounts payable/receivable.
The Secretary is responsible for taking the minutes at the monthly board meetings and distributing them. Secretarial duties also include taking attendance, tracking families’ compliance with the meeting attendance requirement, and distributing written materials as requested. Secretary updates the community handbook, code of conduct, policies, calendars, phone lists and rosters at the start of the year. At the end of the year, the Secretary distributes the Climate Survey to parents.
Indoor / Outdoor
The Indoor / Outdoor team oversees the physical aspects of the school, including ensuring compliance with NYC premises requirements. The role involves both regular maintenance of the indoor and outdoor space, and larger school improvement projects. Contracting experience is a plus but not required.
Recruitment is responsible for recruiting new families, keeping the slots filled, and adjusting slots as necessary. The team handles applications and acceptances to ensure that a full roster of diverse families is participating in the Coop. Recruitment also handles job assignments in consultation with the co-coordinators. The lion’s share of the work takes place in the winter months, with a spike in November and December around open houses, and again in January around admissions.
The Fundraising committee draws upon the resources of the whole co-op community to raise money for the school (for example, our annual auction) as well as brainstorms and explores other options to raise funds, such as grant writing, partnering with local businesses and social media campaigns. The lion’s share of the work takes place around special events, traditionally a fall carnival, winter camps and activities auction, and spring gala and silent and live auction.
The Class Parent is the link between the parents and the staff with regards to classroom or curriculum issues/communication. The Class Parent communicates teacher/staff questions and concerns to parents, helping to track and resolve outstanding issues. The Class Parent creates a “facebook” and calendar for the incoming class at the beginning of the year, and a yearbook at the end of the year.
HR / After School Coordinator
HR deals with any issues that may arise within the paid staff and between the paid staff and the board with regards to co-op operations. They are responsible for administering parent surveys to evaluate teachers’ performance and delivering a performance appraisal to teachers based on survey results. It is also the responsibility of HR to post job wanted ads if a new teacher needs to be hired and lead the hiring process with the help of a volunteer committee of other parents and teachers.
Diversity / Community Coordinator
The Diversity/Community Coordinator acts as an ambassador for fun and engaging events and opportunities for the parent community. They will organize community building events such as social gatherings for current parents and alumni, and liaise with the Class Parent on parenting workshops on topics such as race, class, gender, differently abled bodies and consent. They also organize our book fairs, and liaise with the Class Parent on the end of the year picnic.