Prince Street Home and School
March 2, 2017
* Many apologies that we forgot to post these in March! *
The March meeting was a special meeting dedicated to advance planning for the Spring Fling.
PRINCIPAL AND VICE-PRINCIPAL’S REPORT
There was a question about recyclables and whether the school is able to collect bottles and cans for return. Before retiring, Mr. MacFarlane ran the program to collect and return recyclables. There are some challenges to the collection and retention, including smell. For things to be recycled, it would require someone to coordinate the program. It could be very time consuming.
Staff appreciation week was very short because of storms but very much appreciated. Staff enjoyed prep time and catch-up time during February storms, but they are glad to be back with the kids and back into a routine.
Book fair is open during interviews next week, and if you’d like to volunteer that would be very welcome.
Art Blitz was postponed during storm days and rescheduled to “winter carnival” time.
Math manipulatives have been ordered to support school goals and new books to support independent reading and mentor texts. The Home and School will be adding money to this effort. Wraparound team and curriculum resources also contributed to the new resources.
Math reading and writing professional development with coaches — additional half days and full days in classrooms in wraparound school = lots of extra PD.
After school groups will begin after the break with new youth worker Barry O’Brien.
For the Love of Family Fundraiser was very successful — over a thousand dollars.
Never Give Up school goal — 2 behaviour resources teachers, lessons on zones of regulation. to help all students have a frame for problem-solving. That is with all classes, all grades.
Snowboarding program in the school is a big hit.
HOME AND SCHOOL AGM
This is coming up in April - Prince Street can send up to 5 voting delegates.
FAMILY FUN NIGHT
Is now planned for April 6th
Date: Friday, June 2nd
Last year Spring Fling brought in $800.
Family Fun Night in the fall brought in $300+ ($150 after cash expenses).
Spring Fling is a community event. Meeting participants took some time to evaluate spring fling components. Please note that where “someone” volunteered efforts below, Jane has notes about who signed up for what but didn’t want to post names on the Internet in case people’s ability to volunteer changes.
Dunk tank: the most popular event. Someone will look into getting this again.
Indoor Games: Have 6 to 8 games, fix them up. Someone will review the games a few weeks before.
The Sucker Pull is popular and will be available.
Fish Pond: Relied on McDonald’s toys and may need to be retired for the year.
Pokemon tournament: Successful part of family fun nights, but maybe too static for Spring Fling and too high a risk of losing cards.
Bake sale: Very popular.
Popcorn: Also popular. Will be made on the stovetop again. Last year 5 pounds popcorn and 1 pound butter yielded 130 bags sold at bake sale table.
Cake walk: Already has a volunteer!
Barbecue: Someone offered to look after that.
Fruit Kebabs: Sell well. No volunteer attached yet.
Candy Kebabs: Net loss on cash return, but they make the kids happy. Someone volunteered to do this again.
Inflatables: Pros and cons. If we could get a local company to sponsor the dunk tank or the inflatables, that would be ideal. Someone volunteered to scout prices and sponsorships — and also ask about cotton candy.
Outdoor Games: It would be good to have at least one this year. Ideas included 3-on-3 Hockey. Basketball challenge. Football through a tarp. Three-legged race or potato sack race. Tug of war. Jump rope - new skipping ropes are coming - someone to teach skipping rhymes. Hula hoops if run by someone who knows what they’re doing and can teach hoop tricks. Garden game? Someone offered to check with the Wild Child program of the Sierra Club.
Bingo: Would require a lottery license, even if there were small prizes.
Seed Table: Not enough people participated. Perhaps do an outdoor game.
Soccer or other sport team: Get a recognized player to run a challenge.
French Cafe: Run by Grade 5s with Mr. Brown but not part of the new curriculum. Not sure this will continue.
Book Sale: Could be in a corner of the gym. Also the bake sale. Leftovers were reviewed for library or passed along. Leftovers could go to PEI Literacy Alliance for distribution at food banks.
Selfie Station/Photo Booth: Went well last year. Could maybe be in the fish pond space. Very helpful to have a staff support.
Fortune Teller: Someone offered to ask Wendy Poirier to come back as a fortune teller.
Face Painting: Bought stuff for it last year, but it didn’t happen.
Tattoo a Teacher: Tickets to choose which teacher would get tattooed. No recollection of if it got followed through on!
Guess how many (jellybeans or other small items) in a jar: Pay a ticket and guess? Expensive to fill a jar.
Balloons: Heather will check with Erin about this.
Craft table: Not enough people chose to do this when we tried it two years ago.
Remember that cost-neutral things are still expensive in time and effort sometimes!
Many kids love to have a task. Amy MacKinnon will be back and doing leadership and we could connect with her about student volunteers.
Proposal went in since the last meeting!
April 20, 2017 - see you then!
April 20, 2017
Heather called the meeting to order and chaired. Our co-chairs were unable to attend (Ramona) or had to arrive late due to other commitments (Kristy). There were 14 people including 1 translator in attendance.
Erin gave a verbal report.
Staffing Changes: Michelle Rioux’s last day is tomorrow. She was doing a maternity leave for Amy MacKinnon, who will return next week. New EA Jasmine Gehry to support one student. Lori MacDonald who was here as an itinerant will finish next week. Barry O’Brien, our youth worker who has been filling in for Kenny Stanley, is a wonderful fit with the school.
Easter Seals: The ambassador visited yesterday, Cameron. This year was a record year for Prince Street fundraising, over $300, organized by our Power Plus group, one of the groups formed at the start of school to build skills. They did a “pupcake” fundraiser and a raffle for Easter Seals. The top fundraising class (Ms. Kiley’s 5/6 class) played a basketball game against the staff. The staff won! And a pizza party will be the prize for the class and for the staff.
Environmentathon: This annual fundraiser is coming up. The students seek sponsorship to clean up the neighbourhood. Each year, we have raised more than $8,000, and it is a great community event. There are prizes galore. The money stays within the school for things needed in the school — for classroom needs or in the instructional category or experience-for-kids category.
Afterschool Program: Youth Worker Barry is leading an afterschool program for grades 4, 5, 6. It is sports-based, rotating different sports that are important in different countries and why. Chris Sallie is going to do another cooking class, this time for Grade 4s. It will be a six-week program and is funded by a grant.
Recent PD Day: Prince Street had an in-house PD with the school goals team, focused on the workshop model in reading, writing, and math, with additional time in our literacy room (staff-only literacy resource room) looking at new resources. We had $5,000 from the Dept of Education for new resources that we had to decide how to use and distribute to use really well throughout the school.
School Supplies: The memo about next year’s school supplies should have gone home today to K-3 students. If your child will be in K-3, you will pay a $40 fee for supplies. If your child is in Grade 4, 5, or 6 you will receive a list of items to purchase. This will be sent home in the end-of-year report card.
French Week: We are one of the only schools left that celebrates French Week. There are lots of French-language activities, and a highlight is croissants for students.
Trinity Church Pancake Breakfast: This was again a big success. Rev. Greg Davies from Trinity dropped off a cheque for over $1,500 for our breakfast program.
Island Storm: Recently, the Principal and Vice-Principal brought Grade 6 students to a Storm game as a group activity. They had a ball.
Art Blitz: The next art blitz (an afternoon spent on art in all classes throughout the school) will take place in a few weeks.
Administrative Professionals Day: April 26, next Wednesday, is admin professional day. Kristy will take care of this on behalf of Home and School.
Incoming Kindergarten Dates: EYE Assessments - for incoming kindergarten students are coming up May 3. The Welcome to Kindergarten event will be May 11. Kindergarten orientation half-day at the school will be May 26. The go-for-a-ride-in-the-schoolbus opportunity will be at the end of kindergarten half-day orientation.
Assessments: Grade 3 and 6 math and literacy assessments will be coming up soon as well, and parents of students in these grades will hear more about them. Parents will get results from these assessment in September. There will be a program assessment for Grade 6 core French this year. This will look like a test and is an assessment — but it is not an assessment of the students, but rather of the program. This program assessment is new this year.
EFFECTS OF SCHOOL CHANGES AT PRINCE STREET
Rezoning decisions by government and Public Schools Branch will have an impact at Prince Street, but a much smaller impact than many of other schools — and maybe less impact than earlier recommendations.
There are three ways we will be affected initially:
1) Students leaving here in Grade 6 will not automatically go to Birchwood anymore. About 2/3 will be zoned for Birchwood and about 1/3 will be zoned for Stonepark. Where students will go is based on where they live. Intermediate-school zones have changed. Students who will be graduating from Prince Street this year have already started to do visits to the junior high schools they will be attending.
2) Although we won’t see it or feel it, any student who currently lives in the Prince Street zone and wants to go to French Immersion will now go to West Kent, rather than Spring Park. When they complete Grade 6, French immersion students from the Prince Street zone will go from West Kent to rejoin their neighbourhood peers from Prince Street at Birchwood (rather than going on to Queen Charlotte).
3) The most significant way we will be affected, because we are part of the schools affected by rezoning, is that all school zones are reset. This means that if you are attending school out of zone, you have to go back to the school you are zoned for. There are 51 kids attending Prince Street who will next year go to the schools they are zoned for and leave Prince Street. Even if granted an out of zone transfer previously, they will start from scratch at the school they are zoned for. This applies to all affected schools.
We will also recapture students who are attending other schools currently but who are zoned for Prince Street School. It’s a similar number, plus or minus ten, including students who started Spring Park for French Immersion but at some point transferred to the English-language program. (About a half-dozen students are in that position.)
Right now, principals of affected schools have been given a file of addresses and students affected. Many addresses we had on file were not up to date. The biggest challenge right now is getting address up to date. Erin has spent a lot of time talking to people, trying to get addresses as up to date as possible, to avoid as much emotional turmoil as possible. The database system is now as updated as we can get it to this point.
Erin is part of a transition team with the Public Schools Branch planning how to make this all work. On Tuesday of next week, all children in all affected schools will receive a letter that will say their child’s name and their address, and a listing of the school your child is properly zoned for. The second page will be a form to return with either a confirmation or correction of address. The Public Schools Branch will need all of these form filled out and returned ASAP. Erin will contact Newcomers to help newcomer families.
Once Prince Street receives any changes back, they will make updates in our system and let some people know what zone they are meant to be in.
In some cases, people may have to provide proof of address. There are many dual-home families that provide particular cases.
In the long run, the Public Schools Branch wants students to go where they are meant to go, to avoid the mess of overfilled and underfilled schools that resulted in the current turmoil.
There will be an out of zone transfer process. There is an application process to apply to go to an out of zone school. The process to this point has been an application to and decision by the PSB in consultation with the Principal; this process will be further tightened. There will be very little leeway.
From now on, in order to be considered for a transfer, there will very strict criteria. “Student Transfer Policy.” The new policy and procedure is detailed here: http://www.gov.pe.ca/edu/psb/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/401.1_student_transfer_request.pdf.
For a request to be accepted, there will need to exceptional circumstance around the request. Most requests will need to fulfill the following criteriaL
- The request has to be supported by a PSB consultant for academic, social, health, safety or other exceptional reasons.
- There has to be space at the school and in the class the student would be transferring to.
- The receiving school has to have the capacity to meet the needs of a transferring student.
- The parent(s) must provide transportation to the receiving school.
There may also be exceptions to address capacity issues (for families requesting a transfer from an overcapacity school). This will be a consideration.
There are no application deadlines for the out of zone transfers.
Erin said the anxiety some families are feeling is the same anxiety that the schools are feeling and the same anxiety that the PSB is feeling. Everyone is trying to do their best in a difficult situation. Students can get a really good education and have a good experience at any school. Erin said this school will provide the best possible transition we can provide — and receiving schools will do the same in reverse for us. Erin is trying to call every affected family by phone before they get the letter from the PSB next week.
The go-to jump for most families Erin has talked to is “I’m going to apply for an out of zone transfer,” and anyone is welcome to do this, but families should know that very few will be granted.
Erin asked Home and School members for their support to help calm anxieties and to share the message that this process will work out okay.
Erin noted there are some parent reps on transition team with principals, from the most-affected schools (Spring Park and West Kent).
Prince Street will be welcoming between 50 and 70 students to our school next fall. Between now and then, we’d like to have an open house, potentially an information night, and Home and School can help. The administration would love to have ideas and help and home and school membership at those events to provide a welcome. One idea would be to distribute some free tickets to Spring Fling to incoming students, for example. It would be really great to have a home and school rep to help with planning. There were volunteers immediately. Erin will reach out for parent help after meeting some immediate deadlines.
RESPONSE TO GUARDIAN ARTICLES
A recent special issue of The Guardian focused on poverty, and it dedicated two articles to Prince Street School, with extensive quotations from interviews with Erin and Aletha Coady.
The response from the community has been overwhelming: emails, letters, phone calls, drop-ins. There have been donations of all kinds, including fresh rolls from the community of Buddhist monks who have a mission to help provide good food to Island communities. The monks’ donation may be repeated or become a regular donation.
Heather noted that she saw a lot of response to the article, and that it was important to her to reach out to her networks with the message that poverty does not only exist at Prince Street school. It is Island-wide, and if you want to help, please talk to your community’s school to find out what their needs are. Erin agreed, it’s a systemic issue, not just a Prince Street issue.
At the same time, everyone also agreed that while the need is everywhere, Prince Street is very willing to accept people’s offerings, when they are effective. One parent said the need may be everywhere — but seeing it and reading the article really hit home. Family members from away wanted to to send money or know ways they could help. Those who are connected to Prince Street families and students who want to provide help — we should definitely capitalize on this.
There was a question whether donations to the school can be tagged to specific line items. Yes, they can be (including the pot of money for the breakfast program and including the pot of money for purchasing lunch for students). Trinity also provides stacks of gift cards for grocery stores for purchases for the breakfast program or for the snack cupboard. Sometimes the school uses money to buy fruit or vegetables for a whole class.
Does the school provided lunches when needed? The school retains a pot of money for lunches. It is from the same put our hot lunch program goes through. There are a number of regular donors. Those students the school identifies as needing a hot lunch receive a code to put at the bottom of their lunch order form so no money has to go in and the children will receive a hot lunch order for free. Staff also
make lunches on a daily basis for students who don’t have a lunch on a given day. Staff members make them a jam sandwich, toast, or whatever is available. That comes out of the breakfast program fund. After the newspaper article, there were offers of, for example, ten bagged lunches a day. Unfortunately, this is not a practical donation to accept and administer. It is unpredictable how many lunches will be needed on a given day. Cash or grocery store gift cards are a really usable, efficient way to contribute.
There were offers after the article to sponsor a family. This poses its own challenges with confidentiality. Sometimes it’s possible to make a match and for it to work really well. But it’s not easy.
Donations of clothes, boots, and sneakers are also very efficient and very welcome. Clothing store/general store gift cards are also welcome for specific purchases to meet needs.
The key is finding ways to use people’s support in an effective, efficient way. Donations are not effective when they make more work for staff.
A parent asked if we do Friday backpacks? Friday backpacks are filled with food for the children for the weekend - a pasta, some fresh veggies, depending on the family, sometimes frozen meat. Trinity Church might be able to help with that. There’s a model at the Summerside Boys and Girls Club.
A model from another school is to accept coat and boot donations in the spring and then in the next season have a low-cost coat and boot sale ($3 per item), with proceeds into the breakfast program. We are essentially doing a program like this now, but with no cost rather than low cost.
There had been discussion of offers of bulk fresh veggies from the monks or others at harvest time. If a donation like this is ever offered, Robin committed to help organize veggie distribution so that we could accept the donation.
PROVINCIAL HOME AND SCHOOL FEDERATION AGM
On April 8th, four of us from Prince Street went to PEI Home and School Federation AGM. Motions that were passed were mostly in support of the provincial initiative to establish a free hot lunch program in all schools. Recently, government said it will start pilot projects in the fall at three schools, but Prince Street will need to explore if we could have a pilot project with the infrastructure we have here. They are still in the process of picking the schools for the pilot. Ramona is looking into whether or not we would meet the criteria. If we meet criteria, Ramona will put our school in for consideration.
Surprisingly, there was no discussion about rezoning as part of the AGM.
FAMILY FUN NIGHT
We raised $178 on a bright, nice evening. In the fall, it’s dark when we hold family fun night, which probably boosts participation. What was wonderful in April was seeing families there doing things together. it probably would be more well attended in February than April.
After cheques, we will have $420 in bank and cash on hand for little items as they come up, including rolled coins, which we will keep on hand for Spring Fling. Heather usually floats between $500 and $1,000 for expenses in advance of Spring Fling. These are recouped during the event.
Home and School had committed to support a Bricks4Kids program with one of the grades this week. The Architects’ Association is helping support Bricks 4 Kids programming that fits with curriculum; Heather is approaching the engineering association to pitch a similar contribution.
June 2nd is the date selected for Spring Fling.
We are looking for a better price on inflatables. We have a firm that may possibly sponsor the inflatables!
Heather is taking care of the barbecue. Sobeys loans us the barbecue. We’ll have to make sure we have propane tanks.
Erin will help with trucking and deliveries.
There will be a dunk tank!
Other details and decisions were in the March minutes, which Jane will post (without names attached, though she has notes about possible volunteers).
There was no other business. Heather adjourned the meeting with thanks.
May 18th - see you there!
Wonderful news! Erin Johnston, Prince Street School's principal, has been honoured as one of Canada's best principals by The Learning Partnership. We already knew we had one of the best principals in Canada, but it's awesome that word is spreading.
Here's the CBC PEI story:
And the Guardian story:
My kids say Erin is also famous today.
Three more updates:
Prince Street Elementary Home and School Meeting
January 19, 2017 Minutes
Ramona Doyle chaired and invited a round of introductions. About 14 Home and School members attended, plus one translator. Ramona circulated the agenda and Erin Johnston circulated the Principal’s Report.
Staffing: Kenny Stanley will be accepting a new challenge at Charlottetown Rural from February 1. Sherry Lynn MacMillan returned from maternity leave; Kathy Kiley returned from education leave.
Behaviour resource teachers will be doing whole-class lessons on the Zones of Regulation (coping strategies), leading to “Never Give Up” themes and lessons throughout the school, creating common language. This will lead up to a “Never Give Up”–themed assembly. One of the non-academic school goals is around perseverance and problem-solving.
Family Literacy Day is coming up Friday, January 27 and plans for the day will come home with students early next week.
The Dental Clinic is here at the school for January.
The school is getting ready for the next kindergarten intake. EYE assessments will take place May 3, the Welcome to Kindergartn session will be May 11, and the Kindergarten Orientation day will be May 26.
There will be meetings about Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) during the week of January 30.
There is a professional development day taking place on February 1. The focus for Prince Street staff will be the school goals – academic goals, wellbeing goal, and public confidence goal.
Erin invited feedback on Christmas Concert, held for the first time at First Baptist Church. Parents’ feedback as overwhelmingly positive. The church holds 500 and was packed to overflowing. The sound was wonderful. People could see and hear clearly as well, which minimized audience movement and chatter. The alcove area for the bake sale was helpful. Departure and student pick-up was difficult: this will need to be streamlined.
Afterschool programs have not yet started because the gym is set up for gymnastics and we don’t want to begin something just before Mr. Stanley leaves.
Grade 4 is enjoying a knitting club at lunch, doing finger-knitting.
There have been a number of recent visitors from the Public Schools Branch (PSB). Anne Hall, PSB Leader spent two days visiting Prince Street in December; David Costello, math leader, spent two days visiting in January; Parker Grimmer, Director of PSB, visited this week.
Before the end of January, there will be information going home about a fundraiser call “For the love of family.” It will consist of a raffle of a $100 bill with tickets $2 each, with a draw on Valentine’s Day. There will be prizes for those who choose to sell tickets. There will be a winner of a $25 gift card. This fundraiser replaces coupon books. There will still probably be an Environment-a-thon in the spring as an additional fundraiser.
SCHOOL CHANGE REPORT
The school change report has been tabled with data and recommendations. What might it mean for Prince Street?
Erin explained that one recommendation is for the Charlottetown Rural and Colonel Gray families of schools to combine to make one Charlottetown family including all the schools currently in the two families. In our area, some schools are being recommended to change programs (for example, adding French immersion). One school, St. Jean, is recommended to close. There is a great deal of rezoning proposed.
For Prince Street, the proposed changes would mean a lot of rezoning. Erin reminded families that the details are not final; they are just recommendations at this point. What the proposed changes could mean is that a large portion of the Hillsborough Park population would no longer come here to Prince Street. A portion of the current St. Jean’s school would come here, and a portion of the Parkdale population as well. There would be a lot of change to school boundaries.
It is hard to know the rationale for every change. The maps in the original report were unreadable. The Public Schools Branch is working hard to release better maps that make more sense, though there are still a lot of detailed questions about the precise location of boundaries.
If these recommendations go through as is, Erin reports Prince Street School despite being labelled as “under-filled” before this study, would actually end up with fewer students than we have now, or that’s what it looks like currently. An initial estimate would put the school population 30 students lower than now. Fewer students would result in less staff as well.
Erin said staff members have many questions, and that these have been submitted and responded to. Change is messy no matter what. Staff’s biggest concern: change is coming, but these are our kids. We have to make sure our kids and the information that needs to go with them goes to their next school with them. That’s the most important question for the staff. How will we make sure our kids are good to go wherever they end up?
We’ve had many phone calls, ranging from “my child is not leaving Prince Street” to “my child is not going to Prince Street.” No matter what school students are zoned into, there will be loving and welcoming teachers and staff ready for them.
Change is hard. We have to accept there will be changes, so how can we make sure the transition is supported as well as possible?
The public meeting for Charlottetown-area schools will take place at Colonel Gray on February 1. This is only one venue. People can provide feedback through the website or can meet with Bob Andrews.
Jane had compiled information about Prince Street for earlier consultations. She asked if we wanted to request a meeting with Bob Andrews for an in-person meeting. Home and School members decided to compile questions and decide based on the questions and concerns whether to request responses in writing or to request an in-person meeting. Ramona will put out the call for questions on the Home and School Facebook. Emails are welcome to the Home and School email, email@example.com
PARENT LEADERSHIP GRANT
There is a deadline of January 27th for applications for a grant up to $1,000 for parent engagement. This aligns with one of our school goals.
Parents commented on the excellent parent workshops at Chances – what about a partnership to put on a couple of parenting workshops? Themes that would be welcome would include resilience or perseverance in children, or anything related to mental health and stress or anxiety management. One parent reported that Chances’ “Nobody’s Perfect: program was a recent one that was really helpful. It was a three-part program.
It would be helpful to apply for funding to allow for food and childcare to help maximize participation.
Ramona will set up a meeting with Chances next week. Heather will attend, and Joanne will as well. A partnership may be possible to set up with or without the parent engagement grant.
PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL REPORT
Each Home and School sends in a report on activities for the annual report of the provincial Home and School. Ramona has last year’s model. Jane has samples from past years as well.
Home and School will again coordinate two parents per day to bring in munchies for staff. Staff consists of 40 people When possible, we’ve done a lunch on Friday as well, but this has become too expensive to continue. We used to offer to take over schoolyard duty but this is not feasible: the teachers who know the kids and their needs have to be there regardless.
Past successful ideas have been you “Mento so much to me” messages on mints. An “appreciation apple” poster made up of words the students used to describe their teachers was really well received last year.
This year, Home and School will use the Facebook page as another means to ask volunteers to sign up. Ramona will lead this.
Other examples from other schools: take up a collection of small gift cards that could be drawn for as staff prizes. The Facebook post would have to be specific about examples for gift card donations.
Kristy then started speaking in code so we can surprise staff! Heather will work with her on the idea she put forward.
Rather than a full meal, another possibility would be a yogurt parfait bar on the Friday.
Look for the Facebook posts!
FAMILY FUN NIGHT
We had tentatively picked February 9 as the date for Family Fun Night, to be held from 6:00 to 7:30. Last fall’s Family Fun Night included games, crafts, karaoke, dance, Lego, Pokemon, a bake sale, and more. Admission was by donation. Everyone agreed we should plan for February 9.
Heather offered to coordinate a chess room. Finger knitting could be an activity – some of the grade four kids could be leaders on that. Kelly will lead Just Dance. Jane will lead a Valentine’s Day craft. Kristy will arrange for chips – these were popular and easy last time! Board games will be on hand – ones from the school and ones that people bring in. Erin will put up a request for staff. Keri will bring in the karaoke machine.
Can we make a link with staff appreciation night? A table with blank hearts with a prompt – “I appreciate ¬¬[blank] because [blank].” Filled-in hearts could then be taped up in the staff room.
Erin noted that there will be a dance on February 17th.
We will need to get family fun night details in the newsletter. Ramona will do the Facebook promos. Kirsty will send home the notice about the date and time and the bake sale need for donations.
In September, we started talking about how to keep the carnival-style event fun and friendly without burning out volunteers. Home and School members acknowledge it’s a lot of work for what we get income, but there are other reasons than money behind why we do it.
Budget update: We have about $750 to work with; we may bring in about $300 on February 9 at Family Fun Night; this will balance staff appreciation costs, which we expect to be about $300.
All agreed that at the next meeting, we need to look at the Spring Fling event by event or room by room to assess the costs and benefits of each activity and to decide what is worth the effort to include. We definitely want to do an event in the spring, and it will likely be a carnival-like Spring Fling, with a certain number of changes to make the event better for everyone (volunteers included).
Next meeting: JUST Spring Fling focus.
PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS FOR PROVINCIAL AGM
The deadline for proposing resolutions for the provincial AGM is January 31st
Jane asked if Prince Street Home and School would support a resolution related to libraries and teacher-librarians, a concern at many schools across the province and a theme that came up strongly in our school’s survey.
Jane will draft something with help and advice from her mom (a retired teacher-librarian) and will circulate it by email.
SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM
Next week will be the last week for baked potatoes. The company is not going to be providing them any more. Spaghetti has been a big hit so far. Heather will ask if the spaghetti guy does other things. Grilled cheese sandwiches would be a big hit here. What about checking with local restaurants or caterers about samosas or other food from other parts of the world?
Ramona noted that downtown, they are adding kitchen facilities at the Teen Zone and expanding who would have access to the Teen Zone as well to boost numbers. Chris Salley mentioned he may be doing a survey about what people would like out of that facility. He will send Erin the survey to bring to Home and School for input. Teen Zone user age is typically 12 to 17.
Ramona thanked participants.
NEXT MEETING DATES
PRINCE STREET ELEMENTARY SCHOOL & THE SCHOOL REVIEW PROCESS
Prince Street Home and School Association
PROCESS & METHODS
In October and November 2016, Prince Street Home and School opened up a process for consulting the school community to gain insights and comments about our school to contribute to the school review process. The consultation included the following elements:
We had 55 responses to our survey about Prince Street School and the school review process. There were no separate comments: all respondents chose to use the survey (online or hard copy) to submit their comments.
Interpretations and conclusions that are most relevant for the school review process are in text boxes throughout this report.
CONNECTION TO PRINCE STREET SCHOOL
Respondents indicated they were connected to Prince Street School in a variety of ways. Respondents could select one or more than one way they were connected to the school.
Others said they have a child or children who may go to Prince Street in the future (6), were family members of students or staff (5), were staff members at Prince Street (3), or were current Prince Street students (1). Numbers add up to more that 55 because people could select more than one category of connection.
WHY FAMILIES CHOSE PRINCE STREET SCHOOL
Respondents were asked to select only one reason their family chose Prince Street Elementary School as their school. Almost half chose the school for the practical reason that they lived in the zone where students could walk or bus to the school.
There were one or more responses from others who said they were interested in late French Immersion instead of early immersion (2), they wanted students to go to school with other students in the neighbourhood (2), they enrolled a child at Prince Street before there was the option of a new school at Spring Park (1), they moved to this area because of the schools’ reputation (1), or that they are not in the zone for Prince Street but their student remains at the school for personal or family reasons (1). Four (4) respondents answered “none of the above.” There were 54/55 responses to this question.
The school review process and the Public Schools Branch should take seriously the importance of school zone boundaries as the primary deciding factor for most families about where their children will attend school. Changes in school zone boundaries will affect first those families that place the highest value on neighbourhood and lower value on programs (such as French Immersion) available at their local school.
DESCRIBING PRINCE STREET SCHOOL
The survey next invited parents to select from a list of 55 options the words that best described Prince Street Elementary School. The following words were selected by half or more of respondents:
“Dedicated staff” was the description with the most support from respondents: 89% of respondents (47 people) respondents selected this term, followed closed by “Accepting,” “Caring,” and “Diverse.” There was also very strong agreement that the school is “Child-friendly” and “Inclusive” (72% for each). These words speak to the emphasis at Prince Street School at building a school community, developing the character of students, and encouraging positive attitudes – as do many of the other words selected by most respondents.
It is interesting to notice that Prince Street has done a lot of work with the school community, especially students, to develop a school motto that reflects school values. The words from this school motto appear strongly in these results:
Many of the terms respondents selected relate to the goals of the school review process: “Just the right size of school” (64%); “Building on strengths” (59%); “Meeting students’ needs” (59%); “Positive learning environment” (57%); and “Working towards goals” (57%).
Fewer than half of respondents selected the following words from the list of options:
The survey results suggest challenges in confidence for Prince Street School, with some perceived challenges for focusing on achievement and quality. Just for example, fewer than half of respondents chose the words “Confident” (40%), “Smart” (40%), “Focused on quality” (45%), or “Hopeful” (47%). Barely more than a third of respondents selected “Achievement focused” (36%), and fewer than a third selected words such as “Challenging” (26%), though this word might have inspired ambivalent interpretations.
Of relevance to the school review process: very few respondents perceive Prince Street Elementary School as underfilled (8%). Far more were likely to perceive it as underfunded (38%). The link between underfilled schools and underfunded schools is not clear or automatic to the respondents to this survey.
CONNECTION & BELONGING
The next set of questions explored connection, belonging, neighbourhood, and feelings of happiness and unhappiness associated with Prince Street Elementary School
How connected do you feel to Prince Street Elementary School?
84% of respondents (45 people) reported that they felt very connected or somewhat connected to Prince Street School.
How great a sense of belonging do you feel to the community of students, parents and guardians, staff, neighbours, and supporters that surround Prince Street Elementary School?
83% of respondents (44 people) reported that they felt a very strong sense of belonging or somewhat of a sense of belonging to Prince Street School. No one reported a very strong sense of not belonging.
In your opinion, how important a part of the downtown neighbourhood is Prince Street Elementary School?
77% of respondents (42 people) thought that Prince Street is a very important or somewhat important part of the downtown neighbourhood. Of those who thought it was somewhat or very important, the vast majority (38/42) said it was “very important.”
If you moved into the area for Prince Street School and had a child of school age, how would you feel about enrolling a child at Prince Street?
85% of respondents (46 people) would feel very happy or somewhat happy enrolling a child at Prince Street.
If you had to move to a different area and had a school-age child who had to leave Prince Street School, how would you feel about moving your child to another school?
81% of respondents (43 people) said they would be very unhappy or somewhat unhappy about moving a child to another school.
It will be important for the school review discussion to include an understanding of connection and belonging related to the schools under review.
Respondents reported high levels of connection to Prince Street Elementary School and a strong sense of belonging.
A strong majority of respondents (70%) see Prince Street School as very important to the downtown neighbourhood. Given this perception, engaging neigbourhoods collaboratively in school change decisions is essential to successful future plans for this school.
A strong majority of respondents (70%) would be very happy to have a child zoned into Prince Street School; just less than a majority (49%) would be very unhappy to move a child to another school. To put forward a poetic interpretation of the data, the 21% difference between these two results could suggest an effort (or perhaps a struggle) by respondents to express their positive feelings about Prince Street School and their sense of connection and belonging while trying to remain open-minded about changes that will come about as a result of school review. The results should be interpreted as effortful goodwill towards the process – with some wariness, or perhaps a lump in the throat.
EXPECTATIONS OF EDUCATION
The next set of questions explored respondents’ values regarding education at Prince Street School and for all of Prince Edward Island. In the next section, not every respondent answered every question, so not every count of respondents adds up to 55.
1 - A child can receive a good or bad education in any school.
Almost three-quarters, 74%, of respondents (39 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that a child can receive a good or bad education in any school. However, most of the respondents who agree with the statement (24 people) only somewhat agree, so there is some nuance to their agreement that isn’t captured in the survey.
2 - When a school has FEWER students than it was designed for, this has a negative effect on the quality of education and the kinds of learning opportunities at the school.
Just over one-third, 36%, of respondents (19 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that when a school has fewer students than it was designed for (is under-filled), this has a negative effect on the quality of education and the kinds of learning opportunities at the school. Very few respondents (4 people) strongly agree that there are negative effects from a school being under-filled.
3 - When a school has MORE students than it was designed for, this has a negative effect on the quality of education and the kinds of learning opportunities at the school.
A very strong majority of nine out of ten, 90%, of respondents (49 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that when a school has more students than it was designed for, this has a negative effect on the quality of education and the kinds of learning opportunities at the school. Among those who agree, more than double the number of respondents strongly agree (34 people) than somewhat agree (15 people).
It is clear from respondents’ reactions to underfilled versus overcrowded schools that it is much easier to make a clear and convincing case that overcrowded schools have a negative effect on quality of education than underfilled schools.
This has significant implications for decisions about school review and also should inform communications to parents, guardians, and school communities about school changes. The Public Schools Branch will need to make a more compelling and convincing case about the negative effects of underfilled schools to win over skeptical school communities.
4 - It is important to me that students at each school have equitable access to programs and resources: libraries, gyms, schoolyards, English additional language supports, education assistants, and so on.
A very strong majority of more than nine out of ten, 92.5%, of respondents (50 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that it is important that students at each school have equitable access to programs and resources such as libraries, gyms, schoolyards, English additional language supports, education assistants, and so on. Among those who agree, 86% (43 people) strongly agree.
5 - It is important to me for a school to be able to accommodate many kinds of ability and disability.
Respondents were getting close to unanimous — 94% of respondents (51 people) — in somewhat or strongly agreeing that it is important for a school to be able to accommodate many kinds of ability and disability. Among those who agree, four times as many strongly agree (41) as somewhat agree (10).
Equity and inclusion are expressed as Prince Street School values very consistently among respondents. The Public Schools Branch will want to make a case for how any proposed school changes affect equity and inclusion.
6 - It is important to me for a child to be able to walk to school or have a short bus ride.
A very strong majority of nine out of ten, 90%, of respondents (49 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that it is important for a child to be able to walk to school or have a short bus ride. Among those who agree, double the number strongly agree (33) as somewhat agree (16).
As noted throughout this survey, distance from school is not only linked to transportation and children’s health and comfort but also to family engagement with the school.
7 - It is important to me for school changes to make education better for everyone, not just for my family.
Respondents were very close to unanimous — 98% of respondents (53 people) — in somewhat or strongly agreeing that it is important for school changes to make education better for everyone, not just for their family. Among those who agree, more than five times as many strongly agree (45) as somewhat agree (8).
Almost to a person, respondents express the desire to put collective goals ahead of individual goals. Almost to a person, respondents express a wish be open-minded and broad-minded about school review and school changes, as long as they make education better for everyone.
8 - I believe parents and guardians and families play as big a part in children’s success in learning as the school itself.
Respondents were 100% unanimous in somewhat or strongly agreeing that parents and guardians and families play as big a part in children’s success in learning as the school itself. Six times as many respondents strongly agree (46) as somewhat agree (8).
This is the response with the strongest consensus on the survey. The response underscores the importance of engaging parents, guardians, and families with schools and engaging them as vital partners in the future of education in PEI. School changes must reduce, not increase, barriers to family engagement in learning.
9 - Schools in neighbourhoods where parents have fewer resources should get more resources than schools in neighbourhoods where parents have many resources.
About three-quarters, 74%, of respondents (40 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that schools in neighbourhoods where parents have fewer resources should get more resources than schools in neighbourhoods where parents have many resources. Among those who agree, more than twice as many somewhat agree (28) as strongly agree (12).
There is a great diversity in socio-economic background among Prince Street School students, and this diversity is considered a strength at our school. However, there is no denying that Prince Street School community on the whole has fewer resources than the communities around some other schools. Prince Street Home and School members have frequently observed that raising $2,000 at our school is a very different and more difficult project than raising $2,000 at some other Charlottetown schools. Nonetheless, respondents from Prince Street School will on the whole be satisfied with a fair and relatively equal distribution of resources to schools and are not making a strong socialist case for equity of distribution based on comparative need.
10 - I believe that schools are responsible to contribute to children’s health including things such as adequate nutritious food and opportunities for exercise.
Respondents were getting close to unanimous — 94% of respondents (51 people) — in somewhat or strongly agreeing that schools are responsible to contribute to children’s health including things such as adequate nutritious food and opportunities for exercise. Among those who agree, those who strongly agree (29) slightly outnumber those who somewhat agree (22).
The strong support for a central role for schools in contributing to children’s health through nutrition and exercise is very likely connected to the Prince Street community’s awareness that there are too many students at our school who are hungry. There are many students at our school whose families cannot offer them many extracurricular sports opportunities. It is hard to be part of the Prince Street School community and not see these challenges and see a role for schools to make children’s lives better, richer, and healthier. Comparing the response to this question with the response to the previous question, it can be surmised that the Prince Street community supports initiatives that are universally available for the benefit of many and integrated into all schools rather than supports that are based on one school’s needs.
11 - I value a school community with a lot of diversity: a range of different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, sources and levels of income, languages, and experiences.
Respondents were very close to unanimous — 98% of respondents (52 people) — in somewhat or strongly agreeing that they value a school community with a lot of diversity, such as a range of cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, sources and levels of income, languages, and experiences. Among those who agree, more than four times as many strongly agree (42) as somewhat agree (10).
As expressed throughout this survey, diversity is a central value, if not the central value, of the Prince Street School community.
12 - I expect schools to provide mental and emotional supports for students to have good mental health and good skills to cope with stress and anxiety.
Respondents were very close to unanimous — 96% of respondents (52 people) — in somewhat or strongly agreeing that they expect schools to provide mental and emotional supports for students to have a good mental health and good skills to cope with stress and anxiety. Among those who agree, more than one-and-a-half times as many strongly agree (32) as somewhat agree (20).
Respondents have very high expectations of schools and education systems, including support for the mental health and wellbeing of students as much as for physical health and wellbeing.
13 - What children are learning in school meets my expectations about what they should learn in school.
About three-quarters, 74%, of respondents (40 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that what children are learning in school meets their expectations about what they should learn in school. Among those who agree, the field is fairly evenly split between those who somewhat agree (19) and those who strongly agree (21). It would be fascinating to learn more about what parents’ exact expectations are about what students should learn in school and where schools meet those expectations and where they fall short of them.
14 - I feel confident that Prince Street students will graduate from Grade Six with the basic literacy and numeracy skills expected for Grade Six students.
About 85% of respondents (45 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that they feel confident Prince Street students will graduate from Grade Six with the basic literacy and numeracy skills expected for Grade Six students. Among those who agree, close to three times as many strongly agree (33) as somewhat agree (12).
15 - I feel confident that Prince Street students will graduate with the highest level of literacy and numeracy they are able to achieve.
About 85% of respondents (45 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that they feel confident Prince Street students will graduate from Grade Six with the highest level of literacy and numeracy they are able to achieve. Among those who agree, just under two times as many strongly agree (29) as somewhat agree (16).
The same number of respondents feel confident that students will graduate from Prince Street School with the basic literacy and numeracy expected for their grade as feel confident that students will reach the highest level of literacy and numeracy they are able to achieve. However, there is a difference in the level of confidence between these two questions. Fewer respondents expressed strong confidence that students will reach the highest level they are able. This may point to challenges of achievement both for students with modified programs who are not expected to meet the same levels of literacy and numeracy as their peers and for high-achieving students who may need enrichment opportunities to meet their highest levels of ability.
16 - I am hopeful about the Prince Edward Island education system.
About eight out of ten, 80% of respondents (43 people) somewhat agree or strongly agree that they are hopeful about the Prince Edward Island education system. More somewhat agree (25) than strongly agree (18).
We thought the Public Schools Branch would be interested in the results of this question.
Almost half of respondents — 26 out of 55 — took the time to add narrative comments at the end of the survey. Comments have been summarized and edited to take out any identifying information.
Of these, most comments, 14 of the 26, offered only praise for Prince Street School. A few examples: “Solid school, in every way.” “My kids love their school.”
Almost a quarter of the commenters, 6 people, had positive comments about friendly, dedicated staff. Two commenters used the phrase “above and beyond” in describing school staff’s efforts on behalf of their children.
Describing Prince Street School as a family, a home, or “family like no other” was a theme in 4 comments. The “family like no other” description of the school comes from the school song by Liam Corcoran with students, and it strikes a chord with many respondents: “Prince Street is a school that is dedicated to character building and to the social emotional well-being of students. The students and staff of Prince Street are truly a family like no other.” “Prince Street is not only [my child’s] home, it's our home.”
The size of schools was a theme, with 4 commenters making a case for “small schools,” “smaller school atmosphere,” “small and not overcrowded,” and schools that are “small, kind, safe and fun.”
The value of diversity was an explicit theme in at least 3 comments: “Prince Street School offers something that there is no lesson plan for. The diversity at Prince Street School is priceless.”
The importance of inclusiveness was a theme in at least 3 comments. Several respondents talked about specific supports provided to students with challenges. One example: “Since starting at Prince Street [my child with specific challenges] has begun developing social, emotional and cognitive skills to help her grow into a well-rounded individual. [My child] was seeing councillors, paediatricians, and other medical professionals on a regular basis, she now does follow ups once a year.”
The need for libraries and teacher-librarians received special emphasis in 3 comments. Examples of comments include these: “Libraries, staffed by trained teacher librarians in our Island schools are essential.” “Our students need into the libraries, they need to ‘learn how to learn’, to critically assess sources of information, how to use the vast amount of electronic resources available to them.”
The need for adequate numbers of staff and teachers with support and resources was an explicit theme in 2 comments and implicit in others.
Several comments came up only once but were well stated. Some hopes:
- A desire to see the neighbourhood and school more integrated.
- The importance of having a daycare housed in the school in helping develop empathy: “older children are encouraged to be kind to younger children.”
- The need for emphasis on physical education and longer times for play.
And some concerns or challenges:
- A comment on the challenges of inclusion: “In theory I endorse integrated classrooms, but no student should suffer because of it - we need more help in the schools.”
- A concern about class composition, alongside the need for more resources for teachers in “academically diverse classrooms.”
- A concern about “social promotion” from a commenter who thinks its effects are negative.
- A concern about keeping high-achieving students engaged.
One parent commented on the tradition of Prince Street School: “This school has served four generations [of] my family… this school has been part of the community for many generations and [I] feel [it’s] important to be [there] for future generations of all families.”
A few comments were addressed directly to the school review process.
Several commenters expressed fears and anxieties about school change. A parent of a student who has overcome some specific challenges noted, “If my child was to be forced to switched schools due to zoning she would back track and lose all of her progress, friends, and support from those who know her.”
Another parent commented, “My daughter is stressed over the possible talk of having to switch schools next year due to rezoning etc. She adores Prince Street. It would be good if kids could finish out the school they have started in and any kids just starting can start in the re zoned school from the start. Less disruption and loss for the children who are attached to the teachers and friends.”
Another parent commented, “I feel so lucky my [first child] attended Prince Street, and hope none of the changes affect my [second child] being able to attend for the remaining … years of school at Prince Street.”
One commenter said, “The challenges teachers face today are like nothing they've ever had to face in my opinion, and adding more children to a school just to make the numbers look good, but not providing the already sometimes overworked staff with the resources they need would be an awful thing so I hope that the decisions made really are for the benefit of the children and staff, and not in the interest of making things look good on paper or cutting costs. There is no greater cost to our economy and society than to shortchange our children's learning!”
This last statement seems a valuable summary of the central themes of the survey and the hopes and concerns of many who responded.
Prince Street Home and School Minutes
November 24, 2016
Ramona Doyle chaired the meeting and shared an agenda.
There was a round of introductions. About 11 people attended. Again this month, the families that had requested translation and that had planned to attend were not able to attend.
Erin Johnston submitted a written update.
- The Grade 5 & 6 cooking class is up and running and receiving very positive feedback. Parents whose students are taking part said their children love the class. Erin will look at a possible Grade 4 cooking class for after Christmas.
- Christmas concert – Erin drew attention to the changes for this year. The venue has changed to First Baptist Church; there will be one concert for the whole school on Tuesday, December 13, at 6:30 p.m. There will be some logistics to manage in the new venue. Grades 4, 5, and 6 will be in the chapel and will stay there and come and go from there during the concert. The K-3 will be downstairs in the gym and classroom spaces there. The church is a beautiful spot, with an excellent sound system. There is no charge this year for the use of the church except a janitorial fee. The fee has been waived for our school. We are very grateful, because the church is a very busy one and clearing space for our concert will represent a lot of work.
- Family Fun night received lots of positive feedback from students, staff and parents. Staff is wondering about hosting more events like this to continue to offer fun activities to the community.
DECISION: Please hold Thursday, February 9, 2017, as a possible next Family Fun Night, to take place from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Halloween was a success, with many fun activities and an afternoon sock hop.
- Some staffing changes are coming up: Cameron Olscamp (itinerant EA) is with us until December; Greg Anderson will finish in mid-December and Sherry Lynn MacMillan will return; Cavelle Murphy will finish in mid-December and Kathy Kiley will return.
- MP Sean Casey visited two classes, 5A & 4/5.
- The next Art Blitz is coming this Friday – stop, drop and art.
- December 2 will be PEI Teachers’ Federation professional development day – no school for students.
- The school is going to see Robyn Hood at the Confederation Centre on December 9th. Notice have gone home about this.
- The turkey dinner for the school that is put on by Trinity Church will take place Thursday, Dec 15th, with a storm date of the next day, Friday.
Last meeting, Erin shared the three academic goals the school will be working on and promised an update on the goals in development on public confidence and wellness. The goals are now determined:
Prince Street School Goals 2016-2017
By 2019, there will be an increase in the development of partnerships with parents to support academic student success.
Collaborative Inquiry Question:
How can we work to create partnerships with parents through events and communication strategies to support academic success?
By 2019 students will demonstrate an increase in their ability to persevere and “never give up”.
Collaborative Inquiry Question:
How can our students become more skillful problem solvers and have a “never give up attitude” in all aspects of their life through changing the narrative of their language and creating a growth mindset?
Erin suggested that the parent engagement goal will benefit from Home and School’s suggestions and collaboration, and perhaps we could focus on this at a future meeting. Some immediate ideas came up at the table, too:
- There are parent engagement funds available through Home and School. Up to $1,000 is available per project, with applications due by January 27th.
- Some parents have asked for an opportunity to chaperone field trips as another way to be engaged.
- There may be ways to partner with CHANCES across the street.
- Often their meetings and programs include food. Offering food can be an important way of including people. Sharing a meal is a good way for parents and students to be together and get to know each other.
- Themes of programs at CHANCES have included budgeting with children, incorporating chores in the family routine.
- Triple P Positive Parenting Programs are also powerful and highly recommended for everyone.
The wellness goal will focus on perseverance, to improve students’ ability to persevere and problem-solve through challenges (not only academic challenges but social and emotional ones too).
Erin showed us the big bag of stickers she has just received with the Prince Street logo: these could possibly be used to help encourage students to meet this goal as rewards or recognitions.
Erin raised one more thing not mentioned last meeting: staff has started to dress more casually. This is a decision and is being done deliberately and purposefully to increase approachability. Many people have reported that they are intimidated to come into a school. The school has decided that acting and speaking professionally is important to maintaining professional standards, but dressing up is not necessary. If staff members wish to dress casually, that will be fine. Some parents have already commented positively. Staff is calling this “Casual Day Infinity.” :)
Usually in the fall, Home and School puts forward a request for submissions from teachers for items to support learning in the classroom that are not paid for by the Province. This year we have lower funds than in the past and it would be hard to distribute funds equitably among a lot of classrooms, so we invited Erin to suggest one larger purchase. Erin requested and the executive approved $800 for reading materials for the Readers’ Workshop. Erin is hoping for funds from the Department of Education as well. They will use the funds as efficiently as possible: books are expensive.
PEI HOME AND SCHOOL FEDERATION SEMI-ANNUAL MEETING
Kristy went to semi-annual meeting of the provincial home and school. The meeting was focused on the proposal to have the Province fund hot school lunches for every student on PEI.
As part of the meeting, Sarah from Scapes served everyone in the room a giant, healthy meal for $4 a person, sourced from local ingredients. The theme of the meeting was how we could feed every child in every school a healthy lunch from local ingredients for $4 a person; this would be enough money to also fund a snack later in the day. Everything was gluten-free except the roll: Kristy was delighted and amazed.
“Cafeteria Man” Tony Geracci was the guest of the provincial home and school and he described a model that would work for Prince Edward Island, with a central production cafeteria and deliveries from there. The program they are talking about is child-driven, as well, in terms of setting menus, etc.
There were break-off groups after the meal to discuss the details. It’s totally doable, it’s just a matter of how to get there and when. This is one of the biggest projects that the provincial Home and School is working on. But there is a lot of work left to do to gain support for an implement the plan.
Prince Street parents noted that CHANCES brings food on a hub distribution model to Smart Start here and their other locations. Their kitchen has different funding sources than a school lunch program would have. However, if there was a possibility of partnering with CHANCES or considering Prince Street School as a pilot project for a hot lunch program, that would be worth looking into.
There was more discussion of the Prince Street hot lunch program and rotations in the menu: chicken soup wasn’t a “hot” seller (excuse the pun), so the school is trying out mac and cheese. Erin is going to look into spaghetti that’s available at Spring Park School. Heather provided the contact information.
When a food order form does not come home for whatever reason, the forms should be available on the school website for printing. Otherwise, a note to the school is acceptable as long as it has the child’s name on it and is legible. Payment by cheque is okay. Parents with more than one student at the school can send payment with one child and that’s okay too.
UPDATE ON SCHOOL REVIEW AND PRINCE STREET SCHOOL CONSULTATION
Jane is the Prince Street representative on the District Advisory Council (DAC) and shared an update. Since our last meeting, Jane represented Prince Street by making a presentation about our consultation plan at the November 3rd public school review consultations for the Colonel Gray Family of Schools. She also made some personal comments about the importance of valuing diversity.
Prince Street School and other Colonel Gray family of schools District Advisory Council members had asked for joint meeting of the Colonel Gray DAC and the Charlottetown Rural DAC. This took place last week and was hosted at Prince Street School with excellent attendance. With facilitator Pat Campbell, Jane Ledwell from the Colonel Gray family and Lindy McQuillan from the Charlottetown Rural family co-led a discussion about principles that should inform school change decisions. This was a really good discussion. When the meeting summary is available, Jane will share it.
Jane, with help from the executive, had coordinated a survey and comment box. Fifty-five responses and comments came in. Jane circulated a draft report from the survey. Anyone who would like to see the draft can get in touch with the school. Comments and corrections are welcome until the end of the day on November 28. Jane will submit the report on November 29 and will also post the results online at www.princestreetschool.ca
Jane asked for permission to invite Peter Rukavina to post the raw data from the survey as open data (minus the narrative comments, many of which include identifying information). Members thought that would be fine. The reason to do this is to model open data, something which people in the community are requesting of governments.
A parent asked about consultation timelines. The end of November is the deadline for submissions from the public. Bob Andrew from the Public Schools Branch is the lead person who has to sift through the submissions and draft a plan for school changes. This will go to the three-person Board of Directors of the Public Schools Branch. They will approve a set of proposed changes that will then be released to the public. Members of the public will have 60 days to respond to these changes. That is when emotions are likely to run high, and when we will need as a school to be ready to analyze the potential effects of school changes that affect Prince Street. It will be helpful to have the survey data, which was collected proactively rather than a reaction to proposed changes.
A parent suggested that at Family Fun night, either as another stage in consultation or as a parent engagement exercise (or both), it would be great to run a short, simple 5-question survey parents could complete to enter to win a gift basket. The questions could be focused on what the administration wants to know. Members loved the idea of engaging with parents this way and thought the idea of a door prize was also excellent.
CHRISTMAS CONCERT PLANNING
We will again raffle off VIP seating for the Christmas concert. Erin can rejig last year’s form and send it around. It was noted that getting a raffle license is more complicated than it used to be. Heather will follow up on the license.
The new venue (First Baptist Church) is fine with the bake sale as well, so the bake sale will be a go. Freewill offering at the door will be allowed.
Home and School will not record the concert and sell DVDs this year: last year, we took a loss on sales. However, some students loved watching and re-watching the DVDs. Music teacher Sonja Wadden-Hughes will make a video to show her classes.
Parents asked about families in need at the school this holiday time. There are many families in need; there are several families in crisis at any given time. Donations of practical things or gifts for families in need are welcome at the office. Gift cards are also welcome. The office can give a specific wish list to a particular donor if requested.
Everyday needs at the school include underwear and socks of all different shapes and sizes and pants for everyday wear.
Mittens and hats are usually well-stocked.
Next meeting is January 19 at 6:30 p.m.
On the agenda will be Spring Fling planning or alternative approaches to Spring Fling.
Dates for 2017 meetings to put in your calendar:
The Public Schools Branch (PEI government) is doing a review of schools in our area, including Prince Street Elementary School.
At present, there is NO reason to think Prince Street Elementary School will close. However, our school and other schools connected to it WILL be affected by school changes. Government says the changes will be in place by September 2017.
As members of the Prince Street Elementary School community, we have some say in these changes if we speak up now!
PLEASE COMPLETE OUR SURVEY
Why is Prince Street Elementary School part of the school review?
Prince Street School is considered “under-utilized.” This means there are fewer students than the school can comfortably hold. The school is not as full as it could be. And it is expected to get less full, not more full, in the next few years.
Having fewer students means higher costs for running the building, but being under-filled affects students’ education, not just cost.
Why? Having fewer students means having fewer staff members. It also affects what programs can be offered. A school that is too empty has fewer staff people and fewer resources for programs.
Here is an example. Kindergarten enrolment at our school has gotten less over the last few years. We went from having three kindergarten classes to just two. The whole Prince Street School has been affected by the loss of a kindergarten class.
It is harder for a school that is under-filled to adapt to change. For example, if three families move to Prince Street School with three kindergarten-aged children, it is harder to absorb three children into two kindergarten classes than into three. It could result in a kindergarten class with more students than recommended, so the teacher has less time for each student.
There is lots of change in the Prince Street School population each year. Families move to Prince Street School. Families move away. We have a lot of diversity in our school community. This means diversity in how people gain their income and how much income they have. It means diversity in cultures or countries of origin. It means diversity in language and diversity of ability. Students have a diversity of needs.
Colonel Gray Family of Schools: A mix of under-filled and over-crowded schools
Prince Street School is under-filled. Some other schools nearby in Charlottetown and Stratford have more students than fit in their buildings. Over-crowded schools are stressful for students and staff. Over-crowded schools also cause problems for offering the programs and services that help students learn.
Birchwood Intermediate School, where most Prince Street students go after grade six, is very seriously under-filled, and that is creating very serious challenges. The Birchwood community (families, staff, and others) talk about challenges such as keeping high-quality programs, retaining good staff, and keeping a positive spirit in a school that is too empty.
Colonel Gray High School, where most Prince Street students go after grade nine, will be uncomfortably over-crowded by the time this year’s grade six students graduate from high school.
EXAMPLES OF SCHOOL CHANGES
HOW CAN I HAVE A SAY?
School changes are connected to education goals. We want to influence changes that meet our hopes for children to learn well and thrive in positive, hopeful school environments.
You can have your say about school changes directly to government at http://princeedwardisland.ca/betterlearningforall and by taking part in public hearings and consultations. Government is looking for your ideas about these sorts of things:
You can also share ideas to be included in a report that Prince Street Home and School will submit to government. This report will focus on the factors to consider and the values behind any school changes that could affect our school.
You can participate in this report in several ways:
The deadline for your comments to be included in a consultation report from the Prince Street Home and School is November 18.
Information about the Prince Street School report will be available here, at http://princestreetschool.ca
Co-chair Ramona called the meeting to order and circulated the agenda. A dozen people attended the meeting. The agenda was very full, so some reports were prepared in writing.
The principal’s report was circulated in writing. Erin provided brief updates:
Erin invited questions on her list. There was a question about evacuation procedures. The principals from all schools met to go through step by step procedures for evacuation to safe sites. There are very few differences between what we did here at Prince Street and the updated procedures for all schools. We have to add a few things to the classroom “go-packs” and create a “go-pack” for the office. The other thing that is new is that in the event of an off-site evacuation, the first step will be to go to the on-site locations assigned to each classroom for a fire drill. This will allow for a few more minutes to gain information, to evaluate the situation, and to assess the need to move to the off-site location.
Erin reported that she followed up with staff about parents’ concern about candy as a reward in the classroom. She asked staff to reflect on their use of candy as a first step. It has led to some good noticing and good discussions.
There was a question about Home and School responding to teacher wish list requests. We are very limited on funds this year and it might be most useful to have one or two big wishes for the school, but if staff prefers it can be put it out to the teachers to make their requests. Erin said that today, there was a meeting about budgetary requests to government to support academic initiatives. Some items would have a direct impact but are not fundable because they are not directly related to the school goals. Erin will get back to the Home and School about whether or not there is a school-wide fundable item.
There has been one inquiry from a teacher already: one grade three teacher won a draw for a Bricks for Kids session — the other grade three teacher has requested support for the same so that both grade three classes have the benefit of a session. The Home and School supports funding the second grade three classroom to receive funding for a session.
Prince Street School Goals 2016-2017
Erin was mandated to present the Prince Street School Goals. She noted that the non-academic goals around wellbeing and public confidence will be discussed at the next meeting.
Reading at Grades K-3: Every school with grades K-3 will have to have a reading goal. There are specific percentages associated with current levels and levels of increase for Prince Street School. The levels of increase are dictated by a formula. The current and target percentages were shared at the meeting but can’t be included in the public minutes due to an embargo. The data is available from Erin.
1. The 2019 Provincial Assessment and school based data results will demonstrate an increase in the percentage of students in grades kindergarten to grade three meeting expectations in reading from [the current percentage] to [a specified target percentage] as measured on the Primary Literacy Assessment.
Collaborative Inquiry Question:
How can our students become more proficient readers through the implementation of learning goals (FLs), success criteria and descriptive feedback (the Big 3) as part of the reader’s workshop model?
2. The 2019 Provincial Assessment and school based data results will demonstrate an increase in the percentage of students in grades four to grade six meeting expectations in writing from [the current percentage] to [a specified target percentage] as measured on the Elementary Literacy Assessment.
Collaborative Inquiry Question:
How can our students become more proficient writers through the implementation of learning goals (FLs), success criteria and descriptive feedback (the Big 3) as part of the writer’s workshop model?
3. The 2019 Provincial Assessment and school based data results will demonstrate an increase in the percentage of students in grades four to grade six meeting expectations in math from [the current percentage] to [a specified target percentage] as measured on the Elementary Math Assessment.
Collaborative Inquiry Question:
How can our students become more proficient in math through the implementation of learning goals (FLs), success criteria and descriptive feedback (the Big 3) as part of the math workshop model?
Rather than look specifically at reading comprehension, reading fluency, or other specific components of literacy, other goals have been left broad, to encourage development of actions and strategies that lead to overall improvements and overall increases in student reading achievement.
Collaborative Inquiry questions help staff to guide how the goal will be implemented and what strategies will be used in the classroom.
Prince Street has been working with workshop models — Reading, Writing and Math workshops. The workshop model uses the amount of instruction time allocated for those activities in a specific way. The “workshop” begins with a mini-lesson (8-15 minutes) on a specific topic. Then students move into larger piece (18-25 minutes) of independent practice. They are not left entirely on their own to do this, usually. The teacher might be conferencing with a student, or might work with a specific group on a specific skill while others use independent time. There is then a consolidation piece with the whole group or small groups. Implementation of the workshop model in classrooms will be crucial to fill in gaps that turn up in progress monitoring with students. Staff are learning right now about “high-yield strategies.”
The focus of the September Professional Development (PD) day was creating success criteria for students in classrooms.
There was a question about whether Prince Street students have been meeting assessment levels in increasing or decreasing numbers.
These results are one of the reasons we have been made eligible for the wraparound program we are in this year. The list of wraparound supports available is incredible. Access to literacy coaches and math coaches has been limited in the past: under the wraparound program, they are going to dedicate literacy coaches to our school for whole blocks of time.
What are some of the factors that have led to increase in Grade 6 math numbers, and are these transferrable? There has been a very serious amount of PD for grade six math teachers. Recently, for example, they have introduced a “pacing guide” — this outlines the order in which to teach skills to get the biggest yield. There are many check-ins and assessments and there is time to learn to use tools. It’s intense professional development.
There was a concern that the focus on Grade 6 teachers was driven by assessments without building from earlier grades towards higher levels of achievement in Grade 6. It is not the administration’s sense that the professional development is “teaching to the test.” They also said that Grade six teachers who receive extra PD are asked to share the knowledge to teacher in the earlier grades.
The premise of intense professional development is that is making teachers smarter makes students smarter.
HOME AND SCHOOL FEDERATION SEMI-ANNUAL MEETING
The 2016 Semi-Annual Meeting: Building Healthy Communities around the School is scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, 2016, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Gulf Shore Consolidated School. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.
The focus of the semi-annual meeting is food and the resolution about supporting school lunches. Kirsty is attending but would love for another parent to go as well.
CONSULTATION ABOUT SCHOOL REVIEW PROCESS
After the last meeting, there was a public meeting to outline the consultation process that will lead to school review and school changes. The school review could result in school closures or in rezoning, or in reconfiguration of grades in a school or shifting of programs at schools, or any combination of options. The process is being led by Bob Andrews at the Public Schools Branch. He is very much in control of the data.
Some Prince Street representatives who were skeptical about the consultation process before the meeting left the meeting very confident that the process is open and the leadership is ready to listen and hear from the public. The Public Schools Branch is really interested in hearing reasonable, viable options for change. The status quo is not an option — the Minister of Education has been very clear about this.
The consultation process is open to
The Public Schools Branch is gathering information in a number of ways.
Parents asked, is there a way we can do a very short plain language explanation of what has been discussed to this point? This would help reduce fears and misunderstandings.
Jane circulated a proposed consultation plan for the Prince Street school community.
Proposal for Prince Street Home and School Consultation about school review/school change
October 20 (tonight): In-person Home and School meeting: introduce and invite feedback on consultation plan
Following October 20: Gather opinions, ideas, and suggestions
- A paper and on-line survey about opinions, issues, concerns. Jane is willing to design and administer this, with feedback and help.
- A comment/suggestion box at the school (for people to drop off paper surveys or add their own comments). This would work best with encouragement and support for people to add comments to the suggestion box (asking people to jot down ideas and questions but also jotting down overheard questions and suggestions)
- A shared Google form as another way to submit comments
- Consultation options would be posted on Facebook and promoted other ways.
October 24: Time has been set aside for individuals, small groups and organizations to make presentations directly to Bob Andrews in Charlottetown. This is too soon to coordinate something on behalf of our whole Home and School, but individuals or other small groups are welcome to present.
November 3 Colonel Gray family of schools consultation meeting: encouragement to attend, assistance to coordinate a Prince Street contingent (car-pooling, etc.) - On behalf of Prince Street Home and School, Jane has requested that there be childcare provided at the meeting.
Following November 3: Work on drafting a written submission on behalf of the Prince Street community (parents and guardians), to be presented at the Home and School meeting in November for feedback
November 18: Deadline for surveys and comments.
November 24: Draft of Prince Street School written submission to be shared for in-person feedback at the Home and School meeting
End of November: Submission of the written notes from Prince Street School community
What we would do as a coordinated effort or a Home and School would complement and not replace input from individuals in the community, school staff (individually and collectively), and the principal. The link to submit opinions is here: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/education-early-learning-and-culture/school-review.
The Home and School approved the consultation plan -- some changes and comments are incorporated above, with thanks.
There was a really good conversation about how challenging it is to come up with specific recommendations. It is easier to talk about input and implications than viable options.
FAMILY FUN NIGHT - OCTOBER 26
We’ll collect a donation at the door (at the bake sale table). People come with their families - the event is most popular with K-3 families
One more parent at each table would be great.
Note: The popcorn machine is blitzed.
We need the notice to go out tomorrow. Ramona will send it to Erin for copying, and Heather will cut it up in the morning. See everyone next Wednesday!
Ramona adjourned with thanks to all!
In the coming weeks, Prince Street School and all schools in the Colonel Gray Family of Schools will be part of a school review by the Public Schools Branch. You can learn more about the school review at the Public Schools Branch website Better Learning for All.
Our school community will be part of important consultations that will lead to school changes in our district. There are challenges and opportunities ahead. Here is the report with data to explain why our school is part of this review.
From the report, some of the data from Prince Street School:
The consultation plan for the Colonel Gray family of schools is an ugly PDF, but here are some highlights:
Five Step Process
1. Data collection and board direction; (This phase is in progress and almost complete.)
2. Public consultations to identify viable options; (This phase is beginning and will continue to the end of November 2016.)
3. Board recommendations;
4. 60 days of public input on the recommendations; and
5. Final decision. (This is expected by March 2017.)
Consultation Process with Key Stakeholders
1. Present Review of Schools and Consultation Process to Principals, DACs, and public. (This presentation took place last week)
2. Stakeholders identify and present:
a. Input on any School Review Factors,
b. Reasonable viable “options for change”, and/or
c. Implications “options for change” may have on the school community. (This is what is needed in the public consultation process to the end of November.)
The Public Schools Branch policy on School Change is here. Most important to the consultation process are the school review factors:
Where consideration is being given to making a Category I or Category II Change to a school, the impact of the proposed change on each school and those who will likely be directly affected by any such change should be reviewed, having regard to all relevant factors and information that is reasonably available to the Public Schools Branch. The factors to be taken into account will differ in every case; however, the educational interests of the students will always be a key consideration. The following is an illustrative, non-exhaustive, list of factors that may be considered:
1. School’s ability to deliver the provincial school curriculum, programs, and services, including specialized services, and to accommodate any changes expected in those programs or services over the next 5 years;
2. Impact of the proposed change on students’ educational achievement and opportunities;
3. The grade levels currently served by a school, and whether a grade reconfiguration would be appropriate;
4. Uniqueness of a school’s educational program.
5. Enrollment patterns over the last 5 to 10 years and projected enrollment trends over the next 5 years;
6. Population patterns over the past 5 to 10 years and projected population trends over the next 5 years;
7. Number of students enrolled in a school who live outside the school’s attendance zone.
8. School building’s age, site, location, conditions, including:
(a) accessibility to students with disabilities;
(b) any health or safety concerns;
(c) energy efficiency and environmental sustainability; and
(d) the cost and funding of any renovations that are, or will be needed, in the next 5 years.
9. Number and type of rooms needed in order to deliver required school programs and services;
10. Any Board long-term capital plan;
11. Proximity of other schools and the availability of appropriate accommodation in those schools;
12. Availability and use of appropriate technology;
13. Current and potential uses of surplus space in a school for Public Schools Branch-related purposes.
14. Funding provided by the Department of Education.
15. Efficient use and distribution of resources available to the Public Schools Branch, including school administrative, teaching and other staff;
16. School operating costs, including school’s cost per student compared to the average;
17. An analysis of the projected cost savings or increases associated with change.
18. Distance and time students spend, and will spend, in transit; 19. Traffic flow in and around a school;
20. Any increase or decrease in transportation costs.
PARENTAL AND COMMUNITY FACTORS
21. Parental and community involvement in, and support of, school;
22. Impact of proposed change on parents, including parent engagement;
23. Development projects planned for the affected community which are likely to come to fruition within the next 5 to 10 years;
24. Existing community uses of school facilities;
25. Possible alternative uses of school facilities, or surplus school space, by the community;
26. Other facilities in the community available for use by the community;
27. Information submitted to the Public Schools Branch about:
(a) the economic impact of a change on the community; and (b) the economic contribution the school makes to community.
Prince Street's District Advisory Council representative is Jane Ledwell. You can reach her at janeledwell at gmail dot com. Heather MacEwen is our alternate when Jane is not available. You will be able to make suggestions online when the Public Schools Branch opens up that process, or you can share ideas with Jane.
An update since our meeting minutes! The PEI Home and School Federation sent out the note below about an upcoming consultation. Prince Street School is part of the Colonel Gray Family of Schools. This is one of six families of schools under review by the Public Schools Branch for reconfiguration of schools and students.
Public Schools Branch holding public meetings
The Public Schools Branch announced its school review process and public consultations to include three sets of public meetings. The purpose of the initial meetings is to present the data to the public and ensure they have opportunities to understand the data, the issues and the school review process. Dates, times and locations are posted on the Public Schools Branch website at: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/education-early-learning-and-culture/school-review?utm_source=redirect&utm_medium=url&utm_campaign%2525252Bschoolreview=
The consultation for the Prince Street community and others in the Colonel Gray family of schools is taking place Wednesday, October 5, at 7:30 p.m. The Public Schools Branch notes:
A second set of public meetings will be held in November to provide an opportunity for the public to provide input on viable options for change.
A third set of meetings will be held once the recommendations are developed, in accordance with the School Change Policy which requires 60 days of public input on the recommendations.
The public will also have opportunities to provide input online, in person and through written submissions. More information will be shared as the full consultation process is developed.