Minutes of the November Prince Street Home and School Meeting

November 28, 2017

Co-chair Ramona called the meeting to order and invited those present to introduce themselves. Again this month, there was a recent newcomer to Canada we were pleased to welcome. There were 11 participants at the meeting, including one language interpreter. Ramona circulated the agenda.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT
Acting vice-principal Aletha Coady made the principal’s report for Anna, who was not available.

Book Fair: The book fair raised $2,200+. Thanks to teacher Shannan Young for organizing and to volunteers and students who helped.

Wraparound School Goals: At the September meeting we talked about the wraparound school model that Prince Street is part of but had not set the goals for this year yet because our data no longer matched the actual students in the building, as a result school rezoning. Now that the data is updated, the new goals will be set in the coming week by the wraparound team.

Heritage Fair and Science Fair: Parents had asked for staff to discuss Prince Street participation in Heritage and Science Fairs. Staff had a discussion about it, and teachers do not want to go back to running heritage fair or science fair projects in the classroom. It takes too much time away from the regular curriculum and distracts from school goals. Philip Brown plans to do something with his group of students. Parents expressed that they would really like to know the registration dates in case their students want to do an independent project. Can the school send information home to parents about registration dates? Aretha said they will put registration details in the newsletters.

Staff update: The school hired a new grade five math teacher last Thursday, and she has 18 students from the three grade five classes, and she will also teach humanities to Ms. Joudrey’s class. Her name is Katie Hicken. She taught in Saskatchewan last year but has roots on PEI.

Andrea Read has started as music teacher and is busy, busy, busy preparing for Christmas concert. She has a background in music but is not a “music teacher.” At the concert this year, each class will sing a song. There won’t be a play or theme that ties everything together, but lots of songs and carols are ringing through the halls.
School Festivities: Staff will decide on a school classroom contest for the holiday season - last year, classes decorated their classroom doors.
The Christmas Concert on December 12 will include all classes and all students from grades K-6. Every classroom participates, but if a parent does not want a student to participate they can let the school know. Parents clarified that the concert is more of a holiday concert than a religious concert.
Chip the Elf on the Shelf will come out of hiding in December. Gifts for students from Chip have been purchased.
The date for the turkey dinner offered by Trinity United Church is December 14, but that is the Christmas concert storm date. School administration will talk to Trinity to see if it’s possible to switch to a different date.
There will be a Christmas assembly with special recognitions, and there will be a special guest at the school at some point before the holidays.

Questions: A parent asked about donations of coats, snow pants, and boots. These are welcome at the school at any time. The school needs spares on hand for when outdoor clothing gets wet or dirty, as well as items for students in need to take home as their own. A parent asked about donations of toys or Christmas gifts. There are lots of community groups or businesses that want to support a family at Christmas, and Ms. McMillan matches groups and families with needs whenever possible. If there are money donations to the school, the money funds grocery story gift cards that would go towards a family.

FINANCIAL REPORT
Family fun night brought in about $300. We have $1,000 in the bank and in reserve.
About $60 in raffle tickets sold at Family Fun Night. 
ADL will be making a donation of coupons and discounts for their products for the breakfast program.
The school (not the Home and School) recently received $2,200 from Trinity for the breakfast program, and another $1,000 came from CIBC.

A parent asked the current school population. Prince Street has 248 students.

DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCIL
Jane provided Vinay Upreti’s name and contact information to the coordinator of the District Advisory Councils and sent Vinay minutes and documents from last spring’s meetings.

FROM THE PEI HOME AND SCHOOL FEDERATION
Ramona and Kristy noted some upcoming dates:
- Resolutions for the provincial home and school annual general meeting are due January 31
- Staff appreciation week will take place February 12 to 16
- The deadline for the Extra Mile Award is January 12 and Volunteer of the Year is March 9

Regarding resolutions, Jane noted that her work, the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women, has been researching best practices on school dress codes, and that the Council might ask the provincial board to consider a resolution coming out of their research, or they might see if a local school would be interested in putting a resolution forward, in which case Jane might bring it forward with Prince Street in January. Members said they’d be happy to hear about the research in January either way.

ACTIVE ROUTES TO SCHOOL
Shannan Young (a grade 1-2 teacher) has agreed to sit on the committee as the teacher representative. Jamie Gosbee, the Active Routes project coordinator, was looking for a teacher rep but also looking for confirmation that it would be okay to do some classroom surveys. Aletha said staff discussed this and it was okay. There will also be an online survey for parents and community that Home and School will take the lead on. The Active Routes project would get back to the school to discuss results and make plans to increase active transportation. Home and School members considered it an advantage, not a disadvantage, that the Active Routes consultation would happen in winter.

GARDEN BUDDIES
Charlene Rogers-Bourdon provided an update. Volunteers were in today to prepare for a Thursday morning cooking day with kindergarten classes. Everyone thought this sounded wonderful. Ramona noted that Spring Park is doing a community support agriculture (CSA) fundraiser - veggie boxes as the school fundraiser. This is being run by one of the garden buddies, Jenn Whitaker.

SCHOOL LUNCHES, BREAKFAST PROGRAM
The menu will be changing in December! Spaghetti has been waning as a preference, so the school will swap it out, and go with Green Isle catering for a lunch box special for $5 (a wrap with real, not processed meat, two cookies, veggies and dip, and a juice box. They will try a couple of weeks to see how it goes. Another option from Green Isle was a pizza sub, which we may try in the future.

AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Youth services worker Dawna is running a multisport program. There have been a couple of cancellations due to unforeseen circumstances. Next week is the last week.

The 4-6 after school program has been too many kids, so will probably need to be divided into grades 3-4 and 5-6. The school will have to reevaluate after Christmas.

A parent volunteer for the recent Bricks4Kids noted that if there is a child who usually has extra help who signs up for an after school program that it could be discussed with organizers in advance so coordinators and volunteers can make a plan to meet the child’s needs.

What options would people like to explore for after school programs in the new year?
- Bricks 4 Kids for older kids would be great.
- Cooking class would be popular again.
- Arduino might be a great option for older grades (or just grade 6).

Ramona will follow up on those three options and get back to school admin.

CHRISTMAS CONCERT
Aretha said the school needs help with videotaping the concert and taking pictures.
Lori has offered to take pictures with the school camera, so now we only need help with video.
Last year it was recorded by Marlene Harding, who is a parishioner of the church. The school has a video camera. We could ask the church if they have someone on stand-by who helps with video recording? We could also ask Holland College photography students as part of their program.

We are not planning to copy or distribute a DVD.

Will we raffle off VIP seating again? Yes, this is a simple and fun raffle. Someone will need to scout out the church to determine the number and placement of the VIP seats. Two seats will need to be reserved for Lori as the photographer as well.

Home and School will run a bake sale again. We will also need a spare table for the raffle basket. There will not be room among the baked goods!

The raffle basket looks amazing and has a $450 value. Karla did a terrific job gathering donations for the basket. Many thanks to her!

“Concert best” is the dress expected at the concert. Any props or costumes that the students require will be provided at the school.

OTHER BUSINESS
We will need to set a spring fling date at the January meeting.
2018 meetings will continue to be the last Tuesday of the month.

December - no meeting
January 23
February 27
March - no meeting
April 24
May 22

Oops! Meeting Dates Correction!

Sorry, friends! We listed the date of the November Home and School meeting incorrectly. The fourth Tuesday of November is November 28, not November 21 as stated at the last meeting.

We will meet on Tuesday, November 28, at 6:30 p.m.

Here's the corrected list of future Home and School meeting dates scheduled for the rest of the year:

November 28

December - no meeting
January 23
February 27
March - no meeting
April 24
May 22

Past minutes have been corrected retroactively.

 - Jane

 

October Home and School Meeting Minutes

Prince Street Home and School
October 24, 2017

There were 18 participants and 2 translators in attendance. Ramona called the meeting to order and invited people to introduce themselves around the table. There were several newcomers to the school – and several newcomers to Canada. Welcome to all!

BUS DRIVER INFORMATION
Karla shared information on behalf of her husband, a bus driver in Stratford, who was not able to attend. He is chairing a health and safety campaign about stopping when bus lights are flashing, and he has information to share, including a ten-minute presentation that he would like to present at a future opportunity. Karla shared a brochure that has been developed about stopping when buses are flashing their red lights.

Every year they bring out a new fleet of buses and new buses have more red lights and safety features to signal when they are about to stop. Every year, they try to do more to improve visibility and safety, but people still pass buses more often than you would think.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT
Principal Anna MacKenzie gave a verbal report.

School Activities: Younger grades have gone apple picking, and Grade 3A is planning visits to the seniors’ residence Geneva Villa. Bricks 4 Kids got off the ground with an after school program, with the first of four Wednesday sessions for Grades 1 to 3. They had hoped for 20 registrations but got 14. Their next session will be for Grades 4 to 6. Youth Services Worker Donna MacDonald will start an afterschool activity soon for Grades 4 to 6, so all grades will have had a chance for at least one afterschool activity this term. Dance Club is starting up on Thursday mornings and is being coordinated by Grade 5 teacher Amanda Killorn. This club helps students round out their day, get some exercise, and enhance social skills.

Academics: Math and reading goals for our school are in the process of being updated. Rezoning happened after June assessments of math and reading, so the June to September data has changed. The school is just in the process of getting reshuffled data for the current school population.

Book Fair: A book fair is scheduled for during parent/teacher interviews November 17 to 18. The school will likely get some advertising out soon. We will probably need some parent volunteers to support the book fair. Please let the school know. Heather can do Thursday evening; Jane will check with her mom about Friday. Volunteers can let Anna know.

Wish List: Principal Anna thanked the Home and School for its contribution of $800 towards “wish list” items to support the school. The school has started to do some shopping for behaviour resource materials and outdoor activities equipment, the priority items selected. The staff voted on resources that would benefit the most students. If you know people with woodworking skills with routers or sanders the school would appreciate some help with some outdoor equipment. Kristy will check with a parent. Ramona has a big log in her yard!

Questions: Could the afterschool and morning activities be posted to the Facebook page, please, because students don’t always get messages home to parents.

SEEDLINGS
Updates on the Seedlings program are a standing agenda item this year. There was no update from Marilyn Carey this month since she wasn’t available, but the program is getting great reviews – “It’s amazing!” said one of the kindergarten participants.

FINANCIAL REPORT
Heather gave the financial report. The current balance is $876. There are fundraisers coming up – the family fun night and Christmas fundraisers.
We spent some money on food treats to welcome new teachers and a new principal at the beginning of the year. (These were very welcome.)
Home and School Federation dues have increased this year from $100 to $200 based on our school’s size, but we only paid $100. We will pay the higher dues when this becomes financially possible for us. We had let the Home and School know at the Annual General Meeting that we could not meet the fee increase this year.

DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCILS (DACs)
Jane has been the Prince Street representative on the District Advisory Council for the past eighteen months, since the Councils were established, but she cannot continue this year. She described the work of the Council. Our district, the Colonel Gray family of schools, was working towards a project to do some research and assessment around appropriate amounts and kinds of homework for students in primary. The DAC also discussed other themes and topics. The Department of Education has hired a new coordinator for the DACs who began work last week. She will be assisting DACs to get going for the new year. The time commitment is three meetings a year. The DAC’s role is to advise government. Jane is happy to share information from last year’s work with a new Prince Street representative.

Vinay Upreti volunteered. He is a recent newcomer to PEI from Turkey and has experience with teaching and education systems in other parts of the world. Jane said that the contributions of people with experience from other countries was very valuable on the DAC last year.

LEARN DAY GRANTS
The deadline is November 9 for small grants, $500 to $1,000, that support lifelong learning. Heather presented an idea – Nellie with Bricks4Kids is an engaging educator with a strong background in math who has done many presentations to students and adults about math. She does one presentation about what some call the “new math” to take away parents’ apprehension about the way math is currently being taught. Heather proposes a two-part application, for a parent engagement grant and a learn grant, to bring Nellie in for a presentation to parents and an additional presentation. Heather will develop a proposal and Jane will help edit.

ACTIVE ROUTES TO SCHOOL PROJECT
Ramona talked about Recreation PEI’s offer to pilot their active routes to school project with our school and Sherwood School. They will provide resources to the school to encourage more kids to walk and bike to school. The coordinator Jamie Gosbee met with Anna, Kristy, and Ramona. The pilot project would begin with an assessment of how many students are bussing or being driven to school who could be walking or biking. Ramona noted that for safety reasons, walking is the better option for our city streets rather than biking.

To determine how many students are bussing that could potentially walk, the possible first step would be a survey in classrooms and/or a survey to families. Next they would come to the school in the mornings and afternoons to look at the traffic patterns and make observations. Results of the survey plus observations then would be presented to parents and the school to set goals. They would have some practical suggestions and resources to encourage active routes to school. The project would then assess at the end of the project if there had been any change in students using active transportation. Ramona and Kristy thought the project seemed worthwhile.

Anna also thought the proposal was very interesting – there are a number of Prince Street students bussing or being driven to school. Is there potential to change that behaviour to walking? She wondered, besides health benefits, does that also work to relieve congestion in the immediate area of the school and offer a safer area around the school? She saw potential health, safety, and environmental benefits. Of cours,e maybe we will find out we have a lot of walkers already.

A parent asked if they would assess students’ habits in more than one season. The factors affecting active routes are very different in winter than in fall or spring. Yes, the pilot would assess students’ routes in multiple seasons and weather.

Anna would like a few weeks to get a response from staff before a final decision about participating in the pilot. Home and School has positive feedback and will support participation if staff agrees it is a good idea.

FOOD PROGRAMS
Checking in about breakfast programs and hot lunch is a standing item on the agenda this year. Feedback about school food programs was positive.

There was a request from a parent that the menu on the order form specify what kind of meat is in “meatballs.” Kristy confirmed the meatballs are beef, but the group acknowledged that “meat” is unclear and could cause confusion for families that do not eat some kinds of meat. The meal order form can be updated to specify “beef meatballs.”

FAMILY FUN NIGHT
Family fun night is scheduled for Thursday, November 2, from 6:00 to 7:30 in the school. Families are welcome – parents, grandparents, guardians, and children. Admission is by donation.

The family fun will include a bake sale, board games in the gym, and a craft table. Can anyone volunteer to have a room for Just Dance? Kristy or Heather will check with Ms. Killorn.

A Pokemon tournament was very popular last year. Is there someone who could coordinate this?

The youth services worker formerly set up particularly popular games. Can the new youth services worker access these same games?

A teacher passed on a student’s request for a Beyblade Battle.

Anyone who is able is welcome to donate baking – please make sure that all baking is free of the allergens that are banned at the school this year. Drop-off for baked goods is welcome before the end of the school day or when you arrive for family fun night. Kristy will also get chips and juice boxes.

RAFFLE BASKET
Karla’s goal is to have the raffle basket done up for Family Fun Night on November 2 so that people can see what’s in the basket. It can be on display as well at the book fair and then the winter concert. Tickets will be $2 each or 3 for $5 – and the draw date will be the December 18th in the last week of school. Kristy and Heather will get the lottery license number. Ms. Coady will help manage the tickets.

Items so far include crafts, toys, and services. If there are late items to the basket, these can be accommodated.

A parent noted that Grade 6 students like to have a role in selling tickets or other tasks at events!

ANY OTHER ITEMS?
When is the Christmas concert? The concert will be held December 12th at 6:30 p.m. for all grades. The concert will again take place at First Baptist Church, where it was held very successfully last year. The church has been very welcoming and kind.

A parent asked about the evacuation location for Prince Street School in case of an evacuation of school grounds like the one that happened last year. Our evacuation location is also at First Baptist Church. One benefit of having the concert there is that it creates a safe and positive experience of that space for the students.

Anna shared a poster about an upcoming presentation to learn about ways to create a healthy community. “Ensuring the future health of our children & grandchildren… it takes a village” will take place at 7:00 p.m. on November 2 at the Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall). This is unfortunately at the same time as our Family Fun Night.

Teachers who participated in the meeting reflected that Prince Street got off to a great start this year despite all the changes to school zones and the student population – as well as staff. There has been a really good transition for new students into the school. It “feels like they have always been here,” the teachers agreed.

NEXT MEETING DATES

November 28 (note: this is the corrected date)
December - no meeting
January 23
February 27
March - no meeting
April 24
May 22

Welcome to the New School Year!

PRINCE STREET HOME AND SCHOOL
September 26, 2017

Ramona called the meeting to order and introduced herself and Kristy as co-chairs.
Ramona had drafted an agenda, which the new principal Anna distributed.
About 16 members of the school community and 1 translator attended.
There was a roundtable of introductions of all participants. 

This year's executive:

- Ramona Doyle and Kristy Phillips - Co-Chairs

- Heather MacEwen - Treasurer

- Jane Ledwell - Secretary

START WITH A SEEDLING

Marilyn talked to the Home and School about the Start with a Seedling program, which is back this year for Kindergarten. She shared a handout about the program. It began in 2014 as a research project and was very successful. Last year, there was a lack of funding and volunteers, but it’s exciting that it has been able to return this year.

The program includes field trips to the Farm Centre and Legacy Garden, to connect kindergarten children to intergenerational mentors and also to hands-on learning about food production. The program goal is to increase food literacy. A grant from the Seniors’ Secretariat has helped ensure the program could run this year.

There is a hope among organizers that this project will grow. Is there a possibility that Prince Street could be a site where this could scale up? Home and School members were hopeful that it could.

Last year, there was an after school cooking program that was quite successful. Chris Sallie, who organized it, has moved away from Charlottetown, but the nutritionist who worked with him on the program is interested in continuing these after school classes.

Marilyn explained that scaling the program up could include a component for grade three as well as kindergarten and the after school cooking.

Anna MacKenzie reported that the kindergarten teachers are really excited about the program. It meets many curriculum outcomes. Grade Three has an agriculture curriculum outcome and would be the best fit from teachers’ perspective. Current Grade Three students were part of the first group that participated in the Start with a Seedling program when they were in Kindergarten.

Parents spoke very favourably about the program. They were disappointed it didn’t continue up from kindergarten to higher grades. Parents also spoke highly of the after school cooking program.

There is still room for more volunteers for Start with a Seedling!
Please share the call for volunteers, if you can. Please contact startwithaseedling@gmail.com. The call for volunteers can be found on Facebook or here it is in the e-newsletter from Jane’s work: http://mailchi.mp/60d678a514f4/pei-status-of-women-enews-sept-14?e=36104...

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

Staffing: Anna MacKenzie is the new principal this year. (Home and School was very pleased to meet her!) The school lost Kelly Gillis as vice-principal but gained her as literacy coach. Aletha Coady is acting as vice-principal and has been a great support in the transition, with great knowledge of the school and of student academics. Natasha Bromley will arrive at the school as vice-principal after she finishes a parental leave. She comes from a background of a school with progress-monitoring and other programs familiar to Prince Street. Ms. Wadden-Hughes, the music/library teacher will be beginning a maternity and parental leave soon. Anna hopes to have someone hired to fill her leave in the next two to three weeks.

School Goals: School goals have been mapped out from 2016 to 2019. They are goals that are very specific. The whole province is working on reading as a goal, and every school also has a 4-6 writing goal and a 4-6 math goal. Results of assessments from May and June of last year will be available and will go public in October. These will help us see how well we are doing towards our goals.

Prince Street School’s School Effectiveness Goals 2016-2019
1. K-3 Reading - Increase students meeting expectations in reading in 2016-2017 from 65% to 72%.
2. 4-6 Writing - Increase students meeting expectations in writing in 2016-2017 from 58% to 65%.
3. 4-6 Math - Increase students meeting expectations in math in 2016-2017 from 65% to 72%
4. Public confidence - Increase in the development of partnerships with parents to support academic student success.
5. Well-being - Increase in students’ ability to persevere and “never give up.”

So, updates will be forthcoming on academic goals. From what Anna has seen, the non-academic goals are in good standing. Programs such as breakfast program and lunch have volunteers. This and other parental support has been very good this year so far. Anna observes that students use “never give up” in their language.

In other learning goals, the workshop model, learning plans, and coaching support to staff are all continuing for language arts and math goals. We are also still part of the wraparound program which offers many resources.

A parent asked for more information about the “wrap” school model. Anna explained that 5 to 6 schools in the province, including Prince Street, receive additional resources (more than other schools) to bring student achievement up: for example, more/longer access to math and literacy coaches. Research says a model with an embedded coach really increases results — it is good for teachers and for students to have more access to resource people to help them get past hurdles or beyond plateaus with new strategies.

PD Day: The Professional Development Day on October 6 will be focused on refining work on school goals with literacy, numeracy, and administrative coaches.

Literacy Materials: Anna drew attention to new literacy materials. “Lucy Calkins kits” are a resource for teachers that is a highly reputable, research-based program for teaching reading and writing. There is a set of K-3 reading resources in the school already, and a 4-6 writing set to come. The Lucy Calkins kits are so much in demand that there is a three-week waiting list to access the kits at the Public Schools Branch, and we have our own set.

Allergies: There are Prince Street students with allergies to tuna, peanuts, nuts, and shellfish that are considered life-threatening allergies. Please help avoid these in student lunches. Anna clarified that fish other than tuna and shellfish are okay.

Breakfast Program: The program is up and running on school mornings from 8:00 to 8:20. Kristy provided an update from Tanya. Volunteers are in place, but it would be helpful to have two more, specifically on Mondays and Thursdays. (Since the additional volunteers would be a third person helping those morning, it might be possible for them to start at 7:30.) Donations of food or money are always welcome. The program has lots of jam. Gift cards to Superstore would be helpful; most gift cards are for Sobey’s, and this lets the program access only half the sale items. Always welcome: quick-cooking oatmeal; popular dry cereals without too much sugar, such as Shreddies, or Mini-Wheats.

Hot Lunch: The hot lunch program is up and running. The Executive of Home and School met with Anna before the school year and this was one topic of discussion. A new item was available today: Taco Tuesday from Green Isle Catering. Kirsty said it was the biggest lunch order she has ever put through. The only challenge was that the gluten-free taco shells were not labelled for the child’s name. One child with celiac disease didn’t get lunch today. People did not seem put off by the $5 price this week.

Bussing Support: Some issues have come up with students out of seats and talking too loudly. Parents, please reinforce with children who take the bus that it is important to sit in seats and using indoor voices. One bus was overcrowded; this required some shifts in buses, and now the buses are evened out but both are very full.

Students Achieve: The Students Achieve system is the system Prince Street uses to collect attendance and keep records. There is an option to use mass email to parents to send messages. Anna would like to try this this winter. It would not be overused or overwhelm people’s inboxes. Parents were supportive of this idea.

Website: Anna would like to update the school’s official website http://www.edu.pe.ca/princestreet/ but has not yet had the chance. She asked for patience — and for feedback about what people would like to see. A parent noted that the link to “Enter the website” requires scrolling down too far. Could this please be fixed? Parents expressed a wish to have a listing of staff email addresses. Is there a way to include this on the website?

The Terry Fox Walk is coming up on Friday.

Orange Shirt Day is also coming up on Friday. This is a movement to recognize the legacy of residential schools. Parents wanted to know more. Could Ms R-B or someone from the school please post an explanation on the Facebook page? Parents commented that this topic requires a lot of sensitivity. Parents would like to know how to support students on this topic.

After-school Programs: Anna and Aletha would like to know Home and School priorities for after school programming. We discussed a list of options before discussing priorities.
- Recreation PEI would like to implement a cycling project. The project coordinator would like to sit down with the phys-ed teacher, the Principal, and home and school representatives to see what it would mean.
- Blue Jays Camp - Baseball, traditionally held in the spring. Students enjoy this.
- Bricks for Kids Lego program could run any time of year, but it comes at a cost. It costs $50 per student for 4 weeks, 1 night a week. At a past school, Home and School was able to subsidize. Kids love it. There is a cap on enrolment. It would be worth exploring some options for funding so that it could be kept at a $20 registration. This program may be an option that includes students from K-6.
- Red Cross Home alone program is a one-evening course for 10 and up.
- Game Force is a one-week free program, usually two hours. The project coordinator brings in laptops loaded with software and students learn animation. Grade 6 might be a good fit for this.
- Cooking Skills courses ran last year November-December for Grade 5 and after Christmas for Grade 4. The hope is that the expanded funding for the Seedling program will expand this program as well. Marilyn will be the parent-liaison for this program.
- Traditionally, the youth service worker did soccer, dodgeball, and other sports activities after school. The new youth service worker is working on getting programming planned.
- Might there be interest in a Chess Club this year? We’ve sent students to competitions (12 last year) but they have not had the benefit of a club to learn tournament etiquette. Heather and Richard are willing to run an evening a week.
- There has been art program sometimes in the past, in some years with Ruth Lacey. Parents with experience at other schools also recommended Maurice Bernard as a resource person for this.
- Students who took part in dance club are missing this. It was run by Kelly Gillis, who cannot run it this year because she is not always at Prince Street first thing in the morning. Someone will check in with Dance Virtuoso about possibilities of an experienced teacher or even a well-trained high school student who could come and gain volunteer hours while working with the children.

Parents noted it is nice to have something as inclusive as possible for as many grades and as many kids as possible.

PRIORITIES
The group set priorities for after school programming:
- Ramona and Kristy will check in with Recreation PEI about the bikes program.
- Bricks for Kids is likely to be a hit if it can be subsidized.
- Something sport-related with the youth service worker (some kind of organized game to learn the rules but also get a chance to play) - A parent noted Rugby PEI is doing outreach and could be enticed to run a program. Heather will check into this.

FINANCIAL UPDATE
Heather is treasurer and shared a report on how much money came in and how much we spent last year. We will probably bring in another $1,000 or so between Christmas concert bake sale, raffle of best seats at the Christmas concert, and a family fun night.

Usually we do a “wish list” for teachers to supplement classroom supplies. This year we will work with the principal to decide on one purchase (about $800) that will benefit a wide range of students or the whole school. Anna and Aletha will bring this to the next staff meeting to start selecting a purchase.

DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCIL
Jane has been Prince Street’s representative on the District Advisory Council since its inception, but she has new volunteer commitments this fall and won’t be able to continue. She would like parents to think about taking on this role and selecting a District Advisory Council representative will be on next month’s agenda.

Jane told parents about Learn Day, coming up this Saturday, to discuss and create a vision for education in PEI. Jane is not able to attend because she is travelling for her work this weekend.

FALL FAMILY FUN NIGHT
Parents explained that Spring Fling is our biggest annual fundraiser - a barbecue in June with carnival-style games. Family Fun Nights are smaller and simpler but lots of fun.

Last year, the fall family fun night was very successful. The event is easy to run and tends to be well-attended and well-enjoyed. The “fun” typically includes board games, a craft table, just dance and/or karaoke, and a bake sale table. Parents come with their children. Entry is by donation at the door, with a suggested donation of $2 person or $5 a family.

Parents who are new to Prince Street were asked for ideas for events that have worked at other schools or that they would like to see. One parent offered that at her child’s previous school, a math games night with different math games in different classes was a great success.

Kirsty shared an idea from CHANCES program ”Activate Your Family” with Gord McNeilly. He is very dynamic and fun — and he is willing to do fitness/activity sessions with schools. This could be a really fun night with parents and kids. Could this be a program to apply for a parent engagement grant? Heather will see what the price would be and look into a grant. We will try to line up an Active Fun night with Gord in October. As a fundraiser, we could sell milk or chocolate milk and apples. Perhaps we could get apples donated.

It was decided that a Family Fun Night will be planned for November. The date will be determined.

Raffle Basket: It was decided that we will assemble a raffle basket in time to display it at November events, such as parent-teacher interviews/book fair, and family fun night. We will sell tickets on the basket until the Christmas concert. Carla will coordinate. Tickets will be $2 each or 3 for $5. Kristy and Heather will help line up the raffle license. Several parents offered items for the basket. Donations welcome!

OTHER CONCERNS
Candy rewards continue to be a concern for parents. Last year the treats were greatly reduced. Could this be addressed again? Anna and Aletha took note of concerns. Aletha provided some historical background about this problem to Anna and new parents.

A parent also expressed a concern about helping students to prepare for quizzes, but never seeing the quiz results, so we don’t know about progress. Anna encouraged parents to have conversations with their children’s teachers directly. Sometimes teachers are creating a portfolio for parent-teacher interviews. Progress monitoring is great for the teacher — but it would be great to have more information to parents. Feedback from teachers confirms that progress monitoring is not parent-friendly.

REGULAR MEETING NIGHT
The regular meeting was set for the 4th Tuesday of each month except December and March. Meetings will take place at 6:30 at the school, with childcare and translation.
2017-2018 meetings:
October 24
November 28 (Note: meeting date corrected)
December - no meeting
January 23
February 27
March - no meeting
April 24
May 22

The meeting adjourned with thanks to all.

Minutes of Our March SPRING FLING Planning Meeting

Prince Street Home and School
March 2, 2017
MINUTES

* 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

SPRING FLING

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.

PARENT ENGAGEMENT

Proposal went in since the last meeting!

NEXT MEETING
April 20, 2017 - see you then!

Minutes of Our April Meeting

Prince Street

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.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

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.

FINANCIAL UPDATE

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.

SPRING FLING
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).

OTHER BUSINESS
There was no other business. Heather adjourned the meeting with thanks.

NEXT MEETING
May 18th - see you there!

Tremendous News!

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:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/erin-johnston-outstanding-principal-the-learning-partnership-1.3958134

And the Guardian story:

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/2017/1/31/prince-street-elementary-has-one-of-canadas-outstanding-principa.html

My kids say Erin is also famous today.

Three more updates:

  • We have to change the date of the Family Fun Night! It's not possible to host this event on February 9th as planned. :( Sorry for the inconvenience! Please save the date of April 6th and we'll try again.
  • Staff Appreciation Week is coming up on February 13-17 and Prince Street Home & School want to show how much we appreciate the work that our school staff do! We are looking for small items that could be used for a prize draw for teachers and staff. Things like $5 Tim's cards and other small gifts. If you have something to donate, drop it off at the school by February 9th. We are also looking for parents that can prepare snacks for one of the days that week for staff to be able to enjoy in the staff room (P.S. We think Ms. J likes chocolate). If you can bring snacks one day please sign up at the Facebook page or email princestreethomeandschool at gmail dot com. Let's show our support for Prince Street's wonderful staff!
  • Don't forget the next public meeting for the School Review process is taking place at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 1, at Colonel Gray High School.

 

Minutes from Our January 2017 Meeting

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.

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, princestreethomeandschool@gmail.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.

STAFF APPRECIATION
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.

SPRING FLING
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

  • February 16
  • March - no meeting
  • April 20
  • May 18
  • June - no meeting

Report for the School Review Process

Prince Street School

PRINCE STREET ELEMENTARY SCHOOL & THE SCHOOL REVIEW PROCESS
Prince Street Home and School Association
November 2016

DOWNLOAD PDF VERSION

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:

  • Discussion at October and November Home and School meetings.
  • A clear-language explanation of the school review process and our consultation plan.
  • A survey, available online and in hard copy.
  • A suggestion box available in the school office.
  • An email address open for comments in the language of the sender’s choice.
  • Encouragement from Home and School members for their friends and neighbours to take part in the discussion.

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.

  • 56% (31 people) said they were parents or guardians of Prince Street students.
  • 45% (25 people) said they live in the neighbourhood of Prince Street school.
  • 18% (10 people) said they or a child or children close to them graduated from Prince Street.

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.

Pie Chart 1

  • 48% (26 people) said they lived in the zone where they could walk or bus to the school,
  • 13% (7 people) said they chose the school because the diversity of Prince Street School community matches their values,
  • 9% (5 people) said they wanted their child to go to Prince Street School because of its reputation, and
  • another 9% (5 people) said they chose the school because they feel connected to Prince Street School as part of their neighbourhood.

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:

Word Chart 1

“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:

  • P – Pride (proud = 59%);
  • R – Respect (respectful = 66%);
  • I – Inclusive = 72%;
  • N – Never give up = 55%;
  • C – Caring = 85%;
  • E – Empathy (empathetic = 53%).

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:

Word Chart 2

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.

Pie Chart 2

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.

Pie Chart 3
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.”

Pie Chart 4
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.

Pie Chart 6

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.

Pie Chart 7

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.
Summary Chart

 

  1. A child can receive a good or bad education in any school.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  5. It is important to me for a school to be able to accommodate many kinds of ability and disability.
  6. It is important to me for a child to be able to walk to school or have a short bus ride.
  7. It is important to me for school changes to make education better for everyone, not just for my family.
  8. I believe parents and guardians and families play as big a part in children’s success in learning as the school itself.
  9. Schools in neighbourhoods where parents have fewer resources should get more resources than schools in neighbourhoods where parents have many resources.
  10. I believe that schools are responsible to contribute to children’s health including things such as adequate nutritious food and opportunities for exercise.
  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.
  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.
  13. What children are learning in school meets my expectations about what they should learn in school.
  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.
  15. I feel confident that Prince Street students will graduate with the highest level of literacy and numeracy they are able to achieve.
  16. I am hopeful about the Prince Edward Island education system.

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.

COMMENTS
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.

 

Minutes from Our November 2016 Meeting

Prince Street Home and School Minutes
November 24, 2016

Ramona Doyle chaired the meeting and shared an agenda.

INTRODUCTIONS

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.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

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.

SCHOOL GOALS

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

PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Smart Goal:
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?

WELLNESS
Smart Goal:
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.” :)

WISH LIST

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
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:

  • January 19
  • February 16
  • March - no meeting
  • April 20
  • May 18
  • June - no meeting
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