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

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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

Prince Street School and the School Review

The Public Schools Branch (PEI government) is doing a review of schools in our area, including Prince Street Elementary School.

At present, there is NO reason to think Prince Street Elementary School will close. However, our school and other schools connected to it WILL be affected by school changes. Government says the changes will be in place by September 2017.

As members of the Prince Street Elementary School community, we have some say in these changes if we speak up now!

PLEASE COMPLETE OUR SURVEY
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/princestreet

Why is Prince Street Elementary School part of the school review?
Prince Street School is considered “under-utilized.” This means there are fewer students than the school can comfortably hold. The school is not as full as it could be. And it is expected to get less full, not more full, in the next few years.
Having fewer students means higher costs for running the building, but being under-filled affects students’ education, not just cost.

Why? Having fewer students means having fewer staff members. It also affects what programs can be offered. A school that is too empty has fewer staff people and fewer resources for programs.

Here is an example. Kindergarten enrolment at our school has gotten less over the last few years. We went from having three kindergarten classes to just two. The whole Prince Street School has been affected by the loss of a kindergarten class.

It is harder for a school that is under-filled to adapt to change. For example, if three families move to Prince Street School with three kindergarten-aged children, it is harder to absorb three children into two kindergarten classes than into three. It could result in a kindergarten class with more students than recommended, so the teacher has less time for each student.

There is lots of change in the Prince Street School population each year. Families move to Prince Street School. Families move away. We have a lot of diversity in our school community. This means diversity in how people gain their income and how much income they have. It means diversity in cultures or countries of origin. It means diversity in language and diversity of ability. Students have a diversity of needs.
 

Colonel Gray Family of Schools: A mix of under-filled and over-crowded schools

Prince Street School is under-filled. Some other schools nearby in Charlottetown and Stratford have more students than fit in their buildings. Over-crowded schools are stressful for students and staff. Over-crowded schools also cause problems for offering the programs and services that help students learn. 

Birchwood Intermediate School, where most Prince Street students go after grade six, is very seriously under-filled, and that is creating very serious challenges. The Birchwood community (families, staff, and others) talk about challenges such as keeping high-quality programs, retaining good staff, and keeping a positive spirit in a school that is too empty.

Colonel Gray High School, where most Prince Street students go after grade nine, will be uncomfortably over-crowded by the time this year’s grade six students graduate from high school.
 

EXAMPLES OF SCHOOL CHANGES

  • Changes to school zone boundaries. Every school area has “borders.” Some of these borders could change. For example, this could mean that a street where students now go to Prince Street Elementary could become a street where students go to Parkdale Elementary or vice versa.
  • Changes to what programs are or are not available at schools. For example, French Immersion is an example of a program that is available in some schools and not others. It is now available at Spring Park but not Prince Street. School changes could result in changes to which schools have this program.
  • Changes to what grade levels a school includes. For example, an under-filled K-3 school could become a K-6 school.
  • Changes could include closing some schools, but in general the goal is to better use school buildings that already exist and to balance schools that are under-filled with schools that are over-crowded.

HOW CAN I HAVE A SAY?
School changes are connected to education goals. We want to influence changes that meet our hopes for children to learn well and thrive in positive, hopeful school environments.

You can have your say about school changes directly to government at http://princeedwardisland.ca/betterlearningforall and by taking part in public hearings and consultations. Government is looking for your ideas about these sorts of things:

  • The factors to consider and the values behind any school changes
  • Ideas for school changes that are realistic and solve problems
  • Thoughts about how school changes would affect the school community in good and bad ways.

You can also share ideas to be included in a report that Prince Street Home and School will submit to government. This report will focus on the factors to consider and the values behind any school changes that could affect our school.

You can participate in this report in several ways:

  • Complete our survey about what is important to you at Prince Street School: online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/princestreet or on paper from the school office.
  • Put completed surveys or other comments or suggestions in a suggestion box in the office at the school.
  • Submit comments in the language of your choice to princestreethomeandschool@gmail.com. (Note: We will use Google translate to read comments in languages other than English and French.)

The deadline for your comments to be included in a consultation report from the Prince Street Home and School is November 18.
Information about the Prince Street School report will be available here, at http://princestreetschool.ca

Minutes from Our October 2016 Meeting

Co-chair Ramona called the meeting to order and circulated the agenda. A dozen people attended the meeting. The agenda was very full, so some reports were prepared in writing.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT
The principal’s report was circulated in writing. Erin provided brief updates:

  • Change in daily schedule – time frames were sent home in a notice
  • Hoping to start an after school cooking class – looking at gr’s 5 and 6 (this is now confirmed)
  • Lock-down drill completed and went well
  • Provincial assessment results sent home Wed Oct 19
  • Halloween dance Fri Oct 21 – notice sent home – gr 4-6
  • Halloween activity day on Mon Oct 31
  • Evacuation procedures meeting Wed Oct 19 – Principals gathered to discuss procedures
  • Cross country running – Bella Quinn advanced to provincials

Erin invited questions on her list. There was a question about evacuation procedures. The principals from all schools met to go through step by step procedures for evacuation to safe sites. There are very few differences between what we did here at Prince Street and the updated procedures for all schools. We have to add a few things to the classroom “go-packs” and create a “go-pack” for the office. The other thing that is new is that in the event of an off-site evacuation, the first step will be to go to the on-site locations assigned to each classroom for a fire drill. This will allow for a few more minutes to gain information, to evaluate the situation, and to assess the need to move to the off-site location.

Erin reported that she followed up with staff about parents’ concern about candy as a reward in the classroom. She asked staff to reflect on their use of candy as a first step. It has led to some good noticing and good discussions.

There was a question about Home and School responding to teacher wish list requests. We are very limited on funds this year and it might be most useful to have one or two big wishes for the school, but if staff prefers it can be put it out to the teachers to make their requests. Erin said that today, there was a meeting about budgetary requests to government to support academic initiatives. Some items would have a direct impact but are not fundable because they are not directly related to the school goals. Erin will get back to the Home and School about whether or not there is a school-wide fundable item.

There has been one inquiry from a teacher already: one grade three teacher won a draw for a Bricks for Kids session — the other grade three teacher has requested support for the same so that both grade three classes have the benefit of a session. The Home and School supports funding the second grade three classroom to receive funding for a session.

Prince Street School Goals 2016-2017

Erin was mandated to present the Prince Street School Goals. She noted that the non-academic goals around wellbeing and public confidence will be discussed at the next meeting.

Reading at Grades K-3: Every school with grades K-3 will have to have a reading goal. There are specific percentages associated with current levels and levels of increase for Prince Street School. The levels of increase are dictated by a formula. The current and target percentages were shared at the meeting but can’t be included in the public minutes due to an embargo. The data is available from Erin.

1. The 2019 Provincial Assessment and school based data results will demonstrate an increase in the percentage of students in grades kindergarten to grade three meeting expectations in reading from [the current percentage] to [a specified target percentage] as measured on the Primary Literacy Assessment. 

Collaborative Inquiry Question:
How can our students become more proficient readers through the implementation of learning goals (FLs), success criteria and descriptive feedback (the Big 3) as part of the reader’s workshop model?

2. The 2019 Provincial Assessment and school based data results will demonstrate an increase in the percentage of students in grades four to grade six meeting expectations in writing from [the current percentage] to [a specified target percentage] as measured on the Elementary Literacy Assessment.

Collaborative Inquiry Question:
How can our students become more proficient writers through the implementation of learning goals (FLs), success criteria and descriptive feedback (the Big 3) as part of the writer’s workshop model?

3. The 2019 Provincial Assessment and school based data results will demonstrate an increase in the percentage of students in grades four to grade six meeting expectations in math from [the current percentage] to [a specified target percentage] as measured on the Elementary Math Assessment. 

Collaborative Inquiry Question:
How can our students become more proficient in math through the implementation of learning goals (FLs), success criteria and descriptive feedback (the Big 3) as part of the math workshop model?

Rather than look specifically at reading comprehension, reading fluency, or other specific components of literacy, other goals have been left broad, to encourage development of actions and strategies that lead to overall improvements and overall increases in student reading achievement.

Collaborative Inquiry questions help staff to guide how the goal will be implemented and what strategies will be used in the classroom.

Prince Street has been working with workshop models — Reading, Writing and Math workshops. The workshop model uses the amount of instruction time allocated for those activities in a specific way. The “workshop” begins with a mini-lesson (8-15 minutes) on a specific topic. Then students move into larger piece (18-25 minutes) of independent practice. They are not left entirely on their own to do this, usually. The teacher might be conferencing with a student, or might work with a specific group on a specific skill while others use independent time. There is then a consolidation piece with the whole group or small groups. Implementation of the workshop model in classrooms will be crucial to fill in gaps that turn up in progress monitoring with students. Staff are learning right now about “high-yield strategies.”

The focus of the September Professional Development (PD) day was creating success criteria for students in classrooms.

There was a question about whether Prince Street students have been meeting assessment levels in increasing or decreasing numbers. 

  • Grade 6 math has seen a steady increase
  • Grade 3 writing has seen a steady decrease
  • Grade 3 reading has been fairly stable — plateaued
  • Grade 6 reading has seen a decrease as well

These results are one of the reasons we have been made eligible for the wraparound program we are in this year. The list of wraparound supports available is incredible. Access to literacy coaches and math coaches has been limited in the past: under the wraparound program, they are going to dedicate literacy coaches to our school for whole blocks of time.

What are some of the factors that have led to increase in Grade 6 math numbers, and are these transferrable? There has been a very serious amount of PD for grade six math teachers. Recently, for example, they have introduced a “pacing guide” — this outlines the order in which to teach skills to get the biggest yield. There are many check-ins and assessments and there is time to learn to use tools. It’s intense professional development.

There was a concern that the focus on Grade 6 teachers was driven by assessments without building from earlier grades towards higher levels of achievement in Grade 6. It is not the administration’s sense that the professional development is “teaching to the test.” They also said that Grade six teachers who receive extra PD are asked to share the knowledge to teacher in the earlier grades.

The premise of intense professional development is that is making teachers smarter makes students smarter.

HOME AND SCHOOL FEDERATION SEMI-ANNUAL MEETING

The 2016 Semi-Annual Meeting: Building Healthy Communities around the School is scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, 2016, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Gulf Shore Consolidated School. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.

The focus of the semi-annual meeting is food and the resolution about supporting school lunches. Kirsty is attending but would love for another parent to go as well.

CONSULTATION ABOUT SCHOOL REVIEW PROCESS

After the last meeting, there was a public meeting to outline the consultation process that will lead to school review and school changes. The school review could result in school closures or in rezoning, or in reconfiguration of grades in a school or shifting of programs at schools, or any combination of options. The process is being led by Bob Andrews at the Public Schools Branch. He is very much in control of the data.

Some Prince Street representatives who were skeptical about the consultation process before the meeting left the meeting very confident that the process is open and the leadership is ready to listen and hear from the public. The Public Schools Branch is really interested in hearing reasonable, viable options for change. The status quo is not an option — the Minister of Education has been very clear about this.

The consultation process is open to

  • Input on factors,
  • Reasonable options for change, and
  • Implications of proposed changes that people bring forward.

The Public Schools Branch is gathering information in a number of ways.

Parents asked, is there a way we can do a very short plain language explanation of what has been discussed to this point? This would help reduce fears and misunderstandings.

Jane circulated a proposed consultation plan for the Prince Street school community.

Proposal for Prince Street Home and School Consultation about school review/school change

October 20 (tonight): In-person Home and School meeting: introduce and invite feedback on consultation plan

Following October 20: Gather opinions, ideas, and suggestions

  • A paper and on-line survey about opinions, issues, concerns. Jane is willing to design and administer this, with feedback and help.
  • A comment/suggestion box at the school (for people to drop off paper surveys or add their own comments). This would work best with encouragement and support for people to add comments to the suggestion box (asking people to jot down ideas and questions but also jotting down overheard questions and suggestions)
  • A shared Google form as another way to submit comments
  • Consultation options would be posted on Facebook and promoted other ways.

October 24: Time has been set aside for individuals, small groups and organizations to make presentations directly to Bob Andrews in Charlottetown. This is too soon to coordinate something on behalf of our whole Home and School, but individuals or other small groups are welcome to present.

November 3 Colonel Gray family of schools consultation meeting: encouragement to attend, assistance to coordinate a Prince Street contingent (car-pooling, etc.) - On behalf of Prince Street Home and School, Jane has requested that there be childcare provided at the meeting.

Following November 3: Work on drafting a written submission on behalf of the Prince Street community (parents and guardians), to be presented at the Home and School meeting in November for feedback

November 18: Deadline for surveys and comments.

November 24: Draft of Prince Street School written submission to be shared for in-person feedback at the Home and School meeting

End of November: Submission of the written notes from Prince Street School community

What we would do as a coordinated effort or a Home and School would complement and not replace input from individuals in the community, school staff (individually and collectively), and the principal. The link to submit opinions is here: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/education-early-learning-and-culture/school-review.

The Home and School approved the consultation plan -- some changes and comments are incorporated above, with thanks.

There was a really good conversation about how challenging it is to come up with specific recommendations. It is easier to talk about input and implications than viable options.

FAMILY FUN NIGHT - OCTOBER 26

We’ll collect a donation at the door (at the bake sale table). People come with their families - the event is most popular with K-3 families

Activities planned:

  • Lunchroom tables in the gym set up with board games
  • Bake sale table (Ramona to lead)
  • Dance room (Kelly to lead )
  • Karaoke room (Ramona will check with Keri about the karaoke machine)
  • Craft table (Jane to lead)
  • Let’s Talk Science demos (Heather will check if this is possible)
  • Pokemon tournament - table in the gym (not sure who said they would lead this??)
  • Heather will see if she can borrow giant Connect 4 and giant Jenga
  • Chart paper and markers and pastels and kids can come and draw (a teacher to lead?)

One more parent at each table would be great.

Note: The popcorn machine is blitzed.

We need the notice to go out tomorrow. Ramona will send it to Erin for copying, and Heather will cut it up in the morning. See everyone next Wednesday!

Ramona adjourned with thanks to all!

Consultation Plan for the Colonel Gray Family of Schools

In the coming weeks, Prince Street School and all schools in the Colonel Gray Family of Schools will be part of a school review by the Public Schools Branch. You can learn more about the school review at the Public Schools Branch website Better Learning for All

Our school community will be part of important consultations that will lead to school changes in our district. There are challenges and opportunities ahead. Here is the report with data to explain why our school is part of this review.

From the report, some of the data from Prince Street School:

  • Enrollment is trending down: it is 243 at present and forecast to be 192 by 2022.
  • The population of elementary-school-aged children in our zone is also decreasing and expected to decrease further by 2022.
  • Prince Street School's current capacity is 348 and current enrollment is 243. The Public Schools Branch reports we are using 70% of the school's capacity. The school is categorized as "under-utilized" and is "projected to continue to be under-utilized." The school is projected to be using 55% of the school's capacity by 2022. 
  • The cost per student of running Prince Street School is said to be $414.02.
  • The cost per square foot of running Prince Street School is said to be $2.91.
  • These costs are reported to be higher than average for elementary schools in the province.

The consultation plan for the Colonel Gray family of schools is an ugly PDF, but here are some highlights:

Five Step Process
1. Data collection and board direction; (This phase is in progress and almost complete.)
2. Public consultations to identify viable options; (This phase is beginning and will continue to the end of November 2016.)
3. Board recommendations;
4. 60 days of public input on the recommendations; and
5. Final decision. (This is expected by March 2017.)
Consultation Process with Key Stakeholders
1. Present Review of Schools and Consultation Process to Principals, DACs, and public. (This presentation took place last week)
2. Stakeholders identify and present:
a. Input on any School Review Factors,

b. Reasonable viable “options for change”, and/or

c. Implications “options for change” may have on the school community. (This is what is needed in the public consultation process to the end of November.)

The Public Schools Branch policy on School Change is here. Most important to the consultation process are the school review factors:

Where consideration is being given to making a Category I or Category II Change to a school, the impact of the proposed change on each school and those who will likely be directly affected by any such change should be reviewed, having regard to all relevant factors and information that is reasonably available to the Public Schools Branch. The factors to be taken into account will differ in every case; however, the educational interests of the students will always be a key consideration. The following is an illustrative, non-exhaustive, list of factors that may be considered:
EDUCATIONAL FACTORS
1. School’s ability to deliver the provincial school curriculum, programs, and services, including specialized services, and to accommodate any changes expected in those programs or services over the next 5 years;
2. Impact of the proposed change on students’ educational achievement and opportunities;
3. The grade levels currently served by a school, and whether a grade reconfiguration would be appropriate;
4. Uniqueness of a school’s educational program.
DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS
5. Enrollment patterns over the last 5 to 10 years and projected enrollment trends over the next 5 years;
6. Population patterns over the past 5 to 10 years and projected population trends over the next 5 years;
7. Number of students enrolled in a school who live outside the school’s attendance zone.
FACILITY FACTORS
8. School building’s age, site, location, conditions, including:
(a) accessibility to students with disabilities;
(b) any health or safety concerns;
(c) energy efficiency and environmental sustainability; and
(d) the cost and funding of any renovations that are, or will be needed, in the next 5 years.
9. Number and type of rooms needed in order to deliver required school programs and services;
10. Any Board long-term capital plan;
11. Proximity of other schools and the availability of appropriate accommodation in those schools;
12. Availability and use of appropriate technology;
13. Current and potential uses of surplus space in a school for Public Schools Branch-related purposes.
FINANCIAL FACTORS
14. Funding provided by the Department of Education.
15. Efficient use and distribution of resources available to the Public Schools Branch, including school administrative, teaching and other staff;
16. School operating costs, including school’s cost per student compared to the average;
17. An analysis of the projected cost savings or increases associated with change.
TRANSPORTATION FACTORS
18. Distance and time students spend, and will spend, in transit; 19. Traffic flow in and around a school;
20. Any increase or decrease in transportation costs.
PARENTAL AND COMMUNITY FACTORS
21. Parental and community involvement in, and support of, school;
22. Impact of proposed change on parents, including parent engagement;
23. Development projects planned for the affected community which are likely to come to fruition within the next 5 to 10 years;
24. Existing community uses of school facilities;
25. Possible alternative uses of school facilities, or surplus school space, by the community;
26. Other facilities in the community available for use by the community;
27. Information submitted to the Public Schools Branch about:
(a) the economic impact of a change on the community; and (b) the economic contribution the school makes to community.

Prince Street's District Advisory Council representative is Jane Ledwell. You can reach her at janeledwell at gmail dot com. Heather MacEwen is our alternate when Jane is not available. You will be able to make suggestions online when the Public Schools Branch opens up that process, or you can share ideas with Jane.

1st Public Consultation for Colonel Gray Family of Schools

An update since our meeting minutes! The PEI Home and School Federation sent out the note below about an upcoming consultation. Prince Street School is part of the Colonel Gray Family of Schools. This is one of six families of schools under review by the Public Schools Branch for reconfiguration of schools and students.

Public Schools Branch holding public meetings
The Public Schools Branch announced its school review process and public consultations to include three sets of public meetings. The purpose of the initial meetings is to present the data to the public and ensure they have opportunities to understand the data, the issues and the school review process.  Dates, times and locations are posted on the Public Schools Branch website at:  https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/education-early-learning-and-culture/school-review?utm_source=redirect&utm_medium=url&utm_campaign%2525252Bschoolreview=

The consultation for the Prince Street community and others in the Colonel Gray family of schools is taking place Wednesday, October 5, at 7:30 p.m. The Public Schools Branch notes:

A second set of public meetings will be held in November to provide an opportunity for the public  to provide input on viable options for change.

A third set of meetings will be held once the recommendations are developed, in accordance with the School Change Policy which requires 60 days of public input on the recommendations.

The public will also have opportunities to provide input online, in person and through written submissions. More information will be shared as the full consultation process is developed.

 

Minutes from our September 2016 meeting

Our first Prince Street Home and School meeting for the 2016-2017 school year took place September 29, 2016.

Kirsty Phillips chaired the meeting and invited participants to introduce themselves around the table. There were a dozen participants in the meeting, plus one interpreter.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

Principal Erin Johnston gave the principal’s report. She reports the school season is off to a good start.

STAFFING: Erin gave a rundown of new staff. Amy MacKinnon is on maternity leave though is now permanent in our school and will be returning in April sometime. Filling her leave is Michelle Rioux, with a very mixed assignment of teaching duties, including library. Cavelle Murphy is filling in for Kathy Kiley, who is on an education leave and will return in December to teach a Grade 5/6 class. Greg Anderson is counsellor, filling Sherri-Lynn MacMillan’s maternity leave until December. Alison Read was here last year as behaviour resource and she is now a permanent Prince Street employee, rather than on one-year contracts. Shelley MacAulay is our EAL itinerant teacher, here for mornings for EAL students. We have 7 full-time EAs this year, which is down from last year. Of the 7 that we have, 4 are out on leave for various reasons, and so we have had 4 subs in the building for EAs, but we’ve been very lucky to have excellent people. Erin invited questions about staffing.

NEW DAILY SCHEDULE: We’ve been trying a new daily schedule at Prince Street, with little recess in the afternoon and big recess leading up to lunch, with lunch at the end of the long play period. School administrators have wanted to give the new schedule some time before evaluating. The reason to make the change was to make more instructional time in the morning and give a break in the afternoon rather than the morning. There will be some changes/tweaks in the coming weeks. There was some discussion about ensuring children have enough time to eat lunch. Some parents said their children are hungrier now that they are eating after recess and that they are eating more of their lunches. Whatever changes are incorporated from the current feedback will be the final changes. Schedules are built around priorities, and moving one block can lead to requiring many small changes to accommodate the needs and goals of the students and the school.

NEW SCHOOL GOALS FORMAT: In past years, we have talked about school “development” goals, then school “effectiveness” goals — now we’re just calling them “school goals.” The whole province is moving to a model with 5 goals for each school. The three academic goals have been assigned by the Province and will be K-3 reading, 4-6 writing, and 4-6 math. Those are decided based on overall provincial assessment data. The other two goals are not in the academic category but have to be created with a link to the academics. Wellbeing and public confidence are the themes for Prince Steet. Both of those have to have a direct link to the academic component. The finer details are being decided.

WRAP-AROUND: School goals link to something else very important: Prince Street is one of five schools in the province identified as a “wrap-around school.” This means services will be wrapped around the school by the Public Schools Branch to support student achievement. Schools were chosen based on a number of factors. So far, the wrap-around team has had a number of meetings and put a lot of time in. Erin outlined the team members — school team, school branch consultants, inclusive ed consultants, and Anne Hall as the “school leader” for the team. To have all this team at the table is a wonderful thing and will make a huge difference. They are working with provincewide assessment data as well as schoolwide data, including data from progress monitoring. School data is helping to inform choice of school goals. Next week the full team meets to tease apart the actions and strategies to support the movement of these goals. It’s going to be a lot of work, which Erin is hoping will fall mostly to administration rather than other staff, but it is very exciting and there is great promise for a positive impact on student achievement. This is a three-year project, and the goals Prince Street sets this year will extend over a three-year period, including actions and strategies. The team will remain in place over that time as well.

At the next Home and School meeting, Erin is mandated to present the selected school goals and the rationale behind them. Anne Hall may attend the meeting as well.

A parent asked if “wrap-around” services will extend beyond student achievement to the major other factors that affect school achievement in our school — like social assistance and safety from violence, mental health help, support after trauma, and having enough to eat. Erin said the wrap-around team is not mandated to connect us with services, but there’s a recognition that there are barriers to achievement that are non-academic. Erin is making sure the team is aware of and reviews the demographic data connected to school and said the non-academic school goals (well being and public confidence) will have some reach into other factors that affect students lives and achievement.

Within the school, there’s no ability to control what happens outside the school, but the school staff is committed to doing everything possible to provide graduates with the most skills possible and the tools that will let them build successful lives. The goal every day is to make the students stronger smarter and better.

In sum, the wrap-around program and the team will mean a lot of supports for our school and for staff’s job of teaching kids.

MEET THE STAFF: The school tried something as a little different, including making it a meet-the-“staff,” not meet-the-“teachers” night, to be more inclusive. Erin noted we struggle with parent engagement here. We had a meet-the-staff barbecue and the feedback was positive, and the numbers were way up. It seemed for the most part to meet people’s needs and seemed to improve meeting the school staff’s needs. Feedback is welcome! Parents at the meeting liked the outdoor event so students could play in the playground. Apparently a few school alumni came by for hotdogs!

BREAKFAST PROGRAM: Tanya has taken over as breakfast program volunteer coordinator, and she is doing a great job. Many thanks from Home and School!

SCHOOL PICTURES are coming October 20.

HPV NEEDLES: Round one of HPV needles for Grade Six is done.

TECHNOLOGY: The school now officially has wifi provided by the Department of Education. The former TeacherNet, which was provided to the school as a project of Home and School, is being taken down —its work is complete. All the teaching staff has a laptop and there are computers in other locations around the school. There are also two full carts of Chromebooks plus 17 others to deploy as needed. Staff has been trained on the Chromebooks now. They are all web-based and memory is in the cloud. Work begun at school can be accessed at home and worked on from the home. Each student will have their own cloud account and sign-in. When people learn how to use it, it will be quite powerful.

HOT LUNCH CHANGES: This was the first week of the hot lunch program. There will no longer be hot dogs available as an option. They don’t fit in the healthy eating plan. Old favourites such as sub sandwiches and pizza are still on the menu. This week, we tried out chicken soup and a biscuit Wednesday and a baked potato option on Thursday, and these were received with good feedback.Tomorrow there will be smoothies coming with the pizza. Erin has negotiated hard to keep prices reasonable. The same foods will be available on the same weekdays every week and will not shift even when there are holidays or PD Days. Initial feedback from parents was very positive, especially for the new options.

TERRY FOX RUN is tomorrow, with an assembly and a run. The weather is supposed to be good.

CROSS-COUNTRY RUNNING is happening and there is a meet next week.

AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMMING: There is a commitment from government to support after-school programs again this year. Art, drama, karate, coding, yoga, and other programs have happened over the past several years. Erin needs suggestions and needs some help. Suggestions and contacts are both needed. (After-school activities that Mr. Stanley runs are totally separate.) Heather has been talking with Bricks 4 Kids and will follow up for more information. Heather will follow up with Becka Viau about art programs as well. As long as the person coming in to run the program is independent enough to manage with minimal support, they are welcome.

EVACUATION: There was a province wide evacuation last week, and things went very smoothly at Prince Street for the most part, and there has been feedback to the Public Schools Branch. There is going to be a protocol/checklist developed for the province that will be helpful.

COUPON BOOKS: We are not doing coupon book fundraisers this year because the person who had been doing this is not doing it this year. The school is deciding on fundraising plans. Stay tuned for further information.

LIBRARY TIME: Our library time is reduced this year, so it’s going to look different. We have only a 20% assignment to the library, compared to 40% last year. Grades K to 2 or 3 will have regularly scheduled visita to the library. Others will schedule that in as needed. We’ve been having some discussion about how to more creatively use the library within the course of the day.

LEADERSHIP: The leadership program will be up and running soon. There have been many things to settle first, but we’re looking forward to this program starting.

DRILLS: Fire and lockdown drills and bus evacuation practices have been going well.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: The attendance policy is the same as last year, but some of the letters have changed. The checkpoints are 5 days - after which parents and guardians will get a phone call about absences. There are letters that go home at 10 days, 15 days, and 20 days, and this year there is more variation in the letters that are available for staff to choose among based on reason for absence. They are still absences and represent missed instructional time and are still taken seriously.

Erin invited questions.
A parent asked if there is any way that activities that happen throughout the school can be advertised on the Facebook page in advance to help parents know what’s going on and help their children arrive at the school prepared. Erin and the school will do their best.

ELECTION OF A PRESIDENT FOR 2016-2017

Kirsty is currently vice-president, Heather is treasurer, and Jane is secretary, but no one is able to take on the role of chairperson for the full year. There was some discussion of the role of the chair and of the possibility of having rotating chairs if no one person was able to be chair through the whole year.

The biggest barrier to taking on the role of president turned out to be concern about having to coordinate the Spring Fling. It was clarified that running the Spring Fling hasn’t always been the responsibility of the President. After some discussion, Ramona and Kristy agreed to be co-chairs.

MOTION: To elect Ramona Doyle and Kristy Phillips to be co-chairs of the Prince Street Home and School for the 2016-2017 school year.
Moved by Heather  and seconded by Joanne. Carried by a unanimous vote, with many thanks.

Meeting participants clarified that Ramona and Kristy are taking on the role of co-chair without responsibility for being Spring Fling/fundraising coordinator. All agreed that we must identify a Spring Fling coordinator by the January meeting or reconsider the event.

REGULAR MEETING DATES AND TIMES

Our regular meeting time will be the 3rd Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m., with a few exceptions. The meeting schedule for 2016-2017 will be as follows:

October 20
November 24 (note that this is the 4th Thursday of the month)
December - no meeting
January 19
February 16
March - no meeting
April 20
May 18
June - no meeting

DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCIL

Jane Ledwell was the representative for Prince Street last year and was recently told it was meant to be a two-year term. We have been asked to name an alternate in case Jane can’t make a meeting. There are only about three meetings per year, and Jane hopes to be able to make all of them.

MOTION: To appoint Heather MacEwen as the alternate for Prince Street School to the Colonel Gray Family of Schools District Advisory Council.
Moved by Jane, seconded by Kristy.

Jane invited comments or questions the Prince Street community would like her to raise. Jane signalled her first question at the District Advisory Council meeting will be to ask whether the planning process for reconfiguring schools is well-served by locking consultations to the families of schools. Some of the zoning problems cross between two families of schools, and if we treat each family of schools in isolation, we may miss ideas and solutions that would serve students and school communities well. For example, under-filled Birchwood and over-packed Stone Park are in different families of schools.

A parent noted that zoning may be part of the challenge of parent engagement at Prince Street. It makes a difference to a parent or guardian’s ability to engage when you can walk compared to when you have to drive or rely on public transit.

The Home and School raised some ideas for parent engagement in Hillsborough Park. That’s the biggest zoning question in Prince Street community at the moment, since all Hillsborough Park students need to be bussed to Prince Street. Again, this zoning question is affected by families of schools, since L.M. Montgomery, the closest school geographically to this community, is in the Charlottetown Rural family.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

One parent said that candy being used as a reward at the school is a major concern for her. This turned out to be a concern for more than one parent. Parents get it that consumables are a really good motivator for some students to help them reach their goals, and candy is both inexpensive and a good motivator for some students. Erin said that candy isn’t the only motivator used in the school, but she will follow up with staff.

The Parks and Recreation guidebook came from the City recently and Heather noticed that Parks and Rec staffs a multi-sport fun night program in schools! It can run for up to ten weeks free. Heather will put them in touch with Erin.

FALL FUN NIGHT

Do we want to do this again? Consensus was yes.
Spring Fling is a lot of work for very small return. The games night and bake sales and raffles are better fundraisers and are often more fun for less effort.
Family fun night this fall will take place
October 26th
6:00 to 7:30
Some initial planning will take place over email so we can present a plan at the October 20th meeting.

Minutes from Our Meeting - May 2016

May 26, 2016

Tonight was our last meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. Catherine called the meeting to order. There were 15 people in attendance, including two Leadership students who came to make a presentation. There was no translator available due to a last-minute cancellation. We apologized for this problem.

Grade Six students Jacob and Tristan made a presentation about two major projects for Prince Street School. The Leadership team successfully applied for funding for a Health and Wellness project to install Buddy Benches in the schoolyard. If a student feels lonely, sad, or left out, they will be able to sit on the Buddy Bench and a member of the Leadership team will come to spend time with them. They have the benches built now (by students at Bluefield School) and will paint them next week. There will be one bench in the front and one in back. The other big project is that there was a visit from Atlantic Circus School, and next year, there will be a circus club at Prince Street! One of the Grade Five students who learned circus skills submitted a written report about their learning and their plan for next year. Jacob and Tristan read her report. The Home and School members congratulated Jacob and Tristan for the tremendous accomplishments of the leadership team.

SPRING FLING

Spring Fling, our annual neighbourhood festival, will take place next Friday, June 3rd, from 5:30 to 7:30. There will be set-up happening all afternoon, and anyone who is able to come is welcome to come as early as possible at the end of the school day. We are still really lacking for volunteers – neighbours, friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles are all welcome. There will be a volunteer check-in table on the evening of the event with a volunteer coordinator to direct traffic!

There will be a set-up meeting on Thursday evening, June 2nd, at 6:30 p.m. for those who can make it.

Catherine listed some of the games, foods, and events that are confirmed for the evening.

Donations welcome for 1) the bake sale; 2) the book sale – children’s books only, please; and 3) small toys for the fish pond.
Donations accepted in the office up to a half-hour before the event.

There will also be need of help for clean-up after 7:30.

Catherine handed out cake mixes for people to make a couple of cakes for the Cake Walk game.

Principal Erin will need a list of room requests and needs and she and staff will help ensure rooms are set up. Catherine will provide tickets to Erin for distribution by Mr. Stanley for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to take part.

There are two volunteers with a truck who will help with the truck-reliant set-up.

Catherine is looking into the cost for totes for storing Spring Fling stuff in a more organized way. She is also looking into costs for signs to put on the street corners and for a banner to replace the one that work out last year..

Erin noted that if the Environment-a-thon is moved to the rain date (Friday, the same day as the Spring Fling), set-up can be earlier because the school will be empty in the afternoon.

There is a new email address for getting in touch with Home and School about Spring Fling or other ideas or issues: princestreethomeandschool@gmail.com.
This email address will carry over to next year.

NEXT YEAR’S EXECUTIVE: VOTING

There are President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer roles, though there are other roles that help support the Home and School in many ways.

Ramona Doyle has offered to continue as Vice-President. Catherine called for nominations. There being none, she moved nomination of Ramona. Heather seconded. Carried.

Jane Ledwell has offered to continue as Secretary. Catherine called for nominations. Catherine called for nominations. There being none, she moved nomination of Jane. Kristy seconded. Carried.

Heather MacEwen offered to continue as Treasurer. Catherine called for nominations. Catherine called for nominations. There being none, she moved nomination of Heather. Joanne seconded. Carried.

Kristy Bishop will continue to be a signing officer for the Home and School bank account and considered a member of the executive (at large). Catherine moved this and Heather seconded. Carried.

There were no volunteers to be President or Co-Presidents. Catherine offered to attend the first meeting in the fall and to help mentor the incoming President. Over the summer, we’ll look for a President or Co-Presidents – or, failing that, we’ll ask people to take responsibility to lead specific tasks, such as organizing a family fun night or coordinating Spring Fling. This is a model that has worked at other schools when they had trouble getting volunteers.

OPEN DISCUSSION

Heather said that she was very proud to go to a tournament with the Prince Street Chess Club. There is great potential to build on what has begun with the Chess Club! A few of the newcomer parents would be interested in coaching. Heather and her partner Richard will help coordinate next steps in the fall with support from Erin and the school.

Vice-Principal Kelly reiterated that the visit from the Atlantic Circus School was very, very fun learning, and that next year they might launch the year with Grade Fours.

Erin reported that the Environment-a-thon fundraiser is going on right now. There are lots of wonderful prizes. If the $5,000 fundraising goal is reached, Mr. Brown will be Principal for the Day and has special events and ice cream planned. If the school raises $8,000 he also gets to throw a pie in Erin’s face, too.

End of year trips are similar to past years and are now confirmed. Grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 are going to Shining Waters on Tuesday, June 21, with a rain date of the 22nd. Grades 1 and 2 are going to Rustico Beach on June 22, with a rain date of 24th. Kindergarten classes are going for a picnic day in a city park on June 23, with a rain date of the 24th.

The school’s Sports Day is June 17th, rain date of the 20th. Intramural banquet (kids only) is June 24th.

Volunteer appreciation day/week will be different this year. Rather than have an assembly that many volunteers can’t make it to, kids will deliver the recognition to them personally when they are volunteering in the school.

Home and School offers an award at year-end for a staff member. Heather will follow up with Laura Bird about what happened last year and what needs to happen for this year.

Home and School offers four dozen cupcakes for Grade Six graduation, along with  juice boxes. The Home and School had instituted an award in the name of Terry MacIsaac when he finished his time at Prince Street. This $100 award would best be given to the Leadership Team for their use, now that there is a Leadership team doing humanitarian projects.

Jane asked Kelly how the Grade 5s are feeling about their amazing video project. Kelly said they are very proud and excited. They presented the video at the ArtsSmarts exhibition at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery – and since then they have had emails about what a great job the presenters did. Jane attended the exhibit opening and said it was wonderful and the presenters did an excellent job representing Prince Street. Here's the video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRspJeGBlZk

Erin said staffing allocation for next year arrived just this afternoon, and it can’t be reported on yet but is in hand for Erin and Kelly to make decisions for the coming season.

Track and field events took place recently and jerseys look terrific!

Home and School members thanked Catherine Nicholson very much for all her work over the year as President! Congratulations to her son Thomas for graduating from Grade Six this year.

Minutes from Our Meeting - April 2016

Prince Street Home and School
April 14, 2016
6:30

There were 16 people present at the meeting. Catherine called the meeting to order at 6:30. The main item on the agenda was planning for the Spring Fling. Student Prabin provided translation into Nepali. Parent Dima provided translation into Arabic.

Chairperson Catherine Nicholson started us off with a welcome and round table of introductions.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

Principal Erin Johnston gave a verbal report.

The school has been celebrating each of the words in the school motto. April is “C” month: Caring is the theme, and there will be a “caring” themed assembly on the diversity celebration day next week.

Next Friday, April 22nd, we will celebrate Diversity Day at Prince Street with food, activities, music, dance, and an assembly. (This event replaces the International Dinner that used to take place in years past.)

There will be a spring concert in May for choir, recorder, and other musical performances. It will take place during the day. Parents of students who are involved will be invited.

Coming soon will be the Environment-a-thon community cleanup fundraiser. The dates will be set for late in May. In past years, this has raised $8,000 or more, and had great prizes for students. It is also a great community event. And last year, Erin kissed a goat. The Grade One class challenged Erin that if the school raised $8,000, she would kiss a goat. And she did.

We’ve had some staffing changes in the last while. Ms. MacKinnon in Grade Five has gone on a maternity leave and her replacement has begun. Steve Connor has joined us as a new EA to help support new students with special needs who have joined the school. Ms. MacFarlane is on medical leave for a period of time, and her replacement while she is on leave is Megan Grant.

Erin and Kelly have made their proposal for staffing for next year and hope to have the staffing allocation confirmed by the end of this month to begin planning for next year.

Last week, there was a pyjama day to raise funds for Easter Seals, and yesterday the Easter Seals Ambassador visited the school for a lovely assembly.

Tomorrow, there is no school for students. It is a school effectiveness day, where there is professional development within the school, based on the priorities set by the school. Prince Street will be working with a literacy coach to develop and learn about the writing workshop model and how that can be used more effectively in classrooms.

Every school in the province is getting wireless (wifi). Planning for how it will be installed in our school has taken place, and Kelly and Erin will meet to consult about devices, since there will be brand-new devices in the entire school. Every teacher will have a new laptop computer and the computer lab will be completely stripped of old computers. Chromebooks will be available on carts so there is a travelling computer lab, with the devices taken to where the students need them rather than students going to the lab. The hope is for all the plans to be completed by the end of June, then the intention is to have everything in place for the beginning of school in September.

The ArtsSmarts project Kelly Gillis applied for and that is being led by Grade Five is almost complete. The project was to create a video about the Prince Street values, and the final product is getting ready to be unveiled next week! The goal is for the day of the assembly for it to be launched on YouTube and shared on Facebook. One of the pieces the Grade Fives who are coordinating this are working on is learning about using social media and generating hits. This is part of their learning about persuasive writing. Look for the video on social media and YouTube on April 22.

It has been a great year for the Leadership group in Grade Six. They have begun mentoring Grade Fives into the program. They took part in the Play Academy, a leadership training program, for a day and were extremely proud. The group applied for a grant themselves around healthy lifestyles, and they are going to prepare a presentation for the Home and School and gain some feedback from us. Their plan is to present to us in May. They were one of five schools in the province to get the grant.

Prince Street tee-shirts were such a big hit that there will be sweatshirts available and long-sleeve tee-shirts. An order form will go out next week. The sweaters are pricier, but there were lots of requests for sweatshirts. There is no obligation to buy shirts.

The dental check-up clinic was here this month. A parent noted that her child was treated before she gave consent. Erin will look into that.

Kevin Atkins, long-time bus driver, retired recently. He has been part of this school community a long time.

The week before March break we celebrated French Week in the school. Mr. Brown led the school-wide activities throughout the week.

During the March break, Trinity Clifton United Church held its annual pancake breakfast to support the school breakfast program, and the church donated a significant cheque. They are great ongoing supporters!

We have 32 students registered for kindergarten for next year, which is two classes. There will be an Early Years Evaluation assessment in the school, then Welcome to Kindergarten on May 12, then Friday, May 27 will be the day the incoming kindergarten class comes into the school. (Current kindergarten students will have no school that day.)

BREAKFAST PROGRAM

Kathy Kiley who is a Grade Six teacher is the coordinator of the breakfast program at the school. There are many tasks related to coordinating this program. She will be on leave from September to December next year. In order for our breakfast program to continue next year, we will need a volunteer to coordinate. The coordinator can be either a staff member or volunteer.

This is a very important program for our school community. In some schools, the Home and School coordinates this program, so Erin wanted to let us know what was coming up. Coordinating is a big job but not a hard job. If there’s someone interested, please let Erin know. This will need to be decided soon so that we can ensure the continuation of the program.

There are adequate numbers of committed volunteers who turn up on a regular basis. More volunteers and new volunteers are always welcome! There were questions about the timing and flow of volunteer tasks for the breakfast program, answered by school staff and volunteers.

CROSSING GUARD AWARD & BUS DRIVER OF THE YEAR AWARD

There are two awards from the Home and School Federation this year: one for a crossing guard and one for a bus driver.

The group decided to prepare Prince Street nominations for each of these awards. Catherine took notes about who to approach for letters of support for our nominations.

The deadlines are coming up May 13.

There was a suggestion of someone from the Prince Street community to nominate for a future Volunteer of the Year Award.

SPRING FLING

We will need to have another meeting just about the Spring Fling in the coming two weeks. The Spring Fling will take place on June 3rd this year, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It is like a carnival for the school and the neighbourhood.

Based on last year’s activities and numbers, we will need many volunteers.

Catherine explained we will need at least one adult to be the volunteer responsible for each activity for the evening. Some of the past activities have been:

• Cake Walk (musical chairs game which requires a dozen cakes as prizes)
• Dunk Tank
• Face Painting (might be possible to hire someone)
• Nail Painting
• Barbecue & Snacks
• Popcorn
• Bake Sale
• Craft
• Fish Pond
• Indoor Games (sucker pull, plinko, ring toss, and so on)
• Bouncy Castle

Catherine asked each person at the meeting tonight to recruit one or two additional volunteers.

There will be a notice going home to invite parents to volunteer. It will list jobs that could be options for people.

It’s hard to make Spring Fling happen unless we have enough people. The more volunteers, the less work for each volunteer and the more people can participate in the activities instead of just working at them.

Catherine is also looking for support on communications tasks for Spring Fling.

Catherine is looking into
• Balloon Animals
• French Cafe
• Cotton Candy
• Selling Tulips or Potted Plants
• Fortune-Telling
• Magic Tricks
• Costume Room (costumes and props and take a picture)

In the past we’ve done a silent auction, which is a huge amount of work and which we will take a break from this year. The silent auction works best when there is a particular fundraising project or goal (such as getting funding for playground equipment).

Date for a Spring Fling meeting: Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. Spring Fling will be the only topic.

Catherine had to leave early. She thanked everyone for attending and asked others to report on the final items on the agenda.

PEI HOME AND SCHOOL FEDERATION ANNUAL MEETING UPDATE

Heather reported on the annual meeting.

Catherine, Heather, and Jane represented Prince Street at the provincial annual meeting of the Home and School Federation last week. This was very well attended and was an excellent event. We had not had a Parents of Prince Street meeting in March, so we did not get a chance to discuss the resolutions in person, but there were opportunities to comment on them on Facebook.

Heather said that at the annual meeting, four of the five resolutions passed, a few with small amendments. One was tabled until the fall, pending further research. This was the resolution to have a Teachers’ Professions Act for PEI. There was a lot of interesting discussion on each of the motions, and Heather shared some of what was said.

The Department of Education and/or any other groups that receive the resolutions are responsible to follow up on each of the resolutions put forward by the Home and School Federation.

As part of the day’s events, Catherine and Heather went for a tour of the Fab Lab at UPEI in the new school of sustainable design engineering. This was very rewarding. Jane participated in a workshop led by Gerry Hopkirk to imagine different models of education. The workshop gave participants space to imagine education from the ground up, to imagine an education system as different or similar to the current system as they wished. It was inspiring and it will be interesting to see what ideas and themes came out of the workshop.

ADVISORY COUNCIL UPDATE

Jane represents Prince Street on the Colonel Gray family of schools District Advisory Council. The next meeting is April 21. Jane would be happy to raise any questions or comments that the Prince Street community has.

The summary of the discussion at the first Colonel Gray District Advisory Council meeting is here:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/eecd/index.php3?number=1054738&lang=E

The highlights from all the District Advisory Councils’ first meetings are here:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/eecd/DAC#agenda

GREENING SCHOOL YARDS PROJECT

Ramona reported on this item. There is a grant program through Toyota for schools that want to implement a nature-based learning area for students. The grant would provide $3,500 towards a project. This can be an outdoor classroom area or play area or other project to “green” the yard.

We are planning to put together an application for the September deadline. Ramona has met with the school administration about this. The school has been very supportive and the School Board has said it would also be supportive if they like the site plan.

Ramona said the next step is to meet with landscape architects to see if they would be willing to help and make plans and recommendations from their expertise.

PROGRESS MONITORING

Jane explained that there had been some discussion about progress monitoring at the District Advisory Council, and she knew that Prince Street was using this model but didn’t know much about it. She had asked Catherine to request some more information from Erin to help parents understand this progress monitoring process.

Erin was happy to explain. She said we’re in our first year of progress monitoring at Prince Street. The pilot schools are in year four of applying this process in their schools. Erin said it is excellent and provided an overview of the principles.

There is a provincial curriculum for every subject in every grade. The curriculum lists many outcomes that teachers are expected to cover in every grade. The list of outcomes can be overwhelming for teachers and for students. However, it is clear that some outcomes are more important than others, especially outcomes that get carried to the next grade level and built on for future learning.

Progress monitoring is a way of tracking skills students need to carry from grade to grade in order to achieve success on future outcomes. For each grade level in literacy and math, the progress monitoring process identifies seven to twelve “foundational learnings.” These are the skills that a student needs as a foundation for next-level learning, to be able to build their learning year to year.

While teachers are still required to teach and assess all the outcomes for the curriculum, the progress monitoring process acknowledges that the foundational learnings are the most important.

Progress monitoring changes the way the teachers and the school think about “grades.” The new approach considers the K-9 school journey, and what learning students need to complete and achieve by the end of that journey. Progress monitoring keeps track of students’ progress on the foundational learnings along that journey so that it is possible for each student to look back and identify gaps in foundational learnings and then fill them in.

There is structure and support laid over top of assessment. This creates a shift in mindset for teachers and students and how we identify who needs what specific help. Progress monitoring is focused on how to identify the most important gaps and create a plan to fill in those gaps to get individual students to where they need to be.

Erin used the analogy of learning a skill in hockey. A hockey player in a Midget league may be trying to learn to do a slapshot, and may be struggling. Rather than getting the hockey player to keep trying to make a slapshot again and again using the same approach, a progress monitoring approach would get the coach asking why the hockey player was having trouble by looking at gaps in the foundational skills. Do they know how to hold their stick? Do they know where their feet are supposed to be? Do they know how to skate? Is the stick too long? The player struggling with the snapshot would still stay in Midget level hockey, but coaching would work on filling in the gaps in skills that create barriers to making a slapshot.

Translated into a school environment, what would that mean for a Grade Six student struggling with Grade Six math outcomes? A progress monitoring approach would require the teacher to go back and figure out which foundational learnings the student still needs to meet. Is the problem with a foundational learning from Grade Five? from Grade Four? or even from Grade Three? When the foundational learning gap is identified, the teacher can work with the student to fill in the gap.

Part of what progress monitoring relies on, then, is a continuous record of each student’s foundational learnings that teachers can look back to. Prince Street is in the first year of progress monitoring, so that means we are beginning the start of this record. As each year goes on, the record for each student will grow, and it will be easier to look back. This process is called creating a continuum profile for each student that shows exactly what skills each student has completed for foundational learnings and what gaps they have.

Erin said that in addition to helping students fill gaps when they are not at grade level, there will be opportunities for students who have completed the foundational learnings for their grade level to go beyond and/or to go deeper.

The assessment and record of an individual student’s foundational learnings will be for teachers; it won’t come back to parents directly. However, next year, there will be a new report card format based on progress monitoring that will share information with parents in a new way. The progress monitoring process will also change some of the understandings around “promotion” and “placement” (related to meeting grade level expectations), but that will not be in place next year. Under progress monitoring, students stay with their age-level peers for the most part, but progress monitoring will be in place to allow them to fill in gaps in foundational learnings.

The resources and PD available related to progress monitoring are tremendous. Applying this new mindset is challenging and new, but the results are amazing. It has been a huge learning curve for the school but is well worth it.

A parent asked if cuts to administration positions with the integration of the School Board and Department of Education put progress monitoring in jeopardy. It is not yet know what changes to curriculum delivery within the Department of Education will mean for this process, but there have not been cuts that affect progress monitoring yet. Parents agreed it is a program worth fighting for!

Minutes of the February 2016 Meeting

Prince Street Home and School Meeting
February 11, 2016
6:30 p.m.

WELCOME/ROUND TABLE

Catherine welcomed everyone to the meeting. There were 10 people in attendance, including a family that is new to Canada and new to Prince Street School. We offered them a special welcome. Grade Six student Prabin again translated into Nepali.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT
Erin gave a report on events from the past month.

Gymnastics club is going very well, and there is a competitive gymnastics meet at St. Jean’s school tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the second art blitz of the year. All afternoon, other subjects are suspended and all students will do art. The theme will be Valentine’s Day.

The after-school technology group for Grades Five and Six started today with 18 students. The focus is on computer coding. It will run for six weeks and is being facilitated by teacher volunteers from the community.

Ms. MacKinnon will be leaving soon for a maternity leave. The posting for a teacher to fill that leave will be out soon and hiring will follow.

On February 25 for the “Never Give Up”–themed school assembly, the Island Storm Basketball team will come to the school. The basketball team loves the school, and the school loves them.

Report cards will go out to parents on March 8, and parent-teacher interviews are in the evening on March 10 and in the morning onMarch 11.

An afterschool baseball program run by the Boys and Girls Club and called “spring training” will begin later in the month, after school on Mondays until 4:00 p.m. This is open to Grades Three to Six. Today was the first day for permission slips. Students who wish to sign up can get a permission slip from the office.

The coupon book fundraiser is underway. The order forms have gone home and all parents should have seen them by now. This fundraiser brings in a few thousand dollars each year for classroom needs.

The new Prince Street Power jerseys for the athletics program are ordered, and it is hoped they will be here for the track and field season. They are very fancy.

The Arts Smarts program to make a school video will begin next week. Kelly Gillis and others involved have been planning, planning, planning. A parent asked if the video will be sold on DVDs like the school song was sold on CDs last year. Brian Sharpe, the artist involved, will help teach the students involved to upload the video to YouTube or another free platform and to learn about media literacy at the same time as they learn the technical parts of this. There are ideas about how to promote the video as well.

In the next few weeks, there will be some university students here doing internships and learning in our school.

There are four new iPads in the school that are attached to new programs in Core French, but there may be other opportunities to use the new iPads in other programs as well.

Erin recently attended a meeting about the province-wide wireless program to put wireless in all schools. There is wireless available in the school already. The TeacherNet we have in place is an independent project. It will be replaced by the system that is the same as the system that will be installed in all other schools across PEI. We’ll be wired into the new system this summer, and all teachers will have a laptop. A parent asked how students will be prevented from being on the wireless. It will be password protected (as is the current system), and there will be firewalls.

The last Professional Development day on February 2 was focused on progress monitoring in our school, and it was an excellent day. Charlene Matthews and Erin led it. The school is in its first year of progress monitoring, and people are really running with it.

Erin invited questions. A parent offered a reminder that since last year’s afterschool special programs were almost all for Grades Four to Six, and the art program this year was for Grade Two and Three and the computer programming is for Grades Five and Six, the group that is in Grade Four this year has missed out on most opportunities.

A parent asked for more details about track and field. Competitive track and field is typically for Grades Five and Six and usually starts in May. It would begin as an intramural club and students with a particular interest and ability would have the chance to develop more skills and compete with other schools.

DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCIL

Jane described how the District Advisory Council fits into the new structure for the education system. Prince Street School has a seat on the Colonel Gray family of schools district council. Jane Ledwell is sitting on that committee for Prince Street. The first meeting is on February 18. Jane asked if anyone had issues they wanted raised at the first meeting or put on the agenda for future meetings. Meeting participants did not have suggestions, since the advisory council’s mandate and scope are not well known yet. Everyone is looking forward to learning more after the District Advisory Council’s first meeting.

STAFF APPRECIATION WEEK

Staff appreciation week is next week. There is no school on Monday, but we will make plans for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to show appreciation for staff.

Catherine said we are encouraging parents to sit down with their child with a form we will send home to fill out to say something they really appreciate about a teacher or staff person in their life. The form will include the prompt, “I really appreciate __________________ because...” Forms will go home with students tomorrow (Friday, February 12).

Please also encourage children, parents and guardians, and volunteers to express their appreciation with a few kind words or a card or whatever feels like the best.

If you are able to contribute a snack for staff on one of the days during staff appreciation week, please let Catherine know.

SPRING FLING

At the end of the year, we have a community party and barbecue in the school and schoolyard with lots of activities. It is like a school carnival. This is the Spring Fling.

Our next meeting is April 14 and will need to focus on Spring Fling.

There was some discussion about the pros and cons of having Spring Fling on the same day as the Environment-a-thon. They were the same date last year. This year, the most likely date for the Spring Fling (June 3) is the rain date for the Environment-a-thon. The group decided it was a good idea or not a problem to have the two events on the same day.

The group confirmed that Spring Fling will be on Friday, June 3, 2016. It normally takes place from 5:30 to 7:30. At the April 14 meeting, we will spend the majority of the time planning for the Spring Fling. Since many volunteers will be needed, we’ll work hard to get a good turnout for the April 14 meeting.

Booking a bouncy castle might need to happen right away, and we will have to make sure that it has a supervisor. We may have more options of which castle to choose from. Catherine will try to get the details.

MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS PRESENTATION
Spring Park and Prince Street schools are together organizing a mental health and wellness presentation next Tuesday, February 16, at 6:30 p.m. at Spring Park School. This presentation will focus on helping parents with children 0 to 12 support their children to develop coping skills for dealing with anxiety or stress. The presentation will be led by the Triple P Positive Parenting Program. The event will be in Spring Park School. Parents can go in the front doors, and there will be signs directing you where to go.

There will not be childcare or translators available for this event.

ROUND TABLE: OTHER BUSINESS

For any parents of students in Grade Six who are considering late French immersion in Grade Seven, the meeting about Birchwood French Immersion is 7:00 p.m. on February 17.

We had talked about licensing movies and planning a movie night. Did this prove workable? Catherine and Heather are looking at ways to make a movie night part of parent engagement for next year. There will not be a movie night this winter, but we will look into this again in September. Licensing rights are expensive. Catherine and Heather have been working on parent engagement grant proposals for this year and next year.

The next school dance will take place on Thursday, February 25, for students from Grades Four to Six. There is sometimes a sock hop during lunchtime recess for younger grades. It is a great source of fun, mayhem, and exercise.

The last round of Christmas concert DVDs has been ordered and will be ready to distribute when they arrive.

Catherine thanked everyone for participating and invited people to stay after the meeting if they had any questions. There is no March meeting, so we will see everyone on Monday, April 14!

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