Minutes from the April Meeting

Parents of Prince Street
Home and School Meeting
Thursday, April 3, 2014

PRINCIPAL' S REPORT

Erin Johnston reported on a wide range of school activities and issues.

After-school clubs are going on, with drama winding up soon and dance starting next week. Art will start soon. There is a small fee for these, and they are open Grades 4 to 6. Funding comes from local MLA Doug Currie's constituency fund. The Boys and Girls Club is going to run a free baseball club. Track will start soon. Today, the school started a chess club. Students have been asking for a chess club, but there wasn't someone to run it. It will run at lunchtime with itinerant EA and an itinerant youth worker. There will be one for K-3 and one for 4-6. Itinerant staff are employed by the Board but are available to our school for a time. The Principal advocated for itinerant support for Prince Street.

PEI 2014 funded a $2,014 project for artist Warren Reeson to do a mural in the library, showing an evolution through time of Prince Street School. The mural is now underway, and parents thought it looked pretty cool. At the end of June there will be a celebration of the completion of the mural. This will be during the school year.

Erin reported smooth transitions around staffing changes: Krista Leard is in for the rest of the school year for Kelly Wakelin; Jennifer Noonan is in for Joe Burgess; Jenna Rogerson is in for Sherry Lynn MacMillan; Donna Wigmore is in for Fay Adams. Itinerant EA Lori MacDonald is in for a short time, and an itinerant YSW will be in for four weeks in April.

Prince Street pride! The words students selected to represent P.R.I.D.E. are
* Proud
* Respect
* Inclusive
* Never Give Up
* Caring
* Empathy
Erin wants to make a big hoo-hah about that before it is announced at the school. There will be work towards a school symbol, a mascot, and a revamp of the school colours. When all is finalized it would be nice to get new t-shirts or track suits in the fall. This might appear on wish-lists for next year. If the decisions are made about colours and symbols before the end of the year, some items could be ordered over the summer and be ready to go for the fall.

The Professional Development Day at the end of January was very well-received, with excellent feedback from teachers. There was a really close examination of our reading data. The second round of reading data showed huge gains. Part of that is from the narrowed lens after seeing the data, and there were changes to how we do resource, with more of a "push-in" of resource into classrooms. In numeracy, every teacher in the building developed an individual math goal for themselves in the category of the number strand -- this, whether they are math teachers or not! Then, David Costello (who will be doing the April 22nd math workshop for Home and School) came in and met with each staff person individually to work on their own goal. There was in addition work on the writing prompt on the PD Day.

Each team of teachers looked at writing prompt results, and we're building momentum with that. A third writing prompt will come in May.

The Olympics, Prince-street style, were a ball.

On Pink Shirt Day representatives of Crimestoppers and the Islanders hockey team were in and talked with students.

The coupon book fundraiser was even more successful than last year and took in much more than we took in on the fundraiser last year.

The dental clinic has almost completed its work at the school.

There was a successful Art Blitz in February, with one to come in May.

Out of zone transfer update -- There is an updated policy from the board. If anyone wants to have a student attend a school out of their zone, the deadline to apply will be March 31st, and the answer will be provided by the end of June. Later applications might not be decided until later in the summer. The reason for this is that transfers really affect numbers, and numbers of enrolment really affect Board decisions about teachers. Last year, schools were really late to find out their enrolment numbers but this year, Erin should find out more details next week. What she finds out may be tentative numbers and might not be shareable.
In the past, Prince Street has seen about 25% of the student population turn over during the course of the year. Exact population of the school is almost impossible to keep track of, but it hovers around 270.
There was some discussion of the new policy. It was clarified that anyone accepted to an out-of-zone school doesn't have to reapply as long as they stay. If they wanted to return to their own zone, they would have to reapply. The policy is meant to make it a permanent transfer, but there will be the chance to make another application if necessary.

French week before March break was a success, with trivia and treats, announcements in French, and French music.

Recent upgrades mean that all homerooms now have an LCD projector. There will be an FM system for the gym. (Most classrooms have one now.) There was an opportunity to try one in the gym on a test basis, and it was very successful. The one being set up now will see speakers mounted in the gym, with amps and mixers also placed in the gym, so it will be possible to plug a mic into the stage. This will be great for assemblies, concerts, and events. Provincial AV services are setting up the sound system, and the FM system will plug into that new system. There is also a new FM system in KA classroom. Office furniture is also seeing some upgrades. Chairs that were in the office were old and gross. There are now new chairs that are clean and appropriate: two for the office and two for the "lobby" area. The lobby/entrance area needs a facelift and this will be discussed soon. There are six new document cameras that are like old overhead projectors but without any of the bother. They can project directly from books or sheets of paper.

Figuring out scheduling for a new school year is a puzzle that takes some time, and work will begin in earnest soon.

The School Dance happening during the Home and School meeting is supporting Easter Seals

The International dinner tentative date is April 29th, and planning is starting soon.

Erin explained how the whole-school evening invitation to the Island Storm basketball game came about. Over the year, there were lots of offers of free tickets offered by various sports teams. When Island Storm offered, Erin said that we'd like to take the whole school. The Storm said yes. In the end, about 150 kids attended a game. About 35 staff were there and about 50 parents. Adults were offered $5 tickets. The choir sang the anthem in the gym to start the game. It was a proud night for Prince Street students.

School supplies: Erin requested input on decisions about how to fund and purchase school supplies. Last year was the first year that Prince Street opted (all but two grades) to collect money from students so teachers could purchase supplies for all. Last year, there was discussion in the media about why one school asks for one amount for school supplies and another school asks for another; there were also inconsistencies in lists from school to school in schools that send lists home to parents. The School Board has been working to coordinate. Principals have been asked to provide input, and a committee has been formed. Schools can make a decision about whether to ask for a list or money. If a list, it will be a pre-approved list from the Board; if collecting money, it will be a maximum of $35.

One parent expressed preference for paying the money -- with the option to contribute more to help cover kids whose parents can't afford to pay.

There was more discussion. What were the issues in the past? Collecting the money can be a challenge and can drag out. In one class, only five children had paid. Some had supplies given to them. Some had no money or supplies. For the most part it is those who aren't able who don't pay.

It takes a while for cash payments to become expected. One parent thought that $35 is cheap. Erin said that the approved list for each grade is also reasonable. The list from the school board is inflexible.

One parent asked if there is a way students can still personalize their stuff if it is purchased by teachers.

Another question: Are there things such as scissors, rulers, and the like that can be classroom-owned? Some classrooms do keep discarded supplies. There is slippage from school transfers.

There was concern about added administrative and purchasing work for the teachers. Can this be streamlined? There are some school-purchased supplies in a supply cupboard for use by all. Erin was at a school where she had to purchase for the full school and maintain inventory. This is not manageable or sustainable for Prince Street!

It was noted that the two options mean two different kinds of work for teachers -- dealing with purchases or dealing with students who don't have supplies.

Erin said thanks for feedback and asked parents to stay tuned.

 

TREASURER'S REPORT

The treasurer's report is all good. The finances are roughly where we would usually be this time of year.

 

RESOLUTIONS

Resolutions will be discussed at the Provincial Home and School AGM on Saturday April 12. Shelley asked for feedback on the resolutions from Prince Street parents. There will be about 100 people there representing all the schools. Prince Street can send up to five representatives. The meeting starts at 8:30 and goes to about 1:30 with breakout sessions following until 2:30. The Education Minister and Deputy Minister and others will be there to discuss strategy for education going forward. Shelley explained the resolution process. There was then a discussion of each resolution. (Please note that summaries below just describe the topic and oversimplify complex resolutions.)

Resolution #1-2014
That Participation, Release, and Indemnification Forms be written in plain language to allow for legal and monetary implications to be made apparent.
Prince Street School parents passed

Resolution #2-2014
To include e-cigarettes in the Tobacco Product Usage Ban and to broaden the definition of "tobacco-related product" be extended to include e-cigarettes.
Prince Street School parents supported this.

Resolution #3-2014
To remove administrators, counsellors, and non-classroom positions from the student-teacher ratio.
There was some discussion about what this would mean if applied to Prince Street and what the pros and cons might be of this proposal.
Prince Street School parents didn't think we had enough information, and we recommended this should go back for further information and research.

Resolution #4-2014
To ensure that teachers are receiving relevant professional development that can be effectively and immediately introduced in the classroom to increase academic achievement.
Prince Street School parents are concerned this is not phrased in a way that is specific or likely to be easily applied. There was strong support for public education about the relevance of PD days. There was also strong support for better evaluation of PD days to capture teachers' satisfaction with how effective PD days are to increase academic achievement. There was also support for giving teachers more control and autonomy with collaborative days.  Prince Street parents want effective PD days and have appreciated learning more about how PD days are being used at our school. We want to support positive approaches to PD days and don't think this particular resolution will bring about greater effectiveness. The goals are vague. The idea is nice but hard to achieve and there are concerns about who evaluates.

Resolution #5-2014
To create a plan for advancing technology in PEI schools and more budget for infrastructure.
This relates to three previous resolutions. There will always be challenges to keep up with technological changes, especially in terms of budget. This resolution is to push the department again to have a plan.
Prince Street parents supported this.

Resolution #6-2014
To acknowledge urgent problem with student achievement, declare it to be a public priority, work to national and international achievement goals, to use Home and School as an equal partner in discussion, to have an annual report to inform public and parents on the state of the PEI education system.
There was general support but also concern about pushing towards standardized testing by a different means and concern that PEITF is excluded from partnership. Shelley expects this resolution is likely to get more discussion and that tweaks and amendments will be made at the AGM.
Parents agreed that discussion needs to be continued and the core is very solid, and Prince Street parents want to see this on the agenda. Parents support this resolution.

Resolution #7-2014
To improve reporting on absenteeism and collaboration with home and schools to improve student attendance.
Prince Street parents would like to ensure parents are included in the collaboration.
Prince Street parents supported this resolution.

Resolution #8-2014
To reconsider the new policy and revert to a "no nit policy" and to encourage collaboration with health professionals.
A no nit policy requires that the student with lice misses a lot of time. It would have negative consequences for Prince Street students.
Prince Street School parents don't support this resolution.

 

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

The workshop on healthy lunches on a budget is rescheduled to
Thursday, April 10th

The Math Night (math strategies for Grades 3 to 6)
Tuesday, April 22nd

Notices will be coming.

 

SPRING FLING

We need an overall coordinator or co-coordinators for this event. The binder of plans that previous coordinator Laura Bird has put together from coordinating the past two years.

June 6th is the date for spring fling.

We need more volunteers this year than last year.
We have often done a silent auction that requires coordinating.
Usually someone coordinates the barbecue
Usually someone coordinates overseeing games and supplies

Heather will do the barbecue. Joanne Brown did barbecue in past years and Dana/Shelley will help her connect with Heather.
Dana will make ten cakes and coordinate the Cake Walk
Jane will coordinate indoor games.
Erin will go in the dunk tank.

Volunteers from higher grades at Birchwood and Colonel Gray are welcome. Leadership classes need to do certain amount of volunteer work and are good contacts.

In the past, there was a letter to ask for donations: Colleen might have a copy.

The call for a coordinator needs to be extended to the wider community. It will be placed in the Trinity Church bulletin, for instance.

There was a questions about whether or not it would be permitted for the Home and School to set up a Facebook Page? This would be welcome. A Prince Street School page will be set up after the new identity plans are finalized.

The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting date will be announced soon.