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.