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:

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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