Minutes from Our January 2017 Meeting

Prince Street Elementary Home and School Meeting

January 19, 2017 Minutes

Ramona Doyle chaired and invited a round of introductions. About 14 Home and School members attended, plus one translator. Ramona circulated the agenda and Erin Johnston circulated the Principal’s Report.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

Staffing: Kenny Stanley will be accepting a new challenge at Charlottetown Rural from February 1. Sherry Lynn MacMillan returned from maternity leave; Kathy Kiley returned from education leave.

Behaviour resource teachers will be doing whole-class lessons on the Zones of Regulation (coping strategies), leading to “Never Give Up” themes and lessons throughout the school, creating common language. This will lead up to a “Never Give Up”–themed assembly. One of the non-academic school goals is around perseverance and problem-solving.

Family Literacy Day is coming up Friday, January 27 and plans for the day will come home with students early next week.

The Dental Clinic is here at the school for January.

The school is getting ready for the next kindergarten intake. EYE assessments will take place May 3, the Welcome to Kindergartn session will be May 11, and the Kindergarten Orientation day will be May 26.

There will be meetings about Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) during the week of January 30.

There is a professional development day taking place on February 1. The focus for Prince Street staff will be the school goals – academic goals, wellbeing goal, and public confidence goal.

Erin invited feedback on Christmas Concert, held for the first time at First Baptist Church. Parents’ feedback as overwhelmingly positive. The church holds 500 and was packed to overflowing. The sound was wonderful. People could see and hear clearly as well, which minimized audience movement and chatter. The alcove area for the bake sale was helpful. Departure and student pick-up was difficult: this will need to be streamlined.

Afterschool programs have not yet started because the gym is set up for gymnastics and we don’t want to begin something just before Mr. Stanley leaves.

Grade 4 is enjoying a knitting club at lunch, doing finger-knitting.

There have been a number of recent visitors from the Public Schools Branch (PSB). Anne Hall, PSB Leader spent two days visiting Prince Street in December; David Costello, math leader, spent two days visiting in January; Parker Grimmer, Director of PSB, visited this week.

Before the end of January, there will be information going home about a fundraiser call “For the love of family.” It will consist of a raffle of a $100 bill with tickets $2 each, with a draw on Valentine’s Day. There will be prizes for those who choose to sell tickets. There will be a winner of a $25 gift card. This fundraiser replaces coupon books. There will still probably be an Environment-a-thon in the spring as an additional fundraiser.

SCHOOL CHANGE REPORT

The school change report has been tabled with data and recommendations. What might it mean for Prince Street?

Erin explained that one recommendation is for the Charlottetown Rural and Colonel Gray families of schools to combine to make one Charlottetown family including all the schools currently in the two families. In our area, some schools are being recommended to change programs (for example, adding French immersion). One school, St. Jean, is recommended to close. There is a great deal of rezoning proposed.

For Prince Street, the proposed changes would mean a lot of rezoning. Erin reminded families that the details are not final; they are just recommendations at this point. What the proposed changes could mean is that a large portion of the Hillsborough Park population would no longer come here to Prince Street. A portion of the current St. Jean’s school would come here, and a portion of the Parkdale population as well. There would be a lot of change to school boundaries.

It is hard to know the rationale for every change. The maps in the original report were unreadable. The Public Schools Branch is working hard to release better maps that make more sense, though there are still a lot of detailed questions about the precise location of boundaries.

If these recommendations go through as is, Erin reports Prince Street School despite being labelled as “under-filled” before this study, would actually end up with fewer students than we have now, or that’s what it looks like currently. An initial estimate would put the school population 30 students lower than now. Fewer students would result in less staff as well.

Erin said staff members have many questions, and that these have been submitted and responded to. Change is messy no matter what. Staff’s biggest concern: change is coming, but these are our kids. We have to make sure our kids and the information that needs to go with them goes to their next school with them. That’s the most important question for the staff. How will we make sure our kids are good to go wherever they end up?

We’ve had many phone calls, ranging from “my child is not leaving Prince Street” to “my child is not going to Prince Street.” No matter what school students are zoned into, there will be loving and welcoming teachers and staff ready for them.

Change is hard. We have to accept there will be changes, so how can we make sure the transition is supported as well as possible?

The public meeting for Charlottetown-area schools will take place at Colonel Gray on February 1. This is only one venue. People can provide feedback through the website or can meet with Bob Andrews.

Jane had compiled information about Prince Street for earlier consultations. She asked if we wanted to request a meeting with Bob Andrews for an in-person meeting. Home and School members decided to compile questions and decide based on the questions and concerns whether to request responses in writing or to request an in-person meeting. Ramona will put out the call for questions on the Home and School Facebook. Emails are welcome to the Home and School email, princestreethomeandschool@gmail.com

PARENT LEADERSHIP GRANT
There is a deadline of January 27th for applications for a grant up to $1,000 for parent engagement. This aligns with one of our school goals.

Parents commented on the excellent parent workshops at Chances – what about a partnership to put on a couple of parenting workshops? Themes that would be welcome would include resilience or perseverance in children, or anything related to mental health and stress or anxiety management. One parent reported that Chances’ “Nobody’s Perfect: program was a recent one that was really helpful. It was a three-part program.

It would be helpful to apply for funding to allow for food and childcare to help maximize participation.

Ramona will set up a meeting with Chances next week. Heather will attend, and Joanne will as well. A partnership may be possible to set up with or without the parent engagement grant.

PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL REPORT
Each Home and School sends in a report on activities for the annual report of the provincial Home and School. Ramona has last year’s model. Jane has samples from past years as well.

STAFF APPRECIATION
Home and School will again coordinate two parents per day to bring in munchies for staff. Staff consists of 40 people When possible, we’ve done a lunch on Friday as well, but this has become too expensive to continue. We used to offer to take over schoolyard duty but this is not feasible: the teachers who know the kids and their needs have to be there regardless.

Past successful ideas have been you “Mento so much to me” messages on mints. An “appreciation apple” poster made up of words the students used to describe their teachers was really well received last year.

This year, Home and School will use the Facebook page as another means to ask volunteers to sign up. Ramona will lead this.

Other examples from other schools: take up a collection of small gift cards that could be drawn for as staff prizes. The Facebook post would have to be specific about examples for gift card donations.

Kristy then started speaking in code so we can surprise staff! Heather will work with her on the idea she put forward.

Rather than a full meal, another possibility would be a yogurt parfait bar on the Friday.

Look for the Facebook posts!

FAMILY FUN NIGHT

We had tentatively picked February 9 as the date for Family Fun Night, to be held from 6:00 to 7:30. Last fall’s Family Fun Night included games, crafts, karaoke, dance, Lego, Pokemon, a bake sale, and more. Admission was by donation. Everyone agreed we should plan for February 9.

Heather offered to coordinate a chess room. Finger knitting could be an activity – some of the grade four kids could be leaders on that. Kelly will lead Just Dance. Jane will lead a Valentine’s Day craft. Kristy will arrange for chips – these were popular and easy last time! Board games will be on hand – ones from the school and ones that people bring in. Erin will put up a request for staff. Keri will bring in the karaoke machine.

Can we make a link with staff appreciation night? A table with blank hearts with a prompt – “I appreciate ¬¬[blank] because [blank].” Filled-in hearts could then be taped up in the staff room.

Erin noted that there will be a dance on February 17th.

We will need to get family fun night details in the newsletter. Ramona will do the Facebook promos. Kirsty will send home the notice about the date and time and the bake sale need for donations.

SPRING FLING
In September, we started talking about how to keep the carnival-style event fun and friendly without burning out volunteers. Home and School members acknowledge it’s a lot of work for what we get income, but there are other reasons than money behind why we do it.

Budget update: We have about $750 to work with; we may bring in about $300 on February 9 at Family Fun Night; this will balance staff appreciation costs, which we expect to be about $300.

All agreed that at the next meeting, we need to look at the Spring Fling event by event or room by room to assess the costs and benefits of each activity and to decide what is worth the effort to include. We definitely want to do an event in the spring, and it will likely be a carnival-like Spring Fling, with a certain number of changes to make the event better for everyone (volunteers included).

Next meeting: JUST Spring Fling focus.

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS FOR PROVINCIAL AGM
The deadline for proposing resolutions for the provincial AGM is January 31st

Jane asked if Prince Street Home and School would support a resolution related to libraries and teacher-librarians, a concern at many schools across the province and a theme that came up strongly in our school’s survey.

Jane will draft something with help and advice from her mom (a retired teacher-librarian) and will circulate it by email.

SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM
Next week will be the last week for baked potatoes. The company is not going to be providing them any more. Spaghetti has been a big hit so far. Heather will ask if the spaghetti guy does other things. Grilled cheese sandwiches would be a big hit here. What about checking with local restaurants or caterers about samosas or other food from other parts of the world?

Ramona noted that downtown, they are adding kitchen facilities at the Teen Zone and expanding who would have access to the Teen Zone as well to boost numbers. Chris Salley mentioned he may be doing a survey about what people would like out of that facility. He will send Erin the survey to bring to Home and School for input. Teen Zone user age is typically 12 to 17.

Ramona thanked participants. 

NEXT MEETING DATES

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