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May 21, 2014
by: Ted Hamm

May PTO Summary

At our last PTO meeting, I gave an overview of some of the changes that will be coming for the 2014-15 school year. Some of these changes are coming from the district and therefore are ones we need to work with while others are initiated at the school level. In order to help parents understand these changes, I will be holding a meeting at Paradigm on Friday, May 23rd at 9:30 to review the changes and answer questions. Below is a synopsis of the changes.

SASD Initiated Changes

Start/End Times for ESAA
M, T, Th, Fr: 8:30 - 3:30
W: 8:30 - 2:10

The SASD is moving towards unified start and end times across elementary, middle and high schools. This will help create a unified time for professional development on Wednesdays during our weekly early release. We are working to incorporate these changes while still addressing the parking lot issues. To this end, we will be implementing the start/end times identified above while Pigeon River will start and end 15 minutes later. The only exception will be Wednesdays when ESAA will end 10 minutes later than Pigeon River.

Specialist Schedule

In order to create common planning time and time for interventions throughout the SASD there will be changes to the specialist schedule. The schedule for all elementary schools across the SASD will change to a rotating A day, B day, C day schedule. As an example, this will mean that elementary students would have music on A days, art on B days, and Phy Ed on C days for 45 minutes each. At ESAA, we will be modifying this proposal slightly with General Music on A Days, Phy Ed on C days. Visual Arts and Dance will rotate every three days. Due to space constraints, these classes will be 40 minutes except Phy Ed which will be 30 minutes every three days.

ESAA Modifications

Drama

As we look ahead to next year, we will be making a change to how we offer drama. We will offer drama for the same amount of time, but will concentrate that time in six week segments per classroom, three times a year. Our rationale for this change is to provide a concentrated time to integrate drama and language arts. When we first started ESAA our primary reason for including drama was based on the research showing how drama raises reading comprehension. Concentrating our drama time will allow us a more focused integration with the reading and writing going on in each classroom. Activities such as script writing, developing tableaux to look at scene structure, story dramatization, and presenting with fluency will more easily be supported with this model.

Lunch

This coming school year we will be splitting up our lunch so that K-2 will be separate from 3-5 for recess and lunch.  This change to our lunch times will allow students more time to eat and less time waiting to get their lunches.

Teacher Requests

We will make a change to the process for requesting teachers for the 14-15 school year. The new process is as follows:

1. May - Staff will place students with a focus on balancing academic and social make up.
2. June - School will notify parents of placement.
3. June - Parents will be able to request a change with rationale.

We are changing this process in order to allow for teachers to create more balanced classrooms. Each year teachers sit down to create the classes. This process is very involved usually taking a few hours to do. During this process the current year’s teachers look at the academic, social/emotional and behavioristic make up of the class. They look to create a balance as well as matching each child’s personality with the class make up and teacher personality. A great deal of thought goes into this and we are asking you to give our teachers the first crack at this. If you still want to request a change after we have put out class lists in June, you will be able to do so.

Class Make-ups

Over the course of the parent coffees last month there has been a consistent request to ensure that classes are balanced. Our first process for doing this is the aforementioned teacher request process. Another strategy is to expand our current practice of multi-age classrooms. We are looking at moving all of our grade 2 and grade 3 classrooms over to 2/3 multiage classrooms. We are also planning on having two 4/5 multiage classrooms. Our practice of multiage classrooms continues to expand based on its success. We are looking at this as an option not only as a means to support balanced classrooms, but also, because we have the expertise on the staff to support this as we move forward. Specifically, Rachel Pekarek, Elizabeth Marzouki and Maeve Quinn have all taught in multiage rooms. We will be holding a meeting to further explain the multiage classroom.

Enrollment

There are a still a few slots open for enrollment for the 14-15 school at selected grades. Specifically, 1st grade still has two slots open. Kindergarten is currently set up to have one class for next year. This will place a number of families on a waitlist, with 8 new kindergartners needed to create another section of Kindergarten. Other grade levels each have a room for one or two more students.

Staffing

The staffing for the 2014-15 school year is almost set. All of our current classroom teachers will be back with the exception of Ms. Markert. Our specialist staffing will have some changes with Tyler Biederwolf taking the Phy Ed position. The Visual Art and Music positions are posted and will be filled with candidates not currently in the SASD. Our dance and drama positions will likely remain the same. We will also be hiring a new Dean of School this spring. This position will replace the current principal position held by Mrs. Brown.

On Friday, May 23rd we will hold a meeting at Paradigm to answer questions and go over these changes. I hope to see you there.

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