Mornings with McGeeney – Meeting Recap

Thank you to all of you who were able to join us in person for our final Mornings with McGeeney of the school year.  If you weren’t able to attend – here is a recap of the information covered in the meeting.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know at crescentheightspta@gmail.com.

Mornings with McGeeney
May 16, 2016

11 parents in attendance
2 PTA executive board members in attendance

Topics:
Scholastic Summer reading program
Safety in schools
2016/2017 Supply Fee
2016/2017 Class placement
Q&A

Scholastic Summer Reading program:  CHE is partnering with Scholastic to implement a summer reading program.  The program will run from May 9 – Sept 9.

Log in to www.scholastic.com/summer and report your minutes.  Each student was assigned a user name/password; if you are unsure of this, please contact your child’s classroom teacher.

Currently we are at 1,307 minutes – ranking 4th in the state!

Minutes read at school and home both count.  Any type of book counts – comic books, picture books, and chapter books.  The program is simply a measure of how many minutes are read (not if the book is at your “AR” level).

Tacoma Public Library will be doing a “minutes read” program as well, so these go hand in hand and one book counts for both programs.

This Thursday 9 -12, CHE will be holding a Summer Reading kickoff event.  Scholastic is bringing their Summer Reading RV tour!  We will have authors on site, tents for reading, the opportunity for students to get their photos taken (permission slip must be signed), all to get kids excited for reading.  We’ve confirmed that the following authors will be joining us:

Sundee Frazier:  Author of Cleo Edison Oliver: Playground Millionaire & Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It

Megan Morrison:  Grounded the Adventures of Rapunzel (#1 in Tyme Series)

Ed Fotheringham:  Those Rebels:  John & Tom, Tony Baloney & The Extraordinary Mark Twain.

They will be bringing signed copies of their books for sale!

Crescent Heights is one of 10 schools in the region that are getting this visit from Scholastic.  We do need 3 volunteers from 9 – 12 on Thursday to help out with this event!

Q:  Will we be logging minutes at school?
A:  No, but minutes read at school count and can be logged at home.

Safety in Schools:
A parent submitted a question to the PTA Facebook page asking what the school is doing to ensure safety of students in light of recent high-profile crime in neighboring areas.

A:  Safety is a top priority.  Once the morning bell rings, only three doors are unlocked during the school day. The front doors remain unlocked all day, and the doors leading out to playground are unlocked during recess periods.  All other exterior perimeter doors are locked.

The Tacoma School district requires a number of safety exercises per year:
11 safety drills per school year
Minimum of 3 fire drills
1 earthquake drill
3 lockdown drills (1 with Tacoma PD)

We just did a lockdown drill with TPS on May 10th, went very well.  The building was put on lockdown, headcounts were done of all students, and mock “missing student” drills were included.

District policy requires that all schools hold a fire drill and a lockdown drill by Sept 30th of every school year.  CHE is in compliance with these requirements.  School safety is headed up by Miguel Villahermosa, TPS Director of Security.

Q:  Is there any safety curriculum that is taught in the schools?  Example:  Middle school students found a gun in their neighborhood, they happened to know not to touch it, etc.  Are we teaching kids at school about gun safety/drug education?
A:  No specific curriculum around safety & procedures.  Staff does prepare kids when we are doing safety or fire drills, so that they aren’t panicked or scared.  Our staff get kids up to speed on what we do during a drill, why we practice, expectations during the drill, etc.

Q:  Are there plans to add any formal curriculum?
A:  Not that Mr. McGeeney is aware of.  We want kids to be in the know but don’t want to scare them.  There is a balance.

Mr. McGeeney did note that school is always a safe place for kids.  Example, if after-school walkers run into an issue on the way home, they can always come back to school and a staff member will help them.

 

2016-2017 Supply Fee:
Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, there will be a school supply fee $40 for all classrooms.  No more individual class list of supplies to purchase.  This fee will cover paper, pencils, crayons, and markers – the traditional items for a classroom.  It will also cover class T-shirts for primary classrooms, headphones for testing (intermediate classrooms) and supplementary materials (I.e. Scholastic news) as appropriate.

The supply fee will be payable at Ice Cream Social in the fall.

Q:  Have we thought about buying removable “muffs” instead of entire headsets to reduce costs?
A:  District doesn’t offer separate ear pads/coverings that can be removed from the headphones.

 

2016/2017 Class Placement
The goal moving forward is to have balanced classrooms by gender, ability and other student demographics.

Projections for the upcoming school year show the following number of classrooms per grade level:
Kindergarten – 4 classrooms
1st Grade – 3 classrooms
2nd grade – 4 classrooms
3rd grades – 4 classrooms
4th grade – 3 classrooms
5th grade – 4 classrooms

Known staff moves at this time:
Mrs. Williams will move to 1st grade
Mrs. Craig will move to 5th grade
Mr. Donovan will move to 3rd grade
New Teacher Mrs. Geile joins 2nd grade

Q:  Who is leaving besides Nancy Thomas (Retiring)?
A:  There are no other teachers leaving.

Next year’s teacher name will no longer be on the report card at the end of the year.  Parents will receive notification of who their child’s teacher is in mid-late August.  There will be a list posted at the school, and we will also mail home postcards.  We are doing away with “Move Up” day (where students are taken to “next year’s” teacher for an introduction).  Teachers want to savor that last day with the kids and want to keep the “celebration” of the day vs. sometimes kids being upset with not getting the teacher that they want.

Q:  What is breaking point to adding another 4th grade classroom?
A:  About 25 more kids.  Current 3rd grade class levels are extremely low.

Q:  What is the number for 2nd grade classroom limits?
A:  Approximately 23-24 per classroom.

CHE headcount is projected to be at 515 next year without any out-of-district enrollment.

Q:  Who do we call if we are in-district but not CHE, and want our child to come to CHE next year?
A:  In-district students do need to fill out the inter-district transfer paperwork, but do not need call anyone to come to CHE.  It is only out-of-district students that have been informed that they will not have automatic enrollment next year.  A final decision around out-of-district transfers will be made in mid-to-late August.

Q:  Will the kids know that they won’t find out who their teachers are at the last day of school?
A:  Families will get a letter this evening, kids will be continued to be informed over the next few weeks about how this new process will work.

 

Additional Questions:
Q:  Mr. McGeeney mentioned his “leadership team”?  Who is that?
A:  Connie Hopper, Ginny Fay, Laura Maes, Lynn Clapp, Sandy Morris, Darla Craig, Isaac Thomas, Caroline Bleckert, Selena Thompson & Chelsea Miles, along with Mr. McGeeney.

Q:  We are struggling with Uniforms in our house.  Kids are in tears!  We need some help.    Can we branch out?  Expand pants to black?
A:  The Uniform policy a hot topic with students, parents and staff.  The goal is for consistency for teachers, students and parents so that there is no question about what the attire is for the day.

Most important factor is that kids come to learn.  For next year, the last Friday of each month will be free dress Friday.  We will not have “extra” days, i.e. Blue Friday, college days, theme days, etc. unless they land on the last Friday of the month.

Mr. McGeeney has been working with his leadership team on many uniform topics.  His ultimate goal is to have a policy that works for students, staff and parents.  He is intent on working with the leadership team next year on considering jeans as part of the uniform policy.  Mr. McGeeney will be surveying parents later this month or in June.  One of the topics included will be uniforms, and parents will be given the opportunity voice their opinions on the uniform policy on the survey!

Q:  When will the decision be made on jeans?
A:  Don’t anticipate it being made before the start of school.  Recommendation is to shop for existing uniform policy approved clothing for the 2016/2017 school year.  Any change to the policy would come in 2017/2018 school year.

Q:  Are blue leggings ok for girls?
A:  Blue leggings are fine, as long as they are not inappropriate.

Q:  What if PTA did a super fast Survey Monkey in the next week regarding uniforms, to get a decision made by end of this school year?
A:  This is a decision that will be made in cooperation with the leadership team and is a hot topic with many staff – not a decision that will be made hastily.

Comment:  A Parent disagrees with softening rules in regards to uniforms, (just come to school in or out of uniform), drop off on lower level, drop off before 8:45 etc.   When we have rules and we let parents bend them, it sends the message to parents and students that rules don’t matter.

Q:  A parent has heard that we will no longer be doing AR in the fall.  What is the reason for change?
A:  AR costs money.  The small amount of revenue that Mr. McGeeney has will be focused on supporting balanced literacy instruction.  More importantly, the research behind it shows that it isn’t effective and doesn’t get children to grow as readers.  It is motivating for some students, but not at all for others.  Sometimes kids are testing on books that aren’t “just right” just so that they meet their AR goal for the week.

Kids will still be instructed to read at home.  Strategies will vary by grade level and teachers haven’t decided on their approach to encouraging and keeping kids accountable for reading at home.  It might look like primary grades may be instructed to read a certain amount of minutes or certain number of picture books per week and intermediate grades might see something like the 40 book challenge, for example (Goal is to read 40 books during the school year).  The books would be from all different genres, but they would be required to read a certain amount of books.  If a kid is interested in a book, we shouldn’t be “blocking” them from that book based solely on their reading level.  If we encourage kids to read books that interest them, we will naturally will develop more (and more engaged) readers.

We will re-approach how we get kids excited to read.  LLI “level Literacy Intervention” uses an alphabet approach and is a more proven method of encouraging reading and comprehension.
Q:  Are there at-home programs similar to AR that parents can use with their children?
A:  Parent suggested www.bookadventure.com – it is a partnership with Sylvan and functions similarly to AR – kids log books and earn points.

Q:   How can we get updates from our teachers if our children are understanding and comprehending books that they are reading on their own?
A:  Mr. McGeeney:  We can provide parents with guidelines/suggestions on how to talk with kids to gauge their understanding of the book and we will communicate those strategies.

Thanks again to all who joined us for this informative meeting.

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