I am still learning about this blogging thingy – so bear with me.
Some updates and other items you can help us with:
Our student expectations program has already had a significant impact with our students and staff. There is greater consistency, greater ownership of responsibilities within the school, and significantly fewer problems. Students like the clear expectations (sort of) but they really enjoy the short and simple Gold Card celebrations every few weeks. If you have any questions about our Gold Card behavioral program, talk to your child’s teacher.
In my last blog I mentioned that riding the bus is a privilege. We have had a few bus issues that we have had to deal with but with the strong support of our families, our students are learning about their responsibilities as a passenger. Parents – thank you for your supportive involvement with this issue. I do want to remind everybody that the end of the day around here gets pretty busy. If your child requires different transportation requirements, please notify Mrs. Rhodes no later than 2:00 - the earlier the better. I appreciate your support with this as well.
I just sent a memo to my staff on Cold Weather and School Closures and thought, while it was still fresh in my mind, I’d share some of it with you as well. If the temperature reaches -50 below zero or the road conditions are too hazardous to operate the buses, a public announcement to that effect will be made on the KCAM radio station. This information will also be posted on the district web-site.
On a related note, Cold Weather Gear. Our students must have appropriate winter gear to board and ride the bus. Additionally, they need this same gear to participate in recess as they will need a break from their academic rigors. When temperatures and/or wind chill factor falls to 20 degrees F and below, students in kindergarten, first, second, and third grades are required to have full winter gear. Students in fourth and fifth grades are required to have full winter gear when the temperature and/or wind chill factor falls to 10 degrees F and below. Full winter gear includes: snow pants/snowsuit, winter snow boots, winter coat, hat, gloves/mittens.
Finally, - attendance. Some of what I will share with you now is old news. However, some of it is new and impacts our schools reputation and the rating we will receive from the Department of Education & Early Development (DEED) at the end of the school year. Anytime your child is absent we need a note or phone call from you in order for the absence to be excused. With every set of five unexcused absences a letter is sent from the school – to the home – but hopefully we never have to get to that point. If we do get to that point, then I am confident the letter will help resolve the problem. If unexcused absences continue, additional letters will be sent requesting a parental conference to solve the problem. The bottom line is, a students’ learning is greatly diminished when they miss labs, lectures, class discussions, and activities that build not only their academic knowledge but their social development as well. The Copper River School District has determined that if a student misses a total of fifteen (15) absences in a semester (excused or unexcused), they may be considered as a candidate for retention. Under the new accountability system from the DEED, our students’ attendance at GES counts 25% toward the overall ranking we receive at the end of the year. This ranking is called the Alaska State Performance Index (ASPI). Our ranking determines how many points we have earned and in turn how many stars our school has earned. Last year GES earned an ASPI score of 90.37 which equates to a 4 Star ranking (which is pretty good – the second highest). However, pretty good has never been good enough for me. I want the best from my staff and my students. With last years’ performance, we were less than 4 ASPI points (3.63 to be exact) from being a 5 Star school. With your help in attendance and of course in academics as well, we can easily make that jump to a 5 Star School.
Byron Rice, GES Principal