August 25, 2014

By Allan  

Back To School Banner 2


Welcome Back Howard Staff!

Here’s the first edition of my weekly announcements. For new staff and as a reminder to returning staff, it’s my intention with these announcements to share informational and business items here rather than taking up time at staff meetings. It’s also my hope to avoid cluttering up your inboxes by sending emails throughout the week and to instead just send one email a week to staff. Typically I send these out on Sundays and my hope is for staff read them by Tuesday evening.

I’ll plan to send out the agenda for Friday’s Back to School Staff Meeting on Tuesday after I connect with a few folks, but generally speaking I’m wanting to give staff time to work in their classrooms, so I’m planning to stick with start of the year business items that needs to be covered and reviewing some of our past initiatives.

Twenty items of note this week:

• Elementary Back to School Event – Teachers already received an email about this, but I wanted to remind everyone about the back to school event, which will be 8:30-12:00 (with breakfast snacks and reconnecting starting at 8:00) at South Eugene High School. Be sure to bring the Teacher Guides you will be using for the first 6 weeks of reading instruction, along with a pen and highlighter. Classified staff are welcome to attend, though not required. See the flyer for details.

• 2014-2015 Schedules and Calendars – Attached are several calendars and schedules for staff, including the building Master Schedule & Workshop Schedule, Birthday Lunch Schedule, the Library Schedule, Staff Supervision Schedule and the Assessment & Data Team Schedules. Rather than upload each individual file, I’ve put them all into one convenient ZIP file. Let me know if you have any questions on any of the schedules.

• Building Construction Update – I mentioned earlier that the district and architects are not yet ready to go out to bid and are behind schedule. If you’re interested, attached is the bond construction update that was presented at last week’s School Board Meeting, which provides a brief explanation for the delay. More interesting is the updated project schedule, which has three different options for move in dates, Dec 2015 (Winter Break), Mar. 2016 (Spring Break) or August 2016 (Summer). Contractors will give a bid for each of the different completion dates and the School Board will make the final decision on the timeline, but Howard staff will certainly get to have input on when we’d like to move in. I’m thinking the board would like the the lowest costing bid (meaning a later move in date), but I also think they’d like to open the new building as soon as possible (meaning one of the earlier mid-year move in dates). There are pros and cons to each, but we’ll have time to discuss this as a staff and can try to steer the board towards one move in date or another.

• District Mandatory Policy Review for all Staff Attached and linked here is the updated District Back-to-School Memo (a brief 91 pages, though it’s three pages shorter than last year) with covers a variety of district rules, policies and guidelines. All staff must review the memo and sign & return the acknowledgement form to Lori no later than Friday, September 26th. I’ll place hard copies of the acknowledgement form in staff mailboxes. Looking over it myself, the only change I’m aware of are updates to the Appropriate Technology Use Guidelines on pages 69-80.

• Howard Staff Handbook Review – Speaking of policy review items, attached is the updated Staff Handbook for 2014-2015. For people new to Howard, this handbook should answer most any questions you have about Howard policies and procedures. Let me know if you have any questions and please sign & return the acknowledgement form to Lori by Friday, September 26th, stating that you have read and understand the contents of the handbook.

• Counselor Schedule – I’ve spoken with Joel and Jennifer and we’ll be keeping the same counselor schedule as last year:

Monday: River Road
Tuesday: River Road 8-12, Howard 12-4
Wednesday: River Road 8-11, Howard 11-2ish (River Road 2ish for meetings [1:45 or 2:45 or not at all depending on the week])
Thursday: Howard 7:30-11:30 River Road 11:30-4
Friday: Howard

• TSS Schedule – Our new TSS, Peggy Vega (I’d incorrectly used her previous last name in my staff letter), will be in the building five days a week in the morning, 7:30-9:30. She’ll then be next door at Kelly and a little over at River Road, with some additional flex time between Howard & Kelly. If tech related emergencies do come up, her schedule is flexible in those cases and she would be able to come back to Howard if needed. Remember to send TSS requests through and that you can also call the help line at x7777.

• PE/Music TOSA Days on Wednesday – Rachel and David, our PE and Music teachers who are also district TOSAs, will be taking their TOSA days on Wednesday this year, which fixes some schedule problems for a couple grade levels who had PE/Music times falling during early release time on Wednesdays. This means PE and Music will be on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

• Teacher Classroom Funds – I mentioned this at the end of last year, but as a reminder, I needed to find some savings in the Howard school budget by eliminating the “Allan Funds” ($250) for classrooms and am instead setting aside a chunk of money for print orders (which is what most teachers spend these funds on). Although these classrooms funds are gone, PTO will continue to provide their classrooms funds, which was $400 per classroom this past year.

• Staffing Updates – Rene Stinson, our Head Cook at the end of last year, has been hired as the Head Cook next-door over at River Road. Congratulations, Rene! The posting for our second semester PE teacher closed last Friday and we’ll be interviewing for that soon. Since River Road has them first semester, interviews will be conducted over there. I’m planning to be a part of the interview committee and any teachers interested (since you all have so much time right now) are also welcome to join. I’ll let people know when interviews will be as soon as the dates and times are set. Lastly, I haven’t gotten any updates on who our School Psychologist will be be, but ESS will get the duties covered by a current School Psych is anything comes up.

• Sharing the Track and Field at Lunch Recess with Kelly – We’ll be needing to come up with a plan to share the field with Kelly during lunch recesses. Kelly lost most of their soccer field area to the new track, and since the track is officially Kelly’s track, we’ll need to come up with a plan for how to share it (splitting the field in half or alternating days or another plan). Let me know if you have any thoughts on how we’d like to be good neighbors and share the field.

• Check Your TSPC Licenses – HR sent the following note to principals to remind licensed staff to check your license expiration and renewal requirements. HR will continue to notify licensed staff when your license is about to expire, but some staff will need time to complete coursework or take exams. With the current technology, HR’s system does not always accurately communicate with TSPC and a warning email, while usually dependable, cannot be the absolute assurance all is well. Here is the note:

Dear Teachers and Counselors,

I am writing to encourage you all to make sure that you are exercising foresight with regard to renewal of your teaching licenses. While TSPC may send a reminder at some point, it is our professional responsibility to make sure that we are doing what is required so that we will not have problems when our current license approaches its expiration date.

Over the course of my administrative career, there have been multiple cases where a teacher in my building has had to be removed from the class and placed on unpaid status because his/her license had expired. In some cases, the teacher thought s/he had completed all the requirements or missed the deadline for submitting paperwork and the fees.

The requirements for license renewal differ depending on the type of license you have. Some teachers may only need PDU’s while others may need college credits. Please don’t wait till just weeks or months before your license expires to earn those credits or track those PDU’s. You are too valuable to your students for this process to get in the way of you teaching them.

There are a number of ways to check and see what you need to do. When you were sent your most recent license, it came with information. You can also navigate the Teacher Standards and Practices Website and look yourself up. Additionally, Chelsea Archer works in our 4J HR office and can answer questions.

Thanks for being proactive.

Cydney Vandercar

• ESS Law Training Information – All district administrators recently attended a SPED law training. There were a few interesting bits of information I thought were worth passing along:

⁃ Student Initials in Emails – It’s not necessary to use student initials in emails for privacy reasons. ESS actually prefers that people use both first and last names or first initial and last names in the subject lines because this makes it easier when they do get a records request for emails.
⁃ Keep Emails Professional – Don’t write anything in an email you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Register Guard. Be careful about both tone and content (keep it factual). If you ever do need to vent about a situation, just don’t do it in email, which is considered public record.
⁃ Child Find – We covered this at a staff meeting last year, but this was the main reason for the required administrator meeting. If a parent or guardian ever verbally, in writing or in email requests SPED services or an evaluation for SPED, note the date and immediately notify the School Psychologist, who will connect with SPED staff to quickly set up an evaluation/planning meeting with the parent/guardian. The main way that schools have gotten in trouble in this area is when schools make the decision not to evaluate without including the family.

• BrainPop Feature Upgrade – We’ve renewed all of our current online subscriptions, but for a nominal price increase, were able to upgrade our BrainPop subscription. Students will now have unlimited 24 hour (not school hour) access to BrainPOP, BrainPOP Jr. and BrainPOP Español.

Teachers will also have access to their new new features; MyBrainPOP (where teachers can track individual student progress, see what quizzes and movies they have watched and taken, see how they did on the quizzes along with which activities they have completed.) and The Mixer (which lets teacher create and make their own quizzes and assign them to students.).

• 4J Elementary School Calendar – Here is the current District Elementary Calendar and Employee Work Year Calendars. As you make plans for the year, keep in mind this calendar does not include any furlough days, which must be negotiated with employee groups. Labor negotiations are underway now and if the outcome of negotiations includes any furlough days, the calendar will be adjusted.

• Beginning Spring Cleaning Now! – Although the move in date is somewhat in flux, this is still a good time to start cleaning out old materials you don’t think you’ll be using when me make the move into the new building. A little work now can save a lot of time later.

• Being a Writer Training Videos – The Developmental Studies Center has a number of videos posted about Being a Writer posted on their YouTube channel. DSC are the same people behind Caring for Kids and have a number of videos related to that as well on their channel.

• 4J Admin Updates – If you’re interested, most of the remaining admin vacancies around the district have gotten filled. Here’s the rundown. Awbrey Park’s new principal is Michael Riplinger, who’s been an administrator in the Springfield School District (Thurston Middle, Hamlin Middle, Briggs Middle, Yolanda Elementary, Thurston High) and was a CLC setting in Springfield. South Eugene High School’s new principal will be an interim position held by Stephanie Cannon, who has been an assistant principal at South Eugene since 2004. Spencer Butte MS’s new principals is Greg Borgerding, who was the principal at Glacier Middle School in Buckley Washington and was the AVID District Director & CTE District Director. Down at the Ed Center, the new Federal Programs Coordinator (Title 1) will be Tasha Katsuda, who this past year was an administrator on special assignment to help with the initial implementation of the Teacher Effectiveness system. Vacancies the one vacancy left to fills the Chris Castillero’s Associate Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Mathematics.

• Rob Saxton on White Privilege – Rob Saxton, the Deputy Superintendent at ODE, does a weekly video chat where he answers staff questions. I’d never heard about these, but a friend who works up there sent me this one where he answers a questions about race and privilege. I was actually surprised by how well he talks and understands this subject.

• Schedule of Events for the Week – See the Google Calendar for future events, but here are the events of note for this week:

August 25 (M)
8:00-4:00, Allan to Research for Better Teaching Training (Ed Center)

August 26 (T)
Licensed Staff Return – Planning Day
8:00-8:30, Welcome Back Breakfast Burrito Gathering (Cafeteria)
5:30-7:00, PTO Meeting (Library)

August 27 (W)
Classified Staff Return
Planning Day

August 28 (H)
8:30-12:00, District Welcome Back and ELA CCSS Introduction (SEHS)

August 29 (F)
7:30-8:00, Staff Breakfast (Library)
8:00-12:30, Howard Back to School Staff Meeting & PD

September 1 (M)
Labor Day – No School

September 2 (T)
9:00-9:30, Staff Meeting – PBIS Review (Library)
9:30, Q&A Session for New Staff – Optional (Library)
1:00-2:00, Meet your Teacher

September 3 (W)
PBIS Focus: Safety
First Day for Students

September 4 (H)

September 5 (F)

See you all soon!