Hey, hey Bonny Slope! Another year of riveting news, brought to you by Janet & Jim. But before the real dirt can be revealed, our inaugural chats each September always include Janet briefing us on the rules of these monthly get-togethers.
Have questions about school and district policies, decisions, and upcoming news? Welcome. Take a seat.
Personal attacks about students and teachers? Nope. Not happening. Don’t be coming up in here thinking this is some personal gripe session. Set up a private meeting with Janet and Jim if you need to share personal concerns.
So. Now that we have put the principles into principal chat, let’s get started.
Student Success Act Survey: Who Let the Dogs Out?
After all that budget cut gloom & doom of last winter & spring, our state legislature came through big time with the Student Success Act. This bill will inject $34 million+ into Beaverton School District in the 2020-21 school year, so…yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.
BSD is already beginning the process of using these funds. Feel free to read more about the required process here:
Beaverton Already at Work to Prep for Student Success Act (Beaverton Valley Times)
Big Education Investment Comes with Accountability Demands for Superintendents (Oregon School Boards Assoc.)
Basically, this money won’t be handed out just willy nilly to districts. They will need to apply for it, similar to a grant process. But before that can happen, “Districts must demonstrate engagement of the community in a needs assessment process prior to the application for funds,” which is a fancy way of saying that BSD is required to ask parents how they think BSD can improve.
Hence… the Student Success Act survey.
Janet and Jim listened to feedback on the following questions:
1.What is going well in BSD?
Parents’ response: (crickets)
Kidding, kidding. Some parents tossed around a few pros. But the REAL bulk of the conversation centered around the question:
2. What would you like to see improved?
Oh, boy. Let’s just say, our assembly didn’t hold back. Here’s a short list of responses:
Spanish back in PYP
Improving mental health services, as childhood anxiety and classroom outbursts continue to rise. Teaching teachers to handle mental health issues.
Sustainability efforts in the schools
Librarian in schools
Smaller class sizes
Change how attachments are sent via email (Turns out BSD has to use a specific program to allow docs to be translated, read by visually impaired, & fulfill ADA requirements)
Equity training for staff. (Side note: BSD has a brand-new equity coordinator who is bringing culturally responsive teaching practices to BSD staff)
Art as a special
More time for PE, perhaps district supported activities before/after school
Improve our Safety Resource Officer ratio, currently around 15 schools to one officer
Bonny Slope’s dramatic lockout/lockdown/whatever-that-was was NOT a great omen to start our year. Janet & Jim had recently been to a BSD/Washington County debrief. Bonny Slope staff were praised for following protocol, ushering kids in as quickly and calmly as possible, and continuing on with a rather stressful morning.
Parents were also praised for spreading the word, ensuring walkers were safe, and following staff instructions.
Communication, however, could have been better. Hmmmm ... ya think?
Questions to be answered include:
Why did it take so long for an initial message to be sent to Bonny Slope parents? Even when the info was on the BSD website? Even when this took place during morning drop-off as a crush of cars approached the school?
If school staff is pulled inside during a lockdown (during morning drop-off), who will manage the crosswalks and students walking alone to school?
How can middle school parents be informed that the neighborhood is not safe for middle schoolers to be walking to their bus stops?
Was it terrifying? Absolutely. But thankfully, no one was hurt, all children were accounted for, and our law enforcement and school district can take away some much-needed feedback about how to proceed when these events happen at inopportune times.
And, just because we can, here is the information sent out in LAST September’s Principal Chat recap. Because sadly, this isn’t going away for us or our children.
Know the Drill (published in 2018)
I know! Let’s list the various safety aspects of Beaverton School District and Bonny Slope:
Every elementary is assigned a Safety Resource Officer, who is a Washington County sheriff. Bonny Slope’s SRO, Holly Greener, has several elementaries on her watch and assists BSE administrators with creating and implementing safety strategies.
Bonny Slope has been the site for the county’s Active Shooter Training each summer. Let me tell ya, it is TERRIFYING to see those training pictures, but how lucky are we that our school is the VERY LOCATION our sheriffs, police, and emergency responders train.
Our new entry forces visitors to go through the office. Us old timers can remember the easy, breezy days of bypassing the office entirely and heading straight into the hallways. No more, Bonny Slope. Our doorbell system makes sure that all visitors must be manually allowed in.
All of our classroom doors are locked. This year the District has placed new locks on doors so that they can be easily locked from inside as well as easily identified as locked or unlocked.
There are many more safety procedures and features of our buildings that are not public knowledge. Because advertising all your safety measures online would LEAVE THOSE MEASURES WORTHLESS. Duh.
Now, there are a lot of different battle plans that the school has to prepare. For all the newbies out there, here’s a rundown of all the different drills (plus hand dandy video) that your students will practice at school:
FIRE DRILLS: All students walk out silently to the school track and turn their backs to the school (security against exploding glass)
EARTHQUAKE DRILLS: Students get under the desks, pull chairs in, and put one hand on head, one hand on a chair.
LOCKOUT DRILLS (danger is on or near premises): Usually, this means police activity in the area. Blinds and doors are closed but instruction continues.
LOCKDOWN DRILLS (danger is INSIDE the school): All classroom doors locked, blinds closed, black felt in place, students are hidden and quiet.
These drills will be a part of your child’s life. Teachers of younger students often sugarcoat the danger by “pretending to hide from a tiger” or such. While it’s the teacher’s job to keep the students safe, it is your job, as parents, to share whatever message and details you feel is appropriate.
If parents find themselves in the building during these drills, they must participate and cannot ignore the alarm in order to finish their production projects (as lovely as that seems) or try and leave the building. You must do what the children do.
Spanish: The Drama Continues
You know, even WITHOUT a Spanish special this year, the angst lives on. Love it or hate it, Spanish is a point of contention LITERALLY every year. No joke. Every. Single. Year.
The beef this year? Well, we no longer have a Spanish special, thanks to the reduced PYP funding for elementary schools. Side note: We no longer have a dedicated PYP coordinator either. That’s now a stipend position being filled by a classroom teacher.
Now, the greater IB organization gods are allowing Beaverton schools to have a grace year as we bumble through these awkward budget cuts (before the Student Success Act kicks in). BSE is thinking of some creative ways to incorporate Spanish, including possibly skyping with native Spanish speakers during their Technology special.
This, however, led to a greater discussion/complaint session about how the Spanish program at BSE does not teach our kids how to speak Spanish. And then my brain exploded with a significant and powerful case of deja vu. The Spanish Unrest makes its annual principal chat appearance.
Bonny Slope, because this is SUCH a constant, consistent, and contentious part of our curriculum, here’s a requote from September 2015’s Principal Chat discussing this issue. Yes, we chatted about this four years ago and have every year since. Every. Year. Since, America. Clearly, message not received.
Spanish Objectives…. Lost in Translation (published in 2015)
It’s so hard to be misunderstood. And apparently, the objectives and goals of our Spanish program have some parents scratching their heads. It turns out that in an IB school such as ours, the goal is EXPOSURE to a single language, not an academic study. Students will be learning key words of the language in an attempt to gain cultural experience, awareness and international mindfulness.
Say, WHAT?! You mean we don’t have to be irritated if our 5th grader isn’t fluent? Turns out students will begin a more academic & structured program once they enter middle school. Until then, our Spanish program will continue to highlight and showcase not just the Spanish language, but the culture as a whole in our pursuit of IB excellence.
One awesome parent made a great suggestion. What if we called this special “Spanish Culture” instead of just Spanish, in order to realign parent expectations and turn off this broken record? Praise be, Janet, that might just work. Next year.
Other Juicy Tidbits:
Students have technology & computer science specials this year. Sara Breton is now teaching the new computer science special with a focus on coding, digital citizenship, and programming.
With 24 attendees, this was our biggest chat yet! Unreal!
And that’s a wrap! We will see you at October’s Principal Chat on Friday, 10/18 at 2pm.