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I would like to provide you with some additional details regarding the questions and answers shared yesterday by the PTO chairs. From this point forward, I will send out an email on Wednesdays so that families will know to expect an update on a given day and I will incorporate questions that I am asked directly as well as those passed on to me by the PTO board members and School Council members. I hope that the clarifying information below will be helpful to you and that knowing there will be a regularly scheduled update will help during this transition time as well.
While many of the questions below were answered in the Council meeting and summarized in the draft minutes on the website, I believe that the “FAQ” format may be the most helpful to those who were not able to attend last week’s meeting.
Q: What is the contingency plan in the event that the building is not completed by September 10, 2012?
A: Currently, the plan that was shared on July 18, 2012, indicates that there would be three days set aside for the move that would be made up at the end of the year. This means that there would NOT be school on October 5th, 9th, or 10th. While this was the proposed plan, there may still be some slight tweaking to this schedule. As soon as the schedule is finalized, I will let families and staff know, perhaps as early as this Wednesday’s scheduled update.
Q: How does going back to OLS for a month affect the budget? Where are the related expenses, such as buses, coming from?
A: Town Counsel will be involved for these and other conversations that center around the accountability for the additional costs to the building project and possible resolutions.
Q: Isn’t there an amount of money that will get the building completed on time?
A: Unfortunately, there would still not be any guarantees that the building would be completed on time even if the budget were increased. We must provide a school year comprised of 180 days and without a guaranteed completion date, we cannot risk running out of days between now and June 30th.
Q: Have recent events affected the plans for new furniture and technology?
A: The delay in returning to Druce Street does not impact the plans for new furniture and technology. The new furniture and the new technology will be delivered directly to Runkle School on Druce Street with the plan of installation scheduled between September 10th and October 5th.
Q: How are new parents to the school being communicated with? Is there a separate transition meeting for th?
A: New parents also received an email about the delay of the move to Druce Street. However, since some families reported that they did not receive the update, we will also be mailing formal updates in the future in addition to emailing them to ensure that everyone is receiving the latest information.
Q: Is the school working to find any solutions for childcare for the three days of cancelled school or is it a parent responsibility?
A: With the current plan, we are working on finding options for childcare on October 5th, 9th, and 10th. While we do not yet have this worked out, we are looking to share options in the next few weeks to allow families time to plan ahead.
Q: What is the contingency plan if we have more than two snow days, as this will hit the limit of the number of makeup days allowed?
A: According to our current school calendar, we only have a cushion of five days to be added at the end of the year. If we use three days up in October during the move and we have more than two snow days, we will need to look at other ways to total 180 days for the school year. It is possible that some vacation time or Saturdays may be used to make up the days in order to adhere to the language in the collective bargaining agreement for Brookline educators which states that a school year should not extend beyond June 30th.
Q: How are the teachers being compensated for their time unpacking again and then repacking?
A: Teachers are provided with some monetary compensation for their time packing in June, unpacking and set up in September, and the packing and unpacking in October. It is important to keep in mind that the main set up of the classroom space will occur once we are moved into the Runkle School on Druce Street. The expectation for the first four weeks of school at the Old Lincoln School is to provide only what is essential and necessary for teaching and learning to take place.
Q: How does going back to OLS affect class make up and numbers of classes? Will there be a third second grade? BEEP?
A: The classes sections were created with Druce Street in mind. Therefore, no decisions were made with regards to class make up or the number of sections as a result of being in the Old Lincoln School building. However, due to the need for additional space over what we needed during the 2011-2012 school year, there are a number of moves taking place that have a domino effect. Before class lists and room assignments can be shared, we need to reassess what the enrollment looks like after summer registration. We are anticipating the possibility of needing 1-2 classroom spaces assuming the enrollment figures warrant additional sections and have planned some internal moves to accommodate us. Any changes in classroom assignments would not result in a change to BEEP at Runkle. Just as a reminder, class lists will be mailed out on or before August 10th. At that point in time, all of the details about the internal moves will be shared as well.
Q: What is the plan for keeping up staff morale?
A: I have been in personal contact with each staff member that might be affected by some internal moves to ensure that we had adequate space for all of our learning needs. The plan shared on July 18, 2012 detailed a number of ways in which I am looking to reduce the stress on staff with the call for minimal classroom set up, and the creation of some online training and information so that staff can maximize their time in their classrooms and with one another as they prepare for the start of a brand new school year at OLS in September as opposed to attending presentations in a meeting format as has been the case in the past. This will allow the staff to complete the necessary (and in some cases legally mandated) training at times that are most convenient for them. Both Dr. Lupini and I are planning ahead to think of additional ways in which we can support the staff so that we can continue to provide rich learning opportunities during this time of transition.
I have also made myself available throughout the remainder of the summer to provide access to the building and has asked teachers to provide me with a list of any other necessary items they need in order to start the year off well for all involved. When the staff is together for the first day of the school year on September 4th, the focus will be on continuing to build and nurture a supportive school environment where teaching and learning with one another is the focus.
Please know that the support offered by the parents and students have been appreciated by the Runkle staff as well! Many families have already offered to help in some way during the moving process. Another way in which families can be supportive to our teachers is to bear in mind that the classrooms will not be “decorated” to the same extent as in previous years while we are at OLS. Teachers have been asked to provide what is essential for teaching and learning. While this will require some visual aides and special materials, the classroom will look different than you may have seen before. Your understanding during this time will also help teachers to feel supported and to focus on planning and preparing the high quality learning opportunities we all want for our children.
Q: Will there still be the usual after-school activities?
A: Yes. After-school activities such as co-ed Volleyball or cross-country practice would still be in place. Some additional after school activities or clubs may also be added once we return to Druce Street. More information about specific types of activities that will be offered will be communicated later in August as well.
As I mentioned above, I will have additional information to share with you on Wednesday and will then plan to respond on a weekly basis to additional questions I hear as well as providing you with updates on the move and on the start of school at OLS as well. I am hopeful that one message per week will make the management of information reasonable while still providing everyone with timely, updated information.
Vanessa C. Beauchaine, Ed.D.
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