A FEW ISSUES AROUND THE DISTRICT
Most of the articles over the last two months have been focused on single issues. I will depart from that this week with a few shorter topics!
LOVE OF READING
February is recognized in most school districts as “I Love to Read Month.” Although reading is an important task throughout our work, at the elementary level in particular, we like to take some extra time to celebrate the idea of reading. We especially like to focus on the idea of reading for pleasure!
Many of our elementary classrooms will place special emphasis on reading in February. Guests are often invited to the classroom to share a favorite book or reading with students. The guests may be parents, leaders in the community, grandparents who want to share, school district leaders and employees, or other guests who are “important” to students. Books that provide entertainment, imagination and fun are featured throughout the month.
As we go through the month, I will have opportunity (personally) to go to several classrooms and read. Depending on the grade level, I will take books that have been important to me as I grew up. For younger students, I especially like to use Dr. Seuss books with my favorites being The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham. For some of the older elementary classrooms, I like to use some of the books that fascinated me when I was about that age—especially a set of small history books given to me by my grandmother dating from the early 1900s.
If you love to read and want to share with our students, please contact our elementary schools or a favorite classroom teacher! It is a great experience to share a love of reading with students!
On January 11, we lost a day of school to the rainy, icy conditions that crossed through Central Minnesota. It was the first emergency closing of school for the 2012-13 school year and causes a change in our school calendar.
As our adopted calendar indicates, the change affects staff members more than students. The calendar says that students do not have to make up the first day lost to an emergency closing. Instead, the day shifts for staff members and becomes a staff development day.
Students, therefore, do not see any change in their calendars but gained one day off by not having school on the 11th. For staff members, the day is made up on the Monday following Easter Sunday. April 1, then, becomes a staff in-service day but students continue to have the day off.
If there are more days lost for emergency reasons (weather or other issues), they will be made up by students and staff according to the schedule listed on the calendar.
MARCH 1—ELEMENTARY SCHEDULE
We are a month away from the start of March, but I wanted to take a moment to remind parents that the schedule for March 1 at the elementary level only was changed from the original calendar. Principals, I am sure, will remind families as we get closer to the date, but elementary students do not have any school that day.
The original calendar showed the day as a half day for all students across the district. The change made, to meet some contractual issues and provide more equity in schedules across the district, was to keep secondary students on the schedule for the half day, but to cancel school for elementary students.
Because March 1 is the end of a trimester and the elementary buildings have parent-teacher conferences the following week, the idea was to give elementary teachers opportunity to prepare for the conferences, to wrap up the trimester grading period, and prepare for a new trimester of student work.
To be clear, secondary students (grades six through twelve) remain on the schedule of a half day of school on March 1. Elementary students (grades kindergarten through fifth grade) do not have any school scheduled that day.
HIGH SCHOOL SAFETY STEPS
Last week, the high school introduced some steps to improve security and safety at the secondary site. Principal Mark Jenson explained the procedures to students as they came to school on January 22.
One of the steps included definition of which doors will be open to students as they arrive at school in the morning. Previously, there were multiple doors open and students could gain access to the building through as many as eight different doors. The change on access reduced the number of open doors in the morning to two. Students must enter the building through the main entry (Door 1) or the entry by the District Office where the buses drop off students at Door 11. All other entries to the building are locked.
Internally, one of the biggest changes was to coordinate and systematize the movement of students during class time. Each teacher in the building was provided one classroom pass—and they all look the same for consistency. Essentially this means that one student may leave the classroom at any given time for bathroom or other purposes. The one pass restricts the number of students who would be out of the classroom, minimizes movement around the building, and allows for much better ability to monitor hallway and other areas of the building.
Although the changes were not met with resounding support from students, the actions do allow us to have better safety and security in the building. They also encourage students to be in the classroom as much as possible—which is a primary goal of any educational setting!
ELEMENTARY SAFETY STEPS
We are in the process of taking some steps to improve external security at our elementary sites. Although we are still, at each building, working out some of the logistics, we will soon have much more controlled access to each site.
Unlike the design of the secondary site, which through construction intentionally placed the office spaces at the main entrances to the building and direct traffic into the offices during the student day, the elementary buildings all have some limitations for supervision. The Richmond and Rockville offices are both removed from direct observation of the entries. Although the CSE office has some visual connection with the main door, the open lobby minimizes the ability to control traffic.
As such, all three elementary sites will have camera and “buzzer” access installed. This will mean that, once the school day starts, any visitors to the sites will need to be identified by office staff and then allowed access by remote authorization. Visitors to the building will remain outside until the office staff is able to activate entry.
We are in the process of installing the appropriate equipment for this change, but we will soon deploy the process. The elementary principals will communicate more directly with parents when the change is put into effect. Again, the purpose behind the change is to improve our ability to control access which provides increased safety and security for each site.
As always, there are a lot of things happening across the ROCORI District. I have highlighted a few, but there are many things that unfold on virtually every day of school. From the regular classroom to special events to improvements being implemented, we have a lot of great things in the ROCORI Schools!