September 2018 Principal Chat REVEALED

We had 15 parents attend last month’s Principal Chat.  Full stop, America. That, sadly, is a NEW RECORD. We are packin’ ‘em in tonight, baby!

Our inaugural chats each September always include Janet briefing us on the rules.

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 Ali if you need to share personal concerns.

Now that we have put the principles into principal chat, let’s get started.

Snow Day Dilemas

Oh, honey. Starting out with the hard-hitting questions– our very lovely BSD Inclement Weather Policy.  Where to even begin to explain this complicated nightmare for our new and novice families?

(sigh)

Alright, let’s give it a go.

Snow day delays/closures are an all-or-nothing kind of thing.  If ANY PART of Beaverton is considered too unsafe to go to school, then the entire district is affected.  We don’t have days where SOME of Beaverton is cancelled. Bonny Slope has the highest elevation of all elementary schools, so if it’s icy/snowy here, but beautiful down off Scholls Ferry, it doesn’t matter. Everybody gets the same result. So just keep that in mind next time you hear people complaining.  It might be fine in our neck of the woods, but if Cooper Mountain is icy, it’s called for the whole district.

When weather is dicey, BSD has three choices:

  1. Cancel school

  2. Have a two hour delayed start (with or without snow routes)

  3. Have regular start, but put buses on snow routes

How do you know which one they’ve chosen?  We’ll get to that soon.

But first, let’s explain snow routes. Bus snow routes avoid areas dangerous in the snow and ice, like steep hills, elevation etc.  Makes sense, right? Totally. Except…

EVERY bus route for Bonny Slope is considered unsuitable in the snow, meaning NO BUSES SERVE BSE when Beaverton designates snow routes.  NONE.

Just let that sink in.

We still have school, but the roads to BSE are considered too dangerous for bus transportation, and yet we’re all expected to drive our kids to school on those same roads.

Yes, my friends.  And THAT is why snow routes stink at BSE– because they don’t exist.

We are not the only school in this predicament.  Nancy Ryles and Sato Elementary are in the same boat, but man that doesn’t make us feel any better when the crush of cars descend on McDaniel and our parking lot.  Prepare to be patient when you are dropping off or picking up on a day with no bus service. Better yet, add all your neighbors as designated pickups, so your ‘hood can carpool.

Now… how are you going to know which option BSD has chosen?  Oh baby. School messenger reminders are going to hit you all at once-- texts, phone calls, emails.  To both parents, often at 5am. Forget “watching the news” or “looking online.”  Please. BSD WILL NOTIFY YOU 10,000 DIFFERENT WAYS.

So!  Things to know when Beaverton School District announces that buses are on snow routes.

  • If the weather report looks dangerous, then each family has to decide if they go to school

  • BSD will not provide transportation home when buses are on snow routes, even if those same buses took the kids to school in the morning (and snow routes were called later in the day)

  • BSD will tell parents by 1pm if there’s been a change of bus service

You know what we need here?  A flow chart. You’re welcome.

Click on the image to download a PDF of it

Click on the image to download a PDF of it

Now watch us not get snow this year.

Know the Drill

Oh boy. We went from snow days to school security.  These new faces came to play. Let’s add in lice and our trifecta of elementary nightmare-mongering will be complete.

Humor aside, school security is serious business.  

It might just be easier to 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 is 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.  Ever notice those pool noodle things attached to the doors?  Yeah-- they keep the doors open for access, but the doors themselves lock automatically.  In case of an emergency, adults can pull those noodle things off and close the door, locking it.  While these things are difficult and scary to think about, the facts support that no child in a school shooting has been shot through a locked door.

  • 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 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 (safety against exploding glass).

  • EARTHQUAKE DRILLS: Students get under the desks, pull chairs in, and put one hand on head, one hand on 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.

Health Room Hardens Up

After that heavy, somewhat depressing topic, let’s switch over to something easier to imagine-- scraped knees and bumped heads.  Let’s chat the scope of our health room!

Bonny Slope does not have a full-time nurse.  Our nurse rotates to several schools and mainly manages medication and health plans.  The brunt of students’ care comes from our unacknowledged front office staff, who are on hand to take a temperature, put on a band-aid, and offer ice.  Anything more than that will warrant a call to parents.

Now-- what if your sweet cherub decides that they rather like those squishy plastic “beds” and suddenly “have a headache” every other day or so?  Haha! The district is onto them. This year, BSD staff must record how many minutes a child is in the health room (and missing learning time). This will help monitor if a pattern is developing.  So sayonara to the books, extra pillows, and sweet comforts in there-- you gotta get back to class, cupcake!

Now is the Summer of Our Discontent

That calendar survey BSD sent out that allows us to vote for the next two school years?  Neither option has us starting after Labor Day.  

LET ME REPEAT– neither option has us starting after Labor Day, meaning this year’s August start date was not a random anomaly.  At this point, we WILL be starting the last week of August in 2019 so mark your calendars accordingly. You have until 10/14 to fill out your preference for the two options.

Other Juicy Tidbits:

  • The District is cracking down on school attendance.  The new state report card will show attendance rates of every subgroup. Missing more than two days a month is considered chronic absenteeism-- even if it IS for that fun vacation or long weekend at the coast.  Studies show that elementary attendance predicts high school graduation so it’s a big push throughout Oregon & BSD. Look for our Attendance Olympics on the front hallway wall!

  • Our class sizes are SO CLOSE to getting more teachers…. but not close enough. Even though all of our classrooms are anywhere from 27-30 students, we haven’t crossed that golden threshold for more sections. Staffing decisions are made by central office, so while Janet and Ali can plead and beg, it’s just not their call.

  • Students aren’t evaluated for TAG services until third grade. It doesn’t matter that much anyway in elementary school.  Students are almost always taught at their rate and level.

And that’s a wrap!  We will see you at our next Principal Chat on Friday, 10/19 at 2pm.