September 2017 Principal Chat... REVEALED

Our first Principal Chat of the year started off with Janet reviewing the rules of the game.  These sessions are a time to ask questions about school and district policies, decisions, and upcoming news.  Personal attacks about students and teachers are strictly prohibited.  So don’t be thinking this is some gripe session to vent your deep-seated frustrations.  Set up a private meeting with Janet and Ali if you need to voice serious concerns.

Moving on...

Security Secrets

Our front entrance remodel will be completed in November.  It’s hard to miss the new changes, which include more metal, more locks, and a new door.  These very obvious alterations are about 10% of the new security measures.  The other 90% of security upgrades will OBVIOUSLY NOT BE DETAILED HERE because sharing all your security secrets on the internet IS STUPID.  Just rest assured that our school has never been safer and we’ll all get used to the new decor.

No Way, Hallway

BSD has a new public safety officer and a brand-new mandate, one that has been a hard swallow for many of our faithful veterans.  Community volunteers are no longer allowed to use the tables outside the classroom when working with children.  All one-on-one or small group volunteering must now take place inside the classroom.  Yes, you read that right.  INSIDE the classroom.  Goodbye quiet space and lots of room to spread out.

But.... but… WHY?  Well, BSD has always had a “within sight and sound” policy regarding volunteering, but it has now been taken to the next level.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where not every volunteer is appropriate and kind.  Turns out the background check doesn’t cover if you’re actually good with kids.  Reports and instances district-wide of parents abusing this set-up have forced a greater policy enforcement.  

So… it’s a change and quite honestly, not a welcome one for many volunteers.  This one might take awhile to get over, but the safety and security of every child in every school will always take precedence.

Lock It Off

Bonny Slope has already completed several drills, including a lock-down drill.   In our last practice, the entire school was silent and seemingly empty within four to five minutes.  How sad that our children are so well-equipped to hide from danger both inside and outside the building.

Fire drills, earthquake drills, lockdown drills (danger is inside school) and lockout drills (danger is on or near premises) will be a part of every school year.  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.

Dream Weaver

Hopefully your sweet hooligan has mentioned Dreambox– where all their math dreams come true.  Dreambox is the newest math software that can be accessed by every student in the district and is paid for by BSD.  So far, children are giving it the thumbs up (while parents grumble about downloading the desecration that is the newest adobe flash player).

How is it an improvement from IXL?  Hmmm…. Let us count the ways…

  1. It’s adaptive– it identifies a student’s areas to improve and adjusts as it goes.

  2. Teachers choose the learning target, which scales back the unlimited possibilities and mimics what specifically is being taught in the classroom.

  3. Sends more specific report back to the teacher regarding student progress.  Instead of just reporting how many minutes a student “worked” (and we use that term loosely), Dreambox actually identifies where they are successful and where the challenges still lie.

  4. It’s free.  Well… free if you don’t look at your tax bill.  Beaverton School District is providing this software to every student in the district, as well as training teachers on how to use it (Ms. Taylor is BSE’s trainer).  The cost of IXL (which had previously been paid for using BSCO, i.e. YOUR MONEY) has gone up every year.  Last year BSCO paid over $4k for an annual membership.

  5. Soon Dreambox will be able to provide parent reports.

Dreambox is at

Classroom Congestion

Here we are again in September, wringing our hands in worry over class size, terrified that THIS MUST BE THE YEAR where all the gloom, doom, and over-crowding nightmares come true.  Tell us, J– how bad is it?  

Lame news first. Second through fifth grades are at some of the highest numbers they can have without adding another teacher.  Juuuuust enough fifth graders left over the summer that that grade went from five sections last year to four this fall.  Second grade has the largest class sizes of them all.  

Now the good news.  We still have an empty classroom.  Our teachers rock.  Our population has remained pretty constant compared to last year. We are starting with 640 students, nearly the same as how we ended last year, which is not QUITE the 612 that BSD predicted for this fall.  But we digress…

We only have until mid-October until teacher placements become permanent, which means we need a few more kids ASAP to gain more teachers (who do you know?).  The problem is that our influx of students usually happens in January– when large corporations schedule their transfers and long after BSD has finalized teacher placement.

If, by some crazy chance we DO obtain another section of any grade, then we would be also gain another specialist teacher.  We said goodbye to our art teacher this school year because we are down two classroom teachers compared to last year.  The number of specialists is tied to the number of classrooms.

So how big is too big?  Kinder can have up to 28 in each section.  First and second can maintain 29 per section.  Third can go as high as 30 students, and 31 students is acceptable in every fourth and fifth grade classroom.

Recess Review

A common confusion among parents is the difference between recess and “brain breaks/brain boosts.”  Let’s break it down:

  • RECESS-- Recess is held for the 20 minutes before lunch at every BSD elementary.  Studies prove kids eat more with this schedule.  

  • BRAIN BREAK/BOOST- Flexible break around 10-18 minutes long whose timing is at the discretion of the teacher.  Every classroom gets at least one a day and it allows for a more organic flow to the day.

Other Juicy Tidbits

  • Our Bobby the Bobcat mascot has been a huge hit.  That mischievous cat seems to pop up everywhere– from the Playground Playdates, the Back to School picnic, our first assembly, and even the Jog-a-thon.  Bobby even got his own volunteer badge (after he passed his background check, obviously).

  • The Early Release reminders and recaps are killing us.  We get it– we really do.  Please don’t barrage with texts/emails/voicemails every week.

  • As previously reported, no clubs meet after school on Wednesdays and the office is closed.

  • Rocket science might be easier to understand than BSE’s specials schedule.  The six-day rotation ensures that every parent will never know what day their child has gym.  PE and Music are paired together and students have that set-up every other day.  Technology, Library, and Spanish also alternate every other day, except their rotation is Tech/Library, Library/Spanish, Spanish/Tech.  Don’t try and understand.  Just nod and put your kids in tennis shoes. Specials are 22 minutes on Wednesdays. UPDATE (10/15):  Mr. Whitehead shared the PE website,, which includes a calendar of PE days.

And that’s a wrap!  See you at our October Principal Chat on Thursday, 10/19 at 2pm.