April 2019 Principal Chat: Cedar Park Secrets... REVEALED

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Our April Principal Chat featured special guest, Cedar Park principal, Dr. Shannon Anderson, who came to spill the tea about middle school, Cedar Park, and what’s in store for our sweet fifth grade cherubs next year.  Dr. Anderson has been taking her show on the road to the various feeder elementary schools to better engage with upcoming parents.

So.  Middle school. Having a child move onto middle school is like reliving the first day of kindergarten. All the same fears apply-- Do they know where the bathroom is?  Will bullies be mean to them? How will they get to the right bus?

Sadly, those fears are exponentially amplified because clearly public middle schools are cesspools of hormones, online bullying, and toxic friendships.  I mean… amiright??

To keep this conversation moving, let’s switch to a quick and dirty FAQ to answer everyone’s burning questions and give some factual answers.

How big is Cedar Park?  Like 6000 kids, right?

Cedar Park hovers around just over 1000 students. There are seven feeder elementary schools– Bonny Slope, Cedar Mill, Terra Linda, William Walker, West TV, Ridgewood, and a portion of Raleigh Park.  Bonny Slope is the largest feeder school, with nearly 200 more total students than any other school that feeds into CPMS. Next year’s numbers have similar projections for CPMS.

How does CPMS roll out the welcome wagon?  

Cedar Park will host a “Wolf Day” in mid to late August, prior to school starting.  Students and parents will get schedules, have pictures taken, and have an opportunity to purchase prepackaged school supplies, PE shirts, etc, which makes back to school sooooo much easier. Seventh and eighth graders will be issued chromebooks, but sixth graders won’t get theirs until the third or fourth week of school.  

CPMS also holds a new student welcome event, usually the week before school starts.  WEB leaders (eighth grade leadership program) will be on hand to give student tours. Now that your precious hooligan has their schedule, they can quite literally walk their schedule and find the bathroom.

What should student expect the first week of school?

The first day of school will be sixth graders only. They better enjoy the back of the bus because they won’t be sitting that far back for awhile. The sixth graders are divided into small groups and the WEB leaders lead them through various ice breakers and whatnot (middle school awkwardness at its finest).  They walk their schedule & basically get the lay of the land before Day 2, which is with the entire school.

Just FYI: Sixth graders share lockers and those won’t be assigned them until later in September, so DO NOT send your baby to school on the first day with that new pink locker chandelier.

Are there ways for incoming students to check out CPMS this spring?

Absolutely.  The more a student walks our halls, the easier it is for them to picture themselves here. That actually goes for parents, too!

Here are some events this May/June that can help your family transition to Cedar Park:

  • Cedar Park PTC (Parent Teacher Club) Community Meeting:  Monday, May 20 @ 7pm. This is the final meeting of the year and board members will have a small presentation and Q & A session just for incoming parents (CPMS Library).

  • CPMS Band Concert: Thursday, May 30.  Grades 6 & 7 will perform at 6pm. Grade 8 and the Jazz Band will perform at 7 pm (Cedar Park Gym).

  • AVID Family Night: Tuesday, June 4. New students are invited to see what AVID is all about (CPMS Library).

  • Coffee & Tea with the Principal:  Thursday, June 6 @ 8:30am.  Join Dr. Anderson, the CPMS counselors, and a handful of 6th grade teachers for an interactive presentation and Q & A session, all geared towards incoming families (CPMS Library).

  • Cedar Park Onstage Presents “Getting to Know… Footloose”  June 6 (7pm) and June 7 (2pm & 7pm).  See our drama department perform their last musical of the year!  (Cedar Park Cafeteria).

Next year’s dates are suddenly a bit in the air (as the district revamps its calendar due to teacher contract negotiations).  Look for more upcoming dates soon.

How does this team thing work?  I really need my kid on the smart team (so they can get into a good college).

Each grade is divided into three teams.  A student’s core classes– humanities, math, & science–are all contained within one team, creating a community within a community.  These teams are chosen by… a computer. Yup, that’s it. Truly, it’s just random chance.

Will my sweet cherub be in any proximity to those terrifying man-childs called eighth graders?  They all look 18.

Well, your sixth grader will be on the bus with eighth graders.  However, once at school, the sixth grade has their own hallway that’s home to most of their core classrooms and their lockers. Also, all the grades have separate bell schedules, so they will not cross paths with older students while switching classes.  However, their advisory group is mixed ages, so there will be seventh and eighth graders there.

Advisory. Riiiight…. tell me again, now… that’s like their homeroom?

Yes, you could say that.  Advisory meets for 25 minutes once a week.  They will have the SAME ADVISORY for all three years at Cedar Park, which gives kids a chance to build a years-long relationship with a faculty member.  All teachers, admins, and counselors have advisory groups, which keeps the groups as small as possible.

But what do they DO in advisory, you ask?  Eh, a variety of things. Announcements, service projects, targeted group discussions… each week has a specific topic or activity.

So, what’s the deal with AVID? Is it a class?  Is it a binder? Is it a study hall?

Okay, so first let’s chat AVID.  First and foremost, AVID is a collection of teaching strategies that all Cedar Park teachers are trained to implement in their classrooms.  BSD has a very nice little recap here. In a nutshell, AVID in the classroom promotes collaborative, subject-specific learning groups, the inquiry method, and using writing as a learning tool (just google it). Examples include the Socratic seminar and teaching how to take standardized notes. These strategies should be seen across ALL classrooms at CPMS.

That gigantic AVID binder that you’ve heard your neighbors complain about?  That’s an organizational tool to help students maintain notes and school work IN ONE PLACE. There’s an ENTIRE AVID SYSTEM AND METHODOLOGY to that THREE INCH binder (which could easily be confused with a small briefcase or a booster seat).  As new sixth grade parents, you will most likely be shocked at its size and baffled by the table of contents system. Just roll with it, buy lots of tape, and get the zippered binder, if possible.

The AVID elective is a specific program that is meant to target students who would be the first in their families to attend college. This AVID class is an extra support system for those students to thrive and excel on their way to college admission.  Students must apply and be accepted into this program.

The AVID program is popular throughout the area school districts, including Portland, Hillsboro, Tigard-Tualatin, and North Clackamas.

What does a typical sixth grade schedule look like?  Will my baby be confused?

Understanding the nuances of a middle school calendar is insanely tedious. Making it even MORE complicated are the looming budget cuts. So! In the spirit of brevity, here are sixth grade class schedules, broken down into a very nice bullet point list.  

  • Cedar Park students have a daily block schedule of their three core classes – humanities, math, and science.  Depending on the day, core classes run anywhere from 64 minutes to 86 minutes.

  • A student has a total of four elective periods (two each day, alternating days). Cedar Park is waiting to learn more about the looming budget cuts (which could affect our MYP program & the requirement of Spanish as an elective). However, possible electives include band, choir, drama, and various enrichment classes like STEM Expo and Media Lab (which are pass/fail).

  • If a child is referred to intervention services, AVID, or ESL services, those classes take the place of one of the free electives.

So!  Still with us?  In a typical day, a CPMS student will have three core classes and two electives (with the electives being half the duration of one core class).  Here’s the current CPMS schedule.

What math do sixth graders take?

Awesome question.  The majority of sixth graders begin in Math 6-7 (also known as Accelerated 6).  That means they will work through all the sixth grade targets and as many seventh grade targets as they can in the school year.  A smaller group may begin in Math 6-7-8, which is ALL the middle school math targets through eighth grade.

Can I just tell you to put my child in the highest math possible? I’m sure she can handle it.

Nope!  All students are invited to take a math placement test if they’d like to be considered for Math 6-7-8.  That info has already been sent to fifth grade families. Students can also be reevaluated after 6th grade.

I’d like to stalk my child’s homework assignments online.  What are my options?

Well, you actually have two options to circle the cyber parenting helicopter– Parentvue and Canvas.

First, is Parentvue, which allows you to view your child’s grades and report cards.  This is where you fill out the student enrollment forms as well.

Canvas is BSD’s online learning management system, used by many (but not all) Cedar Park teachers.  

Parentvue will give you grades and general overview.  Canvas will show you the nitty gritty details– every single assignment, teacher comments, due dates, etc.  

You can check out all this useful info, links to set-up, instructions, etc. at the Cedar Park PTC website.

What is the cell phone policy at Cedar Park?

So glad you asked. Cedar Park revamped its cell phone policy last January and it’s made a HUGE difference in the vibe of our school day.  Cell phones are off and away ALL DAY, including during class time, passing time, and lunch. The staff at Cedar Park says the new policy is lovely.  Read up on it here.

Can I still volunteer and stalk my child in person?

Absolutely, though middle school volunteering has a totally different look and feel than elementary.  Say goodbye to the cutesy little cutouts and gluing together 30 student-made calendars. There are simply not as many opportunities within the classroom. Some familiar options remain– Art Lit (three projects per year), production (done through the office and not individual teachers), Media Center (checking out books), book fair, OBOB, and staff appreciation to name a few.  Individual teachers usually need speakers, chaperones, or occasionally someone to help with small groups.

There will also be a few brand-new options to your volunteering repertoire-- the student store (before school), the PACK store (during lunch), and student socials (twice a year and sooooo entertaining to watch).

If you are looking to volunteer at CPMS next year, you will need to email update_volunteer_locations@beaverton.k12.or.us in order to move your profile from BSE to Cedar Park Middle School. Parents are not automatically moved into the Cedar Park volunteer database.  Because frankly, that would be just too easy, wouldn’t it? (eye roll)

You can also check out the Cedar Park PTC’s website to learn more details.

So we REALLY tried to get into an option school, but now we’re stuck at Cedar Park.  Please make me feel better.

Oh, honey.  Going through the option school process is as stressful as college admissions, no? The open house circuit, the application itself, the second consideration – it’s all just one big roller coaster of anxiety, anticipation, and often, disappointment. We see you, we hear you, we know you.  If you are looking for some silver linings about joining Cedar Park, we have a couple.

First, while yes, CPMS is larger than your option schools, that also means that CPMS has more resources.  Larger schools can offer more electives, more intervention, and more options for teachers and friends. Also, while Cedar Park might feel like some OTHER PLACE that is wholly foreign and unfamiliar to you, it’s actually comprised of a LOT of familiar faces.  Cedar Park is the community we live in. Faces and families you’ve seen at preschool, milltown soccer, cub scout jamborees, cedar mill baseball…the list goes on. We’re all still here, ready to tackle middle school together.

This all sounds well and good, but who can I talk to when my sweetie is struggling?

Well, if the student is struggling with one specific subject, contact the teacher.  If they are barely managing in multiple classes and/or with friend groups, contact the sixth grade counselor.  

Other Juicy Cedar Park tidbits:

  • Cedar Park feeds into both Beaverton and Sunset high schools.  It is common, and not a problem, for students to wear spirit wear from both schools.

  • CPMS has 19 busses that service the school so the bus lines are one big chaotic crush of bodies.  CPMS staff walk around with a cookie sheet attached to a yard stick with magnetic numbers that announce the order of the arriving busses. Seriously.  You read that right– cookie sheet on a stick. However, as nuts as that sounds, it actually works. Daily. The kids manage. Few actually miss their bus.

You’re bound to have more questions.  Any more can be directed to shannon_anderson@beaverton.k12.or.us.

And that’s a wrap! Join us for the next Principal Chat on Tuesday, 5/21 at 6pm.



March 2019 Principal Chat.... REVEALED: It's Gonna Hurt

Sadly, it appears that each progressive principal chat brings us more dire news surrounding the impending budget cuts.  It’s round three and the latest forecast has Janet sharing some tough news.

“It’s gonna hurt.”

How badly?  And where? And why? Let’s dive in.

March BSD Budget Video: The Cliff Notes

BSD recently shared a video of Dan Grotting, Beaverton School District superintendent, discussing the latest budget landscape.  If you’ve been keeping up previously, there isn’t a lot of new info. But if this budget shortfall is somehow news to you, it’s worth 12 minutes of your time.

Oh fine.  Don’t watch. Here’s all the info.

Budget Based on Governor’s Projection

BSD will base their 2019-20 budget off Gov. Kate Brown’s projected $8.97 billion allocation for K-12 education. You can read what the critics are saying regarding that number HERE. Even though this is an 8.1% increase overall, it will not fund schools at the current service level.

This projected state number equals a $35million deficit for BSD going into 2019-20.  This is BEFORE the certified staff contract negotiations, meaning that doesn’t include any rollup cost or cost of living increase for our certified staff.

The Perfect Storm: Causes of Budget Deficit

Half of the budget deficit can be attributed to PERS.  One third of every state educational dollar goes to supporting the increase in PERS.  Also, only 40% of PERS recipients are school employees. The rest are city, county, and state government workers.

PERS reform has already been taken through the Oregon Supreme court, where PERS benefits were ruled a contract between the state and its employees and cannot be changed retroactively. These increases will be felt for the next THREE biennium budgets (six years). Yes, you read that right.  SIX YEARS.

Another significant portion of the deficit is attributed to Oregon’s Equal Pay Act, which went into effect on Jan 1. Salaries in BSD are being adjusted accordingly.

Finally, rising house prices and cost of living increases are pushing our students of poverty further and further out of Beaverton, equaling less money from the state.

Beaverton Investments UNSUSTAINABLE

In the past several years, Beaverton has invested in our students in various ways– largest number of school days (184), development of early childhood education programs in elementaries, additional career and tech education in the high schools, and funding for additional resources for the socio/emotional needs on the rise in students.  

However, BSD will be unable to sustain these investments.  As Mr. Grotting put it, ”None of these cuts are good for kids.”

(sigh)

No Quick Fix

The timing of all this is not ideal.  BSD must have their budget finalized and ready by June 30th, when the Oregon legislative session doesn’t start until the first of June.  Therefore, any tax package or reform created during that summer session wouldn’t be presented to voters until November, so IF the legislature agrees on changes, and IF those reforms are approved by voters, the relief wouldn’t be felt until spring 2020.

Lovely.

The Bright Side

Even with this impending armageddon, BSD still has some pros that will help it retains its position as a top Oregon school district, including:

  • Competitive salary schedule to attract top teachers

  • Early childhood education to manage the learning gap before it’s too large

  • The recent local option levy that supports acceptable class sizes

  • Recent bond that funds BSD’s infrastructure (meaning very little of our budget is used on improving current buildings and can be used for sheer education)

  • Option programs that give students and families a choice in middle and high schools

  • Career and tech programs

  • Dual credit, AP, & IB in our high schools

“We’re gonna feel it.”

Janet didn’t mince words as she prepped us with what to expect.  While all specifics are not known or publicly available, we can reasonably expect fewer support staff and a shortened school year, and the very real possibility of losing our PYP funding.  Class sizes will go up.

Teacher layoffs are also on the horizon for newly hired positions, who will be impacted first. While it won’t be as disruptive as the 2012 debacle, there may very well be a shift in staffing as teachers/staff are moved throughout the district at all levels. And we won’t know any of this until late summer.  JOY.

Plot Twist

And to make this year even MORE dramatic, contract negotiations are happening this spring between our teachers union and the District.  No decision on teacher movement will be made until these contracts are finalized. And remember, this current deficit number doesn’t include any rollup cost or cost of living increase for our certified staff.

The new contract must be approved by the BSD School Board and then is voted on by members, which should take place this June.

Phew! After all that, let’s move on to some less depressing topics…

Volunteering In the Classroom:  What’s Normal?

Bonny Slope does not have an overall, umbrella policy when it comes to the frequency of volunteer opportunities within the classroom.  Volunteer opportunities are driven by each individual teacher, and while some welcome any and all parents for many exciting, heart-pumping projects, others are more compact and controlled in what they need and expect from parents.

However, in general, volunteering does change as your child gets older.  Younger grades generally need more help with more intense art/production needs, while everything becomes more streamlined within the higher grades.  The general consensus in the room was that as your child ages, there will be fewer and fewer opportunities within the classroom working one-on-one with students.

Class List Modus Operandi

Always a hot topic among parents.  How EXACTLY are these class rosters created?  Well, it follows this basic model:

  • At the end of the year, all teachers from one grade collaborate to create equal sections for next year.  For example, the first grade teachers get together and discuss/review their students and put them into lists for next year’s second grade.

  • The lists should be as balanced as possible, meaning each should have an equal amount of girl/boy ratios, special ed students, ELL students, etc.

  • Once created, the lists are then given to the specialists, counselor and school psychologist to ensure a proper balance and that known personality conflicts are avoided.

  • Lists are not finalized until the week before school begins as new students are added.

Other Juicy Tidbits:

  • Art Lit’s culture lesson this year is Mexico!  Students can get excited for a lot of fun activities in April, including a Mariachi band, a taco tasting, and Mexican-themed art lit projects.

  • Parents looking for specific units of PYP can head over to the bulletin board outside the cafeteria and gym doors.

  • Our very own vice principal, Ali Montelongo, has been named principal of Cooper Mountain Elementary!

And that’s a wrap! Join us for our April Principal Chat on Friday, 4/26 at 2pm, with Cedar Park principal, Shannon Anderson.

February 2019 Principal Chat... REVEALED: The Budget Bleeding Continues

Thought last month’s budget doomsday chat was no fun?  Here’s round two!

BSD Budget = Brink of Armageddon

Since our last principal chat, the projected shortfall for 2019-20 has ballooned to $35 million.  So no, parents, you are not allowed to stick your head in the sand for this one. ALL SCHOOLS will feel the pain next year.  The only question is-- how bad will it hurt?

Let’s take a look at some specifics and possible outcomes so we can all prepare ourselves for the worst case scenario:

Ballooning Deficit

Why is this shortfall getting bigger? Well, the state legislature work sessions and Beaverton School District calendars don’t quite line up.  The state won’t have their budget finalized until the summer, while Beaverton School District needs its budget completed by April.

So…. that means BSD is making its best guess on what the state contribution will be and they are erroring on this side of total epic chaos.

Class Size Increase

Bonny Slope already has some of the highest average classrooms in the district, but those could climb higher. The district has predicted 20 more students at BSE next year, but the true test will be how those numbers will be applied to each grade.

Parents should prepare themselves for the real possibility that our grades may go over 30 students per classroom. We’ve lived through that before and while not optimal, our teachers, staff, and parents have always battened down the hatches and made it work. Because that’s what educational heroes do.

However, class numbers will not be available until after contract negotiations are finalized and the state releases their budget. So… could be late summer before the picture clears.

Lose of Vice Principals

Yes, all elementary schools may lose their vice principals next year.  While a total and complete shame, Janet has previously handled being the lone administrator at Bonny Slope.

Loss of PYP

Yes, all PYP programs may get the ax.  That would eliminate both the PYP coordinator (.5 employee) and the Spanish teacher (1.0 employee), plus the additional PYP trainings needed for our teachers. Janet and all the other PYP principals have pleaded their case to the budget committee, but time will tell how the chips fall.

Is all lost? Well, not necessarily.  Other schools across the country have managed to make it work, even through these types of cuts, but it will be different and most likely, difficult, to retain our IB certification.

BSD’s STEAM programs (like Bethany Elementary) and expeditionary learning programs (like Springville) are also on the chopping block.

Change in Calendar

Nothing is off limits-- change of start date and/or end date, loss of conferences, loss of early release… We just don’t know and we won’t know for awhile.

Other Juicy Tidbits:

  • The new middle school boundaries are still up in the air.  No one, not even Janet, knows how those will shake out.

  • International Home Language Day was a huge success thanks to Jen Oordt, our PYP coordinator, and the team of dedicated parents from our Cultural Awareness Committee.  Various items and rooms are labeled throughout the building in 12 languages so check it out! International speakers and community members visited the classrooms to make it a truly inspired day.

  • March 2 is Dr. Seuss Read Across America and of course, our former secretary, Laurie Bishop, will be back to speed read Green Eggs & Ham.  And this time, it’ll be read in Spanish as well.  Side note: this already happened and while Ms. Bishop didn’t break her record, it was still a hoot.

  • Staff Appreciation boosted morale with their February smoothie deliveries.  Jamba!

And that’s a wrap!  See on you Friday, 3/22 at 2pm for the next exciting Principal Chat.  



January 2019 Principal Chat... REVEALED: Doomsday Approaches

Our long hiatus is over.  Yes, Bonny Slope, the Principal Chat recaps are back! Just in time to discover that...

Doomsday approaches.

Last January’s Principal Chat had one singular focus-- discussing the the $22 million shortfall that Beaverton School District is facing next school year.  Talk about a buzzkill.

Here are some questions (and answers!) that you, Beaverton taxpayer, parent and everyday warrior, may have.

How does school funding work?

Public schools are funded by a combination of federal, state, and local taxes. Every $100 million in the state’s school fund translates to approx. $3.5 million for Beaverton School District.

So... What led to the budget gap that had to be hastily filled last December?

Several factors.  A January 16th OPB article recently shed light on the mitigating factors that led to the $12 million shortfall for 2018-19.  Here’s an excerpt:

Specifically, district officials pointed to five factors in Beaverton’s $10 to $12 million gap:

  • Estimates were too high for English Language Learner enrollment and students in need of specialized classroom environments (both student groups that bring additional funding to the district) — ELL student numbers were off by 400, the special education enrollment figure was over by 100 students.

  • Overall enrollment growth was flat, though Beaverton officials “anticipated continued student enrollment growth.”

  • There was a decrease of “students in poverty throughout Beaverton,” which “reduces our State School Fund allocation” — a drop of about $1.2 million based on enrolling 155 fewer students than forecast.

  • “[F]ewer teachers left the high end of the salary schedule and were not replaced by teachers on the lower end of the salary schedule.”

  • Beaverton’s costs under Oregon’s new Pay Equity law, designed to prohibit discrimination against women, “could not have been estimated when the budget was adopted,” but officials now say that law is costing the district $1.1 million.  

Read the full story HERE: https://www.opb.org/news/article/beaverton-oregon-school-budget-cuts/

In a nutshell, when they wrote this budget last spring, BSD overestimated the number of special ed students, new students, and low-income students for this school year.  Each of those groups provide money to a school district, and as they flatline, so does the money. As our demographics change, BSD receives less state and federal money.

Are there other factors at play here?

Absolutely.  State and local funding are impacted by PERS increase, contractual obligations to staff, health insurance increases, and non-salary increases like utilities.

How did this current shortfall affect Bonny Slope?

Last December, Janet and all school principals had to return 20% of their operating budget given to them in September.  That translated to about $15,000 less for Janet to work with this school year. Good news? Renee Conduff, our principal’s secretary, is a budget ace and has continued to keep us on track and out of the red.

And now to the real story. What does this mean for NEXT school year?

Budget cuts to the tune of $22 million.

(low whistle)

Okay. Dare we ask what is being cut?

Nothing has been decided yet, but everything is on the table, including:

  • Increased class size in all schools

  • Eliminating PYP & STEAM programs

  • Reducing multilingual teaching and support staff

  • Reducing custodial staff

  • Reducing campus supervisors and crossing guard positions

  • Shortening the school year

  • Eliminating conferences (or other non-student work days)

The district actually provided attendees with a list of 52 options with varying degrees of savings.

What BSD can’t cut?

  • Transportation

  • Special Education (maintenance and effort as required by federal law)

  • Utilities & gasoline

  • Contracted expenses for employees (Did we mention that teachers will begin contract negotiations later this year?  Oh how the plot thickens.)

But… but… we just passed that levy!  Why can’t we use some of that money?

Funny thing about taxpayer initiatives.  They have to be used for exactly what they were advertised for.  The levy will be used for teacher salaries in order to retain approx. 300 teacher positions and maintain smaller class sizes.

So… even though Beaverton passed the levy last spring, there will STILL be a $22M shortfall.

Yes.  If the levy HADN’T passed, Beaverton would be looking at even larger cuts.

But then why is Beaverton School District still building new schools?

The new schools are paid for by a bond in 2014.  Again, bonds are ballot-initiatives, meaning they are for a specific purpose and cannot be diverted.  The 2014 bond had very specific elements-- check them all out here.

Wait-- Bonny Slope just got all this new technology.  Why is BSD paying for all these devices when there’s a “budget shortfall?”  

Again, the influx of technology to BSD schools in the past several years is a result of the 2014 bond.  You can read their complete list of projects or just peek at the technology portion.

What can Bonny Slope brace itself for?

Well, sadly, Bonny Slope already has some pretty high class sizes, meaning we probably won’t see THAT much of a hike in the classroom.  However, depending on what the district decides, it could be anything from losing our PYP coordinator & Spanish teacher, to a shorter school year with no conferences.

Can BSCO help?

Our PTO provides an awesome amount of in-class supplies, teacher resources and student enrichment which is gonna come in handy through these dark ages.  However, BSD does not allow parent organizations to provide funds for additional staff.

Note: This is not the case for Portland Public, who are allowed to use PTO dollars to provide additional staff support.  However, affluent Portland PTOs must also share their fundraising totals with lower-income schools.

So… what you’re saying is that this situation is pretty serious.

Yes.  And it’s not going away anytime soon. Lovely.

Are there additional resources besides state or local taxes?

You know, attendees bounced a few ideas around, such as a Nike grant or (gulp) PERS reform.  So while yes, in theory there are other ways, right now we have no clear alternative pathway to shore up this funding.

Do parents/taxpayers have any say in how these cuts are applied?

Hmmm… you could:

Long story short— buckle up, Bonny Slope. The next few years could be a bumpy ride.

December Revealed

Better late than never!  Here’s a quick summary of Dec’s chat:

  • Even though BSD has put the kibosh on elementary overnight trips, Bonny Slope fifth graders will still enjoy two days of outdoor exploration through Trackers Earth Portland.

  • Stoller’s lockdown was a learning moment for BSD as well for the Washington County sheriff.  The district teaches protocols based on the best information out there, but there’s always room to improve and reevaluate.  One thing to know? When the WA County sheriff takes over, BSD and its employees must follow their lead. Confused about lockouts versus lockdowns? Here’s some handy info.

  • Bonny Slope will be receiving the second round of devices this spring, funded by the 2014 bond (see above).

  • BSCO is helping make BSE earthquake ready!  Emergency water barrels have arrived. Each classroom has a bucket with the essentials-- two gallons water, emergency bucket with pee/poop buckets (buddy classrooms), flashlights, solar blankets, first aid kits, and a list of emergency contacts for the class.  BSE is also increasing the number of radios on hand, since in the case of an emergency, cell phones may be down.

  • Our backpack program is alive and well!  Bonny Slope is always taking food and cash donations to help fund our pantry.

    And that’s a wrap!  Join us for our next Principal Chat on Friday, 2/22 @ 2pm.



October 2018 Principal Chat.... REVEALED

October’s Principal Chat was a cozy affair with all the usual suspects.  Let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

Early Release Police

We are in year two of the glorious Early Release Wednesdays.  Wondering what teachers are REALLY doing every Wednesday afternoon?  Well, Janet’s here to give us a glimpse of what really happens when all the minions have left the building.  

First, let’s talk schedules.  Each Wednesday’s focus is designated by the District.

  • 1st Wednesday– Admin-Directed, meaning Janet & Ali facilitate and manage this Wednesday training for the staff.  These first Wednesdays this school year have included the state-mandated curriculum for Erin’s Law, which requires all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program.

  • 2nd Wednesday– Team Collaboration, meaning grade level teams meet to go over specific curriculum, projects, students, methods, or anything else that better creates a cohesive team and grade.

  • 3rd WednesdayProfessional Development by the District.  These trainings are held throughout different schools and teachers can sign up for whichever ones they need.

  • 4th WednesdayIndividual Team Collaboration

  • 5th Wednesday (the Blue Moon)– Teachers are on their own to decide.

Different teams focus on the specific needs of their grade.  Some examples this year have been strengthening parent relationships through goal setting, strategies to promote math fluency, and the “three act tasks,” where teachers record student methods to better learn the child’s brain method.

Informative FAQ regarding Early Release

Rocked Reauthorization

The IB bigwigs came to town and LOVED what they were seeing at Bonny Slope.  Every five years, IB schools are reauthorized, meaning IB central comes out to verify that the school is applying the IB methods correctly.  The high level of inquiry instruction found at BSE was impressive and we walked away with some minor feedback and lots of kudos.

Other Juicy Tidbits

  • Bonny Slope’s recent community outreach initiative, the Backpack Project, has been a huge success.  Tons of canned food came in over conferences and the school’s food pantry is already full, ready to be sent home via backpack to families that need a boost.

  • No Outdoor School for BSE fifth graders this year, per BSD’s new no overnight rule for elementary students.  The school is looking into doing Science School (like last year), but it would just be a day trip.

  • Our state & districts funding woes are not over IN THE SLIGHTEST, folks. Beaverton SD is again facing some serious decisions for next year, as every district in the state will again be facing a budget shortfall.


And that’s a wrap, America! Join us on Friday, 11/16 at 2pm for our next exciting adventure with Janet and Ali.

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.

May 2018 Principal Chat... REVEALED

The sun is out and summer is oh so close.  Here’s a quick wrap-up of our very last principal chat of the year.

New Year Gettin’ Here

The infamous BSD demographer has predicted that Bonny Slope will have a whopping 16 more students next school year.  Combined with the overwhelming passage of the Beaverton levy, next year’s classroom lineup is shaping up. Here’s a first look at what to expect in 2018-19:

  • Retaining our vice principal!  Ali is back, baby!
  • Four teachers at every grade
  • 24-28 students per class
  • Positions to be posted include a special ed teacher (while Mrs. Harris is on leave)
  • First day of school to be Monday, 8/27

The only classroom changes known at this point are Jennifer Klingner, from Hiteon Elementary, who will be replacing Leslie Cranell in fifth grade, and Jeff Steindorf (from Five Oaks Middle School) will be joining BSE as our part-time PE teacher.

Other Juicy Tidbits:

  • Still room next fall in our Bonny Slope preschool!  Various marketing ideas were thrown out as BSE struggles to get the word out to preschoolers living within our boundary.
  • Surprised by next year’s school calendar?  We vote on three calendars at once, so this time ACTUALLY LOOK before you vote this fall on the next three year cycle.
  • The shrubs along the sidewalk on McDaniel are getting a bit out of control.  Time to call the county!
  • After all that hubbub, early Wednesday release is actually working! Teachers are getting more professional development and more importantly, consistent time to pow-wow with their teaching teams to chat about students and methodology.
  • Fifth grade teacher, Robert Vaughn, and one of his fifth grade exhibition groups have connected Bonny Slope with Barnes Elementary, who are in need of some volunteers for their Jog-a-thon on June 8.  Side note:  Email Jenna (volunteers@bonnyslopebsco.org) if you are interested.

And that’s a wrap for the year!  Thank you to Janet and Ali for these monthly raucous gatherings that rival any book club.  Your candor and communication are always appreciated. See you next fall!

April 2018 Principal Chat... REVEALED

Sun is out and we are here!  Let’s jump right into the fray…

ReTweet Hot Seat

Sadly, former deputy superintendent, Steve Phillips, must have missed his global citizenship lesson.  While his actions don’t match Bonny Slope's or Beaverton School District’s beliefs, here at BSE, our staff strives to ensure that all students–- EVERY.SINGLE.ONE–- can learn and be safe within these walls. Superintendent Don Grotting has offered to meet with any parent who has concerns, so don’t be afraid to take him up on that (Don_Grotting@beaverton.k12.or.us).

Levy Lowdown

Friends. This month’s school levy is a big deal. Like YUGE. It has a ridiculously large impact to teacher positions, both here at Bonny Slope and across the district.  Many people don’t realize how the number of classrooms directly affects how many specialists and support staff a school is granted. So a lot more is on the line than just three teachers at BSE. Again, it is not an INCREASE to your taxes-- it is a RENEWAL of a levy from 2013.

Side note:  Please poll your friends and neighbors who had a child in BSD in 2012. Their info may be eye-opening.

While we can’t tell you HOW to vote, we respectfully ask that you educate yourself and PLEASE vote. Here is the District’s handy dandy info page to get up to speed.

Operation Big Toe

This aptly named undertaking gained its moniker when BSE vice principal, Ali Montelongo, nearly lost her big toe due to the crazy driving maneuvers of an irate parent after Ali pointed out that she was parked illegally on McDaniel.  

True story, folks. True. Story.

Yet even after this close call, our BSE administrators are still out there RISKING LIFE AND (apparently) LIMB to ensure that McDaniel stays clear, traffic keeps moving, and no child is injured during our frenzied and frantic pick-up.

So, here’s a little recap for all you wayward parents who feel the rules don’t apply to your precious self:

  • Please don’t park at the bus stop on McDaniel
  • Be respectful of private property
  • Understand where your car does and doesn’t belong
  • Respect that the car pick-up won’t begin until AFTER our busses leave, so clogging up the parking lot or McDaniel only hurts us all
  • Remember that even school employees value their toes too

SeeSaw Hee Haw

See Saw, baby!  All BSE teachers K-5 have access to this hysterical and insightful window into our child’s classroom. I mean... THOSE VIDEOS!  Half their face is missing! Anyone else want to gently tell them to tilt the screen up already?

But in all seriousness, have you seen those “Parents We Heard You” posters? Those are Janet and Ali’s direct response from the BSD parent survey from last spring.  One recurring theme-- parents wanted to know what was going on in the classrooms. Because let’s be real-- our kids tell us zilch.  

Originally started as an app for primary teachers, parents now find SeeSaw to be a great way to chat with their children about school and listen as students truly explain their learning (often with half their face missing). This year, teachers either provide blog posts or SeeSaw updates on a regular basis (the optimum goal is every other week).

Our Girl IRLA

Oh, IRLA.  Me and her go waaaay back.  So few of you will remember that she was the FIRST topic of our FIRST EVER “Principal Chat… Revealed,” eons ago in September 2015.  Read our inaugural issue to get a refresher on BSD’s English Language adoption (and also some really riveting info on our Spanish program that actually still applies.)

Nearly three years later and… IRLA’s working, baby! Parents are sharing that they really like the IRLA reading program for younger children. Usually, it’s ridiculously complex to know where your child stands in reading. This program helps parents determine not only where their student is, but also words to work on, appropriate reading material etc etc etc. All students at BSE have a power goal, which is more than just reading, but includes things like reading with expression and understanding punctuation. Jen Oordt is still our Madame IRLA, BSE’s resident expert.

Other Juicy Tidbits:

  • Cell phone coverage within Bonny Slope just stinks.  But one parent offered to look into cell phone repeaters within the school, so hey-- maybe there’s hope!  Side note:  Can’t get onto facebook or instagram while at the school?  Shame on you for not being fully present! Kidding. But seriously… pretty sure Big Brother BSD is suppressing social media on their guest network.
  • Not-New News Flash (that will still surprise some poor parent this August): School’s starting before Labor Day this fall. Yup, America. TRUTH.  BSD’s first day of school will be Monday, August 27, 2018. So book those Sunriver plans earlier, y’all!

And that’s a wrap!  Check us out at our next Principal’s Chat on Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm. Yes, you read that right-- we’re moving this circus to the evening!  Can’t wait to see all our working parents join in the fun. See you then!

February 2018 Principal Chat

Quite a full house last Friday.  And by “full house,” we mean eight parents. But while the crowd wasn’t huge, the discussion was important.  Read on for a full recap.

Levy Perplexity

Beaverton School District has a levy on this May’s ballot.  This measure has been painfully misunderstood, so here’s a quick little recap to help educate the masses.

  • Levies are for learning. Bonds are for building.  Levies and bonds help make-up the gap between state funding and the actual cost of running a school district.  This levy funds STAFF ONLY. In fact, BSD says there are 300 staff positions on the line, including several at Bonny Slope. No construction projects are a part of this current levy measure, unlike the bond measure passed in 2014 which initiated the construction and repairs of many BSD schools.  Take a look here for the projects funded by the 2014 bond that have absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming levy.

  • This levy is a RENEWAL of a levy passed in 2013, which was a direct result of the bloodbath of 2012-13 when BSD lost 300 teachers, class sizes ballooned, and parents cried themselves to sleep.  How can we so quickly forget those dark ages? This 2018 levy will MAINTAIN your current level of taxes, not increase it, which for the average family in Beaverton, is less than $25/month.

Mazama Madness

While there were a few hiccups to the fifth grade’s trip to Mazama Science School (AWOL nurse, snow day, late busses), the experience proved to be a memory-making adventure.  The program was geared to the scientific method, having students create experiments and explore theories– everything from how to build a faster sled, how snowshoes work, and what would happen if all the snow melted on Mt. Hood.

However, BSD has recently laid down the hammer when it comes to elementary overnight trips.  Next year, elementary schools will no longer be allowed to have school-sponsored overnight trips and school sponsored overnight trips won’t happen over the weekend.

Walk Out Walkabout

Recent and continuing incidents of gun violence in American schools have galvanized many passionate Bonny Slope parents. March 14th’s National School Walkout is urging students to walk out for 17 minutes at 10am.  Can BSE participate? What would that look like? Several parents were on hand to chat with Janet and Ali about their hopes and expectations for what this could look like at Bonny Slope.

First, whatever action BSE decides to take, it needs to be mindful and appropriate for our children.  Secondly, it’s an incredibly important topic to many parents in our school community. Finally, it’s an excellent opportunity for our students to see the PYP “take action,” and to learn valuable civic lessons regarding free speech and the right to peaceful protest.

As one can imagine, green-lighting a school walkout is a tricky subject for elementary administrators, especially as BSD is still working on their official messaging and stance. UPDATE:  BSD has responded to possible school walkouts. Janet is committed to creating some sort of age-appropriate activity that will not include students actually walking out of the school and will focus on kindness, inclusion, and unity.  This will work perfectly with BSE’s current “Kindness Matters” campaign.

Other schools in the area are walking into the hallway, observing 17 minutes in silence, and/or creating different lessons for younger versus older grades.  Whatever BSE decides, together with parents and staff, it will not be political and it will protect our children’s innocence.

Other Juicy Tidbits

  • Conferences are coming up and while they are not being LED by students, many teachers want students present.

  • Friday’s day off from school is compensation for teachers working 12 hours days on Wednesday and Thursday.

  • BSD’s 2018-19 calendar has a LOT of full weeks next year, with the school year beginning 8/27.  Better double check your vacation plans, folks, ‘cause your usual week in Sunriver might be out.

  • While students don’t need to be totally silent when transitioning from recess into the cafeteria, they do need to quiet down and calm themselves to eat.  Students should not be losing lunch time due as a “punishment” for not being silent. IAs usually try and line them up a bit earlier to give them time to chillax.

  • Our flag takes a beating.  Due to the rain, wind, and ice, Janet replaces our flag every year.  Wondering why it’s often at half-mast? Well, Janet and Steve Sparks have a direct line to the governor, who communicates with all state employees when the flag should be down.

And that’s a wrap!  See you at our next Principal Chat on Friday, 3/23 at 2pm, with special guest, Cedar Park principal, Dr. Shannon Anderson.

Principal Chat January 2018

It was a whirlwind of riveting topics at last week’s evening Principal Chat.  Because time is precious and we’ve all got kids to feed, here’s a recap you can skim in two minutes.  We’ll even time ya.

  • Fourth grade’s lunch hour social experiment got mixed reviews from the students.  Our little cherubs had to pick a number as they walked in to sit at a table with random kids in hopes that it would prompt a bit more outreach and build some social skills and new friends. However, most of the kids thought it was a brutal form of arcane punishment for being too loud. It was only for one week, but something of this sort might make its way back to the BSE cafeteria every now and then for all the grades. Oh, the torture!

  • Fifth grade's No Homework Policy is a misconception. Although expectations are somewhat different for each classroom, homework is a requirement in 5th grade. Most teachers require a minimum of reading 30 minutes per night as well as finishing any classwork that was not completed during the day. Many also require writing about reading and Dreambox work.  Occasionally, you should see the old school type of math worksheet come home as well to support what is being done in the classroom.

  • Is Dreambox optional?  Can we just let them keep playing? Oh Dreambox-- where all your math dreams come true.  Online, that is.  Some parents would prefer a hard copy homework handout, but honestly, it’s the teacher prerogative.  And is your little hooligan surpassing all his math grade level dreams and wanting to climb that dreambox ladder?  Consensus here is to keep him challenged and let him go as far as he wants.

  • How is it possible that people are still parking in the “No Parking” areas of the parking lot at pick-up?  Seriously, folks.  It’s February.  Have we not figured this out yet?  (cue eye roll) Just a heads up-- BSE is taking names and Washington County is on the case, so YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.  

  • Oh hey, turns out your kids need to be IN school to do well AT school.  Beaverton School District is cracking down on their chronic absentee rate. When it comes to reporting absences, there is no difference between excused versus unexcused. Bonny Slope has a pretty large number of students who are characterized as “chronically absent,” so let’s do better, shall we?  Two major indicators of high school grad rates are socio-economic status and chronic absenteeism. And big brother BSD is watching...

  • The new preschool is a part of BSE, but not quite FULLY BSE.  Preschool students will have breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, attend assemblies, and use the playground and community events such as parent education and Carnival.  However, they won’t have all BSCO programs (like Art Lit, Bobcat Trail) or specials.  Each class only has 2.5 hours of instruction per day, so it’s all about hitting those preschool standards with a heavy focus on social emotional growth.

  • We’re not the only preschool circus in town.  This past fall, two other schools in Beaverton School District (Aloha-Huber & Vose) opened preschools. Eventually, our superintendent would like them at every elementary.

  • Our IB higher-ups will be checking us out next fall so we need to get our IB ducks IN A ROW.  Start drinking the kool-aid, people!  We’re still in the middle of a self-study, so if you’d like to participate in taking a crazy short survey, or even being the hero and sitting on a discussion panel next fall, then connect with Jennifer Oordt, our PYP Coordinator (jennifer_oordt@beaverton.k12.or.us)

And that’s a wrap!  Join us for February’s Principal Chat on Friday, 2/23 at 2pm.