Weather Related Closures: Second Guessing Is the Common Theme

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I have found that a Snow Day was a heck of a lot more enjoyable as a student than as a superintendent. It is almost unfailing that if we have to make a decision to call off school the weather will invariably change for the better 10 minutes after we announce the closure.

Once the road and weather conditions are considered and a final determination is made that conditions are unsafe for student travel the process of notification begins. The decision to close school is determined by reviewing weather reports, the Transportation Supervisor and me driving some of the back roads of our district, and talking with the State and County Road Departments. We also are in communication with University of Idaho officials. If we are still undecided then we go with the concept, “When in Doubt; Sit it Out.”

The notification process begins at around 5:45 am and our goal is to have the last calls made no later than 6:30 am. We use a mass notification system that allows us to notify staff, families, and the media of the closure. We complete this in two disbursements, 1) contacting personnel who are responsible for early morning activities such as bus drivers, food service staff, and custodial and 2) contacting the different media agencies. Shortly thereafter we contact families and staff of the closure, using our mass communication system that allows notification to you by phone and/or email.

It is vital that you make sure your email and home phone numbers are up to date in our PowerSchool program since this is the location used to contact you. If you are not sure if your information is correct please contact your child’s school so that they can update the information as needed.

After these calls end and everyone is notified then a cup of coffee is usually enjoyed as I watch the sun start to break through the black clouds causing the phone to begin ringing.

Your School District Is Planning For the Future

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At Moscow School District we have always referred to ourselves as, “The Pride of the North”. With the help of our staff, community, and students we have worked together to develop a school district that is known in Idaho as being one of the best. We know it takes ongoing reviewing, planning, and guided action to allow us to continually improve and we are doing this through a pilot program with the State of Idaho to complete a system-wide accreditation.

We are working with AdvancED services to review stakeholder feedback, student and staff data, and past accomplishments to determine and identify the strengths and weaknesses of our schools and district. Once this information is complete, we will be audited by an outside committee of professionals that will assess our efforts and provide feedback to help us in our desire to provide the best for our community.

 

Moscow School District is No Longer a Hard Hat Zone, Yeah!!!!

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Well it’s about time! I’m sure many of you are thinking this as you read this blog. It has been a very long process to get our bathrooms renovated, Bear Den remodeled, windows installed, roofs resurfaced, boilers turned on, electrical and data lines threaded, and playfields developed. However, even with the hardships endured due to the delays and inconvenience, we are grateful for these updates to our facilities. Our students and staff are now in facilities that have updated bathrooms, a gym that meets our needs, windows that actually are transparent, rooms that don’t leak, and wiring to get us ready to make our facilities even more secure. Please take a moment and view the pictures and short video showing some of these new renovations.

January 2012 Letter to Parents

 

January 2, 2012 

Dear McDonald Families, 

Happy 2012!  I am so excited to welcome your beautiful and always-inspiring children into the New Year!  We have many “coming attractions” awaiting us with the Spaghetti Feed, Portfolio Sharing Evening, and an incredible Fine Arts project involving students making “totems” that will permanently adorn the brick wall by the cafeteria. 

I decided to write a letter to you in place of sending home a newsletter–I hope it feels more like a conversation this way!  Please always feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or concerns—I welcome this!  Also, please remember to check out our McDonald website: http://msdweb.msd281.org/wordpress/mcdonald for additional important information (although I have had more than my share of technological difficulties with it!).  

As you are hopefully very aware, McDonald School truly values education of the whole child in addition to providing academic rigor.  We want to be certain that our students leave with not only a solid academic background, but also with a sense of confidence, kindness, respect, and responsibility.  We teach children, not just subjects!  To ensure we do nurture the whole child and provide a very well rounded education, here is a recap of some of the exciting student-centered events of the first half of the year. 

OUTDOOR FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT                    MONSTER MASH 

TURKEY TROT        WINTER CONCERT                        SING, DANCE, PLAY PERFORMANCE       

RECEIVING OUR NATIONAL AWARD FOR HEALTHY SCHOOLS 

SIXTH GRADE SCIENCE CAMP

In terms of academic assessments, we have both state and district required tests: 

  • The Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) for grades K-3, three times per year
  • Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) in the areas of math and language usage for grades 3-6 in the fall and winter
  • The Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) for grades 3-6 in the spring
  • Many other in-classroom measures

Your child’s teacher will inform you of important test dates.  We are proud of our students’ performance and will keep you apprised of your child’s results and overall school results. 

Other Updates: 

Safety: You may have heard that we have had many drills: fire drills, lock-down drills (in the event we would ever have a dangerous intruder), and even an earthquake drill (recommended by the State Department of Education).  I heard from teachers that the students liked the earthquake drill the best – crawling under the desks and tables was apparently exciting!

 We are making some playground changes to increase safety for your children.  Some very dated equipment is going to be removed and some bark will be added around some other equipment.  Unfortunately, we had an act of vandalism over Thanksgiving vacation that destroyed the school slide.  A police report was filed.  Although we have insurance, there is still a $2500 deductible that we must cover–ouch!  Hopefully, we will have a new slide installed in the near future.  If you ever see suspicious activity around McDonald, do not hesitate to contact the police.  Thank you. 

We are also working hard to keep traffic carefully moving through the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times.  Please do not stop in this line and leave your car to walk your child into school – you can park in our lot and then take all the time you need.  Also, please remember not to drop off your child until 7:50 AM when we have duty aides available to supervise.

 Graduation:  There will be a graduation ceremony for all 6th and 5th grade students this spring.  It is hard to believe that so many children will be exiting to attend Moscow Middle School.  Most of the students seem to be excited about the move. Kevin Hill, Principal of Moscow Junior High, soon to be Moscow Middle School, will be in touch with parents of 5th and 6th graders this spring to prepare both parents and students for an exciting new year in 2012-2013. 

 School Improvement Team:  We believe in continuous improvement at McDonald Elementary School.  Right now I am working with a core of 11 teachers to identify areas we wish to target for improvement over the next two years.  I am also seeking a parent team to begin meeting this spring through next year.  I have five volunteers so far!  Please let me know if you are interested in joining us—we will discuss ways to enhance our reading and math programming and any other issues the group believes are important.  I am looking forward to this!

 PTO: We have the best Parent Teacher Organization in the world!  I am so grateful to our PTO under the excellent leadership of Stacey Trivelpiece.  Our PTO cares so much about students and teachers!  PTO raises funds that make a critical difference to our offerings for our students. PTO has “saved the day” on many an occasion.

 Thank you for reading all of this!  Please let me know if you like this method of communication or would prefer a newsletter.  Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Sincerely, 

Cindy Bechinski