Spring Parent Communication Letter

Posted: Apr 20, 2017

 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dear Parents and Families,

 

As we begin to wrap up the school year with several weeks remaining, we wanted to send an update about budget, personnel and programming changes coming to Lowry in 2017-2018. Below you will find a broad look at the changes. At our last PTO meeting of the year (Thursday, May 4 6:30-8), we will host a Q & A regarding this information about next year. Thank you for your continued support of Lowry Elementary!

Dr. Cooper and Ms. Nault

 

Budget/Staffing

Every year, we move through a process of developing the budget and staffing structure for the next school year.  This process begins with school leadership evaluating the most effective use of our funds and presenting our staffing scenario to the Collaborative School Committee, Lowry staff and the PTO.  For the 2017-2018 school year, our CSC unanimously approved the budget and staffing structure.  Below you will find a summary, as well as some explanations around decision-making.

 

Though we had a deficit in our budget from last year in the amount of $150,000.00, we were able to staff the building in a way we know will continue to support high achievement at Lowry.

 

Staffing Structure

  • Three full time teachers at each grade level
  • One shared classroom in 3rd grade with two half time teachers. These teachers will also be teacher leader coaches during the other half of their day
  • Three full time specials: Art, PE and STEM lab
  • One half time music
  • One full time intervention teacher
  • One and a half English Language Development teachers: This is a reduction from last year
  • One half time GT teacher: This is a reduction from last year
  • Full time paraprofessionals in all ECE and Kindergarten (5 classrooms)
  • Two full time General Assignment paraprofessionals: This is a reduction from last year
  • Two paraprofessionals to support second language learners, one for Arabic, one Spanish This is an addition in programming 100% funded by the district
  • The Aviator fund supported the funding for the full time STEM lab teacher New position and program
  • Matching funds for one full-time paraprofessional in the Library (*This position is going to be paid in part from an auction paddle raise where we will match the fundraising for hiring)

 

 

Additional Information about Reductions in Staffing

  • The reduction in our GT programming continues to be above the district recommendation and will support our identified GT students at Lowry which has consistently been approximately 6% of our student population.

 

  • To support the reduction in GT, we will increase our focus on supporting both students below grade level and students performing above grade level with the addition of extensive training from district personnel for teachers. This enhanced focus will allow Lowry Elementary School to effectively address the growth of these students in the classroom. See programming changes below for additional details.

 

  • The reduction in our English Language Development programming meets the recommendations from the district. Our students that are second language learners continue to be approximately 15% of our student population.  Additionally we have two new language support paraprofessionals provided by the district.  This will greatly support this reduction.

 

Personnel Updates – Teachers

We continue to have a high retention rate for our teaching staff, especially compared to other schools in DPS.

 

Below are the changes in personnel for the 17/18 school year:

  • Skelskey (Kinder to 3rd grade)
  • Eve Bunevich (new hire) will be our new Kinder teacher
  • Amanda Horn (1st grade to 2nd grade)
  • Bethany Baldwin (2nd grade to half 3rd grade/half teacher coach)
  • Linda Meyer (move to full-time intervention)
  • Val Petrov (Technology to STEM Lab teacher)
  • Taylor Niewoit (new hire) will be our new 1st grade teacher)

 

Currently, we do not have any remaining vacancies for the 17/18 school year.

 

Programming Additions/Revisions

STEM Lab – We are excited for our new STEM Lab, which will be a part of our Specials rotation for all K-5 students. This lab is being funded through a grant awarded to us through Lockheed Martin and Project Lead the Way. Students will enjoy rigorous STEM instruction in computer science, engineering, and biological sciences. We will begin the year with computer science.

 

Intervention – We have moved from two part time interventionists to one full-time intervention teacher. This allows us to be more strategic in our implementation of consistent, targeted interventions for multiple grade levels.

 

Teacher Coaching – Our teacher coaches for next year, Kacey Winters and Bethany Baldwin, will provide extensive coaching for teachers in grades 1-5.  This coaching is specifically designed to help teachers excel in their practice to meet all students needs.

 

Support for students performing above grade level – The teacher coaches will specifically focus on differentiated teacher practices (adjusted instructional moves for students above grade level.) The GT teacher will provide ongoing and scheduled trainings throughout the year on strategies to support the growth for advanced learners. Teacher data team analysis will monitor the ongoing growth for advanced learners.

 

Support for students performing below grade level – Teacher coaches will specifically focus on differentiated teacher practices (adjusted instructional moves for students below grade level.) Intervention programming will provide small group instruction for students below grade level. Teacher data team analysis will monitor the ongoing growth for students performing below grade level.

 

Conscious Discipline – We will continue to develop and implement our Conscious Discipline programming (this is the program we began to adopt this year for a positive school culture), including teacher trainings, school-wide engagement, and coaching.

 

Social/Emotional Supports – We will continue to provide universal social/emotional supports to all students at Lowry. We will also continue to refine our systems for providing student access to social/emotional supports for every level of need, as well as teacher coaching in classroom management best practices.

 

Gardening – This Spring, three of our classrooms have adopted our three gardens through an Enrichment opportunity that will happen on Friday afternoons. Next year, we will continue to have classrooms adopt the gardens to provide on-going maintenance and care.

 

Monday Morning Community Meetings – We will continue our Monday morning community meetings in the gym next year! These meetings have been a success and a fun way to join together as a School Family to kick off each week.