South Portland Parks & Recreation - An After School Program for children in grades K- 5.
June 18, 2014
Dear Parents and Guardians:
I am happy to announce the School Department has received the Department of Education School Improvement Grant to support Kaler School for the next three years. As you are aware, there are a number of changes that are planned for Kaler School.
The first change is the move of Ms. Lang to Small School and Ms. Hicks to Kaler School. I’d like to take this opportunity to again recognize Ms. Lang for her commitment and dedication to the Kaler School community over the past seven years. Her passion for education has helped Kaler students, staff, and community develop a strong caring environment.
I also want to welcome Ms. Hicks to the Kaler School community. Her enthusiasm for the challenges ahead will help steer Kaler School through the changes that are coming and continue to focus attention on increasing student achievement.
Another change is the lengthened school day for students and staff. After much conversation and deliberation we have finalized the school day as 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. This change is in recognition of parent and staff input as well as supportive of our transportation department resources. Bus schedules will be developed over the summer and shared with parents in late August. Please plan on the 8:30-3:30 schedule starting in September.
The grant will also provide multiple extended day and extended year opportunities. Many of our Kaler students have received invitations to participate in this summer’s extended year programs. We will be able to provide bussing for all afterschool and extended year services.
Finally, one of the major components of the grant is the centralization of community resources for parents and families right at Kaler School. We will again be hosting Sweetser Social Work services and will expand next year to include Spurwink Case Management Services, a Community Facilitator and a Parent Liaison to support parents and families.
We are very excited about the opportunities that are in place for the next three years. Please feel free to contact Ms. Hicks this summer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or concerns.
Have a great summer and we’ll see you in September!
Suzanne T. Godin, Superintendent
Cc: Bonnie Hicks
Dear Kaler families,
I was pleased to meet so many of you on May 20th for the Parent Forum when Superintendent Godin explained the SIG grant process and the changes that would be implemented. With administration and school board members facilitating lively small groups, discussions elicited feedback on the elements of the grant, ideas for Kaler’s future, and continued concerns.
On that night, I found out the following:
Three things that will help turn the school around which is part of the grant?
- Longer school day/longer school year (earlier start)
- More social/emotional services
- Support for Math and Data Coaches
- More resources for staff
- Community Resources through the school setting
Three things you believe should be considered for Kaler School in the future?
- Afterschool programming including arts
- Add a teacher so two teachers at all grade levels
- Once grant is completed, how will we continue the community supports
- Partnering with other schools
- Break time for students to go outside
- Move monthly half days to Fridays
I continue to be concerned:
- All Specials on two days
- School grade based on one test score
- Grow JumpRope (Progress report System On-Line) understanding for parents
- What happens when the grant money goes away?
The school community would like YOUR input as well. Please go to the following link to complete a three question survey.
Your input is greatly appreciated and will be used when developing Kaler’s future. Also note that we are looking for another parent to participate in the Kaler Building Leadership Team. Together, Kaler can continue to grow and strive for excellence!
Your Soon to be Principal,
May 15, 2014
Dear Parents and Community Members,
The Maine Department of Education, as part of the new Maine School Performance Grading System, has recently released report cards for every school in the State of Maine. James Otis Kaler Elementary School’s letter grade is F.
This grade reflects several factors, including math and reading proficiency of all students, growth factors that compare test results from multiple years, as well as growth in the 25 percent lowest performing students. The information provided in the report card is clear cut and is available to you online through the Education Data Warehouse at www.maine.gov/doe/datawarehouse.
While we all know that a single letter grade does not tell the whole story of how a school is doing, the data behind the grade is what we have already been using to identify areas of strengths and concerns across the district. State of the Schools information about the district and our school are available on the district website at http://www.spsd.org/about/stateofschools/2012 .
At Kaler we have been using this data to guide our renewal work which began in the fall of 2010. We are in the third year of implementing our Renewal Plan which includes the whole school use of Project Based Learning methodology to engage children in their learning. In addition, Kaler staff are engaged in professional development to increase skills in differentiating instruction and providing students who require more intense support small group interventions. Kaler is in its second year of providing a preschool that is cognitively engaging and vocabulary-rich. These are but a few components to our renewal plan to improve instruction and learning at Kaler. Please visit our website to learn more about good work being done at Kaler. https://sites.google.com/a/spsdme.org/kaler/home
We hope you will view this grade as a way to become more involved in Kaler. The district will be reporting the district results at the June 9th Board meeting in conjunction with updating the plan for moving toward Proficiency Based Reporting. This will be a great opportunity for questions and concerns to be raised and for the community to hear the District and Board working together to address student achievement.
Dear Parents and Community Members,
The Maine Department of Education as part of the new Maine School Performance Grading System has recently released report cards for every school in the State of Maine.
The intent of the grading program is to provide a simple, easy way to communicate school achievement across the State. NECAP and Maine High School Assessment (SAT) test data have been compiled into a single A-F letter grade for each school. The grade includes proficiency data, growth data and participation data at the K-8 schools. At the high school, the grade includes proficiency data, progress averages over three years, and graduation rate data.
While we all know that a letter grade does not tell the whole story of how a school is doing, the data behind the grade is what we have already been using to identify areas of strengths and concerns across the district. One concern we have with the traditional A-F grading system is that this one letter grade does not recognize the extensive work occurring in our schools. That being said, we don't believe there are any major surprises in the grades for the South Portland Schools.
There are and will continue to be letter grade discrepancies between our schools. These discrepancies continue to exist because of the small school nature of our buildings and the socio-economic demographics of our schools. This letter grading system is built on a bell curve with 60% of the schools in the State receiving a C, 20% receiving D/F, and the final 20% receiving A/B. We see the same to be true of the South Portland Schools.
We already know the data tells us we do really well with our high achieving students, and the majority of our students throughout the district are meeting or exceeding proficiency, but we also know we continue to struggle with the achievement of our students with disabilities, our English Language Learners and our low socio-economic students. We also know that truancy and student attendance continue to affect our lowest performing students.
The good news is that this information is consistent with what we know and the work we've been doing. As you will remember from our State of the Schools Reports which can be found on our district website at: http://www.spsd.org/books/state-schools-2013 we have many strong programs and practices in place to address those areas; the District Curriculum work, Rigorous/Relevant, Integrated Instruction, Project Based Learning, STEM, Guided Reading, Formalized Writing Instruction, Preschool, Common Assessments, and Proficiency Based Reporting, RTI and our dropout/completion work to name a few.
We will be reporting our results at our June 9th Board meeting in conjunction with updating our plan for moving toward Proficiency Based Reporting. This will be a great opportunity for questions and concerns to be raised and for the community to hear the District and Board working together to address student achievement.
The individual school report cards are posted below.
Suzanne T. Godin, Superintendent
May 7, 2014
Dear Kaler School Parents.
As I am sure you all have heard, I have made my decisions related to administrative changes for the upcoming school year. Bonnie Hicks will be moving to Kaler School and Diane Lang will be principal of Small School next year. My special thanks to both Bonnie and Diane for sharing their enthusiasm, excitement and commitment to the changes and challenges ahead.
I understand these changes raise concerns and anxiety for both staff and parents. While my decision making process could not allow for community input, I am anxious to involve both staff and parents in the transition planning process. As such I met with the Kaler Staff this morning. I would also like to invite all interested parents to meet with me on Tuesday, May 20th at 7:00 pm in the Cafeteria to discuss concerns, next steps and begin the transition planning process.
While I anticipate this will continue to be a difficult time for all involved as we mourn the familiar and prepare for the changes ahead, I do believe that the Kaler School Community will be able to work together to make this change positive for all.
Suzanne T. Godin, Superintendent