Community Questions & Answers
View Ridge Elementary Q2 2022 Community Chat Q&A
School Plans and Goals
What does VRE look like in three years? How do you envision our school community in 2025?
In the next 3 years, View Ridge will be a warm welcoming environment where culturally relevant instruction is delivered and monitored using Targeted Universalism so that scholars feel agency, be fully engaged, feel safe, valued, included, and experience joy.
Our CSIP hasn’t been updated since our previous principal? When will the next one be published.
This document is a strategic plan that is utilized over a 3 year period. However it is reviewed each year and changes can be made as necessary. https://www.seattleschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/view_ridge_elementary.pdf
When will bus service be reinstated?
Bus service has already been installed to the full extent as possible this year. To learn more about actions being taken related to bussing, and proposed solutions visit: https://www.seattleschools.org/news/bell-times-info-session/. Feel free to also submit feedback via our View Ridge Survey: https://forms.gle/sWeNBiSPR1k1Vtt87.
Is there any way to get BLT minutes shared with the PTA
We know we have many dedicated community members who are invested in operations of our school building, however, many things discussed by the BLT are confidential just to that group, with PTA leaders being only two members of the group. We wouldn’t want to violate the trust and confidence of the other teachers and community members in that group by sharing meeting notes broadly, but if there are specific questions or requests, you are always welcome to speak to Kelsey (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Duy (email@example.com), and we will be as transparent as possible.
For next year, is the plan to continue with 3 lunches for students? Also, will the plan continue to rely on parent/caregiver volunteers for supervision? This seems to have been a struggle to provide enough volunteers safely this school year and there may need to be some creative solutions to how to supervise lunch with limited volunteers.
The feedback I have received from staff is that the lunches (3) in two separate locations is much more peaceful and manageable. The parent volunteer rotation was extremely helpful. Without an Assistant Principal and limited Instructional Assistance I do not see how we can do anything less than we did this year. Relationships among staff and families is stronger, scholars get to know other adults and are cared for by their peers, parents and their own. With some parents continuing to work from home, it has allowed them to be part of their child’s day and the school environment when they otherwise wouldn’t be, and is a fun and rewarding experience. There are shifts as short as 40 minutes – you should see if it would fit into your day.
According to the state rankings, VRE had dropped to #40 in the state- down 7 spots from 2019 and it seems we will drop even more based on the most recent scores. What is your objective for VRE and how will we get there? Where does ViewRidge rank amongst the state? What are our test scores?
View Ridge is doing well and our experienced teaching staff are doing a great job. Overall our performance is good and our focus is on those who are not yet at standard. The goal as mentioned above is for grade levels to collaborate during early release days using PLC strategies and plan around data points to address closing the achievement gap for kids. Here is a link to the OSPI grade report. Because of Covid the report is from 2019-2020 https://washingtonstatereportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/ReportCard/ViewSchoolOrDistrict/101099
We have a number of strong private schools within a 3 mile radius- Villa, ASB, Concordia, Our Lady of the Lake, to name only a few. How will ViewRidge compete? What will we offer to create a draw back to the public school system? What do you plan to do to increase enrollment?
There are many things about our school, including quality of teachers, dedication of local community, and extracurricular opportunities that we think will continue to draw families to View Ridge Elementary. We plan to capitalize on these things in the coming months, as well as next school year. We will host another virtual open house for new families in May. Last week we kicked off the first in a series of in-person events for family and community members with the View Ridge Day at the Ballpark. We have a pre-loved book sale, Parents Night Out and Talent Night, just to name a few. When analyzing our budget for next year, we prioritized the extra-curricular options that View Ridge offers, to maintain activities like band and technology that our students love. We will also bring back after-school enrichment opportunities on-campus as soon as that becomes an option. We have many long-standing programs that have brought a lot of value to our students and families that are eager to be back with us next year. Lastly, we have planned a “We <3 View Ridge” campaign to bring awareness of the attributes of our school along the other schools in our community.
There seems to be tension between administration and staff this year–what are you doing to help 1) reduce any tension, 2) support staff, and 3) encourage staff retention?
The staff at View Ridge have maintain long standing relationships with the families in the community. It has been hard to see them go. Some are retiring, others are pursuing different opportunities for various reasons. Overall we have maintain our instructional staff. I am not a building leader that holds folks from their dreams and or needs. I celebrate the growth opportunities for people. Change is hard and I am looking for any community to have a growth mindset, and a flexibility to adjust and comply with district contracts and expectations…all in a way that celebrates and serves kids. As we look to fill positions, I hope that we can incorporate a parent and student voice on the interview committee- even if it’s through particular questions.
There have been some staff leaving mid-year (e.g. Ms. O’Rourke, Mr. Fitch, IA- Mr. Clark, Chay-Our Healthcare protected employee), and this is highly unusual for our school, as VRE staff have a historically low turnover rate. Should we be worried that more staff may leave?
Transition for staff in a building happens because life happens. Part of my job is to ensure the safety and security of scholars and staff. For those that either left or transitioned from View Ridge some of the information is private, however, know that I am always open for staff to grow and explore different departments and areas of focus that they deem a good fit for them or their families. It is not unusual for a large portion of staff to transition, when the same staff have been in a building for as long as our staff have been or come into a building and find that it does not work for them. These folks have been missed and many are still in communication with us. I am looking forward to onboarding new people with innovative collaborative ideas to increase academic success and social emotional learning. This is an opportunity to continue our journey to reimage and reimagine ourselves. In many ways our school is still in the healing stage based on what happened in 2019-2020. See the above response for added context.
What staffing changes are expected for next school year? Are we working to avoid split grade classrooms?
Currently there are not split classes scheduled. There will be some grade level changes to cover the 3.0 teacher reduction.These changes will be made public towards the end of the year.
What staffing adjustments are expected for the fall? Are our school’s enrollment numbers going to lead to a displaced teacher? Will there be a reduction in opportunities in the fall? (PCP, instruments, 4th/5th camping, etc)? Does ViewRidge still receive additional funding for advanced learning? Will this change in 2022-2023?
There was reduction of 3.0 staffing. This was covered by two staff retiring and one self-displacement. The only PCP reduction is in Art from 1.0 to 0.5 that allowed us to keep our current instructor. I am not familiar with funding for advanced learning, but all advanced learning opportunities remain available for the children that could use them.
Are any community events planned for the remainder of this year?
Please see https://www.viewridgeschool.org/en/events/ for details, but here is a snapshot of events over the next two months:
- Music Night Out
- PreLoved Book Sale
- Arts Night
- Mariners Baseball Game
- Parent’s Night Out Wine Event Fundraiser
- Field Day
- 5th grade graduation party
The special education classrooms have had difficulty finding consistent IA’s and support for the FOCUS classrooms. How are you working to ensure that these students and staff are supported, and classrooms are adequately staffed?
This is complicated and important planning when working with adults and children. Our instructional and certificated staff have been great. Due to Covid and lack of certificated staff and instructional assistant substitutes in the district we have created a rotating schedule using our certificated staff and instructional assistants in the building. The care, support, and safety of students and staff is important to me. Visiting teachers have been great. Some come back and stay awhile and others are one and done. This is the same with the instructional staff, which are few.
My hat goes off to the awesome View Ridge specialist and IA who are filling the roles and connecting with students receiving special educational services. The focus is on preferred activities, care, joy of learning and nutrition. have to say that the general education teachers are rockin it too with the use of strategies to support our inclusion model.
How are you responding to staff shortages (particularly within our Focus classrooms)? Can you provide specifics, timelines, and discuss the impact on both students and staff?
We are hiring two new Focus room teachers for the fall 2022-2023. The impact is mostly in the K-2 class at this time. We currently have a long-term substitute in our Focus 3-5 class and an additional support team member. As with any program and especially with our scholars receiving services, it takes time, patience and curiosity to build relationships and trust. The current rotation of utilizing our specialist is an unfortunate burden on specialized teachers and others and I don’t have immediate answers on how to fix it. If you have any ideas, or know any certificated or classified family or friends that specialize in special education, please have them contact the SPS sub office. I am asking for your help in finding the right support staff.
My Director of Schools, Special Education Student Support Supervisor and Executive Director of Special Education and Inclusion are all aware of our situation at View Ridge. As a parent, grandmother, and educator, it is essential that each day the scholars are cared for. The goal for each person supporting our Focus classrooms is to provide and maintain a focus on preferred activities, self-care, nutrition, and joy. There are consistent lesson plans, scholars have a routine that was established early in the year with Ms. Rose and each visiting teacher and supporting staff have been keeping this in tact. I am proud of the work the scholars are doing and the growth they are making; especially socially.
We need more prompt responses from counseling staff. Can we increase counseling resources?
Our counseling allocation was a 0.4 last year and it has been bumped up to a 0.5.
Can you share the final budget decisions for next year and which positions will be funded?
The chart below represents the final scenario of our PTA contribution and the district contribution to staffing in 22-23. I also want to emphasize that this was done in collaboration with the BLT (building committee) of which the PTA is just one member of many voices. It was really rewarding going through this process with them, hearing their concerns and finding a solution they were ultimately happy with. If you have any questions about this scenario or this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
|Band & Orchestra (EIM)||0||0.2||0.2|
What are you doing to build staff culture and moral?
Staff openness is an area of focus. It has been difficult at best to really get to know people, but I am taking time to listen and learn. We have re-launched our Charter for ways to engage and be respectful. The morale of staff have varying factors. I think this is largely due to staffing and coverage. When classes are covered, then things run smoothly. I often go into the teachers rooms to let them know I see them and that they are doing a good job, I cover classes when needed and respond to calls for assistance. Last Friday I ordered pizza for the whole staff. They didn’t know I was going to do it and it came on my heart so I did it. I really want them to know that I am doing my best to support a peaceful environment that enables the scholars to learn all that they have planned in their lessons.
Why don’t you have a VP yet?
The district allocations are based on student enrollment. We do not have the numbers according to the district to justify an Assistant Principal. We had one ready to go early in the fall and were told that we could not move forward, that the numbers were not high enough.
Building and Safety
My concern is that playgrounds are not safe when I have students that are picking up trash during recess. I had 2 students come to me today with smashed truly cans asking me where they can throw them away. The covered kinder playcourt is littered constantly with wrappers and debris from outside. Kids are slipping on leaves and dirt while trying to play basketball. There is also a corner of large metal equipment from the lunchroom that should be moved to a safer location until SPS can dispose of it. I found a student trying to retrieve a ball that was lodged under one of the pieces. We have many wonderful parent volunteers who take time out of their day to help supervise during recess times and I feel that they should be supervising students not taking the time to pick up or manage trash on our campus. In summary it feels that the campus inside and outside is not clean and reflective of what View Ridge Elementary used to be.
This message was sent to the custodial supervisor. We have noticed improvements since this was posted and the metal materials were moved. The scholars want their area clean and will sometimes try to help. I would encourage a Green Team during the day to go out and help make VR clean. In addition, we have placed trash cans in the outside play areas to collect the snack wrappers. Lets encourage everyone to do their part. I will follow up as necessary, please send reports of trash to me.
What is the plan for clearing out the gymnasium as discussed during the last PTA meeting?
Progress is being made. Ms. Shaw is transitioning equipment to one of our portables.
What is the plan for the Kindergarten playground wood chip “soup”? This has been an issue since last March. We have now reached the 1 year mark of trying to improve the kinder playground. I haven’t heard much on this end.
I have rotated the kindergarten scholars to the primary playcourt for lunch recess and they like this. The issue of drainage on the Kindergarten playground requires a more involved solution and the district is working on that.
What is the policy for students with multiple disciplinary infractions?
Each scholar is different and their behavior function is based on their cognitive and maturity. Scholars with multiple disciplinary incidents are treated with respect, patience, curiosity and love. Behaviors are a form of communication. Our self is learning and growing the art of de-escalation and building our strategies to reduce non-preferred behaviors. Scholars are learning how to be students. What systems/behaviors work and have positive outcomes and what does not. Staff are asked to always model and clearly explain, practice and review expected behaviors in a positive way that motivates and inspires a desire to do well.
What is the school’s policy for notifying families when there has been an incident? -Why are we learning about it from our children and not the teachers?
Families sometimes hear non-emergency information from their children prior to the school calling because we are processing cases by levels of seriousness. It does not mean your child’s incident was not important, it means that there are levels and it may not even be shared with you; especially if it was handled in the classroom. Serious head injuries, major cuts, illness such as throwing up, asthma attacks, etc are some examples. As a team, we are doing our best to message families and we are open to you contacting us as well. You are a major contributor to your child’s success.
With masks now being optional, has the school had an increase in Covid cases?
According to the SPS Covid-19 dashboard View Ridge Elementary has had 8 positive cases since the mask mandate was lifted on March 14 (3/14/22-4/29/22). From 2/1/22-3/13/22 View Ridge Elementary had 7 positive cases. Please refer to the SPS Covid-19 dashboard for the latest data.
What are the mechanisms for reporting bullying and addressing bullying concerns? What training do teachers receive to deal with reports of bullying?
Teachers ask their students to report bullying. We haven’t had any formal training this year addressing how to deal with reports of bullying specifically, however I’m sure teachers know that bullying hurts the victim and the person bullying is hurt also. I have provided some scaffolding on restorative conversations that can support these types of events. If you or your child believes they are being bullied, please ask them to report this behavior to an adult: their teacher, playground supervisor and or the Principal so that we can problem solve to get resolve and end this behavior.
This is a strong, caring and involved community. How do you plan to welcome parents involvement and contribution back into the school?
Our PBIS team and Racial Equity committee are working on an inclusion model to support all families having access to support the VR school and its work. Looking through the racial equity lens we don’t see as many families of color participating on sight now or in the past. The team is excited to see this change. If you are a family of color consider reaching out to join the PTA, be a room parent, volunteer in the lunchroom and as a playground supervisor. We need many voices to support our school. As for the near future, the BLT plans to provide a list of supports that can benefit families when volunteering on campus. At this time we are still following the “essential duties of the school phrase” when seeking out volunteer support.
I’d love to know how she feels she’s healing our school and community with specific examples.
Healing is a very strong word and one that means a shift in one mindset and practice. A few examples are
- Restorative practices. These are short meetings between scholars and an adult to figure out the antecedent of the problem, plan next steps and how to monitor for success. In the bigger picture, student voices are heard and the plans are made in collaboration with the students and not for them. It is critical that students feel loved and respected and that they are not in “trouble” but that they are problem solvers and that I need them to work together.
- Classroom support. Traditionally when scholars are “misbehaving” they were sent to the office and the Assistant Principal or Principal met with them to “fix” the behavior. At View Ridge I have a practice of classroom support that includes support staff: counselor, psychologist, nurse and or myself joining the scholar in the class to see what may be going on. It is a chance to witness first hand the environment, hear from the scholar and support the learning/processing within the classroom, eliminating the loss of instruction.
- Teacher support. I believe in teachers…I was and still consider myself one on many levels. I speak highly of teachers when engaging my scholars. I lift up teachers work and I am purposeful in highlighting all the steps it takes to create and deliver lessons: the preparation, research, engagement and the love and care teachers have for their scholars. Teachers can trust me to have their back if their scholars need reminders to be respectful and apply themselves in class. I want students to know that their teachers work hard for them and that it is important that they show gratitude.
We really appreciate all you and staff, teachers are doing and have gone through this year.
I’m concerned about the messaging coming from the staff regarding COVID precautions. Certain staff members are telling students that COVID is “not really a concern anymore.” It seems as if the teachers and staff who are choosing not to wear masks are not cognizant or sensitive to those students who are still wearing masks and are still anxious about COVID. It is also really confusing to students and families when the messaging coming from the district and health officials is that “continued masking is strongly encouraged” but staff, including the principal, are choosing not to wear them.
Mask wearing is strongly encouraged and optional. The scholars and staff are afforded masks stations throughout the building and masks must be worn in the nurses station and in the music room. I have not heard any scholar mention that Covid wasn’t real. We continue to take precautions and adhere to the CDC guidelines.I have also encouraged students and staff to respect the wishes of others. We can do this by asking if a person is okay with me not wearing a mask and keeping one handy if this is not the case.
How are we planning to address the deficit in our budget next year? The PTA used to raise almost twice as much more money for the school and this is the second year in a row that we are falling short.
There have been a number of challenges in raising funds for the PTA (and in turn the school) the last few years, including inability to hold fundraising events in person, shortage of volunteers on our fundraising committee, financial hardships on many in our community during the pandemic, as well as the declining number of families in our school overall (350 kids down from 500).
We are planning to turn the tide in the 22-23 school year in a few ways:
- Bring back in the in-person events! Community engagement is important now more than ever, and if we can raise some money at the same time, it’s a win-win. Starting this June, we will have our first in-person fundraising event, to be followed by more in the fall/winter.
- Focusing on inequity outside of our school. The reality is that the district is not equipped to support many of the basic needs of our school including adequate nurse staffing, library, art, music and others. Our school has had a decline in fundraising, but other schools have lost it altogether if they ever had strong fundraising to begin with. The need is bigger than just our building. Our legislative and advocacy committee has picked up momentum and been very influential in getting more of our voices heard in the capitol this past year on important issues, and successful in securing more funding for our district and indirectly our school. This includes the 0.5 counselor we did not have to fund this year (see allocations above).
- We also need to diversify our fundraising efforts. We have seen the last couple years that reliance on one large fundraising event and a handful of generous families will not sustain our budgets year over year. We are implementing small amounts of fundraising into our community activities (our latest day at the ballpark raised $600), and are planning on hosting several events that are open to the community rather than just our parents. We are also partnering with local businesses and other groups to again not be solely reliant on our families, as there are many more in our community who are invested in our school being the best it can be.
We could always use more creativity and more volunteers, so if you are interested in getting involved for as little as just an hour, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.