Elementary Welcome Letter

August 20, 2013

Dear Parents and Students:

Welcome back to school and “Happy New Year”!  The rooms are sparkling, the floors are polished, the lawn is cut, the bark chips are replenished, and the teachers and staff are rested and ready to go – now all we need is THE KIDS!   I am extremely excited to continue working with you as a TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) to create a supportive, positive, high-yield learning community. Our first day of school is Tuesday, September 3rd, but we hope to see you at our third annual “Drop In/Drop Off” (4:30-6:00) and ice cream social on Aug. 29th.  There have been several changes over the summer, including a number of classroom locations and additional security cameras, as you will see when you arrive.

The safety and achievement of our students are the highest priorities at Kalama. And achievement cannot occur without a safe environment. Last year, staff and community members spent many hours meeting and discussing the safety and protocols for our district. As a part of our safety plan moving forward, it became evident that our elementary students needed to be closer to the main building – to that end, five of our fourth and fifth grade classrooms have been moved to the Annex, which is just west of the cafeteria.  Our fourth/fifth blended class (Mrs. Janssen) will be located in the main building.

Another part of our safety/organizational plan is that all elementary students will be dropped off and picked up at the front of the elementary school. NEW: Students will enter the building by way of the entrance door to the left of the main office doors to line up with their grade level or go out to the playground area to wait for our day to begin. Parents are free to wait with their child in line in the hallway by the MPR (multi-purpose room) if desired. The front entrance will only be used for anyone needing to take care of business in the office area. ALL parents and visitors that enter the building will be required to fill out a visitors pass before entering the halls (district policy). Those students who are tardy in the morning will need to check into the office to get their “pass to class.” Students will know that the school day has started if they see the sign out front that says, “School in Session.”

After school pickup, for those students not walking or riding the buses has also been reconfigured. NEW: Students will be escorted to meet parents out front in designated grade level areas. Signs will be posted, so be looking for them. This will not only help with security concerns, but will help to ensure a learning environment with fewer noise distractions right up to the end of the day.

Supervision for students begins at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and students head to class at 8:20 a.m. On Wednesdays, supervision will begin at 9:00 a.m., and students will be heading to class at 9:20 a.m.    If you need to drop off your student earlier, Latchkey services will be available for students who have registered for the program. Students are released to go home at 3:00 p.m.

If your child needs to be at school before 8:00 a.m. or after 3:00 p.m., you will need to register him or her in advance for Latchkey childcare due to tightened security measures.  Families who have not registered and paid the $25 registration fee per student will not be able to send their child to Latchkey.  Registration forms are available in the office.  The fee is $3.50 per hour for each child.  Billings will be sent twice a month, and fees must be paid in order to continue the service.

You are welcome to walk your child to class on the first day, but keep in mind the traffic is always an issue.  Please be careful when coming into or leaving the parking areas of our school.  When dropping off or picking up students, please park in front of the building. The back parking lot is for buses only from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. (9:00 to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays) and 2:45 to 3:15 p.m.  When picking up students during the day, we require you check them out through the office where we will call them from class, or have them ready if pre-arranged.

Our weekly schedule will continue to include a one hour late start every Wednesday. This schedule allows our staff consistent time for professional development and data review and helps to offset some state cutbacks in teacher training.  Buses will pick up your student one hour later every Wednesday.

Lunch money should be given to the clerk in the cafeteria to be entered into your child’s account.  Cafeteria prices for 2013-14 have changed; $1.10 for breakfast, $2.45 for lunch and $.30 for milk only.  If you think you qualify for free or reduced meals, you will need to fill out the paperwork and be approved prior to receiving any meals.  Parents will be responsible for any meals purchased prior to approval.  If you qualify for reduced meals, breakfast is free, lunch is free grades K-3, and there is a $.40 charge for students in grades 4-5.  Please periodically check the account balance throughout the month so there will be funds available when needed.  When funds are not available, students will be given a cheese sandwich for lunch.

Sport ASB cards are available in the elementary office for $10, which provides FREE entrance to all home athletic events. Pictures will be on Sept. 30th for M/Th kindergartners and on Oct. 1st for everyone else. Additionally, supply lists and calendars are available on the Kalama website.

Situations may arise that present financial hardship on families.  If you need assistance with school supplies, please contact our office.  We have received donations from compassionate community members who want to make sure that all students have what they need to be successful at school.

Kalama Elementary is dedicated to building a safe, compassionate community of learners who are inspired to become respectful, responsible, cooperative, innovative and productive citizens.  We envision a structured community of learners who are caring and respectful, hardworking and responsible, collaborative and cooperative, and actively participating in their education. Our building and district share a common focus for the quality education we provide for every student, and will be continuing our work with the Common Core Standards as the framework for this focus.  Kalama Elementary has high expectations for all students and will provide quality instruction while assisting every student in reaching their full potential.

We want to assure you that every staff member meets Highly Qualified requirements as identified by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  When schools receive federal funding, we are required to notify parents if and when there are any teachers that do not meet the “highly qualified” requirements.  The requirements elementary teachers must meet are:  Full state certification, hold at least a Bachelor’s degree and possess an endorsement in content areas they are teaching.  We are committed to providing all of our students with the academic knowledge and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in school and beyond, and are proud that our staff is highly qualified.  All parents have the right to request the qualifications of all teachers working with their children.  You may pick up a request form in the office.

We are looking forward to seeing you on Aug. 29th and Sept. 3rd!


Mary Ann Whittaker, Principal

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