Westwood School Council
School Council meets the first Thursday of the month at 6:45pm in the Community Room
Council email: email@example.com
School Council Minutes:
Westwood School Council Meeting
October 3, 2019 6:45-8:00pm
Present: Mr. Akyol, Mrs. Topping, Ashley A., Holly S., Joanne D., Jake S., Meagan L., Christie L., Lindsay K., Jen S., Chris G.
- Principal’s Update
- Movie Night – how far in advance do we need to choose the movie (we have another meeting before Nov 22.)
- Fundraising: Chocolate Bars, MacMillan’s?
- EQAO results
- Work-to-Rule job action Support Staff – any impacts for elementary schools?
- After School Program Updates/Start-up Dates: Frontier College Homework Club, Run and Read, Art Shine?
- Communication: school messenger (are the bugs worked out?), robocalls (positive feedback), Facebook (Michelle, can you provide an update? as I don’t think everyone saw that email)
Introductions from members, Principal and Vice-Principal
- Principal Report from Mrs. Topping
Cross country and football tournaments were held last week of September for the intermediate students. Good experiences and showing of all. Soccer and cross country for junior students are this coming week.
Chocolate bar fundraising assembly was held this week. Families will receive one case of chocolate bars to sell, but can opt out and make a donation instead. Oldest child should get a form sent home explaining the fundraiser and families have the option of paying online for their box. Last year $9000 was raised and money again this year will go towards offsetting the cost of field trips and special guests and events at the school (e.g. Scientists in the School and Summit Climbing).
Deadline for submitting orders for school spirit wear has been extended to Oct. 9th because the samples for kids to try on arrived late.
Westwood will have a Settlement Worker present at the school again to help families settle into their community (government documents, filling out forms, transit schedules, etc.).
Grade 3 students have been practicing for the CCAT testing (Canadian Cognitive Abilities Test) and will write the test the first full week in October. The test is a standardized and helps screen for the gifted program at Waverley P.S. (98% or higher).
The intermediate students (grade 7/8) have had sessions with guidance counsellors about careers and class choices. The grade 8 students will visit the high schools in October.
Grade 5 students are participating in Eco Stars Program again; 1 day in the fall and 1 day in the spring.
Mr. Akyol has been working with Lunch Box Orders to increase selection of lunches with the possibility of offering Boston Pizza (pasta lunch $5.50/order with .70 cent profit or chicken fingers $6.50/order with .70 cent profit on Wednesdays, and 6” subs $5.00/order with .50 cent profit on Fridays). Mr. Akyol will confirm and send out information to families soon. Choices in lunch have increased with grade 8s needing to stay on site for lunch periods.
Booster Juice fundraiser has started on Wednesdays. Pizza lunch fundraiser continues on Thursdays.
- Movie Night
Council members have been asked to log into Learn 360, through the app on the UGDSB site to select a movie before the next meeting in November.
Holly will contact Carla S. (past council member) to see if she has last year’s movie night poster that we can work from to advertise this fall’s movie night. Movie Night will be Friday, November 22nd.
- MacMillan’s Fundraiser
Jen S. contacted MacMillan’s since QSP magazine and cookie dough fundraiser is no longer in business. MacMillan’s does not have magazine sales but offers cookie dough and more (pizzas, soups and perogies). MacMillan’s offers a 30% profit if we sell between 1-250 items and increases after that. Jen also looked into other options: Mother’s Pantry based out of Winnipeg but felt MacMillan’s is a better option as they are based out of Acton, and Flip Give a gift card app (2%-8% profit).
Question: Is there a minimum amount to purchase a gift card?
Jen S. was not able to access more information with out setting up an account, but thought it was an interesting idea.
Council members agreed to do a MacMillan’s fundraiser for now, starting early November with forms due Nov. 15th and orders arriving first week or so of December. Once they arrive, the items will need to be sorted.
Question: What is the greatest need? What are we fundraising for?
Mr. Akyol: Technology continues to be the greatest need such as more Chrome Books as we do not have enough for every intermediate and junior student (also more iPads).
The MacMillan’s fundraiser will go towards technology.
- EQAO results Grade 3 and 6
Mrs. Topping wishes there was better results from the Grade 3 testing.
Question: How does our school compare to the board results?
Mrs. Topping: Our results are always lower, but this year is lower than normal.
Supports have already been put in place such as support from curriculum department, math coaches and curriculum leaders and increase professional development and best practices between teachers. Staff can analyze individual questions too (numeration, number sense and mental math were weak).
Those students who were level 2s are receiving intervention to move to a level 3 quicker. Low scores in the Grade 3 results could range from there being quite a few ESL learners, special needs students scores (if a student does not write, they receive a zero, if they do write, their score may be level 1, however they gain exposure to test taking). The test was also administered within 3 days instead of 6 days.
Grade 6 testing results were good and more align with board average, and this is normal.
Question: Can we do something to promote reading? A literacy night?
Mr. Akyol: That would be great. Parents/caregivers should be encouraging students to read 15-20 minutes every day whether that is a magazine, book, comic, etc. It is practice, and 20 minutes they are not in front of a screen.
- Work-to-rule Job Action for Support Staff
This affects our Custodians and Maintenance staff, not EAs or ECEs as they are not part of CUPE with UGDSB. They are currently not cleaning gym, staff room, staff bathrooms or hallways. Heather Loney, Communications Office for UGDSB is updating the website regularly. Administration will provide reports hourly/daily if full strike occurs.
Question: At what point does Public Health step in?
Mrs. Topping: Not sure, but will monitor situation hourly/daily and provide reports to the board.
Question: Are things such as HVAC or fire alarm systems impacted?
Testing as been done and HVAC is maintained by non-union staff.
Question: Will the afterschool program or Good Morning Breakfast Program be affected?
Not that they are aware of.
- Afterschool Programs Start-up Dates
There has been a delay in starting these due to potential or occurring job action with Custodians and Maintenance Staff.
Start 2Finish Running and Reading Club will begin the Wednesday after Thanksgiving from 3:15-5:15pm. Forms to sign up will be sent home as soon as possible. This organization is looking for volunteer coaches. The program is for students in grades 2-6 and promotes literacy and physical activity.
Frontier College has started Happy Hornets Lunch sessions (literacy games) for students in grades 2 and 3 with 10 students participating. These are university volunteer students from. There will also be a math homework club for students in grade 3 Thursdays after school.
School Messenger has been working better and parents received helped with any issues during the Open House night in September. One issue though is that the robocalls cannot contact 2 numbers (for families with 2 households) but can call one number and send out an email/voice message.
Most teachers are using School Messenger, however those who are not, should then provide other ways to give classroom updates (agendas or emails).
Some classrooms use Google classroom to provide information on assignments and updates.
Jake provided information about Michelle’s Facebook site, “Families of Westwood Public School”. Approximately 26 members have signed up and she has set it up as a closed group and checks with parents/caregivers that their child is in a class at Westwood before accepting them. Joanne is a Moderator on the site. The site is an informal way to remind families about upcoming activities and events at the school and has stated rules such as: families must have a student currently at the school, no spamming and no photos/videos of student faces/recognizable features. The site is moderated by Michelle and Joanne (and possibly other council members).
Mr. Akyol and Mrs. Topping stated that their concern would be privacy issues and posting of video and pictures of students.
Mr. Akyol also reminded everyone that the school’s website continues to be the best place to access up-to-date information regarding communication, information and events and activities at Westwood.
Question: What are areas that need support at the school?
Technology (discussed) and playground. No money provided from the board for outdoor playground.
Mrs. Topping: We could start setting some money aside, but need to provide the reason why we are saving.
Recently, there have been furniture upgrades in Learning Commons (library) and responsive furniture in intermediate classrooms.
Question: Could we do a drive for gift cards for the Good Morning Breakfast Program? Or a food drive for it via social media.
There is now a fee of $5 if your child is there at 7:30am but no fee if you are dropping them off at 8:30am, just for a safe place before yard duty begins. For some families, this may be a barrier to attend.
Mr. Akyol also suggested contacting Cobbs for a donation.
Suggestion from Jen S.: At the last meeting we discussed compostable baggies for the snack program. These are costly and she recommended Eco Cups, which are available at Costco, have a lid and are biodegradable. Mrs. Topping will look into this as a good option.
Action Items before next meeting Thursday, November 7th at 6:45pm in the Community Room:
Mr. Akyol will continue with Lunch Box Orders.
Holly will contact Carla S. regarding movie night poster.
Council members will explore movie options.
Jen S. will continue to get more information from MacMillan’s.
Westwood School Council Meeting September 5, 2019 6:45-8:00pm
Present: Mr. Akyol, Mrs. Topping, Holly S., Joanne D., Michelle S., Meagan L., Christie L., Heather R.
- Fundraising for fall – chocolate bars, Terry Fox, QSP?, poinsettias?
- Open House – table, display/slideshow and schedule
- Taking and posting school council minutes
- Communicating with parents/caregivers
Introductions from members, Principal and Vice-Principal
Principal Report from Mrs. Topping
Construction updates since the beginning of summer: new roof, steel doors including classrooms with a key now inside for teachers to lock their classrooms from inside the classroom; new primary floor; accessible front doors; new classroom furniture (collaborative desks rather than rows of desks); Learning Commons (library) has café style tables; responsive tables and couches and chairs in the intermediate classrooms; with any construction project there are a few delays such as glass inserts for the doors, front mural and hallways being re-painted as well as gymnasium, lines on the pavement in front of primary doors and 4 squares and lines around basketball nets will be re-painted soon, and new plaques will be hung in the front hallway and throughout the school that state ‘Westwood is your home’ with other positive and encouraging phrases.
Classroom re-organization: fingers crossed there are no changes; numbers are low in junior classrooms (22 children), however this is ideal.
School Messenger: board has approved this as a tool for communication and no longer approves Bloomz, Class Dojo, etc. due to privacy and security concerns; not all teachers are using Messenger yet, however many are. There are glitches but we will have information for parents to assist them getting connected at Open House
Lunch Breaks and cell phones: met with intermediate students to let them know they can no longer leave school property for lunch breaks; there is no supervision off-site (e.g. plaza across from school); discussed lunch options; Thurs. – pizza, Fri. – Subway, and Booster Juice. Some concern from Green Hornet members (ecoclub) – Do they use paper straws? Heather will ask and get Booster Juice start-up information for a 6-week session in fall as we raised $600 from this fundraiser. Cell phones will now be stored in lockers from 8:50am-3:10pm (or office if needed) as there were students being video-taped and shared on social media. Students and teachers agreed that students can move around classrooms at lunch breaks to talk to (rather than text) their friends as well as increase number of intramurals at breaks.
Chocolate bar fundraiser: October 1st – kick-off assembly; last year the school raised $9000 and this helped subsidize many school strips as well as in-house events and special guests (Ropes Course, Scientists in the School, class trips to farms, Children’s Groundwater Festival, etc.) with low or no cost for families.
K-Grade 5: community constables will be present 5-6 times throughout the year to discuss foot patrol, traffic safety, online safety. Grade 6 students are part of VIP program.
Question: noticed there are assemblies posted each month with a theme
Mrs. Topping: the last Thursday of each month there will be someone chosen from each class to receive a Starfish award. Return of Wonderkids Assembly as requested from Student Council president. One period on the last Thursday of each month will be dedicated to the assembly which is student led and focused (with help from Mrs. Warnholtz and Mrs. Walton). After the first 25 minutes, Kindergarten classes will return to their classrooms recognizing it is a long time for them to sit. Student Council felt the momentum and focus of monthly assemblies was lost and bringing back Wonderkids/Starfish awards will bring back community feel to the school.
Question: last year it was mentioned that students and families could purchase spirit wear? (Westwood logo on clothing and accessory items)
Mrs. Topping: will contact person who did this for the grade 8 students last year and plan to have flyer available for families at end of September with a wide range of items (low to medium cost).
- Fall Fundraising:
- QSP (cookie dough and magazine sales) fundraiser used in the past is no longer in operation and the website directs people to MacMillan’s Fundraising. Jen will contact MacMillan’s to see if they will assist us with a similar type fundraiser.
- Akyol suggested a community BBQ; also, Twice a Deal Pizza left information at the office about when Westwood families place an order, a portion goes towards the school
- Gino’s Pizza at lunch on Thursdays is a fundraiser – approximately $4200 was raised and used towards gym equipment that is used by all
- Boogie-a-thon – was not done last year because it lost momentum and school council felt that the school had asked a lot from families (fundraising) already and it was Jump Rope for Heart year (every other year)
- Foodbank – Ms. Piercy organizes this around holidays such as Christmas and Easter; students can bring in donations and students give a donation at the entrance of school dances
- Westwood receives $4500 from Children’s Foundation Food& Friends program; this supports the snack program and the West Willow Village Neighborhood Group’s breakfast program and afterschool program’s snack each day. acknowledged that a retired community member, Jan helps with food preparation 3 times per week; suggestions for replacing Ziploc bags are needed; teachers fill up their classroom bowls or children come to the office for the snack program
- Akyol – a night out at Laser Quest on Victoria Rd in Kitchener would be fun for families if they could offer a certain percentage to donate to the school
- Movie Night will be Thursday, November 22 with doors open at 6:15pm for snack and drink sales; school council members 5:45pm for set up with snacks near the washrooms this year.
- Topping – $1400 approximately for school council. Mr. Akyol will confirm if there will be $500 added from the Parents Reaching Out Grant. Members approved purchase of insurance ($151). This comes out of $1400 so that if there was a school event where administration (principal or vice-principal) could not attend, the event would be insured.
- Open House Thursday September 19th 6-7:30pm
School Council will have a table at the Open House to encourage more members to join and our slideshow will be on display in the hallway screens; Mrs. Topping will contact Settlement Workers (this was well received last year) to see if someone can attend; West Willow Village Neighborhood Group will attend. The evening is not for parents to discuss curriculum, rather for students, teachers and parents/caregivers to explore the school, meet the child(ren)’s teacher and see their classroom.
- Posting School Council Minutes
Holly will record minutes and send to Mrs. Topping to post on the school’s website under ‘Westwood School Council’.
Question: what is the purpose of Westwood’s School Council?
Mrs. Topping: struggles in the past have been small but mighty; school council wanted to have families feel comfortable coming into Westwood for events (e.g. Family Math night, Movie Nights) and assemblies, etc., and not just feel school council was just asking for money; parent engagement is still a goal
- Communicating with Parents and Caregivers
School Messenger and the UG Connect App are the main tools for communication. When there is a post/message on the website, it is accessible in any language through the translation feature in the top right-hand corner. Mrs. Topping will provide a ‘Principal’s Message’ post each month, rather than a formal school newsletter. Teachers may still use Agendas or notebooks to communicate and Mr. Akyol will provide updates through robocalls.
Question: How is the library supported?
Various ways: Scholastic Book Fairs; tech leadership/learning team (Mrs. Warnholtz, Ms. Spencer, Mrs. Walton and Mrs. Drake) received funds to purchase technology for all classrooms to use; looking into the fundraiser available through Chapters and First Book Canada
Action Items before next meeting (Thursday, October 3 at 6:45pm in the Community Room:
Heather will get Booster Juice information – day, number of weeks, use of paper/compostable straws
(since the meeting, this has been confirmed that compostable plastic straws are used, and we will start a 6-week session on Wednesdays in the fall)
Mr. Akyol will confirm access to Parent Reaching Out Grant
Mr. Akyol will provide updates to families through robocalls
(since the meeting, Mr. Akyol has sent out a robocall letting families know that the year is off to a good start, and reminders of upcoming events and dates/deadlines)
Options for movie at movie night, and confirm snacks
Jen will contact MacMillan’s
Holly will update slideshow presentation and send to Mrs. Topping to be used at the Open House
School council members will be available to help at table during Open House if they can