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Letter to Parents from Jefferson Elementary School

11/01/17

Dear Jefferson Families,

The latest round of weather proves that autumn has finally arrived. It is that time of year when the summer clothes get packed away, making room for the warmer gear that will carry us through the next season. It is a great time of the year as both staff and students settle into predictable routines. We recently held our annual Fall Festival on Friday night and I would like to thank Mrs. Eiser and all of the other mothers who made this night a success. The weather was perfect and it was nice to see our students play outside until dark. Their costumes were great and I hope you were able to capture some great photos that will become one of many memories associated with our school.

As we enter into the third full month of school, student attendance continues to be a major initiative within our District. There is a great deal of recent research that proves the importance of attending school on a consistent basis. Most recognize that students don’t learn as much when they miss too much school, but few realize how many students are at risk academically in the early grades due to absenteeism or how quickly absences can add up to too much lost instructional time. Some of the major findings include:

1. One in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students nationally are chronically absent, missing nearly a month of school. Emerging research shows even higher rates among preschoolers. These early absences correlate with reading difficulties and poor attendance patterns in later years.

2. The effects of poor attendance are particularly pronounced among low-income children, who need more time in the classroom to master reading and are less likely to have access to resources outside of school to help them catch up. Unfortunately, low-income children are four times more likely to be chronically absent.

3. Parents are often unaware of the corrosive effects of absenteeism and how quickly absences add up to academic trouble in the early grades. Some face challenges with health, transportation or housing that contribute to absences.

As an elementary school, we are responsible for laying the foundation for your child’s education at Schalmont. There is no question that we need your help in ensuring that we are taking a collaborative approach to building healthy habits about school. At Jefferson, we continue to track student attendance through an attendance team that studies attendance data every two weeks. We recognize that childhood illness occurs and we encourage you to keep your children home when they are not healthy. However, vacation days, sporting events, and other unexcused absences can quickly add up when they are combined with legitimate illness. Please recognize that your belief in attendance carries a tremendous amount of currency. We will continue to infuse various facts about student attendance in future correspondence as our work with this initiative is ongoing. Thank you taking the time to read this article and for doing your best to get your children to school each and every day.

In other news, Mrs. Gordon and I recently held our first coffee hour. The topic for this conversation centered upon communication. As a group we talked about the many methods that parents and members of our school community use to communicate. Newsletters, emails, phone calls, planners, and school calendars were discussed. The topic of Facebook surfaced and some concerns were raised and the group felt that it would be a good topic for me to write about within my monthly column.

There is no question that Facebook is a valuable tool for distributing information, connecting with others, or just asking for and sharing information. As a school, we would ask that communication methods like Facebook not replace traditional means of contacting the appropriate party for information. In other words, if you need specific information, please go directly to the source. We would also ask that Facebook not be a place where school staff get compared or discussed because of class practices (ie. parties or homework). We would also ask that parents only post pictures of their own children on Facebook. I have always felt that it is better to be proactive than reactive and I thank each of you for adhering to a few, simple expectations around the use of this communication tool.

During this conversation, the group asked if I would make more use of the school news notifier (SNN). For those of you who have not yet signed up, please visit www.schalmont.net. On the bottom right hand corner, you will see a button that says Schalmont SNN. This will allow you to receive school messages on your choice of technology (phone, computer, etc.) I think that you will find this to be a great communication tool and will even cut down on our printing supplies.

As always, thank you for having great children. Please recognize that our office doors are always open and we welcome your suggestions. We wish each of you a memorable Thanksgiving with loved ones.

Sincerely,

Mr. Gifford and Mrs. Gordon