Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Budget Time - We Need Help!

I am in the throughs of preparing our school budget for next year and I have to tell you this is probably the most stressful event of the entire school year for me. We face the darkest, bleakest situation of my career this year. I implore you to read what I have written below and then take action! Help me not have to make devastating cuts that will effect our teachers and children. HELP US!

Article IX, Section I of the Florida Constitution guarantees that:
"The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida."

"It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for … a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education …."

Duval County expects to suffer from a $60-80 million budget deficit for the 2011-2012 academic year. All the facts tell us there is NO WAY to “trim the fat” and balance this budget crisis without affecting the classroom. In short, your child's school will suffer.

Valuable resources like Art, Music and PE may be cut!
Media and Guidance services could be reduced!
Our school week could be cut to four days!
Teachers could be forced to serve as associate teachers for half the pay!
Essential supplies and materials could disappear altogether!

It is important to understand that this problem, this CRISIS, is not limited to Duval County alone. This fiscal crisis is statewide. Regarding the total amount of funds allocated and spent on education, the state of Florida is ranked 50th in the nation. I ask you, does this represent your priorities? I doubt it.

Are our legislators upholding the requirements of our state constitution?
As voters, we share a heavy burden. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves with accurate facts. It is our responsibility to make our voices heard. It is our responsibility to act. It is our responsibility to advocate for our children. It is our responsibility to fight for their rights, for today and for their future. If not us, then who? If we do not meet our duties, we cannot expect others to meet theirs.

I urge you. Educate yourselves. Research the facts. Go to the source. Ask questions. Speak out. Make demands. Do not accept it as fact because others believe it to be true.

Ask yourself, is 50th good enough for your child?

If the answer is NO - contact our state's legislative delegation and ask for immediate help from one of these short term solutions:

1. Please give flexibility to the school districts in the areas of categoricals, (SAI, Class Size, Instruction Materials, Reading, Safe Schools).

2. Please suspend unfunded mandates on the districts. (Examples: Transportation, Testing & Curriculum Requirements, Safety Nets, and Staffing Requirements.)

3. Please give flexibility of capital funds—so they can be used for General Revenue.

Ask them to find long term solutions to the critical funding situation in Florida and urge them to make public education a priority so that even our children's children can benefit from a right guaranteed them by our state constitution!

To learn more about how to get involved and about how to contact our legislators and ask them to make funding for public education in Florida a priority visit SaveDuvalSchools.

Friday, April 15, 2011

We've Got the Power! FCAT is NO SWEAT!

You know attitude really is EVERYTHING!  When our teachers and students really believe in themselves I know there is nothing that they can't do - and the FCAT is certainly the perfect example.  There is so much that rides on this high stakes assessment, whether we like it or not, but I really try hard to convince our students that because of the hard work they do EVERY school day that it really is just their opportunity to show the rest of the world what we at the Creek already know about them - they are the BEST!

Every teacher along the way has equipped every student in their care with the strategies it takes to succeed period, but especially during this testing week.  And as a result of our everyday work and expectations students were calm, confident and even excited.  Our younger students and their teachers adopted the older ones to support and motivate them with encouraging messages and creative snacks.  The resource team and support personnel wrote positive postcards to those that needed an extra boost.  I even decided to put my powers of positive persuasion into a sweatband for each student being tested and every teacher or proctor they would encounter by arming them with the message they hear from me over and over...

Our third and fourth graders are done and only fifth grade has Science left to take and I haven't worried for even one minute about the test - I hope my students haven't either.  At the Creek no extra antiperspirant is needed: FCAT - No Sweat! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's Spirit Week at the Creek!

We have had such an exciting first here at Chets Creek Elementary this past wek. - our first ever Spirit Week.  The whole school participated this week as we celebrated the hard work our third, fourth and fifth grade students and teachers have put into preparing for the upcoming FCAT beginning next week.  I am so proud of our children already - this test next week is just the opportunity for them to show the rest of the world how brillant I already believe they are.  Our whole school rallied to help them enjoy the week instead of being uptight and nervous about this high stakes assessment.  On Monday we kept with our school theme and dressed like FARMERS.  On Tuesday we threw on all our funky colored clothes for MIS-MATCH day.  On Wednesday we fixed our hair in WACKY ways and wore our SILLY socks.  On Thursday we reached far back into our closets to find a CCE t-shirt, past or present, to show our school pride.  On Friday we all came dressed as our favorite SUPER STAR and celebrated all our special gifts and unique talents.  We also culminated the day with a PARADE and PEP RALLY where the teachers performed songs and dances of encouragement for the kids!! We even had a special visit from a former Creeker who is now a ROAR cheerleader for the Jacksonville Jaguars and her teammate to help us get pumped up. It's been such a fun, low stress week and I'm so proud of all our teachers and students for participating in the schoolwide celebration.