February 2012

posted Feb 25, 2012, 3:48 PM by Anna Saunders   [ updated Feb 25, 2012, 3:48 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,


During this month of hearts and flowers, it may seem incongruous to select as a discussion topic something as serious as child abuse safety, but then again, what could be more appropriate than talking about protecting our beloved children? Last month I shared with you that child safety would be the topic of many informal conversations and formal meeting agendas in January. These conversations have reinforced for me that there are two crucial activities we need to promote as we continue to protect our students:


I. The consistent use of safety procedures and practices that we have in place at Walnut Acres. 


I've reviewed our current procedures and practices with many different groups and individuals this month, and the Safety Committee has developed a list of essential practices to support student safety. Staff procedures include ID badge wearing at all times and use of buddy system around campus when appropriate. I am listing the daily parent practices for you below. I ask you to review them carefully and contact me if you have questions about any of them. They are simple, but they are only as effective as our routine and continuous use of each rule!


1. Parents sign in to office and wear volunteer badges at all times on campus.


2. Parents (and younger children) use office bathroom.


3. Parents drop off students at or after 7:45 AM or take to Day Care anytime after 7 AM.


4. Parents pick up students by 3 PM.


5. Any student not picked up by 3 PM goes to the office to call parents.


6. Parents supervise children on playground after dismissal.


7. Parents tell children to go to someone trusted at school if they feel unsafe.


8. Parents inform principal if something seems peculiar.


We will have an additional support system to use in the protection of our students, when the district completes the installation of security cameras at our site.  All MDUSD sites are being provided with this protection system and I am told Walnut Acres' installation date is spring, 2012.


II. The empowerment of our students so that they know what to do if confronted with a difficult situation.


Our school counselor, Mrs. Spring, provided a wonderful presentation to interested parents about communicating with children to protect them from abuse. The Safety Committee, in a public meeting, suggested that we augment this presentation with direct training for students.  We are researching the costs and timeframes for providing safety empowerment training to Walnut Acres students and I will share more with you as further decisions are made.  If we proceed with that plan, there will be an opportunity for parents to participate in a workshop to become informed about the details of the student program.


Of course, having our children safely ensconced at school is crucial, but just the beginning of our efforts to help our children achieve their potential.  There are 2 different groups currently seeking your perspective as they work to guide and support student learning. Please lend your valuable input to their efforts!


1. The PFC has a survey out now and they are asking you to share your thoughts on funding choices, volunteerism, and communication.  Please go to the website or click here to offer your perspective as PFC leadership plans for the 2012-13 school year.


2. The MDUSD Board of Education has revamped the Strategic Plan and is seeking your input on the current draft of the plan.  You can access the MDUSD Strategic Plan on the district website (click here).  You may notice that references to school autonomy are gone, but 21st Century Learning is still in place.  You are invited to share your opinion of the plan at a special 2/22 Board meeting at the District Board Room beginning at 6 PM.


There are also 2 groups who would like to share with you their activities related to serving our students.


1. You are invited to chat with Superintendent Lawrence regarding the current state budget situation and its impact on education for the 2012-13 school year. Dr. Lawrence will be at the Northgate PFC meeting on 3/22 (tentative date) at 6 PM in the Lecture Hall to talk to parents in the Northgate feeder pattern about the MDUSD district budget.  I'll let you know when I have date confirmation.


2. The draft for the Master Plan for Services to English Learners is also on the district website and you are welcome to view it (click here).  Committee meetings to revise the draft plan are 3/23 and 4/15 from 4-7:30 PM at WCC.  You are invited to watch the committee in process.  Call Carmen at 682-8000 X 4003 and she'll have dinner ready for you!


Finally, Student services would like you to note that the intradistrict transfer lottery will take place on Wednesday, 2/15 from 11-2:30 PM at the Dent Center.


I wish you all a lovely Valentine's Day with a reminder that true love is shown in the daily tasks that we all perform for each other, not just the gifts that are exchanged on this special day.  Here's to loving our children every day, with every dinner made, discipline carried out, chauffeuring completed, skill taught, and hug provided!




Colleen Dowd, Principal